Friday, September 30, 2022

UK government faces court challenge in Nigerian rendition case

The family of a British citizen who was allegedly taken to Nigeria in an act of extraordinary rendition has been granted a court hearing to challenge the UK government for not intervening in his case.

Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), a prominent separatist movement proscribed in Nigeria, was arrested in Kenya in June last year before being transported against his will to Nigeria, where he has been held ever since.

In July, the UN working group on arbitrary detention published an opinion that the father of two had been subject to extraordinary rendition and said he should be released immediately. However, successive UK foreign secretaries, first Dominic Raab and then Liz Truss, before she became prime minister, have refused to take a view as to whether Kanu was a victim of extraordinary rendition.

The family has been granted a judicial review to challenge that refusal, arguing that its effect has been that no action has been taken to help him.

His brother, Kingsley Kanu, said: “The British government is well known for its stance on human rights. I believe it must be decisive when it comes to its decision-making about very serious violations of the human rights of British citizens abroad, especially when the facts are clear, as they are in my brother’s case, and when the UN has investigated and reached a firm conclusion that my brother was subject to extraordinary rendition. I am very happy that the court has agreed that a hearing is necessary to decide this important issue.”

Kanu’s family claim he was tortured in Kenya and has been held in solitary confinement in Abuja since being transported there. The UN working group referred the case to the special rapporteur on torture. It expressed concern that he had been denied treatment and medication for his heart condition and highlighted that solitary confinement in excess of 15 consecutive days is prohibited under the Nelson Mandela rules, international non-binding standards.

In a court filing concerning a parallel case brought by Nnamdi Kanu in Abuja, the Nigerian government denied torturing or mistreating him. It claimed that he entered Kenya unlawfully, having previously jumped bail in Nigeria, and so had no right to an extradition hearing.

In 2015, Kanu was arrested in Nigeria and charged with terrorism offences and incitement, after setting up a digital radio station, Radio Biafra, at his home in London. Two years later he fled the country while on bail after an attack on his family home, which he claimed killed 28 members of Ipob. In January, he pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.

Shirin Marker, from Bindmans LLP, who is representing Kingsley Kanu, said it was essential for the new foreign secretary, James Cleverly, to reach a firm conclusion on whether her client’s brother had been the victim of extraordinary rendition in order to decide what steps to take to assist him.

“The evidence available to date establishes that he has been subject to extraordinary rendition and torture or inhumane treatment,” she said. “It is unacceptable for the UK government to continue to prevaricate on this issue. We are glad that the court has now granted permission for this case to move to a final hearing.”

Explaining her decision to grant a judicial review hearing, Mrs Justice Ellenbogen said: “Such decisions/inaction are, in principle, reviewable and do not enter forbidden areas, including decisions affecting foreign policy.”

The Foreign Office declined to comment while proceedings were active.

By Haroon Siddique

The Guardian

I’ll turn Nigeria from consumption to production country – Obi

The Presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, Thursday, pledged to turn Nigeria from being a consuming to producing country if elected in 2023.

Obi made the pledge in Ibadan, after a closed-door meeting with Governor ‘Seyi Makinde in his office at Agodi, Secretariat, Ibadan.

He said, despite Nigeria has performed poorly in the last sixty-two years but survived as a nation, there was still need to celebrate, adding that, the next election should be how to start building a new Nigeria everybody would be proud of.

Obi said: “At this time in Nigeria, I’m going over and consulting with all the well meaning Nigerians about the future of the country. Consulting and discussing with them about how can we collectively bring back Nigeria and Nigeria becomes the country we will all be proud of.”

In 62 years, it can be said that we performed poorly, but we survived as a nation but we are tired of saying we’ve achieved a lot, we celebrate because this next election will a one to build a nation that we all can be proud of.

“Next year election will not be based on ethnicity because there’s no ethnic group that food cheaper rate or there’s no place where the poor people are happy, there’s no place where there’s job for everybody, or a place where there’s uninterrupted electricity or any ethnic group that will say they are safe.”

