Thursday, November 15, 2018

Video - Nigeria seeks extradition of former Oil Minister

Nigeria's Anti-graft agency, the EFCC says it is starting a process to extradite former Petroleum minister Diezani Alison Madueke from the UK. Madueke is accused of money laundering and stealing huge sums of petroleum money while in office.

2019 Forbes Under 30 list includes eight Nigerians

Eight Nigerians have been listed, among other global influencers, in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Forbes 30 under 30 is a set of lists issued annually by Forbes magazine and some of its regional editions to recognise business and industry figures.

This year, the list featured 300 trailblazers from 20 industries with average age of 26.8.

Over 55 per cent of them are founders or co-founders.

Also, 19 per cent of them include immigrants from 57 countries, and 38 of them identify as first generation Americans.

Nigerians who made the list include Taofeek Abijako, Kayode Ojo, Obi Omile Jr, Adegoke Olubusi, Tito Ovia, Dimeji Sofowora, Olaoluwa Osuntokun and Emmanuel Acho.

Taofeek Abijako is a 20-year-old designer who started his men's streetwear brand when he was a high school teenager.

Kayode Ojo is a 28-year-old photographer who has had solo shows in Paris, Berlin, New York and Dallas.

Communication expert, Obi Omile Jr. is the co-founder of the Cut, a technology platform that allows users and barbers to schedule and manage appointments.

Meanwhile, Adegoke Olubusi, 25, Tito Ovia, 25, and Dimeji Sofowora, 26 are founders of Helium Health a platform used by 5,000 doctors, with data from 500,000 patients across West Africa.

Olaoluwa Osuntokun, 25, is the co-founder of Lighting Labs which has raised $2.5 million to turn bitcoin into a more viable form of payment by making smaller transactions more cost-effective.

Also, Emmanuel Acho, 28, serves as the youngest national football analyst for ESPN and runs a charity that has built a hospital in Nigeria.

NAN reports that the list also features Ghanaian, Shadrack Frimpong, who founded Cocoa360, a 'farm-for-impact' model that uses revenues from community cocoa farms to fund educational and healthcare services.

International musicians Post Malone, 23, 21 Savage, 26, photographer Tyler Mitchell, 23 who photographed Beyonce for her Vogue September 2018 cover, and actor Storm Reid, 15 made the list.

NAN also reports that the 2019 class have raised over one billion dollars in funding and work an average of 67 hours per week.

Seventy-seven per cent of honorees consider being under the age of 30 an advantage in their career, 89 per cent are optimistic about the U.S. economy for startups,

Thirty-one per cent decided what they wanted to do for a career during university, 22 per cent decided as a child, and 10 per cent are still deciding.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Video - Nigerian workers set to benefit from minimum wage increase

The lowest-paid Nigerian worker could benefit from a 66 percent pay rise should lawmakers approve the controversial tripartite committee report on the minimum wage. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam takes a look at what a higher salary means to a minimum-wage earner, as well as the overall impact of the policy on the economy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Video - China offers Nigeria's internally displaced persons relief items

The Chinese Government has donated relief items worth sixteen thousand dollars to internally displaced persons in Jos, Plateau State, North Central Nigeria. The Chinese Embassy, in collaboration with the Civil-Military Relief Initiative and the Nigeria Army, is providing the items worth sixteen thousand dollars to an IDP camp in Plateau. Violent conflicts between nomadic herders and farmers in North Central Nigeria has displaced about forty thousand people between June and October. Most of the displaced persons are living in deplorable conditions drawing the attention of the Chinese embassy in Nigeria.

Monday, November 12, 2018

President Buhari declares state of emergency in water sector

In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared the country's water supply crisis a state of emergency. He made the declaration at the launch of an action plan to revitalize water supplies, sanitation and hygiene.

Video - Baseball in Nigeria

A local baseball academy based in Nigeria's capital Abuja, is working hard to take the sport to greater heights. Despite a lack of facilities for the sport in the country, the academy is raising young players between the ages of 6 and 18 years in the hope that they will become future talents for Nigeria.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Video - Prince Charles speaks Pidgin English during speech in Nigeria

Prince Charles broke into Pidgin while delivering a speech in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday. The Prince of Wales said it was particularly special to be in Lagos after nearly 30 years, saying the only words to describe it were '"God don butter my bread", a term in Pidgin meaning "God has blessed me.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Video - Nigeria labour unions call off nationwide industrial action

Nigeria's organized labour unions have called off the nationwide industrial action meant to press home workers' demand for a new national minimum wage. The National Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress says all parties have agreed on an $83 minimum wage deal.

Nigeria will benefit from Google Artificial Intelligence lab in Ghana

By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-tech Editor) reporting from Netherlands Amsterdam—Head Google AI, Ghana, Moustapha Cisse, yesterday revealed that there are ongoing plans to see that Artificial Intelligence, AI, helps in managing Nigerian and other African economies, particularly in the areas of flood, disaster management, technological inn ovations, and health among others.

The Senegalese born Research Scientist, made the revelation at the Google Making AI event in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

According to him, a lot of collaborations between Google and some higher institutions of learning, Research centres and some professors in Nigeria are ongoing and will help drive down the benefits of AI and other new technologies to the country. 

He said although Google is building an AI lab in Ghana, Nigeria was also in pole position to benefit because science and technology do not create barriers. 

He advised African countries to design a common collaborative template so that the continent doesn’t play catch up with the wave of technogical innovations sweeping across the globe. 

He said: “There are a lot of Google tech initiatives in Africa, from Nigeria to Ghana and the rest, partnerships and collaborations are needed to exploit potentials” Reacting to the development, National Coordinator, Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dr Amina Sambo- Magaji who also participated at the forum, said government was ready to absorb the outcome of the collaborations and use same for common good of Nigerians. She said: “The National Information Technology Development agency is developing technology hubs in collaboration with the NSIO, where over 80 digital job creation centres are annually deployed across the country. 

“NITDA has empowered its two subsidiaries, Office for the Nigerian Content (ONC) and Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) to ensure the enforcement of the local content policy and create an enabling environment for the Nigerian Technology Entrepreneurship ecosystem respectively.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 'Mona Lisa' of Nigeria returns back home

The Nigerian Mona Lisa, a painting lost for more than 40 years and found in a London flat in February, is being exhibited in Nigeria for the first time since it disappeared.

"Tutu", an art work by Nigeria's best-known modern artist, Ben Enwonwu, was painted in 1974. It appeared at an art show in Lagos the following year, but its whereabouts after that were unknown, until it re-surfaced in north London.

The owners - who wished to remain anonymous - had called in Giles Peppiatt, an expert in modern and contemporary African art at the London auction house Bonhams, to identify their painting. He recognized Enwonwu's portrait.

"It was discovered by myself on a pretty routine valuation call to look at a work by Ben Enwonwu," said Giles Peppiatt, director of contemporary African art at Bonhams. "I didn't know what I was going to see. I turned up, and it was this amazing painting. We'd had no inkling 'Tutu' was there."

How it got there remains a bit of a mystery, Peppiatt said.

"All the family that owned it know is that it was owned by their father, who had business interests in Nigeria. He traveled and picked it up in the late or mid-70s."

The family put the portrait up for sale, and it was auctioned for 1.2 million pounds ($1.57 million) in February to an anonymous buyer. The sale made it the highest-valued work of Nigerian modern art sold at auction.

"Tutu" was loaned to the Art X Lagos fair, held from Friday to Sunday, by Access Bank, the organizers said in a statement. Peppiatt said Access arranged the loan but is not the painting's owner.

"'Tutu' is referred to as the African 'Mona Lisa' by virtue of this disappearance and re-emergence, and it is the first work of a modern Nigerian artist to sell for over a million pounds," said Tokini Peterside, the art fair's founder.

The original Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, eventually took it to Italy, where it was recovered and in 1914 returned to the Louvre.

The Nigerian painting is a portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, a grand-daughter of a traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group. It holds special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-70 Biafran War.

Enwonwu belonged to the Igbo ethnic group, the largest in the southeastern region of Nigeria, which had tried to secede under the name of Biafra. The Yoruba, whose homeland is in the southwest, were mostly on the opposing side in the war.

