Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Video -Theresa May to discuss trade, human trafficking with Buhari

British Prime Minister is continuing her tour of Africa in Nigeria. Aside from discussions on trade, May is set to tackle the issue of human trafficking with President Muhammadu Buhari. She will also meet with survivors of slavery in Lagos. May is due to announce a new joint project with France to strengthen Niger and Nigeria's borders. She has already pledged 5 billion dollars towards African economies.

Video - UK PM Theresa May discusses trade, security with President Buhari

UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues her tour of Africa. She's in Nigeria at the moment on the second stop of a three-country visit. The prime minister landed in Abuja earlier on Wednesday. She and President Muhammadu Buhari ave been discussing trade, security, and human trafficking. May is on what some are calling a charm offensive to seek more investment partners for the UK after it breaks away from the European Union. May is also meeting with victims of modern slavery in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, before she heads to Nairobi on Thursday for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

British Prime Minister Theresa May signs security partnership with President Buhari

Theresa May has signed a security pact with Nigeria’s president aimed at helping the country combat the militant group Boko Haram through better military training and anti-terrorist propaganda techniques developed in the UK.

The British prime minister’s agreement with Muhammadu Buhari was announced at a summit between the pair in Abuja and billed by the UK as an example of May’s ambition to promote a greater British presence in Africa and support states under pressure from terrorist threats.

“We are determined to work side by side with Nigeria to help them fight terrorism, reduce conflict and lay the foundations for the future stability and prosperity that will benefit us all,” she said.

Billed as the UK’s first security and defence partnership with Nigeria, the pact was the centrepiece of the second day of May’s three-day trip to Africa, in which she will visit Kenya on Thursday having been to South Africa on Tuesday.

The UK will provide training to the Nigerian military to help it contend with improvised explosive devices used by Boko Haram, and has offered to help train full army units, as opposed to individual soldiers, before they are deployed in the country’s north-east, where the Islamist militant group has its base.

It also hopes to cut the flow of new recruits by working with local communities “to push out counter-narratives” to Boko Haram, drawing on the UK’s experience of “countering terrorist propaganda at home”, according to the pact announcement. An additional £13m will be spent on an education programme for the 100,000 children living in the conflict zone.

May told Buhari the UK wanted to support Nigeria’s stability and said it was important their joint work on security was undertaken in line with international standards on human rights. The prime minister added that she endorsed the country’s efforts to combat illegal migration and modern slavery.

The British prime minister then travelled to Lagos, where she was greeted with several outdoor hoardings bearing her name. May switched tack to promote Britain’s expertise in financial services while seeking to emphasise future trade possibilities, in a week when she had called for the UK to become the leading G7 investor in Africa by 2020.

She met Aliko Dangote, one of the country’s wealthiest men, who has already agreed to list his $10bn (£7.7bn) cement business on the London Stock Exchange.

Thursday’s trip to Kenya will see May announce that the UK will build a cybercrime centre in Nairobi to help bring prosecutions against paedophiles in the east African nation.

The day-long visit will include a meeting with the country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and a press conference.

Kenyan authorities are not able to receive reports of child sexual abuse material from US technology companies because they say the country does not have the secure channels of communication needed. The UK’s National Crime Agency has already worked with Kenya’s anti-human trafficking and child protection unit in several investigations, securing prosecutions in 2015 and 2018 of British men who had sexually abused Kenyan children.

Video - Digital innovation in Nigeria offering new learning opportunities

Here's a look at digital innovation that could offer an alternative learning opportunity away from the conventional education system.

British Prime Minister Theresa May visits Nigeria

Theresa May is visiting Nigeria on the second day of her trade mission to boost ties with Africa after Brexit.

Mrs May will discuss security, trade and people trafficking with President Muhammadu Buhari before meeting victims of modern slavery in Lagos.

The prime minister already announced £4bn of extra British support for African economies during the first leg of her trip on Tuesday.

She also insisted her "sensible" Brexit plans will deliver a "good" deal.

Mrs May is travelling to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria - Britain's second largest trading partner in Africa - for talks with President Buhari.

She is expected to announce a new UK and French project to help Nigeria and Niger strengthen their borders to crack down on trafficking.

The prime minister will also pledge to support victims of modern slavery who have suffered "enormous trauma".

Speaking ahead of her visit, she said the UK was a "world leader" in trying to end modern slavery.

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said Mrs May's "warm words" rang hollow as her government had cut Border Force staff and police officers, who were "the frontline in the fight against modern slavery".

Mrs May's three-day trip to Africa is aimed at deepen economic and trade ties with growing African economies ahead of Britain leaving the EU in 2019.

Arriving in South Africa on Tuesday, Mrs May - who is accompanied by a team of business delegates - said she wanted the UK to overtake the US to become the G7's biggest investor in Africa by 2022.

She struck Britain's first post-Brexit trade pact with Mozambique and the Southern African Customs Union, made up of six African nations. The EU currently has an economic partnership with this union, and the UK will now continue working with it after Brexit.

And Mrs May also pledged a "fundamental shift" in aid spending to focus on long-term economic and security challenges rather than short-term poverty reduction.

On Thursday, she will finish her tour in Kenya, where she will hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta and attend a state dinner, visit a business school and meet British troops.

While in South Africa, the prime minster also faced questions from journalists on Brexit.

She told the BBC's Ben Wright that the UK is "still operating to the timetable" as it is originally set out in the Brexit negotiations.