“ It will not be based on religion, the Christians don’t buy bread cheaper neither do the Muslims. It is the same for everybody, everybody’s suffering. I am not saying it is my turn but the turn of Nigerians to take back what belongs to them. It will not be by corruption and that’s why we going across to say let’s save our country.”

“Next year election would be based on character and trust, capacity and commitment to do the right thing. I’ve made a commitment to be responsible but I want to move and secure Nigeria, build Nigeria.”

“I’m a Nigerian, I don’t want anybody to vote for me because I’m an igbo man, no, don’t vote for me because I’m a Christian or because it is my turn, it is the turn of Nigerians, vote for me because of my commitment and my character and especially my commitment to the young ones.”

“I’ve said it, that structure is the structure that kept us down, it is the structure of criminality, it is the structure that aids massive corruption, that’s what we want to remove. We must remove that structure for Nigeria to start working. We are doing good work, going across party lines to ensure Nigeria works. The structure of money sharing must be removed.”

“The money they are sharing is why there are jobless people, the money they are sharing is why the whole country isn’t working. They didn’t invest in health, in education, in security but rather sharing the money. So it is time make things right and make use of the money in the right way.”

“People don’t share money in the other worlds because they wants job. Out youths wants job, they are energetic. People don’t know where the next meal will come from and you’re giving them money. When people talk about money, it gets me annoyed because that’s not what we have come to do.”

By Adeola Badru


Related stories: Video - Presidential hopeful Peter Obi on his plans for Nigeria

Most Popular Candidate in Race to Become Nigerian President Plans Budget Revamp

Japan's Daikin to build air conditioners in Nigeria in renewed push

Japan's Daikin Industries Ltd (6367.T) will begin assembling air conditioners in Nigeria as it renews a push into Africa that had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a regional head said on Thursday.

"We are very soon going to have a factory in Nigeria," Kanwal Jeet Jawa, the head of Daikin's operations in India and East Africa, told Reuters.

Rather than building a plant, Daikin is using space in a facility provided by a local distributor in the West African nation, he said.

In East African countries, including Tanzania and Kenya, Daikin is aiming to become the leading seller of air conditioners, chillers and other cooling equipment by 2025.

The company is looking to replicate its success in India, where it has beaten the likes of South Korea's LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS) to take top market share amid rapid market expansion driven by the country's economic growth, Jawa said.

Daikin's production capacity in India is set to almost double in 2023 with the opening of a new factory, allowing it to ship equipment to Africa that is more affordable and better suited to local conditions than air conditioners the Japanese company makes elsewhere, Jawa said.

"For East Africa, we will continue to supply finished products produced in India," a Daikin spokesperson said.

By Tim Kelly and Mayu Sakoda


Related story: Japan gives Nigeria $1 billion grant


Nigeria's Abubakar launches bid to succeed Buhari as president

Nigeria’s main opposition leader Atiku Abubakar launched his presidential election campaign on Wednesday calling for a sweeping victory to save the country from a “frightening descent” into anarchy.

Official election campaigning started on Wednesday, ahead of a February presidential vote to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is serving a final second term.

Nigeria’s next leader will inherit a country beset by growing insecurity, separatist agitation, a sluggish economy, double-digit inflation, industrial crude oil theft and a growing petrol subsidy bill that is draining government finances.

Abubakar, 75, and a former vice president between 1999-2007, is running for the third time. He said a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government would rebuild the economy, improve security and the education sector and run a smaller government.

“We have a plan to address these issues,” he Abubakar said at a ceremony to start his campaign. He did not give details.

“Under the watch of the current APC government, our dear country has witnessed a frightening descent into anarchy.”

To become president, Abubakar will have to defeat ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, his former running mate in 2019.

He also has to heal rifts within his PDP party after an influential faction boycotted Wednesday’s event as it pushes for the chairman, Abubakar’s ally, to quit.

Abubakar has previously said he would give more power to the 36 states, remove the oil subsidy and privatise the national oil firm and allow the private sector a greater role in the economy.