Enwonwu painted three versions of the portrait. One is in a private collection in Lagos, while Peppiatt is hunting the third in Washington D.C., the expert said. Prints first made in the 1970s have been in circulation ever since and the images are familiar to many Nigerians. Enwonwu died in 1994. ($1 = 0.7649 pounds)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Nigeria reaches agreement with Labor union's 66% minimum wage demand

Nigeria’s biggest labor union reached an agreement with the government to increase the minimum wage by 66 percent, adding to inflationary pressures and reducing state funds for infrastructure.

The Nigeria Labour Congress called off its threat to hold a nationwide strike from Tuesday in the wake of the accord, spokesman Benson Upah said by phone from Abuja, the capital. A report on the agreement will be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday afternoon.

The accord comes before Buhari seeks a second term in presidential elections scheduled for February.
Raising the minimum wage to 30,000 naira ($83) a month adds to inflation pressures at a time when the government is being urged to stop capping the cost of gasoline and curb spending on subsidies. Price-growth, which has been above the authorities target of 6 percent to 9 percent for more than three years, has led the central bank to keep the benchmark interest rate at a record high of 14 percent since July 2016.

Buhari has already set aside 160 billion naira to provide for wage increases next year. That will weigh on the state’s ability to sustain its pledge of increasing investment in roads, ports and power that’s needed to spur growth, according to analysts including Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based risk advisory SBM Intelligence.

“An increase in the minimum wage may provide a temporary lift to spending, but as we saw in 2011, it rarely brings about a sustained improvement in the economy,” said Razia Khan, head of macroeconomic research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc. “If anything, the risk is that it will serve as an additional drag on public finances.”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Video - UN condemns recent violence on Borno communities in Nigeria

The United Nations has condemned an attack on villagers in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. The spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke appealed to the authorities to ensure the safety of vulnerable communities. On Wednesday, Boko Haram attacked several villages in Maiduguri, killing at least 15 people.

Video - Nigerian labour unions threaten strike reject $62 minimum wage offer

Nigerian labour unions have rejected the 62-dollar minimum wage offer by a forum of governors and have threatened to launch an indefinite strike next week. The current minimum wage is 18-dollars a month. Governors are worried about the impact a higher offer could have on the budget.

Trump's words used to defend killing of protesters by military in Nigeria

The Nigerian army appears to have used the words of President Trump to justify the killing of Islamic protesters.

On Friday (Nov. 2), the Nigerian army's official Twitter account tweeted a snippet of Trump's Thursday (Nov. 1) speech on immigration where he stated that the U.S. military should consider migrants throwing rocks as they would a rifle. The Nigerian army then went on to explain that they released the video to say "if President Trump can say rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?"

This came in response to growing scrutiny from human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, who've criticized the Nigerian government for its "horrific use of excessive force" when dealing with Muslim protestors. Days prior to the tweet, the Nigerian army fired bullets and tear gas into a crowd of Shai Muslims killing six protestors. This is not the first time conflicts between demonstrators — who routinely take to the streets to protest the imprisonment of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky — and armed forces have turned deadly.

"This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable," Amnesty International Nigerian Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said of the attacks. "They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life."

However, Trump is popular in Nigeria's Christian population for his talks against Islamic extremism. Using his controversial speech to justify their persecution of the IMN may help further sway the Nigerian popular opinion and invalidate the authority of Amnesty International.

The White House has yet to issue a response to the use of the president's comments.

Nigeria arrests 400 Shia Muslims after deadly clashes

Using technology to tackle corruption in Nigeria

In 2012, Nigeria witnessed the worst flood in nearly five decades. Two million people were displaced and around 363 killed. Crops, homes, and entire communities were destroyed.

The central government swung into action and disbursed around $110m to affected states in October that year. Additional funding flowed from a public-private relief fund and the international community, including Canada, the European Commission, Japan, Norway and Sweden.

Back in Lagos, the team at BudgIT, a civil society organisation founded in 2011, watched closely. In September 2013, it sent a small research team to tour 12 affected states for a period of five months to find out whether the funds released were put to good use.

"We discovered that these funds went into the wrong hands and people never benefited," says Uadamen Ilevbaoje, who was part of the team.

Several decades of corruption have slowed progress in Nigeria, which is the largest oil producer in Africa. Public funds allocated for projects and services often go unaccounted for; mismanagement and corruption have fuelled inequality and poverty.

By the end of May, Nigeria became host to the world's largest population of people in extreme poverty with some 87 million in crisis, overtaking India's 73 million.

Across the country, but especially in remote areas, abandoned projects dot the landscape.

Citizens live without basic amenities like roads, housing, schools, potable water, hospitals and sanitation facilities.

In Maito village, in central Nigeria's Niger state, residents continue to use a dilapidated health centre with a roof covered by bats, despite the National Primary Health Care Development Agency having approved 22 million nairas ($60,600) for a better facility.

In the rural village of Akere, in the southwestern state of Ogun, schoolchildren learn under the shade of a tree and sit on bare floors in overcrowded classrooms, despite funding of $82,000 provided for refurbishment.

According to a UN report, roughly $4.6bn is spent on bribes in Nigeria each year.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission reported that 60 percent of corruption cases in the country take place in procurement.

Poor transparency and accountability have allowed corruption to flourish, and a few civil society groups are trying to change the opaque environment.

Pressuring the government

In June 2014, BudgIT started the Tracka initiative to follow public projects and help communities ask serious questions that would enhance efficiency.

Tracka staff extract capital projects from the budget and design a pamphlet containing the project title, amount and phone number of public officials for each of the 22 states where it operates.

Armed with these details, tracking officers who have been recruited and trained visit the communities, hold town hall meetings with communities and help them ask government agencies and legislatures to complete projects which have either been abandoned or yet to start.

Tracking officers also take photos and upload them on Twitter and Facebook, adding pressure on government ministries to act transparently.

Through its work, Tracka was able to speed up the construction of a school in Iwoye Ilogbo in Ogun state, a primary healthcare centre in Delta state and boreholes in Edo and Anambra states.

In addition to Tracka, there is the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), which is working to promote citizen participation in governance.

It uses radio and social media to monitor public procurement processes and push for greater access to information on public projects following the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in 2011.

"As soon as the FOI Act was passed, we jumped on it and began to use the provisions of the law to advocate and litigate for improved disclosure of public information," said Nkem Ilo, head of PPDC.

"With more use of the FOI, we began to receive more responses to our requests, which meant the availability of datasets."

In 2015, using data acquired from procuring entities over the years, PPDC worked with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and the School of Media and Communication at the Lagos-based Pan-Atlantic University to develop a web-based platform known as Budeshi, which means "open it" in the Hausa language.

Budeshi links budget and procurement data to public projects in a structured format, opening up publicly funded services for scrutiny.

Citizens can now look up public services by searching for the procuring entity - usually government ministries and agencies - as well as the project title, the state where the initiative is being implemented, or the year, and even pick from a list of contractors.

So far, Budeshi has data on 6,571 contracts in Nigeria from more than 100 public institutions. Budeshi is now fully deployed in Uganda and plans to start the platform in Kenya and Malawi are under way.

Every year, on the International Right to Know Day, September 28,- PPDC ranks government ministries, departments and agencies based on their responses to freedom of information requests mostly on public expenditure; the corporate affairs commission is currently first.

Much of the funding for these organisations comes from institutional and private donors, including the UK Department for International Development, the MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar network, Indigo Trust and National Endowment for Democracy.

Hamza Lawal, a tech-savvy activist, started the Follow the Money campaign in June 2012, following the deaths of hundreds of children from lead poisoning in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara.

Though several villages had been cleaned up by late 2012, one - Bagega - caught Lawal's attention because, by January 2013, money released still hadn't reached the victims.

Using the hashtag #SaveBagega, the campaign was able to get clean-up operations started in the village, helping hundreds of children to receive care.

In December 2013, Lawal started a full-fledged movement known as Connected Development (CODE) with Follow the Money. With a team of nearly 40 people and community reporters in Nigeria 36 states, CODE's campaigns are driven by hashtags connecting the name of community and the project that needs to be tracked.

"The idea of using hashtags is to be able to document projects and track them on social media," said 31-year-old Lawal, now the CEO of CODE, "and this repository would be online so that other young people can learn from it."