It comes after the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier indicated last week that a deal may be pushed back to early November.

She played down warnings from Chancellor Philip Hammond - who said last week that a no-deal Brexit could damage the economy.

She said the comments were based on analysis first released in January that were, at the time, a "work in progress".

Mrs May then cited comments by the head of the World Trade Organisation, who said Brexit "won't be a walk in the park, but won't be end of the world either".

"We are working for a good deal, we have put forward our proposal for a good deal," she said. "I believe that deal is to the benefit, not only of the UK, but the EU.

"What the government is doing is putting in place the preparations to make sure we can make a success whatever our future relationship is with the EU and whatever the outcome of the negotiations."

Talking to journalists on board RAF Voyager on Tuesday morning, Mrs May reiterated that she believed a no-deal Brexit was still better than a bad deal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Video - Nigeria expresses keen interest in One Belt One Road initiative

Nigeria's government has expressed great interest in the "Belt and Road Initiative" and hopes to be included into the infrastructure development project. Speaking ahead of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation next week, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian said his government attaches great importance to the summit. Ambassador Zhou pointed out that China-Nigeria relations, have been steady. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative will top the agenda during the upcoming Beijing Summit. The initiative proposed by China is consistent with the development aspirations and development strategy of Nigeria.

UK seize £70m from Nigerian

The United Kingdom says it had returned the sum of £70million recovered from a Nigerian.

The country said the individual was convicted of fraud in an Italian court.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, made the disclosure in a chat with journalists in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “There was an Italian court case with a particular person involved.

“A portion of the fund has been in the UK and that was the portion that was returned recently from the UK to Nigeria.

“So, it’s in that context that the 70 million (pounds) was returned.”

Arkwright, who, refused to disclose the identity of the Nigerian, said more funds would be repatriated.

“The British government has no intention of keeping one kobo of Nigerian funds in the UK,” said the diplomat, adding “It all must come back to Nigeria.”

“Just as in Nigeria, the UK feels that the judicial process is important, and we have to go through those processes before the money can be returned.”

Arkwright also confirmed that British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Nigeria on Wednesday as part of her visit to Africa.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Third Mainland Bridge in Nigeria shut down for maintenance

Nigeria has shut down its busiest bridge for maintenance. The Third Mainland Bridge links Lagos Island to the shores of the capital, a city of nearly 20 million people. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris looks at the ageing bridge and the disruption that will follow the shutdown.

Nigerian coastal communities may be submerged in a few years

Coastal communities in Lagos are facing the grim prospect of being wiped out as a result of Ocean surge and erosion. The city's long stretch of shoreline is fast eroding with some coastal communities badly affected. Environmentalists are blaming the situation on climate change and human activities and are warning that if attitudes don't change and something done, Coastal communities in Lagos could be completely submerged in a few years time.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Video - Nigerian hailed a hero for helping internally displaced people

Nigeria is battling with a lack of resources in camps for internally displaced people. Many families have fled their homes during the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency. Often aid agencies are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in need of assistance. One man has become a local hero in Abuja, by helping those living in temporary shelters in Nigeria's capital.

Video - Nigeria to hand out $500m in collateral free loans

Nigeria's government says it will hand out more than half a million dollars collateral free loans to small and medium scale businesses. Vice president Yemi Osinbajo says the scheme will boost the role of small businesses in the growth of the country's economy.

Nigerian village where men and women speak different languages

In Ubang, a farming community in southern Nigeria, men and women say they speak different languages. They view this unique difference as "a blessing from God", but as more young people leave for greener pastures and the English language becomes more popular, there are concerns it won't survive, reports the BBC's Yemisi Adegoke.

Dressed in a brightly coloured traditional outfit, a red chief's cap and holding a staff, Chief Oliver Ibang calls over his two young children, eager to demonstrate the different languages.

He holds up a yam and asks his daughter what it is called.

"It's 'irui'," she says, without hesitating.

But in Ubang's "male language" the word for yam, one of Nigeria's staple foods, is "itong".

And there are many other examples, such as the word for clothing, which is "nki" for men and "ariga" for women.

It is not clear exactly what proportion of words are different in the two languages and there is no pattern, such as whether the words are commonly used, related or linked to traditional roles for men or women.

"It's almost like two different lexicons," says anthropologist Chi Chi Undie, who has studied the community.

"There are a lot of words that men and women share in common, then there are others which are totally different depending on your sex. They don't sound alike, they don't have the same letters, they are completely different words."

'Sign of maturity'

She says the differences are far greater than, for example, British and American versions of English.

However, both men and women are able to understand each other perfectly - or as well as anywhere else in the world.

This might be partly because boys grow up speaking the female language, as they spend most of their childhoods with their mothers and other women, as Chief Ibang explains.

By the age of 10, boys are expected to speak the "male language", he says.

"There is a stage the male will reach and he discovers he is not using his rightful language. Nobody will tell him he should change to the male language."

"When he starts speaking the men language, you know the maturity is coming into him."

If a child does not switch to the correct language by a certain age, they are considered "abnormal", he says.

Ubang people are immensely proud of their language difference and see it as a sign of their uniqueness.

But there are different theories about how it happened. Most of the community offer a Biblical explanation.

"God created Adam and Eve and they were Ubang people," says the chief.

God's plan was to give each ethnic group two languages, but after creating the two languages for the Ubang, he realised there were not enough languages to go around, he explains.

"So he stopped. That's why Ubang has the benefit of two languages - we are different from other people in the world."