Polls in Nigeria are unreliable, but Tinubu and Abubakar - both septuagenarian political veterans - lead the two biggest political parties that have ruled Nigeria since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The PDP is seeking to return to power after its defeat by Buhari’s APC in 2015.

By Camillus Eboh 


Most Popular Candidate in Race to Become Nigerian President Plans Budget Revamp

A third-party presidential candidate trying to capitalize on widespread discontent in Nigeria said he’ll scrap multibillion-dollar fuel subsidies and restructure debt to free up funds to tackle insecurity and boost investment if he wins the election next year.

Peter Obi -- a former state governor and banker -- has emerged as the politician with the best chance of upending the two-party status quo that has ruled Africa’s most-populous country for more than 20 years. His bid to replace President Muhammadu Buhari has swiftly gained a following that hopes to grow its momentum in the run-up to the vote in February.

“I am in it to bring the change that Nigeria has been missing all these years,” Obi said in an interview in the capital, Abuja.

His rivals are Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, whose political organizations have provided every head of state since 1999 and dominate both legislative chambers.

Obi faces an uphill battle against stalwarts of parties that know how to turn out voters -- he is running on the ticket of the Labour Party, which had a single lawmaker elected in the last election and has a much smaller presence throughout the vast West African country.

‘Fiscal Recklessness’

Despite these major organizational challenges, Obi has built up an enthusiastic base known as “Obidents” -- initially active online, but increasingly marching in the streets -- and his appeal appears to be spreading. A clear majority of respondents named him as their preferred choice in an opinion poll conducted for Bloomberg News by Premise Data Corp., whose results were released on Sept. 28 when the official campaign kicked off.

Read: A Surprise Presidential Candidate Leads Nigeria Race, Poll Shows

Nigerians are contending with accelerating inflation, rising unemployment, a depreciating currency and pervasive insecurity. Production of the economy’s historic mainstay -- crude oil -- has collapsed to multi-decade lows, while the government’s debt service bill is currently outpacing the revenue it’s earning. Total public debt has more than tripled to 42.8 trillion naira ($98 billion) since Buhari took office in 2015.

“We cannot continue this level of fiscal recklessness,” Obi said, adding that he would cut gasoline subsidies that give Nigerians some of the world’s cheapest pump prices. That intervention is consistently depriving the state of more than $1 billion per month and, if not phased out, could cost the government a sum greater than its entire income next year.

Read: Nigeria Projects Dire Fiscal Situation Without Subsidy Removal

“We are going to remove it,” he said, arguing that corruption accounts for half of the subsidy bill.

Buhari’s administration delayed its previously announced plans to shelve the subsidies until after the election, leaving his successor the politically thorny choice of whether to expose struggling consumers to considerably higher prices to spare much-needed funds for other investments.

If he wins, Obi said he will try to restructure Nigeria’s debt “to a manageable level” because the current burden “doesn’t give us breathing space to invest in critical areas.” Instead of “borrowing for consumption” and to finance the cost of government, new lending would fund spending on education, health and security, he said.

Violent groups have expanded their reach across Nigeria in the past seven years, leaving larger swathes of the country living in fear of attacks and kidnappings. Stemming that insecurity will be his “number one priority,” Obi said, adding he will decentralize the police and invest in more personnel.

The stakes could not be higher, according to Obi. Because the government no longer controls its territory or the economy, Nigeria meets the “two main critical measures of a failing state,” he said. “It is a crisis situation but it’s solvable.”

Improbable Outsider

A wealthy businessman who chaired local lender Fidelity Bank Plc before serving two terms as the governor of the southeastern Anambra state from 2006, Obi ran as Abubakar’s vice president in an unsuccessful campaign three years ago. He also contested the PDP nomination this year before withdrawing from the primaries. A 61-year-old in a country where 70% of the population is under 30, he is younger than his two main septuagenarian opponents.

The Labour Party candidate also attracted controversy last year when a Nigerian online newspaper reported, based on the Pandora Papers leak, on offshore companies he controlled while serving as governor and said he had breached local asset-declaration rules. Obi has repeatedly denied that his arrangements broke any laws.