Follow the Money now has over 2,000 members and this year expanded to Kenya and The Gambia. Last year, it won the One Africa award which came with $100,000 to support their work.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP, meanwhile, which is concerned with promoting transparency and accountability in government, including public expenditure.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, SERAP requests information on contracts awards and has even sued ministries and agencies that refuse to release information.

Through a partnership with BudgIT, it was able to get the public procurement agency in Lagos to make available the Lagos State Procurement Journal from 2012 to date.

SERAP has been published several reports on health, education, electricity and water sectors.

It has also partnered with CODE and the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, which was started in 2016 to help citizens track and report development projects in their communities.

Some citizens are happy that things are changing, albeit slowly.

"Tracka, Udeme and Budeshi are checking public expenditure which over the years have been full of excesses, misappropriation and greed by inflation of contracts," says Olajide Oluwaseun, an architect in Lagos.

"These initiatives are the future for a good governance drive and I appreciate they all do in this risky political space. We need and must build an alliance, not a political party, an alliance of voices that want and need to be heard."

But some challenges remain.

Access to information on public expenditure is not always available upon request. Some ministries, agencies and departments either do not respond to freedom of information requests or completely ignore them.

In addition, despite the presence of a procurement law passed in 2007 to ensure contractors follow due process, public procurement has been dogged by contract splitting; the use of fake documents by bidders, some of whom have multiple companies; government ministries and agencies collaborating with contractors to siphon money; and, importantly, delays in investigating and prosecuting cases of misappropriation or graft.

"We don't have a culture of punishing offenders," says Ike Fayomi-Awodele of the public administration department at Obafemi Awolowo University in Osun state.

To solve this, Uadamen Ilevbaoje, now the project lead of Tracka, believes more awareness is needed.

"We need more and more sensitisation and awareness. If there is awareness, citizens would ask more questions and politicians would be forced to do the right thing."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Video - Nigeria's Shi'ite Protests - death toll rises to 24

Cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria remains in jail as his supporters continue to face security forces in protests for his release. Protestors claim that 24 people have been killed in the latest confrontation but the army has refuted this saying only three people died. Hundreds of Shia Muslims were stopped from marching into the city centre where most government offices and the presidency is located.

Video - Nigeria's missing General

The Nigerian army says it has found the body of one of its retired senior officers. Army General Idris Alkali, has been missing for almost two months, which sparked a search operation around his last known whereabouts.A number of arrests have been made as the army tries to uncover the cause of death.

Boko Haram insurgents kill 15 in Nigeria

Suspected members of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency have killed at least 15 people in an attack on a group of villages in northeast Nigeria, residents have told Reuters.

The villages lie on the outskirts of the militarised city of Maiduguri, the heart of government in the northeast and the headquarters of efforts to defeat Boko Haram and the related Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) insurgency.

The conflict has lasted almost a decade.

Despite the Nigerian government's statements since late 2015 that Boko Haram has been largely defeated, the militancy is still able to attack in and around Maiduguri and throughout much of the northeast.

In the village of Kofa, a Reuters reporter on Wednesday counted five bodies burned inside the remains of their house.

A village chief in nearby Dalori said one person in the camp for displaced people had been killed, while two residents of Bulabrin said nine people had died there.

Nigeria's military said in a statement one civilian was found dead, after Boko Haram had ransacked Dalori's market, setting buildings ablaze and fleeing when soldiers approached.

Nigeria arrests 400 Shia Muslims after deadly clashes

Nigerian police have arrested 400 members of a Shia Muslim sect after days of deadly protests in the capital.

The pro-Iran Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesters demanded the release of their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, in custody for 34 months.

The army admits that three people were killed in clashes in Abuja on Monday, but the IMN says that dozens died.

In 2016, a judicial inquiry found that the army had killed more than 300 Shia Muslims during clashes in the north.

It accused the army of using "excessive force" when trying to head off an alleged attempt to kill army chief Gen Tukur Buratai in Zaria, Kaduna state, in December 2015.

IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky was arrested in the aftermath and held without charge until April 2018 when he accused in court of inciting violence.

No soldiers have been arrested, despite the judicial inquiry advising prosecutions.
'Dangerous weapons'

The army, which fired live rounds on Monday at the protesters, said the deaths came after the demonstrators tried to overrun a checkpoint.

The security forces also accuse the Shia protesters, who took to the streets of the capital for three days, of having 31 petrol bombs as well as other dangerous weapons.

. Shias are minority in Nigeria but their numbers are increasing
. The IMN, formed in the 1980s, is the main Shia group led by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky
. They operate their own schools and hospitals in some northern states
. They have a history of clashes with the security forces
. The IMN is backed by Shia-dominated Iran and its members often go there to study
. Sunni jihadist group Boko Haram condemns Shias as heretics who should be killed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Video - Islamic Movement of Nigeria continue protests despite Monday's killings

Shi'ite Muslims continued their demonstration in Abuja on Tuesday. Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria are calling for the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. On Monday, the military opened fire on a procession of I-M-N members heading to the Abuja demonstration. El-Zakzaky has been in prison since a security crackdown in 2015. His Islamic Movement of Nigeria has about 3-million followers. The group claims the soldiers killed at least 10 protesters on Monday. However, the army disputes this, saying only three people were killed as they marched on a military checkpoint. Thousands of demonstrators were allegedly blocking roads and throwing rocks when security forces opened fire.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Video - Nigerian army uses live rounds against Shiite protesters - 10 dead

At least 10 people were killed after the Nigerian army fired live bullets and teargas to disperse a group of Shiite protesters on the second day of demonstration by the group in the capital city of Abuja on Monday, a Shiite cleric told CNN.

Violence broke out after hundreds of Shiite protesters threw stones at the soldiers and commuters at a checkpoint, as they marched into the city, eyewitnesses told CNN.

"We fled from our vehicle into the bush where we hid for three hours. From there, we could hear gunshots and see Shiite protesters taking their members who were shot away. There were also bodies lying on the roads," Khalifa Bello said.

Another resident, Jude Faing, said vehicles were turned back amid the chaos as Shiite protesters dressed in symbolic black marched into the city causing traffic.

"People were shouting to everyone to go back, and as there was shootings between soldiers and Shiite members at the army checkpoint, so I ran back home," Faing told CNN.

CNN has asked the Nigerian military for comment on the shooting claim but has not received a response.

The unrest comes after the military said three members of the Islamic group and two soldiers were injured following a clash with Shiite protesters on Saturday.

Army spokesman James Myam, in a statement Sunday, said the troops only shot at the protesters on Saturday to "extricate" themselves from the area after the clashes turned violent.

Myam alleged that members of the group attacked a military convoy traveling with ammunition and weapons on the outskirts of the city, forcing the soldiers to engage them.

Islamic Movement of Nigeria spokesman Ibrahim Musa told CNN at least 10 of its members were killed on Monday when they encountered a roadblock from the soldiers who opened fire at them.

"Our members were marching peacefully for three hours while observing the Arbaeen March as will be done by all Shiite members in Karbala in Iraq and other countries," Musa said.

Shiite protesters are also demanding their leader's freedom, he added.

Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in the military detention since his arrest in 2015, following a crackdown by the country's security forces on members of the sect.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Video - Nigeria declares a national disaster due to heavy floods

A national disaster has been declared in several provinces in Nigeria due to widespread flooding. The Red Cross says the crisis has been neglected and grossly underestimated. It's warned that the impact could be far-reaching if aid intervention isn't stepped up - and soon. The state-run National Emergency Management Agency has confirmed the Red Cross's assessment, but has declined to comment further.

Swiss ship crew freed from kidnappers in Nigeria

Twelve crew members of a Swiss ship seized off Nigeria last month have been freed, Swiss judicial officials said on Sunday.

Negotiations between the owner Massoel Shipping and the kidnappers led to the release of seven Filipinos, a Bosnian, a Croatian, a Romanian, a Slovenian and a Ukrainian, all of whom were then flown to Switzerland, ATS news agency and the Basel prosecutor's office said.

The ship, MV Glarus, and its cargo of wheat are still in the hands of pirates who attacked on September 22nd and destroyed most of its communications equipment.

It was not known whether a ransom was paid for the crew's release.

The ship had been transporting wheat from Lagos to Port Harcourt, in southern Nigeria, when it was hijacked off Nigeria's Bonny Island.