'Dual-sex culture'

Ms Undie has an anthropological theory.

"This is a dual-sex culture," she says.

"Men and women operate in almost two separate spheres. It's like they're in separate worlds, but sometimes those worlds come together and you see that pattern in the language as well."

She notes that her theory does not have all the answers.

"I call it a theory but it's weak," she admits. "Because in Nigeria there are lots of dual-sex systems and yet we don't have this kind of language culture."

There are concerns about the survival of the different languages.

Neither the male nor female language is written down so their futures depend on the younger generation passing them down. But these days, few young people speak either fluently.

"I see it with young people," says secondary school teacher Steven Ochui.

"They hardly speak pure Ubang languages without mixing an English word."

'Mother tongues demonised'

This mirrors what is happening across Nigeria.

In 2016 the Linguistic Association of Nigeria said that 50 of the nation's 500 languages could disappear in the next few years if drastic measures were not taken.

Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa are Nigeria's major languages, as well as English - used to foster unity in a country with numerous ethnic groups.

The three major languages are taught in schools as part of the country's National Policy on Education, which speaks of the importance of preserving culture.

It also states that "every child shall learn the language of the immediate environment".

But this is not being enforced in Ubang, where children are discouraged from, and even punished for, speaking their language in school.

Mr Ochui says he is worried about the consequences of "demonising" the mother tongue in an attempt to encourage students to speak English instead.

"In my school here we punish students - beat them, at times they pay fines - for speaking their mother tongue," he says.

"If you beat a child for speaking his or her language, it will not survive."

'Text books needed'

Mr Ochui says more needs to be done to preserve Ubang's languages.

"We need text books in Ubang languages - novels, art, films - and they should allow us to teach the languages in schools," he says.

Stella Odobi, a student in Ubang, agrees more need to be done to stop the languages dying.

"Parents take their children to study in different communities and don't bother to teach [them] their mother tongues," she says.

But she says she is among many young people within the community who plan to pass the languages down to their children even if they leave Ubang.

Chief Ibang has dreams that one day a language centre will be set up in Ubang, showcasing the uniqueness of the community's two languages.

And he is confident that the languages will survive.

"If the languages die, then the Ubang people will exist no more."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Video - FIFA withdraws threat to suspend Nigeria from world football

FIFA has withdrawn its threat to ban Nigeria from international competition. It brings to an end a football crisis that began four years ago. FIFA says it has assurances that the legitimate leadership of Nigeria's football federation has been restored and is in full control of its offices.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Nigeria escape FIFA ban

Nigeria has narrowly escaped an international football ban after its government responded to a FIFA ultimatum shortly before a suspension took effect on Monday.
FIFA had issued a statement saying it would suspend Nigeria at 11 am GMT Monday because of a power struggle over the leadership of the Nigeria National Federation, known as the NFF. 

Amaju Pinnick was elected head of the NFF in 2014. However, while he was at the World Cup with Nigeria's Super Eagles team, another faction took over the federation's headquarters.

The faction was led by sports administrator Chris Giwa who says he is the rightful leader because of a court ruling in his favor earlier this year.

Nigeria's Sport Minister Solomon Dalung, acting on the court ruling ordered Pinnick and his board to comply with the court and leave the NFF, according to local media reports. 

However, faced with a FIFA ban for government interference, Nigeria on Monday rejected Giwa's claim to leadership and backed Pinnick instead. 

The vice president's media aide, Laolu Akande earlier tweeted: "The FG has already conveyed to FIFA its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current and only NFF Exco,"
FIFA later released a statement saying: "FIFA received confirmations that the legitimate leadership of the NFF under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices." 

It is not the first time that Nigeria has faced a FIFA ban over government interference. 

FIFA suspended the country when a high court ordered the NFF to hand over the reins of the national team to a government civil servant after the country's exit from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Football is a much-beloved sport in the country, but poor showings at international tournaments by the Super Eagles team have often inspired calls for change and prompted successive governments to interfere in the administration of the sport, a clear breach of FIFA rules, which does not accept government interference in football. 

The footballing ruling body says it will continue to monitor the situation in Nigeria to make sure "FIFA rules and regulations are fully adhered to."

Monday, August 20, 2018

Video - Nigerian fans mourn fallen Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin

The death of America's soul queen, Aretha Franklin, came as a shock to music lovers all around the world. She ruled the airwaves for decades and won the heart of millions with her dynamic voice. Tributes have been pouring in especially from her fans in Nigeria.

Video - Nigeria remains defiant as FIFA ban looms

Monday is deadline day for Nigeria to sort out the running of its Football Federation. Otherwise, the country shall be banned by FIFA. Soccer's governing body has taken issue with how much the state has allegedly interfered in the running of the Nigerian Football Federation. Amaju Pinnick, who is recognized by FIFA, and his team were kicked out of the NFF and a rival faction, led by Chris Giwa has taken control. Giwa is under a five-year ban by FIFA for breaches of the NFF statutes and the FIFA code of ethics handed in February last year. But he appears to have the backing of the Nigerian government.

Video - 19 killed, hundreds displaced in latest militant attack in Borno State

At least 19 people have been killed and hundreds displaced in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria. A survivor, Abatcha Umar, says the militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state at around 2am on Sunday. Survivors have fled to a camp for displaced people in nearby Monguno. The Islamist militants had been spotted around the village three days before the attack. This strike is the latest blow to Nigeria's efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa. Locals say they had warned Nigerian troops stationed in the nearby town of Gudumbali, but no action was taken.