Obi says he’s ready to face up to the hopes and frustrations that have been placed on his perhaps improbable shoulders. “I want the whole country to hold me responsible,” he said. “We are not going to change it overnight but we must start doing the right things. I am not going to do magic.”

By William Clowes


Related story: Video - Presidential hopeful Peter Obi on his plans for Nigeria

Jobs in Clean Energy in Nigeria to Double by 2023

Increased demand for solar power will drive a more than two-fold jump in the number of Nigerians working in the renewable energy sector by 2023, according to a report.

The sector could “create more than 76,000 new jobs by 2023” in solar services -- including home solutions, commercial and industrial appliances -- from 32,000 workers in 2019, according to a report by Power for All, a global coalition advocating renewable energy solutions to end blackouts.

Workers in the Nigerian renewable industry will exceed oil and gas employees totaling 65,000, the report said. Until August this year, Nigeria was Africa’s biggest producer of crude with one of the world’s largest gas reserves. Poor power supply and a more than 200% increase in diesel prices this year after Russia invaded Ukraine, have driven demand for solar power in the West African nation.

The research, which was supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, Good Energies Foundation and the European Programme GET.invest, is the outcome of a survey on employment and compensation in more than 350 companies across five countries namely Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. Out of the five countries, Nigeria had the “fastest post-pandemic recovery and growth in decentralized renewable energy jobs,” it said.

Africa’s most populous nation has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth over the next decade under the Paris climate agreement. It launched an energy transition plan this year, which aims to attract private and public sector investments to expand solar infrastructure and grow gas-powered generation.

Read: Shell Acquires Nigerian Solar Firm in First Africa Power Buy

The country’s solar sector quickly recovered from lockdowns during the pandemic as it more than doubled workers to 50,000 in 2021, compared to the previous year, according to the report.

“The sector is maturing with the percentage of formal and skilled workers comprising over half of the decentralized renewable energy workforce,” it said.

By Emele Onu


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Nigeria squanders oil price bonanza as gasoline subsidies soar

Nigeria has failed to capitalise on an oil price boom that has helped cushion other exporters from the impact of inflation, with millions more Nigerians now facing poverty.

Data from Nigeria's state oil company NNPC shows that it did not contribute anything to state coffers in the first eight months of 2022, despite crude prices averaging $94 a barrel so far this year, a rise of 42% from last year.

At the heart of Nigeria's problem is that despite being Africa's biggest oil and gas producer, the country depends almost entirely on imports to cover its gasoline needs.

It then subsidises the cost to consumers, which has created a disparity between the price at the pump and what people pay to fill their tanks in neighbouring countries, such as Benin.

This has led to widespread smuggling, which has in turn driven up the amount of costly gasoline Nigeria imports and wiped out the gains that it should have made from crude exports because it ends up buying far more than it needs.

"Hundreds of thousands of people (in Benin) organize their survival around this traffic," Boris Houenou, a Beninois economist said of the smuggling of Nigerian gasoline.

"A litre of Nigerian petrol worth $0.45 (per litre) can be passed to Benin for $0.70," he added.

Estimates of the amount of gasoline smuggled abroad vary, with some independent researchers putting it at around 15 million litres a day, while NNPC's own assessment is 42 million.

Nigerian National Petroleum Co (NNPC) said this month that gasoline smuggling was distorting supplies, adding that it was working to crack down on it.

The NNPC's federal account allocation (FAAC) shows it remitted just over $3 billion from oil and gas sales to Nigeria's federal account in 2020, falling to about $1.4 billion in 2021 and dropping to zero in 2022.

Nigerian oil production has fallen to 1-1.2 million bpd from pre-pandemic levels of 1.8 million bpd after decades of under-investment in upstream assets, while pipeline theft is at its highest level in years, at an estimated at 200,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Gasoline imports, meanwhile, have ballooned to more than double Nigeria's estimated needs this year, Reuters calculations based on the FAAC data indicate.