German-language newspaper Blick reported that the pirates belonged to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which says it wants the region's population to receive a bigger share of the country's oil and gas revenues.

The Gulf of Guinea has become the world's piracy hot spot, meanwhile.

The International Maritime Bureau said in late July that there were six kidnappings of crews around the world in the first half of 2018. All were in the Gulf of Guinea .

Of 16 incidents in which ships came under gunfire in 2017, seven were in the waters which stretch 5,700 kilometres (3,541 miles) from Senegal to Angola.

Pirates that prowl off the coasts of Benin, Nigeria, and Togo are well armed and generally hold ships long enough to loot their cargoes after cowing crews with violence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Video - Nigeria imports Norwegian seafood worth $125 million yearly

Let's head to Nigeria now, where the country shares a rather fishy relationship with Norway... Despite having its own coastline, the West African nation imports around 125 million dollars' worth of Norwegian seafood every year.

Video - Nigeria launches awareness campaign to eradicate polio by 2019

According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world classified as a polio endemic nation. The other two are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria is now looking to earn a polio free certification in 2019 after years of efforts to tackle the disease. Phil Ihaza has more on the story.

Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi to financially support Nigeria Amputee team

Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi has pledged financial and moral support to the country's cash-strapped amputee football team, but the Special Eagles face a race against time to make it to the World Cup in Mexico.

The team, who have missed the last three World Cups due to a lack of finances, took to crowd-funding early this month to help them travel to compete in the 2018 tournament.

Both the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick, and the Super Eagles squad have made significant financial contributions, but captain John Mikel Obi has now stepped in to assist.

"We've spoken to a representative of John Mikel Obi who has offered to help the team," co-ordinator of fund-raising, Fred Edoreh, told BBC Sport.

"His support will come as a big boost, but right now the dilemma is to find the flights to get the squad to Mexico.

"Time is running out on us and with ticket costs increasing by the day towards our opening game against our budget, we are taking the hard decisions of sending the first team as first batch.

"This is to avoid heavier cost and also get the boys to settle down before the game against Brazil on Sunday.

"The first batch (eight players and coach) should have left today (Tuesday) but there were not enough seats on the last lap of the journey, from Mexico City to Guadalajara.

"Our travel agents are working hard to secure space for them by tomorrow, Wednesday. So they are expected to depart Lagos by 12 noon with Ethiopia Airlines."

"This will help us to secure our presence and avoid a global sanction. Hoping with additional funds, the reserve team can depart on Thursday or Friday," Edoreh said.

BBC sports understands that former Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi hopes to support the team with money and kits.

Angola, Kenya and Ghana represented Africa at the 2014 World Cup in Culiacán, Mexico.

The Angolans finished as runners-up after losing 3-1 to Russia in the final.


Cryptocurrency could help light up Nigeria

Imagine being able to purchase clean energy cheaply and through cryptocurrency. Sounds futuristic? But it's a possibility that OneWattSolar, a startup based in Lagos wants to achieve.

The clean energy outfit has come up with a way of allowing thousands of Africans to pay for solar energy using blockchain tokens without having to pay for the solar system infrastructure, which is funded through financial backers. 

It was a concept Victor Alagbe, the company's vice president of operations and blockchain strategy, had been thinking on when reading about Elon Musk. 

"I did some writing on Tesla and so I thought it is sunny most of the time here, especially in the northern parts where it is quite arid," recalled Alagbe who is a former business writer.

"So why don't we use this to power our own electricity... many Nigerians cannot really afford to set up their own solar systems. 

"They can't afford the start up cost so most people would rather go for generators which is not economical when you think of maintenance costs," Alagbe said.

The idea behind blockchain payments

The aim is for customers to purchase tokens in the local naira currency using the platforms of third party tech finance companies. 

"It provides transparency, you can see the utilization of funds, how many systems we have purchased and how many are being used."

The tokens used have been built on the blockchain platform, Ethereum. 

On a traditional service using fossil fuels, energy usage is around 70 Nigerian naira ($0.19) per kilowatt. "But the blockchain system is 50 percent cheaper than diesel," claims Alagbe because the expensive maintenance costs of generators is mitigated.

Instead OneWattSolar's systems will include solar panels and a fitted internet enabled router that will automatically collect data on energy usage that is charged monthly on a pay as you go basis.

"This will ensure that customers are billed for exactly what they use," said Alagbe.

It is also hoped it will alert OneWattSolar to any potential problems with the systems in real-time.
Although the startup has only been eight months in the making, it's part of GoSolar Africa, a renewable energy company that's been operating in Africa since 2010. The plan is to launch in January 2019 with an initial 1,000 systems that are fully operational the company said. 

Around 41 percent of Nigerians have no access to electricity, according to the World Bank and it is these potential customers the startup is looking to connect. 

"So far there are 6,400 homes who have signed up to be put on our waiting list," said Alagbe.
According to him, the long term goal is to connect one million homes across Sub-Saharan Africa without electricity with solar energy through blockchain. It's hoping to achieve this by 2025.

Africa's renewable energy industry

The young tech company is part of a boom in the renewable energy industry across Africa.
A joint venture between Abuja based Motir Services Nigeria and US based DuSable Capital Management will power 180, 000 homes in Nigeria in a 100MW solar project worth $175m. 

In Morocco - the world's largest concentrated solar power plant called the Noor-Ouarzazate complex - will power more than one million homes when complete later this year. 

It is hoped the complex will decrease Morocco's dependence on oil by about 2.5 million tons per year and reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year in the country, according to the World Bank who has financed the project's construction.

Ghana is also gearing up its renewable energy capabilities. 

Earlier this year, the West African nation announced a goal of increasing renewable energy consumption from currently one percent to 10 percent of energy usage by 2030. 

While in October, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia also announced that all government institutions would run on solar power to reduce energy consumption costs.

As African nations move towards cleaner and reliable energy, startups like OneWattSolar could prove profitable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Video - Boko Haram launches two deadly attacks in Borno State Nigeria

Barely hours after jihadists in Nigeria killed a dozen farmers in Kalla, Borno state, the militants have launched another attack, this time killing three people and injuring several others. Locals say the jihadists arrived in trucks to attack the neighbouring villages, 6 kilometres outside Maiduguri. Over the weekend, the militant group hacked to death around 12 farmers. Their bodies were found in their fields. The villages were raided and burnt to the ground. This comes barely a week after a Boko Haram faction executed a kidnapped aid worker.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Video - At least 12 farmers killed in Boko Haram attack in Borno state

At least 12 farmers have been killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack in the volatile Borno state in Nigeria. Scores of others were injured. According to the leader of a local militia, the militants attacked farmers harvesting crop in the remote village of Kalle. He says they used machetes instead of guns so as not to attract the attention of troops nearby. It was not clear which of the two Boko Haram factions was behind the attack.

Nigerian woman on a mission to save Lagos beaches and turtles from plastic

Doyinsola Ogunye, along with around 20 volunteer children, vigorously combs a sandy shore in the Nigerian coastal city of Lagos, unearthing deeply embedded litter and plastic that can prove deadly to sea turtles.

The tide is low and the layer of scattered debris across a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand emerges as the waves recede into the ocean.

Every type of man-made waste imaginable, from polystyrene, broken ceramic, assorted flip-flops and building materials, is visible. I can even spot a syringe.

This is Elegushi beach - and nothing can beat the beauty this strip of Atlantic coastline, but the sheer scale of litter hits you right away.

"Sometimes it gets very overwhelming," says Ms Ogunye, an environmental activist who has set up a programme to rid the beach of rubbish.

'A bath for the beach'

Every week she and her volunteer crew collect about 50 large sacks of litter.

It's a mammoth task, but the 30-year-old has put herself on the frontline, battling the destruction caused by pollution.

As well as cleaning the public beach, she plants trees and rescues endangered sea turtles.

"I always have to look at it from a positive light. Every morning when I wake up, I have my bath. Every morning when I wake up, I try to clean the beach. It's basically a bath for the beach."

Ms Ogunye founded the Kids' Beach Garden, a space stretching over seven hectares (17 acres) of land along the coast, where children come to learn about the environment.