700 Nigerians attempting illegal migration drown in Mediterranean sea

A group, on the platform of Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, MEPN, has raised the alarm that over 700 Nigerians died in the Mediterranean Sea while migrating illegally in the last six months.

The Director MEPN, Femi Awoniyi, who made this known while addressing newsmen in Abuja, weekend, said the figure is low, compared to those who died while trying to cross the Sahara Desert. 

While disclosing that Nigerians constitute the highest number of illegal migrants from Africa, he lamented that Nigerians have the highest rate of rejection among sub-Sahara asylum applicants in the European Union, EU. 

According to him, MEPN was poised to raising awareness on the risks and dangers of irregular migration, and dispelling the misconception that they were better job opportunities outside the shores of Nigeria. According to him, “this year alone, more than 1,500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, many of them Nigerians. 

“This is not even counting those who have died travelling through the Sahara Desert, or in the transit countries. “Everybody knows that more than half of Saharan migrants in Africa are Nigerians. We cannot count the number of people who die in the Sahara Desert. 

Experts say more people die in the Sahara Desert than the Mediterranean. “For those who are lucky to reach Europe, a difficult struggle to obtain legal residency begins. More than 30,000 Nigerians are currently awaiting deportation in Germany alone. “Their asylum claims have been rejected since Nigeria is not considered by the European Union as a country where there is political persecution.”

Cattle thieves carrying daily killings and kidnappings in North East Nigeria

Besides Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria and the pastoralist crisis across the central region's lush vegetation belt, a lesser-known conflict is brewing in the northwest, and casualties are rising.

Cattle thieves are carrying out daily killings and kidnappings in Zamfara state.

Hundreds have died this year alone.

In early August, 22-year-old Zuleiya Kura braved a two-day trek in the bush with her four children - including 40-day-old twins - to escape the violence.

The young family fled their village of Kanya to Zurmi town, both in Zamfara state, after cattle rustlers on motorcycles stormed her hometown with AK47s.

Her husband, the family's breadwinner, is missing. He had stayed behind with other men to defend Kanya and no one knows if they were killed or managed to escape.

"We all deserted the town after we heard that the bandits have come," says Kura, from the safety of a government-owned Arabic school housing more than 6,000 displaced people from across the state - all of whom were impacted by the same violence. "They were chanting Allahu Akbar."

Zamfara state is home to 4.1 million people and more than 90 percent are Muslim. It was the first Nigerian state to adopt Islamic law, in 2000.

Cattle rustling, which has long afflicted northern Nigeria, has assumed a dangerous dimension in recent years, say residents and analysts.

The many forests in the area, especially the twin forests of Mashema in Zamfara's north bordering nearby Niger Republic and Birnin Gwari to the south leading to the neighbouring, equally insecure state of Kaduna, have served as bases for criminals who stockpile sophisticated weapons.

According to an estimate from Amnesty International, at least 371 people have been killed in Zamfara state alone since January.

In July this year, young people incensed by the frequent killings burned down a police station in the town of Zurmi after policemen refused to release three suspected bandits to them for vigilante justice.

"The situation in Zamfara is nothing new and has been building for years since the state adopted [Islamic] law as a placebo to respond to economic challenges," explains Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence.

"Zamfara is one of Nigeria's poorest states, and there is circumstantial evidence that some of the perpetrators of violence may have been part of the enforcement brigade of that law almost two decades ago. Having said that, the seeming escalation is indicative of the wider issue in Nigeria where there is less money to go round and a larger population struggling for dwindling resources."

Nigeria's law enforcement agencies are understaffed and with its army stretched thin by other conflicts, the cattle-rustler crisis has continued unabated mostly in Zamfara but also Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and, recently, Sokoto states.

Kidnappings and vigilantism

Two military exercises codenamed Operations Sharan Daji (Hausa for Sweep the Forest) and Harbin Kunama (Hausa for Scorpion Sting) set up in previous years, have proved unable to curb the attacks.

A dusk to dawn curfew, imposed again after being lifted in 2016, is not fully enforced either.

Encouraged by the failure to stem the violence, the perpetrators have also taken to indiscriminate kidnapping-for-ransom schemes across major highways, killing locals in communities after stealing their cows and abducting women and forcing them into sex slavery. There have also been a few cases of artisanal gold miners being robbed of their gold and then killed.

The attackers tend to arrive on Honda motorcycles, says Sokoto-based taxi driver Abdullahi Abubakar.

"They park across the road and look inside vehicles they stop for those with fine skin or well-dressed [people] that look like they have money. Then they kidnap you and ask you to call your people to pay millions. Recently, they took one expatriate engineer working on a project in [Zamfara] and kept him for 12 days, feeding him well until a ransom of N30 million ($83,100) was paid."

Young people in several affected communities have formed local vigilante groups, arming themselves with sticks, Dane guns and crude weapons available for self-defence in case of reprisal attacks by ethnic militia.

The bandits are mostly Fulani mercenaries attacking predominantly Hausa settlements, with some criminal elements among the ethnic militia also instigating their own attacks in similar patterns, says the state government.

"After our ban of Yan Banga (vigilante) and allowances stopped, some transformed into Yan Sakai (volunteer forces) to revenge on Fulani people and some of them became criminals," said Ibrahim Dosara, a government spokesperson. "When we discovered that they were now part of the problem, the government banned them again."