"We've moved from 30 million litres a day to 90 million during this administration without anything to show that consumption has actually increased," said Cheta Nwanze, lead partner at Lagos-based risk consultancy SBM Intelligence.

NNPC recorded gasoline deliveries of 90 million litres a day in March and 83 million in April, Reuters calculations showed. In the same months last year, imports were 64 and 63 million litres respectively, well above national demand.

Nigeria's reliance on imported oil products looks set to continue, two industry sources with knowledge of the matter said, with a new refinery near Lagos unlikely to come online until the end of 2023 and a revamp of the 210,000 barrel-per-day Port Harcourt facility expected to take several years.

NNPC and Nigeria's finance ministry did not respond to multiple Reuters requests for comment.


Although the Nigerian government announced plans to remove the gasoline subsidy last year, it then backtracked in July, citing concerns over potential social unrest.

The World Bank estimates inflationary pressures will tip 7 million more Nigerians into poverty this year, bringing the total to 45% of the population of 200 million.

"Despite the better-than-expected performance of the services and agriculture sectors and higher oil prices ... Nigeria is experiencing a curious case of lower fiscal revenues," Marco Hernandez, World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria, said in a June development Report.

"This is limiting the government's ability to expand basic services, support the economic recovery, and protect the poor during this difficult time," Hernandez added in the report.

Nigeria's Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed has repeatedly warned about the high cost of gasoline subsidies, saying the bill could reach $16.2 billion in 2023.

And the World Bank estimated that foregone oil revenues would total 5 trillion naira ($12.04 billion) this year due to the subsidy, equivalent to 30% of Nigeria's entire budget.

In 2020, NNPC retained 4% of oil and gas sales to cover gasoline subsidies. This rose to 45% last year and in 2022 it has reached 83% of sales.

The increasing fuel subsidy is taking away money from capital expenditure and is a "major drainer to overall government revenues and fiscal position," Nigeria's finance ministry said in its latest budget projection in August.

"The subsidy on Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) supply has had significant adverse impact on government revenues," it added.

Nwanze of SBM Intelligence said: "The subsidy is a complete waste at this point, but it's politically explosive."

Nigeria holds presidential elections in February against a backdrop of price rises as a result of the Ukraine crisis and post-pandemic supply chain bottlenecks.

As well as the higher cost of gasoline purchases, a more costly swap contract has also come at a bad time.

Until the end of last year, NNPC covered domestic gasoline needs via Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts.

Now NNPC is also buying ad hoc cargoes and through a Crude Oil Refining and Direct Partnership Agreement (CORDPA), which involves paying higher premiums and a trader waiting longer to receive its crude delivery as payment.

In May, for example, the DSDP premium was around $10 per tonne of gasoline, while the premium paid under a CORDPA was $22, according to NNPC's spreadsheets. Rates vary seasonally and for most of the year these levels had been $35 to about $50 a tonne. NNPC paid up $80 and $100 for some ad hoc cargoes.

And although gasoline is subsidised, the amount ordinary Nigerians pay at the pump remains higher than the set price.

In its FAAC reports for 2021 and 2022, NNPC set its subsidised price at 124 naira ($0.30) per litre, but the average pump price is closer to 200 naira per litre across many states.

"We should be reaping a bumper harvest but alas we are not," lamented one Nigerian official.

By Julia Payne


Related stories: The Criminals Undercutting Nigeria’s Oil Industry

Nigeria has the highest incidents of oil spills in the world

Nigerian Authorities Launch App to Monitor Crude Oil Theft

Ex-Militant Tapped to Protect Nigerian Pipelines He Once Blew Up

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Video - Nigerian entrepreneur innovates technique to 'prevent flooding'

Flooding remains a major climate change concern in Nigeria. Over the years, irregular rainfall patterns have left many displaced from their homes and farmlands destroyed. One Nigerian entrepreneur is however changing the narrative with a newly adopted solution to flooding.