As I watch the playful way Ms Ogunye interacts with the children, teaching them about marine life and recycling using sport, games, chants and songs, it's obvious why the children keep coming back.

Ms Ogunye believes change starts with the young. She credits a childhood spent outdoors in Lagos for her love of nature.

Although Ms Ogunye trained as a lawyer, she realised that she wanted to pass on her passion for the environment to the next generation.

She decided to set up a charity for that purpose seven years ago while she was studying. The Kids' Beach Garden grew out of that initial venture.

"Every time I wanted to have fresh air from studying, I would come to the beach and relax.

"I realised that the beach was very dirty. There was no way I would even be comfortable in a place like that."

Ms Ogunye decided to take action. She used her database from previous charity projects to sign up volunteers to clean the beach and sort the recyclable waste on a regular basis.

'Turtles eat more plastic than food'

But it was not long before she realised that beach-cleaning and rescuing sea turtles would have to go hand in hand.

She found many of the reptiles washed up on the shore.

"Most of the time the turtles are disoriented, especially when they're caught in the garbage or caught in grass," Ms Ogunye explains.

"We tend to keep them in a very dark place and later on we release them."

Many of the baby sea turtles that hatch on the shore die because of the conditions of the beaches.

"Right now the sea turtles are eating more plastic than even food," Ms Ogunye says.

"That's basically what's been killing sea turtles."

She says it is essential that people living in coastal communities are educated about the need to conserve the creatures.

According to the activist, fostering relationships with people in these neighbourhoods and involving them in the process plays a central role in the education process.

She says it is crucial to explain to communities, who mainly depend on fishing, what they stand to lose if sea turtles are wiped out.

Ms Ogunye explains that a sea turtle's diet consists of jellyfish, seaweed and sea grass.

"Jellyfish are toxic. If [we] have [too] much jellyfish in the ocean, we're going to have a reduced amount of fish and that will cause food shortages."

Before I leave her, she promises to call when she next releases a rescued turtle.

'Meat in the sea'

A few weeks later I get an urgent call from her asking me to meet her at the beach garden.

She has bought a sea turtle from a fisherman who, she had heard through social media, was attempting to sell it in a village for food.

Of course Ms Ogunye has other ideas, wanting to release it back into the ocean.

When I arrive I find her digging a ditch in the sand with the help of a few volunteers and the fisherman who sold her the turtle.

The turtle, which had been bleeding from the mouth earlier, is floundering in the sand in distress.

Ms Ogunye is trying to contact a marine biologist for advice, but the turtle dies later that evening.

The marine biologist explains the cause of death was internal bleeding and there was little they could have done to save it.

It is illegal to catch and sell sea turtles and if anyone is caught they will be fined and possibly jailed.

Despite this, selling the creatures can prove too much of a temptation for fishermen.

The fisherman in this instance boasts that he can make more than $200 (£126) for one turtle and refers to them as "meat in the sea".

Changing these attitudes can make her work feel like an uphill struggle, but Ms Ogunye says she will never give up.

"I call it a burden because it's all I think about sometimes," she says.

When I wake up in the morning, when I'm having my bath, I'm wondering how we can take care of the environment. It's so precious and so important to me.

"I want in my lifetime to see Nigerians and Africans taking care of the environment."

Curfew declared in Kaduna after violent clash leaves 55 people dead

Nigerian authorities declared a 24-hour curfew Sunday in Kaduna after clashes between young Christians and Muslims left at least 55 people dead.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai posted a statement on Facebook from his spokesman stating: "The state government has declared a curfew in Kaduna metropolis and its environs to manage the situation."

"The governor appealed to all residents to do their best to uphold peace," the statement added.

Kaduna was plunged into communal violence this week after fighting broke out between Hausa Muslim and Adara Christian youths in the town of Kasuwan Magani's market following a dispute among wheelbarrow porters.


Two people were said to have been killed in the initial market fracas on Thursday. The violence then dramatically escalated when Adara youths later attacked Hausa residents, burning homes, and killing dozens.

"Most of the killings were done in the second attack which took the Hausa community off guard," Muhammadu Bala, a Kasuwar Magani resident who lost his home, told AFP over the weekend.

Kaduna state police commissioner Ahmad Abdur-Rahman told reporters on Friday 22 people had been arrested in connection with the violence.

Kaduna state is where Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south, and has seen previous bouts of sectarian violence.

In February clashes left at least 10 people dead and hundreds of homes and businesses burnt. Major bouts of sectarian rioting in 2000 and 2002 killed thousands.

The latest outbreak prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to express concern that Nigerians were too frequently resorting to violence over misunderstandings that could be resolved peacefully.

"No culture and religion supports the disregard for the sanctity of life," he said, adding that "peaceful coexistence is necessary for the progress of any society and its wellbeing".​

Separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu resurfaces in Isreal

Missing Nigerian separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu has resurfaced in Israel more than a year after soldiers stormed his home. 

"I'm in Israel," Mr Kanu said on Sunday in a broadcast on his outlawed pirate radio station - Radio Biafra.

A video of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (Ipob) leader praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem has also been shared online.

Mr Kanu holds both Nigerian and British nationality and says he is Jewish.

His wife, Uchechi Kanu, told the BBC in February that she believed the government knew where her husband was being held after his home was raided by soldiers.

Mr Kanu has been campaigning for an independent state called Biafra in south-eastern Nigeria.

In 2015, Mr Kanu was charged with "criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation" - charges that could amount to treason.

He was released on bail last year after spending more than 19 months without trial on treason charges.

He then renewed his campaign for independence, before his house in the south-eastern Abia state was raided by the military.

Who is Nnamdi Kanu?

He was a relatively obscure figure until 2009 when he started Radio Biafra, a station that called for an independent state for the Igbo people and is broadcast to Nigeria from London.

Though he grew up in Nigeria's south-east and went to the University of Nsukka, Mr Kanu moved to the UK before graduating.

Soon after setting up Ipob in 2014, he spoke to gatherings of the large Igbo diaspora, calling for Biafran independence. In some of his comments, he urged Biafrans to take up arms against the Nigerian state.

"We need guns and we need bullets," he said in one such address. This comment is what brought him to the attention of Nigeria's security services.

What is Biafra?

The plan for a Biafra state is not new.

In 1967 Igbo leaders declared a Biafran state, but after a brutal civil war, which led to the deaths of up to a million people, the secessionist rebellion was defeated.

Mr Kanu is the latest in a line of ethnic Igbo activists taking up the cause of pushing for an independent state, saying the Igbos have been marginalised by successive Nigerian governments.

. First republic of Biafra was declared by Nigerian military officer Odumegwu-Ojukwu in 1967
. He led his mainly ethnic Igbo forces into a deadly three-year civil war that ended in 1970
. More than one million people lost their lives, mostly because of hunger
. Decades after Biafra uprising was quelled by the military, secessionist groups have attracted the support of many young people
. They feel Nigeria's central government is not investing in the region
. But the government says their complaints are not particular to the south-east

The Israel connection

Mr Kanu said in Sunday's broadcast that he was still pushing for a referendum to create a breakaway state in the south-east.

He urged his followers to boycott next year's elections in Nigeria unless the government agrees to the push for a referendum.

"Ipob will liberate Biafra and we will not take part in any elections until we get a referendum, it is not negotiable, we will do it by any means," he said.

"I will be back soon in the land of Biafra and I will bring hell with me," he said.

"I owe my survival to the state of Israel," he added, saying that he had been aided by Mossad, country's spy agency, without elaborating how he was assisted.

The BBC has contacted Mossad for its comments.

It is, however, unclear how Mr Kanu was able to get to Israel, as he had to surrender his Nigerian and British passports after his arrest.

The Ipob leader says he is an Igbo Jew, part of a group who believe they are descendants of the lost tribe of Israel who settled in West Africa. According to Jewish tradition, the tribes were scattered after the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in the 8th Century BC.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Video - Modern methods increase production Nigeria fabric dye industry

In central Nigeria, a fabric-dyeing culture has endured for more than 5-hundred years. To keep their businesses going, many have come up with more modern methods to dye fabric, while remaining true to the original process.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Video - Family mourns the death of kidnapped Nigerian aidworker

The family and colleagues of a Nigerian aid worker who was killed by her kidnappers mourned her death on Tuesday as the Red Cross said it had refused to pay a ransom for her release. The International Committee of the Red Cross identified the health worker as 24-year-old midwife Hauwa Mohammed Liman, who worked in a hospital supported by the Geneva-based aid agency.