'Our equivalent of black-on-black crime'

The crisis has largely gone under the radar as both media and the government focus on rumblings elsewhere in northern Nigeria.

Some analysts also believe the conflict is considered less pressing because it is an example of "Muslim-on-Muslim" violence.

"In Nigeria, we like our binary fixtures - Muslim versus Christian, Igbo versus Hausa, Fulani versus Yoruba," said Nwanze, the researcher. "Most of us can't process anything outside of those binaries, and since Zamfara doesn't fit any of those binaries, and is our equivalent of black-on-black crime, it is largely ignored. However, Zamfara is our laboratory for conflict resolution. How we resolve it, if we can resolve it, will determine whether we can resolve future conflicts."

In June, apparently frustrated by the situation, Zamfara governor Abdulazeez Yari told reporters that he was powerless in his role as chief security officer of the state.

"We have been facing serious security challenges over the years, but in spite of being governor and Chief Security Officer of the state, I cannot direct security officers on what to do nor sanction them when they err," he said.

Yari, who has been criticised for weak leadership and living outside his state on a regular basis, has no control over the internal security infrastructure because, in accordance with Nigeria's constitution, law enforcement apparatus is controlled wholly by the federal government.

Dosara, the government spokesperson, says in 2016, the state government convened a series of reconciliatory meetings with two main suspected leaders of the attacks, Dogo Gide and Buharin Daji. Both are Fulani.

"We initiated a disarmament and reconciliation process which succeeded in recovering over 3,000 different types of arms comprising machine guns, AK47s, locally made pistols, revolvers and other ammunition … and they took payments. Just about four months ago, they [the weapons] were destroyed before international organisations."

Not long after the suspected leaders surrendered their weapons and were paid off an undeclared sum, Daji broke the brief ceasefire.

Nicknamed General Buharin to mimic the title of Muhammadu Buhari, the retired general and Nigeria's president, Dajin went rogue.

One of the communities he attacked and stole cows from was a small village in the Dansadau area of the state, the hometown of Gide's wife.

Gide, exasperated by Daji's refusal to return his booty, pretended to extend an olive branch to his former ally - and killed him.

A few weeks ago, the army shot dead Daji's teenage heir after a run-in between his gang and security officials.

Still, the kidnappings, killings and general instability are yet to end.

Buhari's belated response

Calls for communal policing have resurfaced as the government at state and federal levels deliberate on how to ease the crisis.

"It is both a case for communal policing since the locals know many of the perpetrators, and a cautionary tale about communal policing without proper training and funding. Eventually, these people will turn those weapons against the very people they are meant to protect," warns Nwanze.

In a belated response in July, President Buhari - who came to power in 2015 vowing to tackle insecurity - deployed a 1,000-man strong military contingent from the army and air force to embark on yet another military exercise, Operation Diran Mikiya (Hausa for Eagle Fighting).

"Buharin Daji is the main rustling and kidnapping guy in-country and he's supposedly a Nigerian," says Beegeagles, a popular anonymous military intelligence blogger.

"In northern Zamfara, there are far more menacing guys coming in from Niger [Republic] … most of whom go unchallenged, given the negligible security. Everything that spells cash - gold, cattle, kidnapping - feeds into the conflict."

Friday, August 17, 2018

Video - Nigerian painter with innate sensibility for capturing the human spirit

Solomon Omogboye is a contemporary impressionist painter from Lagos. He's a prolific artist and has taught art in secondary schools in Lagos. His paintings are a reflection of his thoughts and inspiration. Omogboye is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Video - Nigerians call out government on stalled projects via Twitter

A group of ordinary Nigerians is tracking the government's performance by monitoring public projects funded by taxpayers' money and providing feedback to the people. Tracka, which primarily operates on Twitter, encourages citizens to share photographs and videos of incomplete projects.

Video - Nigeria to recapitalize Federal Mortgage Bank to spur sector

In Nigeria, the government plans to recapitalize the Federal Mortgage Bank with 1.4 billion dollars as commercial bank lending to property developers shrinks. Total bank lending rate for real estate development in the west African country contracted by 11 percent between 2015-2017-spreading fear of a worsening housing deficit.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Video - Nigerian government launches campaign to eliminate viral hepatitis

Nigeria has pledged to eliminate hepatitis by 2021. The West African nation is among 11 countries that carry 50-percent of the global burden of viral hepatitis -- yet access to testing and treatment remains low. Hepatitis affects the liver, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer, which is usually fatal.

Video - Victor Moses shocks fans with sudden exit announcement

Nigerian football fans are in shock at the retirement of one of their star players, Victor Moses. The 27-year-old Chelsea winger has released a statement to confirm his departure from the Nigerian national team.

Victor Moses of Nigeria retires from international football at 27

Nigeria's Victor Moses has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 27.

The Chelsea winger played 37 times for his country, scoring 12 times since making his debut in 2012.

He had previously represented England up to Under-21 level, while coming through the ranks at Crystal palace.

"I have experienced some of the best moments of my life wearing the Super Eagles shirt and have memories with me that will last a lifetime," he said.

"However, I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on my club career and young family, as well as to allow the next generation the opportunity to step up and to flourish.

"Thank you for the memories and good luck to the team for the future."

Moses won the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria in 2013, and represented the nation at two World Cups, in 2014 and 2018.