CGTN Africa

Nigeria's northwest faces worsening malnutrition

Nigeria faces worsening malnutrition in the northwest due to insecurity, high food prices and the impact of climate change, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) said on Tuesday, calling for the region to be included in United Nations funding plans next year.

Gunmen have terrorised the northwest, killing and kidnapping people for ransom this year. Africa's most populous nation is already grappling with an Islamist insurgency that has displaced at least two million people in more than a decade.

Insecurity has prevented some farmers from planting in a region now experiencing some of its worst flooding in years.

MSF said it had witnessed extraordinarily high numbers of children with malnutrition in five states across the northwest, where about 100,000 were treated for acute malnutrition.

"With increasing insecurity, climate change and global inflation of food prices in a post-pandemic world, we can only imagine this crisis getting worse," Simba Tirima, MSF country representative in Nigeria, said.

"The Nigerian authorities need support to deal with a crisis of this magnitude."

Humanitarian aid groups have largely focused their attention on the northeast, where Nigeria's military is stepping up attacks against the Islamist insurgents.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe


Ethiopian Airlines Announced As Partner For Nigeria Air

The Nigerian Government announced that Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s most prominent air carrier, was selected as a strategic partner and 49% shareholder of Nigeria Air. A breakdown of stakes showed that Ethiopian Airlines would own 49 % equity, the federal government would control 5 % equity, while a consortium of three Nigerian investors, MRS, SAHCO, and other institutional investors will have 46 %.
The stakeholders involved

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, noted that after a careful, detailed, and ICRC-governed selection process, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Consortium has been selected as the preferred bidder for Nigeria Air.

He noted that the consortium will be subjected to a due diligence process, after which the contract will be negotiated between the consortium and the FGN, leading to a Full Business Case, which will be expected to be approved Federal Executive Council (FEC). The process, according to the minister, will take off in six to eight weeks.

Fleet and first routes

The overall share capital of around $300 million will be provided by the preferred bidder that will launch Nigeria Air to its full size of 30 aircraft and international operation within the next two years. Nigeria Air will be launched with three Boeing 737-800 in a configuration very suitable for the Nigerian market.

It will launch with a shuttle service between Abuja and Lagos to establish a new comfortable, reliable, and affordable travel between these two major Nigerian Airports. Other domestic destinations will follow thereafter. According to the Minister of aviation.

“A signature-ready contract has been finalized with Ethiopian Airlines for the three Boeing 737-800 with a 16 Business Class and 150 Economy Class configuration."

The approval process and recruitment

All executives have been approved by NCAA (Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority), and the Air Transport License has also been issued. Nigeria Air (having identified the first three aircraft) will finalize all necessary Operation Manuals and then go through the inspection and approval process of NCAA.

The money spent for the launch of Nigeria Air, for all the requirements to establish an AOC ( Air Operators Certificate) and be admitted to starting an airline operation as prescribed in the FEC-approved Outline Business Case (OBC), is well within the 5 % capital investment of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The minister added:

“No further federal government funding will be provided above the five percent share capital of the next national Carrier of Nigeria, which was provided to launch Nigeria Air."

The airline has already begun its recruitment process, announced in a memo posted to the official Twitter account of the Federal Ministry of Aviation at the end of last week. The memo reads:

"Nigeria Air is now recruiting qualified crew for the following positions: Experienced, and current B737 Captains; Experienced, and Current B737 First Officers; Experienced, and Current B737 Senior Cabin Crew and Cabin Crew Experienced, and Current B737 Engineers (B1/B2 preferred).”

The announcement adds that positions will be based in Abuja or Lagos, and that additional details of open positions will be available soon on the airline's website.

By Afema Ronnie

Simple Flying

Related story: Nigeria To Fine Airlines That Don't Sell Tickets In Local Currency

Nigeria hikes rate to highest level to head off inflation

Nigeria's central bank on Tuesday hiked its main lending rate by 150 basis points to 15.50% (NGCBIR=ECI), its highest level yet and more than forecast, forging ahead with efforts to rein in inflation and ease pressure on the currency.