Video - Nigeria new initiatives helps farmers bypass banks to go directly to investors

A new initiative is helping farmers in Nigeria increase crop yields and connect with investors through a technology that combines peer-to-peer lending with a stream of videos and photographs of the type typically seen in crowdfunding campaigns.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Video - Kidnapped aid worker killed by islamic militants

A kidnapped Red Cross health worker has been killed in Nigeria. Hauwa Liman was among 3 aid workers who were kidnapped by an Islamic state affiliated group a few months ago. She is the second aid worker in the group to be murdered. The clock is now ticking on the fate of the other worker. The trio were kidnapped following an attack in the Nigerian town of Rann. The group also still has the remaining Dapchi schoolgirl in their custody, and have vowed to keep her as a slave for life.

Video - Nigeria's techprenuers aim to create a talent pool to dominate the global scene

A tech revolution is brewing across Africa. Young software developers are making a name for themselves, breaking new ground. In Nigeria, one start-up is creating a pool of talent, aiming to take over the global tech space.

Voice of America sacks 15 workers in Nigeria involved in bribes

US government-funded broadcaster, Voice of America has terminated or proposed to terminate 15 employees from its Hausa language international radio service in Washington, D.C. following allegations of improper conduct, including the acceptance of improper payments from an official in their coverage area.

The employees were reported in Nigerian newspapers to have accepted improper payments in January of around $5,000 from a Nigerian state governor from the country’s northwest on a visit to VOA’s DC offices. The improper payment was said to have to come to light after a whistleblower reported to management. VOA declined to comment on further details of its ongoing investigation in the affair. It is unconfirmed if all the employees involved were journalists.

In an email to staff on Oct. 4, VOA director Amanda Bennett said the agency’s leadership was notified of the allegations “in recent months” and had launched several investigations, including requesting a review by the Office of the Inspector General.

“While privacy laws prevent us from disclosing any specifics, it is following the completion of these investigations that these terminations and proposed terminations are occurring,” she said.

VOA is a US government-funded international broadcast service. Its Hausa service broadcasts to 20 million people weekly, primarily in Nigeria, but also in Niger, Ghana, Chad and Cameroon.

As US federal employees, the VOA Hausa staffers, if true, would have violated a series of federal laws and regulations, particularly those prohibiting government employees from receiving improper gifts, which may be implicated by the alleged conduct in this matter. These include criminal penalties for bribery of public officials, the prohibition on acceptance of gifts given because of an employee’s official position, and the statutory requirement that all federal employees place loyalty to their legal and ethical responsibilities over private gain.

Accepting payments or “brown envelopes,” as it’s known in Nigerian journalism circles, is a common practice in the country. Journalists, operating in a competitive and crowded media landscape, accept the bribes to supplement paltry or unpaid salaries. Nigerian politicians, particularly around elections, often exploit the situation, paying journalists to buy their allegiance and control narratives.

Radio listenership of international broadcasters such as VOA, BBC Hausa, Radio France Hausa and Deutsche Welle are high in Nigeria’s northern regions, ironically in part because they are often seen to be neutral players who are above manipulation by local politicians or governments.

To safeguard its reputation and integrity, VOA has launched a separate investigation to determine if any coverage was improperly influenced. “If any such influence is discovered, we will deal with it promptly and transparently,” Bennett said.

She added: “If any other instances of improper payments are discovered in any service anywhere in VOA, we are committed to investigating them thoroughly and dealing with them promptly as well.”

The incident leaves the service with only 11 permanent government employees and contractors to produce 16 hours of radio and 30 minutes of television every week. Africa division director Negussie Mengesha said assistance from the agency’s extensive network of part-time contributors in Africa will help them maintain their current programming. One of 15 dismissed includes the chief of the Hausa service; VOA’s former Hausa Service chief, Fred Cooper, will serve as acting chief until a permanent one is selected.

VOA declined requests to speak to Amanda Bennett and Negussie Mengesha.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Boko Haram execute second aid worker

An aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been killed in Nigeria by Islamist militants who kidnapped her last March.

Hauwa Liman, a midwife, was killed days after kidnappers set a deadline.

The ICRC said it was devastated by the news. The Nigerian government called the murder "inhuman and ungodly".

Ms Liman was taken with two others in the northern Nigerian town of Rann. Fellow midwife Saifura Ahmed Khorsa was killed last month.

A 15-year-old schoolgirl is being held by the same militant group, Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap), which is affiliated to the Islamic State group and is a faction of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.

The girl is one of 110 who were kidnapped in the northern town of Dapchi last February. Most of the other students were freed but the girl, who reportedly refused to convert to Islam, remains in captivity.

What more do we know about the kidnappings?

Ms Liman, 24, a midwife and university health education student, was working with internally displaced people in Rann in Borno State, the epicentre of militant activity, when she was abducted in March 2018.

She was taken along with Ms Khorsa and Alice Loksha, a nurse, during an attack on a military base by Iswap fighters in which three other humanitarian workers and eight members of the security forces were killed.

Last month, the ICRC received a video showing the killing of Ms Khorsa.

Exactly a month later, on Monday, another video appeared showing the killing of Ms Liman. A local reporter, who said he had seen it, reported that Ms Liman was shot at close range.
What did the militants want?

The militants did not make their demands public. The excuse they gave for killing Ms Khorsa in September was that they had put forward their demands to the government but they were ignored. The government has not disclosed what the jihadists were demanding.

It is unclear why the ICRC would be targeted when it acted as an intermediary between the government and Boko Haram for the release of the Chibok girls in 2017.

In a short statement after the killing of Ms Liman, Iswap said the Muslims midwives were killed because they had "abandoned their Islam the moment they chose to work with the Red Cross". It shows how brutal and intolerant the militants are.
What has been the reaction to the killing?

Patricia Danzi, the ICRC's regional director, said there was no justification for the "execution of innocent young healthcare workers" and she feared for its implication on their work in the region.

"It is actually bad news for all of us, for the family, for the humanitarian communities, for the health personnel and for all the women, daughters and mothers of Northern Nigeria and far beyond," she told the BBC.

Nigerian Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the government was "deeply pained" by news of the killing, but added it would "keep the negotiations open" and continue to work to free Ms Loksha and the schoolgirl.

Iswap has reportedly said it plans to keep the schoolgirl and the nurse, both Christians, as slaves.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Video - Nigeria puts money launders and tax evaders on notice

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has issued an executive order targeting money laundering and tax evasion. As part of his fight against corruption, President Buhari has warned that there is no hiding place for those who try to conceal their offshore wealth.

Video - Boko Haram threatens to execute kidnapped aid workers

An International aid organisation is pleading for the rescue of two of its workers who have been threatened with execution by terrorist group Boko Haram in the northeastern part of the country.

Video - Nigerian government, unions in stalemate over workers minimum wage

The Nigerian government is currently stuck in a wage dispute with Labour unions in the country. Earlier this month, the Unions embarked on a nationwide strike to force the government to resume negotiation with them over the issue. The talks have since resumed but there is no agreement yet.

British doctor forgives kidnappers that held him captive in Nigeria

A doctor said he has forgiven the kidnappers who captured him and his wife in Nigeria and killed their friend.

Dr David Donovan and his wife Shirley were working as Christian missionaries to improve healthcare in Africa when they were seized by militants.

Optician Ian Squire was shot dead, before the rest of the group were safely released after 22 days.

Dr Donovan said he and his wife were thankful for their "second chance".

They were running four healthcare clinics set up by their charity New Foundations in the Delta area of Nigeria when they were captured on 13 October 2017.

Dr Donovan, 58, said the group had been due to leave their compound when the kidnappers struck.

He said the armed gang cut power to the compound before launching the kidnap attempt, which he called a "nightmare scenario".

Intimidating and unpredictable

Dr Donovan, who used to work as a GP at the Riverside Practice in March, Cambridgeshire, said: "They took us by boat towards the Atlantic into quite a flooded area of the jungle.

"At that time of the year it is the rainy season so there isn't any land at all, so it is completely off the map."