Nigeria were knocked out at the group stage in Russia this summer, having beaten Iceland but suffered defeats by Croatia and Argentina.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Video - Nigeria Coffee Art

To Nigeria now, where we meet an artist who's found a new purpose for coffee. Ekene Ngige is an avid coffee drinker, and has been using it in staining techniques in his art too.

Monthly uber passengers in Nigeria reaches 267,000

Transportation network company, Uber Nigeria, currently has 9,000 active driver-partners and no fewer than 267,000 monthly riders, an official has said. Francesca Uriri, the company’s Head of Communications in West Africa, made the disclosure in an interview in Lagos on Wednesday.

Uriri said that the drivers and riders were based in Abuja and Lagos, where Uber currently focused. She claimed that the growing number of the riders was due to safety and services provided by the company. “Uber works together with regulators to ensure the safety of its platform and that of those who use it,’’ Uriri said. 

The official also said that Uber maintained a high level of privacy. “Uber has taken steps to protect its sensitive external data repositories. “In Nigeria Uber is currently available in Lagos and Abuja and is focused on enabling driver-partners by providing business and economic opportunities. 

“The steadily growing number of Uber driver-partners in Nigeria is a testament to the appeal of the Uber business model. “That is because it creates real opportunities for local entrepreneurs to create and enjoy flexibility and enhance earning potential,’’ she said. 

According to Uriri, each city in Nigeria is unique and offers unique opportunities. “We have found Nigeria to be defined by agility, creativity and adaptability; we are committed to growth, and excited about the potential. “ When Uber commenced operations in Lagos four years ago, it (Lagos) was the fourth city in sub-Saharan Africa,’’ she said. She said that Uber was already present in over 140 cities in 40 countries before then. 

“ Today, Uber is available in 13 cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is available globally in over 600 cities in over 75 countries spanning six continents,’’ she said. Uriri said that Uber was constantly looking for ways to help driver-partners to get more value through many partnerships. “In Nigeria, we have partnered with companies such as FirstBank and Germaine Autos to ease the barriers of car ownership for driver-partners and to provide valuable car maintenance and servicing plans.’’ 

Uriri listed mapping and traffic congestion as some of Uber’s challenges in Nigeria but said that the company was working hard daily to overcome challenges to ensure seamless experience. Uber is a technology platform. 

The Uber app connects driver-partners and riders. Driver-partners use their own vehicles to pick up riders and drive them to their destinations and are paid for each completed trip. Uber was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco, California.

Uber testing UberEats in Nigeria

Nigerian government hands out cash to battle extreme poverty

The Nigerian government has just launched a collateral-free loan scheme which will see two million petty traders receive $28 repayable in six months.

It’s the latest social intervention program under Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari. The government also offers free meals in public primary schools and plans to distribute $300 million in looted funds recovered from Swiss authorities to its poorest people. Around 300,000 households in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states are expected to receive $14 per month.

There’s one simple reason Nigeria is doubling down on cash transfers to its poorest people: 86.9 million Nigerians—nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million population—live in extreme poverty.

So, does handing out cash to poor people actually work?

Yes, according to data.

A 2016 study by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) showed links between cash transfers and an improvement in school attendance, use of health services and dietary diversity in households that receive them. As Quartz has reported, when given to women, cash transfers have a positive impact on reducing domestic and sexual violence in poor households as well as reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Research has also dispelled the notion that poor people could abuse cash transfers with non-essential purchases. Several countries are wise to the potential of cash transfers as a development policy. Around a billion people currently receive cash transfers across 130 countries, according to the World Bank (pdf) with most of the transfers coming from governments.

But there’s a catch.

Studies also show that while giving money to poor people outright can have a positive impact on reducing poverty, the effects don’t last after the cash transfers stop. For many recipients, the cash transfers are essentially a means to better living on a day-to-day basis rather than a permanent transformative fix. The short-lived effects clearly give governments a hint: cash transfers are not substitutes for good governance or delivering a better life to citizens in the long-term.

Ephemeral effects aside, local nuance means cash transfers in Nigeria will unlikely be straightforward business. For starters, Africa’s largest economy notoriously lacks national records through which it will properly identify its poorest people. More so, with the poorest people likely unbanked, it’s unclear how the cash will reach them in a manner that’s transparent. In a country where corruption is rampant, that’s a red flag.

And then there’s the question of timing. With general elections due early next year, some will regard the interventions as a play for votes. There is already ample reason to be cynical. Recent state level elections have been marred by brazen vote-buying by agents of major political parties.

Cheta Nwanze, researcher with SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based intelligence consulting firm, says the loan scheme “will likely end up as a largesse which will not make a dent” and for which “return rates will be very poor.” Recent history backs up some of that sentiment. After launching a $126 million loan scheme for farmers in 2015, the government has struggled to recover the loans. As of December 2017, less than 50 of the 5,540 rice and wheat farmers who received loans had repaid them.

Single women struggle to rent homes in Nigeria

Many landlords in Nigeria suspect single women of being prostitutes, making it difficult for them to rent apartments.

A successful career woman, Olufunmilola Ogungbile, 30, never thought that she would be sleeping on a friend's couch after five months of apartment-hunting in Abeokuta city in south-western Nigeria.

She had moved from Lagos after securing a good job with the Ogun state government as a project administrator. Despite being financially independent, she struggled to find an apartment in middle and upmarket areas because she was single.

"The first question the landlord would ask me is if I'm married?" Ms Ogungbile said, "I'd say 'No', and they'd follow with, 'Why not'?"

She was often left puzzled.

"What does my marital status have to do with me getting a place to live in?"

'We want decent people'

Ms Ogungbile said the discrimination was widespread.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the landlords I met did not want to rent to me because I am a single woman," she told the BBC.

"Most landlords and agents would tell me, 'Can you bring your boyfriend or your husband?' In these kinds of apartments, we don't like boys coming in. We just want decent people."

Ms Ogungbile believes the hurdles she faced are down to cultural expectations - marriage is a benchmark used to measure decency.

"In this part of the world, if you are not married then you are a prostitute," she added.

Sylvia Oyinda - a product manager in the retail sector in Lagos, Nigeria's throbbing metropolis - agrees that the stigma makes it difficult for single women to rent in Nigeria.

Ms Oyinda, 31, was engaged when she started looking for an apartment. Landlords refused to meet her without her fiancé.

"There is a saying 'small girl, big god' that describes young single women who rent alone or squat with other females.

"The saying refers to single women who have sponsors, typically older men, who pay their rent," she said.

'Men have more money'

Ms Oyinda believes landlords assume most young single women are like this.

"The three landlords I met all refused to show me their apartments. They would tell me, 'Don't bother.'"

Out of frustration she stopped scouting on her own. On the fourth attempt, she went with her partner, to whom she is now married, and was taken seriously. The couple eventually settled for a four-bedroom flat in the high-end area of Lekki.

Coleman Nwafor, a landlord and property owner, said he does not discriminate, but most of his tenants and buyers are men because they have more money.

"Most single ladies are under the responsibility of their parents or a lover. You can never tell what will happen after the first year. And every landlord wants a tenant who will pay without stress and renew their contract once it expires," he told the BBC.

"Most single ladies are not working. There are more jobs for men than women in Nigeria. That is just the way it is."

'Landlords try to police women'

Yinka Oladiran, 25, who moved from New York to Lagos in May 2016 to pursue a career as a TV presenter, said she lived independently in the US and wanted to maintain her freedom in Nigeria.

She also wanted to reduce a three-hour commute to work from her father's home, but she could not rent an apartment without her father giving his consent to landlords.

"There were landlords who said they did not want to rent to me until they had spoken to my father to make sure that he was OK with it, even though I was paying with my own money," Ms Oladiran told the BBC.

"My opinion didn't matter. The landlords try to police women," she added.

After searching independently for more than six months, she finally got an apartment in April 2017.

However, she said she felt constantly undermined by security staff, especially when she came home late from work, as they often asked her who she was visiting.

"For that to even happen over and over again was very insulting," Ms Oladiran said.

As for Ms Ogungbile, her five-month hunt ended last week when she finally moved into a studio flat.

She said she secured it through a letting agency which focused on her income rather than her gender or marital status.

The 30-year-old, who is now excited about painting her new home in her favourite colours - purple and lilac - believes she fought back against discrimination in her own little way.

"Part of fighting the stigma was me refusing to bring a spouse or a partner because that was part of the criteria before they would hand me the keys," she said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Video - Nigerian government seeks to address petrol theft

As it stands today, Nigeria does not know how much refined petrol it consumes. Government agencies have bandied different figures ranging from 30 M to 70 M liters per day but the country's Bureau of Statistics says the figures are best guesstimates. The net effect is that the country pays subsidies on refined petrol consumption it cannot really account for. The government is now moving to address the age long problem.

FIFA gives Nigeria ultimatum or face ban

Fifa has issued ultimatums to Nigeria and Ghana that they both face bans from global football for "undue influence" in the affairs of their governing bodies. 

Nigeria's ban could begin with immediate effect if the Nigeria Football Federation "offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF executive committee under president Amaju Pinnick."

The issues in Nigeria come after a recent court case recognised Chris Giwa, who is currently serving five-year ban by Fifa, as the NFF president.

Giwa has been protesting the result of elections held in September 2014 that saw Pinnick installed as NFF president.

The NFF are due to hold polls on 20 September as Pinnick's four-year term is coming to an end.

The statement from Fifa added that any ban would not affect Nigeria's ongoing participation at the Women's Under-20 World Cup in France.

The Super Falconets are due to play Spain in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

A Ghana high court petition, brought by the attorney general to have the football association liquidated, must be withdrawn by the 27 August or a ban will be imposed.

The case came in the wake of widespread corruption allegations.

Football's world governing body says this "constitutes an undue influence in the affairs of the GFA in contravention of Fifa statutes."

The letter signed by Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura added that "if the petition to start the liquidation process of the GFA is not withdrawn by Monday 27 August 2018 at 1100GMT the GFA will be suspended with immediate effect."

The petition came in the wake of a film by controversial Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremayaw Anas that showed African match officials and former GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi accepting cash gifts.

A global ban would put Ghana's 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Kenya on 8 September in doubt, Nigeria are due to travel to face Seychelles the same weekend.

Since the release of the film the Confederation of African Football has issued bans to many of the match officials shown on camera.

Nyantakyi resigned from his posts as GFA president and from the posts he held with Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf). He denies any wrongdoing.

Fifa, suspended Nyantakyi for 90 days on 8 June but he has now left his role on the Fifa Council.

Caf has also announced that it will hold a vote at an Extraordinary Congress on "30 September 2018 in Egypt to fill the Caf 1st Vice-President function and the vacancy on the Fifa Council."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Video - Nigeria displaced return to ruin homes, fear violence

Thousands of people displaced by the armed group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria are returning home despite reports of new attacks. More than 30,000 left the relative safety of camps in Maiduguri to start rebuilding their lives. Although not all want to take the risk.