Dr Donovan and his wife have moved to Coldstream, Scotland, since their release and written a book about their ordeal, which is due to be released next year.
The GP said they had learned to forgive their captors, and even held Bible classes with three of them.
He said: "Initially [they were] very intimidating, extremely unpredictable due to drugs and alcohol, very adrenaline fuelled, extremely violent, extremely intimidatory.
"They were broken men, absolutely broken, and it is not my position to judge them."
The Donovans gave a talk at St Wendreda's Church in March to thank people who had prayed for their safe return.
Dr Donovan said he and his wife are "seizing the day".

Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria dissects Nigeria in new book

Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has recommended reformation of Nigeria’s military and other security agencies as solution to the country’s problem of insurgency and for her development.

Campbell made the recommendation recently when the United States Consulate General Lagos launched in his honor, a book titled: Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know which he co-authored with Matthew T. Page. Addressing the media at the Ikoyi residence of the Consul, Campbell said based on his observations, people he has talked to and NGOs’ submissions, the consensus is that Nigeria’s security service abuses is a driver of recruitment by Boko Haram. 

Other recommendations made by the former envoy include infrastructure development and combating of corruption. Campbell also decried the electoral system and processes in Nigeria saying while the people of Nigeria spend long hours on queues in the hot sun trying to cast their votes in elections, voting is done in 10-15 minutes in the United States of America. Nigeria: 

What Everyone Needs to Know, in part, deals with what everyone needs to know about Islam and Cuba. John Campbell said his new book asks 72 questions and provides 72 answers dealing with what everyone needs to know.

“The book consists of 72 questions and answers. We were guided by questions we were asked – and by questions we wished we were asked. Some examples of the questions we came up with: 

How did the slave trade impact on Nigeria’s development? 

What will Nigeria’s economy look like in fifteen years? 

What makes Nigerian Christianity unique? 

What is a day in the life of a politician like? 

Why has communal conflicts killed so many Nigerians? 

Where is the Nigerian diaspora, and why is it so influential? 

Will Nigeria’s oil run out, and if it does, what happens? 

“Matthew and I each drafted the answer to 36 questions – and then we swapped drafts, questioning and editing each other’s work. Then we sent selected questions and answers to experts for feedback. We then put the book together. The questions are arranged chronologically – the book opens with questions related to Nigeria’s history – like the slave trade – and closes with questions related to Nigeria’s future. “But, our hope is that readers will use the table of contents to find the questions they are interested in at any particular moment. For example, under the question, How does Nigeria contribute to world culture? There is discussion of the domestic film industry – Nollywood -and also music,” Campbell said.

Regretting the state of perennial electric power failure in the country, Campbell queried where all the money spent on electricity in Nigeria since 1999 has gone to. “Corruption – private gain at the expense of the public – is widespread. Fourteen billion dollars has been spent on electricity since 1999 -where are the results?” The former envoy regretted that Americans do not pay sufficient attention to Nigeria. 

Paying attention to Nigeria is important, said Campbell, because “what happens here (in Nigeria) directly impacts on the United States. Yet, I get frustrated that Americans do not pay sufficient attention to Africa in general or Nigeria specifically. The visit by the First lady, Melania Trump, is positive because many Americans will focus on Africa. 

I do regret that she is not visiting Nigeria or South Africa, the continent’s countries of greatest strategic importance to the United States. For outsiders, Nigeria is a complicated place.” Narrating his itinerary and career in Nigeria, Campbell said: “I first went in 1988 from my post in Geneva. I set out to try to understand how Nigeria works. I have lived there more than seven years.

I was Political Counselor at the U.S. embassy, then in Lagos, from January 1988 to July 1990. I was responsible for political reporting during those years of military government. I returned to Nigeria as American ambassador in 2004. My tour ended in 2007. 

During those two periods, I visited 35 of the 36 states. I was able to talk to everybody – from presidents to cardinals to chiefs to rag-pickers. I retired from the U.S. Department of State when my tour in Nigeria ended, in 2007. I was briefly recalled in 2008-09 by the Office of the Inspector-General to inspect our missions in Mexico and Iraq. Since then, I have had no formal ties to the U.S Government. 

“I have also been able to look at Nigeria from an academic perspective: I was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University during the 1990-91 academic year and later a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, 2007-2008. I have been at the Council on Foreign Relations since 2009, working mostly on Nigeria and South Africa. 

“I was asked by Oxford to do a book on Nigeria for its What everyone needs to know series. The series’ audience is primarily American, British, and other educated non-specialists around the world. The book might also be of particular interest to Nigerians, if for no other reason than how two foreign friends see the country. 

The series avoids jargon and political science language. Academic apparatus – footnotes, etc. – are kept to a minimum. The former U.S ambassador then narrowed his discussion to the content of his new book. “I invited Matthew Page to be a co-author. He has had a long and distinguished career as an Africanist in various agencies of the U.S. Federal Government. His knowledge of Nigeria is exhaustive. “The book is divided into seven sections: History, Economics of Oil, Religion, Politics, Security Challenges, Nigeria and the World, and Nigeria of the Future. 

“For each section, we developed questions. That meant trying to decide what “everyone needs to know.” What is the bottom line?” 

What does everyone need to know? 

First, the Challenges: Chinua Achebe said: “Whenever two Nigerians meet, their conversation will sooner or later slide into a litany of our national deficiencies. 

The trouble with Nigeria has become the subject of our small talk in much the way the weather is for the English.” From our perspective, the general socio-economic challenges include the following: 

There is over-reliance on subsistence agriculture and petty trading; the percentage of those living in poverty is increasing; climate change is having a serious impact on Nigeria: the Sahara is moving south, sea levels in the Gulf of Guinea are rising. 

There is also a population explosion: In Zamfara, the statistically average woman has 8.1 births; in Rivers State, 3.8. Nigeria’s is a flawed democracy bedeviled by multiple insurgencies: Boko Haram. There is conflict in the Middle Belt over land and water use, often in an ethnic and religious context, and with criminal elements, i.e., cattle rustling. 

Nigerians widely criticize their government for mismanagement; corruption is structural. The bottom line is this – most Nigerians must fend for themselves. 

Specific challenges 

There is lack of infrastructure, and basic social services are inadequate, said Campbell. “Examples are in the fields of health/medicine, generation of electricity (the country generates about the same amount of electricity as Edinburgh). 

Education, especially primary, does not prepare adequately a modern workforce. Lack of clean water promotes disease. Infant mortality rates are slightly better than Somalia (a war zone), worse than South Sudan.” In spite of all these, authors contend that Nigerians are survivors: “They survived boom and bust cycles mostly associated with international oil prices; they survived three decades of military rule; Nigerians survived catastrophic Civil War that left more than two million dead. 

Nigeria’s promise 

“Nigerians show resolve, industriousness, and optimism about the future. 

There is great capacity for peaceful co-existence and informal conflict resolution. A sense of national identity may have started to develop, and there is a popular commitment to democracy. This is clearly seen in the efforts Nigerians make to vote. “Press and media are largely free, and there is an entrepreneurial culture. 

“Throughout our book, Matthew and I emphasize the optimism we have about Nigeria’s future by highlighting ways in which the country can unlock its great potential, whether by focusing on infrastructure development, combating corruption, reforming its military and opening up more opportunities for women to participate in politics, or in a host of other ways.

“In 1960 at independence, Nigerians expected that theirs would soon become a great power, giving Africans a seat at the highest international table. Maybe it is just going to take longer than they expected. Ambassador Campbell, the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Matthew T. Page, Associate Fellow in Chatham House’s Africa Program, in the book, provide a rich contemporary overview of Nigeria, delving into the country’s recent history, politics, culture, corruption, war against terrorism, and human rights issues. Chief Tat Osman of U.S. Consulate’s Political Section hosted the event celebrating the release of the new book.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Nigeria to be the world's poverty capital for a generation

Nigeria is making little progress in eliminating poverty.

New reports by global development institutions show that human capital spending in Nigeria—the poverty capital of the world after recently overtaking India—is among the worst in the world.

In the second ever Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) index compiled by Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam, Nigeria placed bottom in a ranking of 157 nations. The CRI Index ranks the commitment of national governments to reducing the gap between rich and poor citizens by measuring three factors considered “critical” to reducing the gap: social spending, tax policies and labor rights. Nigeria ranked bottom of the index for the second consecutive year.