Video - Nigerians seek to end treacherous illegal immigration route from Libya to Europe

Nigeria is reported to have the highest number of illegal Migrants in Libya -- who are seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Most of them are young people hoping to get a better life in Europe. Although many of those who have been repatriated tell of harrowing experiences, there are still a number of Nigerians who are ready to take the risky journey. CGTN's Deji Badmus has been speaking to a returnee who is now one of those trying to put an end to the trend of irregular migration in Nigeria.

Video - Players from across the globe participate in table tennis tournament in Nigeria

The international Table Tennis Federation Challenge Nigeria Open is under way in Lagos. 170 players from 26 countries are taking part in the tournament.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Video - Femi Kuti reflects on a life in music and activism

Femi Kuti has long been one of the leading lights of Afrobeat. Over the course of a 40-year career he has melded jazz and funk to hypnotic effect while paying loving tribute to Fela Kuti, his pioneering father. The eldest son of Fela and grandchild of Nigerian women's rights activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Femi started playing in his father’s band at the age of 15. 

In 1986 he struck out on his own with his band Positive Force and within three years released his first album 'No Cause For Alarm'. It was just the start of a wide-ranging journey that has seen Femi collaborate with artists including Common, Mos Def and Jane’s Addiction, while garnering four Grammy Award nominations along the way. 

Yet, activism is just as important to Femi as his music - despite an ever-busy touring schedule he remains a pro-active ambassador for Amnesty International. Now, Femi is touring his tenth album, the recently-released 'One People One World'. 

For his first album in more than five years he returned to the studio with Positive Force to record a set of songs that expands his musical palette more than ever before. Activism is still central to Femi's songwriting but elements of reggae, soul, and calypso now sit comfortably alongside his trademark Afrobeat arrangements.

Video - Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo fires head of secret police

Nigeria's security forces are facing a major shake up. The country's Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has fired the head of Nigeria's secret police known as the Department of State Services. He was fired after agents of the DSS blockaded parliament, preventing lawmakers from entering.

Video - Nigerian-born artist dazzles South Africa with his unique style

Let's now head to South Africa -- Where a Nigerian-born artist is causing ripples. Olatunji Sanusi is a creative who spends his days crafting and developing a collage technique -- or process painting with paper. Sanusi uses pieces of colored paper that from a distance, gives an illussion of gestural strokes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Video - Startup aims to tackle Nigeria's electricity problem

Having lived in other continents for years without electricity interruption, one Nigerian, Femi Adeyemo decided to return home to help, in his own small way, find a solution to the country’s notorious electricity challenge. In 2014, in collaboration with a friend, he founded Arnergy, a startup that deploys the use of solar technology to generate electricity. Today, solar technology is catching on very fast in Nigeria and Femi’s Arnergy is at the thick of things.

Video - Nigerian police block lawmakers, officials from parliament

Nigerian security officers backed by unidentified uniformed men have blocked legislators, journalists and other government officials from accessing parliament. This comes amid a fallout in the ruling party - as members of parliament and other senior party officials decamp to the opposition. Senate president, Bukola Saraki, is among those who have defected. President Muhamnmadu Buhari is planning to seek a second term in the February 2019 elections.

Intelligence chief in Nigeria sacked over parliamentary blockade

Nigeria's acting president Yemi Osinbajo has fired the head of the country's intelligence agency, according to Osinbajo's aide, after masked security men prevented lawmakers and staff from entering the country's parliament earlier in the day. 

The incident sparked widespread anger in what one Senator described as a "siege" on the country's democracy.

Video of the incident shows Nigeria's lawmakers in angry confrontation with the masked men who blocked all gates leading to the parliament, denying senators and journalists access. 

Local media reported that the men were operatives of the State security service headed by Security chief Lawal Musa Daura, who has now been fired.

Several of the lawmakers, mostly from the opposition party, posted images and videos of the blockade, which happened early Tuesday morning.

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce claimed legislators from the opposition were locked out of their offices in the parliament, while those from the ruling party had earlier gained access into the building.

"APC (All Progressives Congress) senators are now in the chambers strategizing. They want a change of power, and they are desperate for leadership. They are now using law enforcement agencies for their bidding, but we are documenting all those involved in this illegal activity, " Murray-Bruce told CNN. 

President Buhari is currently out of the country on a 10-day working vacation in the United Kingdom, and his Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is ruling the country in his absence.

The security officials were acting without Osinbajo's authority as his spokesman, Laolu Akande, earlier told CNN he did not know why the lawmakers were prevented from entering the building.
"This administration is fully committed to the principle of separation of powers and will not do anything against those principles or against the constitution," Akande told CNN. 

Akande later released a statement saying that Osinbajo described the unauthorized takeover as a "gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order."
According to him, the unlawful act was done without the knowledge of the Presidency and was "condemnable and completely unacceptable."

However, opposition party legislators claim the incident was motivated by a desire to impeach the Senate President Bukola Saraki who recently defected from the ruling APC party to join the main opposition, People's Democratic Party (PDP). 

Saraki, Nigeria's third-most senior politician, left President Muhammadu Buhari's party after weeks of speculation over his loyalty. 

His announcement followed mass defection of top politicians from APC to PDP in recent weeks.
President Buhari is seeking reelection early next year but has been beset by problems with rising insecurity in the country as well as a lack of confidence in his leadership which has led to a large number of defections from his ruling party.