The report says Nigeria’ social spending (mainly on health, education and social protection) is “shamefully low.” And those meager levels are reflected in reality as Nigeria is home to the highest number of out-of-school children. Nigeria also scores poorly on labour rights (133 out of 157) but recent progressive tax policies—such as a tax amnesty scheme—were noted and expected to reflect in the next index.

While the CRI index measures current realities, the World Bank’s first ever Human Capital Index (HCI) predicts future expectations but it is just as grim: ranks Nigeria 152nd out of the 157 countries.

The index measures “the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.” That prediction is based on five indicators: chances of a child reaching age five, healthy growth, expected years of schooling, quality of learning available and the adult survival rate.

Nigeria’s HCI value of 0.34 (countries are scored between zero and one) is lower than the global average (pdf) of 0.57. It’s also lower than the regional average and the average for nations in Nigeria’s income bracket. As such, the report predicts that “a child born in Nigeria today will be 34% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.”

Reducing inequality and developing human capital is crucial to any efforts to eliminate poverty in Nigeria but data shows it is an area where successive governments have been lagging: the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty increased by 35 million between 1990 and 2013 alone.

For its part, Nigeria’s government under president Buhari has launched social intervention programs, including cash transfers to its poorest people, in a bid to reverse its extreme poverty problem. Nigeria’s efforts at reducing poverty will have to yield immediate and long-term results given it’s ballooning population: the country is set to become the world’s third largest by 2050.

Nigeria’s petro-economy, which has typically been buoyed by rising oil prices has remained in the doldrums even after exiting a five-quarter recession last year. But the longer-term dire outlook of both reports reflect the poor planning and mismanagement by successive governments over many years.

MultiChoice opens film school in Nigeria

MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy, West Africa, officially opened on Monday in Lagos, with the objective of providing Africa’s next generation of film and television storytellers after a 12-month training programme. Speaking at the launch of the Academy, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, commended MultiChoice Nigeria for giving youths selected from across the country an opportunity to understand the film production.

Ayorinde said: “What MultiChoice did deserves huge commendation and these 20 students need to acknowledge the fact that stakeholders in the entertainment industry in Nigeria and across the continent expect a lot from them.”

Also speaking at the launch, Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ziblim Iddi, congratulated the 20 students selected for the inaugural edition of the Academy and charged them to be committed. On his part, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, said: “The film and television industry is the pioneer of creative industries in Africa and is particularly relevant as a tool for shaping the African narrative. “We have been telling authentic and well-produced stories that only Africans themselves can tell. But there is a lot of raw talent that need to be nurtured and polished. “The Academy will give such talent the opportunity to hone their skills, thereby increasing the pool of world-class talent. It is also about teaching the business of film and television.

“We are fortunate to have the calibre of broadcast partners that we do in M-Net and Africa Magic, who believe in this project and have been on it with us from the very beginning.”

Boko Haram releases 833 children

A militia group fighting against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria has released 833 children from its own ranks, some as young as 11, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Friday.

UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was formed in 2013 by vigilante groups in Borno state to fight Boko Haram which itself gained international notoriety for kidnapping schoolgirls in the town of Chibok.

The CJTF signed an action plan in September 2017 to end child recruitment, and the release of the children, 40 percent of whom were 15 or younger, was its first formal release.

“This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles,” UNICEF Nigeria Deputy Representative Pernille Ironside said in a statement.

The released children were among 1,175 boys and 294 girls who had been identified as being associated with the CJTF in the city of Maiduguri, UNICEF said, although the total has yet to be verified and could include another 2,200 or more children.

It said that it had supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children released from armed groups since 2017, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities and offering them psycho-social support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships.

Boulierac said that the CJTF included children who were “pursuing military objectives” but also lots in support roles, so their reintegration into society might be easier than those released from an armed group like Boko Haram.

That Islamist group has kidnapped thousands since it began an insurgency in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic state in the northeast.

Nigeria’s government has said since December 2015 that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated”, 20 months after the kidnap of the 270 Chibok girls.

Yet attacks continue in the northeast, while Islamic State West Africa, which splintered off from Boko Haram in 2016, holds territory around Lake Chad.

Video - Floods in Nigeria ruin crops for 100,000 farmers

Nigeria’s agriculture minister is warning there could be a shortage of rice, the country’s staple food.

The warning came after devastating floods hit large parts of the country, destroying crops just as farmers were getting ready for harvest.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from some of the affected areas.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Former VP Abubakar to run against Buhari in presidential election

Nigeria's main opposition has chosen former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the 2019 elections as it seeks to remove President Muhammadu Buhari.

The nomination of Abubakar, 71, by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), sets the stage for what is expected to be a fiercely contested poll in Africa's largest economy.

Abubakar hopes to replicate Buhari’s 2015 feat, when the latter became the first opposition candidate in Nigerian history to defeat a sitting president.

Abubakar, who had been the country’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in November and re-joined the PDP.

Buhari, 75, has already been selected by the ruling party as its candidate.

Next year's presidential race appears to have tightened in recent months, with the APC hit by a wave of defections over Buhari's leadership style.

Abubakar comes from the Muslim-majority north and his nomination follows an unwritten rule in Nigeria that the presidency should alternate every two terms between a candidate from the north and south.
Fall in popularity

In 2015, Buhari's victory over former President Goodluck Jonathan was marked by a wave of optimism, which seems to be in decline now.

In May, his approval rating plummeted to 41 percent from a peak of 80 percent in October 2015, according to NOIPolls, a Nigerian polling service.

There have also been concerns about his fragile health, his economic policies, the extent of his claims about better security, as well as the targets of his campaign against corruption.

However, Niyi Akinsiju, coordinator of Buhari Media Organisation, told Al Jazeera that Buhari's chances of re-election are "very high".

"He has developed a trusting relationship with the people who have confidence in his fidelity and integrity in the exercise of power," he said.

The PDP is hoping Abubakar will be able to leverage Buhari’s dwindling fortunes.

"Atiku Abubakar is seen by a majority of Nigerians as the candidate with the magic solution to the crisis plaguing our nation," PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan told Al Jazeera.

"He has a respectable pedigree within the political class across party leanings," he said.

The country's electoral commission has cleared 19 candidates to challenge Buhari in the February election.

Oby Ezekwesili, 55, a two-time minister and former vice president for Africa at the World Bank, is among other standout candidates.

She is the cofounder of the #BringBackOurGirls group to raise awareness about more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by armed group Boko Haram in 2014.

"Governance keeps worsening. So we the citizens have decided to get into the political arena to make things right," Ezekwesili said.

Kingsley Moghalu, former UN official and deputy governor of Nigeria's central bank, is also in the race.

An optimistic Moghalu even points to recent history for an "upset victory" for a non-mainstream candidate. "It happened with Trump. It happened with Macron," he said.

Hamza al-Mustapha, controversial security chief of the country's former military ruler, Sani Abacha, is also in the race. He has never held any political position.

In July, 39 registered political fronts, including the PDP and a splinter group from within the ruling party, signed an agreement to form the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP).

The splinter group of disaffected APC members led by Buhari's former ally, Buba Galadima, criticised the president's tenure as "a monumental disaster".

Ahead of his election in 2015, Buhari promised to tackle Boko Haram as well as fight corruption, revive the economy and provide jobs.

"He has stabilised the economy, reduced the Boko Haram insurgency from an invading army to opportunistic terrorists. His fight against corruption has reduced acts of brazen corruption and bureaucratic impunity," Akinsiju said.

Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer and the continent’s biggest economy, entered its first recession in 25 years in 2016, mainly caused by lower oil prices and attacks in the Niger Delta crude production region.

It emerged from recession in early 2017, but economists say growth remains sluggish and inflation has remained high.

Buhari’s supporters claim he has stabilised the economy.

"The economy has witnessed an unprecedented, consistent decline in inflation rate over an 18-month period reducing from a high of 18.7 percent in January 2017 to 11.14 percent in July 2018," Akinsiju said.

But the opposition is confident the economic situation will dent Buhari’s popularity.

"Atiku understands this nation and its economy. He is a personality that can take charge of his environment and comes up with decisions that affect the people positively," Ologbodiyan said.