A Reuters poll of economists had predicted a much smaller 50 basis point hike. read more

But with inflation at its highest in 17 years, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said the Monetary Policy Committee had to continue with an aggressive stance.

Annual inflation rose for a seventh straight month in August to 20.52% from 19.64% in July.

Tuesday's rate hike, the third in a row, means the central bank has delivered a total 400 basis-point increase this year, its most hawkish in a single cycle, analysts said.

The benchmark interest rate was introduced in 2006.

"The MPC noted that a tight policy stance would help consolidate the impact of the last two policy rate hikes, which is already reflected in the slowing growth rate of money supply," Emefiele told a news conference.

"It also felt that an aggressive rate hike would slow capital outflows and likely attract capital inflows and appreciate the naira currency," Emefiele added.

The naira currency weakened to a new low of 725 against the dollar on the black market this week, traders said, and within a band of 415-435 on the official market.

Emefiele increased the cash reserve requirements for banks to mop liquidity from the market and stop currency speculation. He said banks which fail to raise their reserves would be barred from the foreign exchange market from Friday.

Economist Virág Fórizs from Capital Economics said Emefiele's comments "suggest that more monetary tightening lies in store".

High inflation, weak economic growth and mounting insecurity are major issues for voters as Nigeria heads for a national election in February, when incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will step down.

Responding to reporters' questions, Emefiele declined to rule out further rate hikes to fight inflation.

By Macdonald Dzirutwe


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Video - Why is Nigeria’s Nollywood failing to make awards shortlists?

Despite the growing popularity of Nigerian movies, Nollywood is struggling. It is ranked as the world's second-largest producer of films, but lacks the resources to compete with Hollywood and Bollywood. Al Jazeera looks at the challenges in an industry that releases hundreds of films a year - but fails to make the shortlist at international festivals. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Lagos, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera 

Related stories: Video - Nigeria’s entertainment sector contracts

Netflix first original series from Nigeria drops highly anticipated trailer


Video - Nigeria takes pride in para sports performances

Nigeria is a dominant force in para sports in Africa, besides producing global champions. The country finished the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with four gold, silver and five bronze medals to finish third in the continent behind Tunisia and Algeria. Nigeria has featured in every summer Paralympics since it made its debut at Barcelona 1992 and the sport has evolved a lot in the country since then as CGTN's Deji Bademosi reports.

CGTN Africa

Video - Food scarcity looms in Nigeria as severe floods destroy crops

Nigeria’s food security is under threat due to climate change. This year’s floods have so far destroyed crops worth millions of dollars. Attacks on rural farming communities have also continued unabated.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from northwest Nigeria. 

Al Jazeera

Nigeria suffers widespread blackouts after electricity grid fails

Nigeria's national electricity grid collapsed on Monday leaving many parts of the country without power, electricity distribution companies said.

The grid has collapsed at least four times this year, which authorities blame on technical problems. Last month workers from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) went on strike and temporarily shut the grid.

Electricity distribution firms, known as Discos, said the outage happened earlier on Monday and they were working with TCN to restore supplies. They did not state the cause of the outage.

Nigeria has installed capacity of 12,500 megawatts but produces about a quarter of that, leaving many Nigerians and businesses reliant on diesel-powered generators. Diesel prices have soared since the start of the year.

The nation's sclerotic power grid, and its precarious energy supply, are often cited by businesses as a key issue hindering growth in Africa's most populous country.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe


Related stories: Nigeria runs on generators and nine hours of power a day

Nigerian cities in darkness as electricity grid collapses again



Monday, September 26, 2022

Nigeria's fuel subsidies surpassed $1 billion in August as it supplied more petrol

The cost of Nigeria's fuel subsidies rose to 525.714 billion naira ($1.22 billion) in August, bringing the total spent this year to 2.568 trillion naira, according to figures submitted to the government by state oil company NNPC.

The ballooning costs of keeping petrol prices low in Africa's most populous nation are straining the budget and draining revenue from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC).

In April, Nigeria's parliament approved a 4-trillion-naira petrol subsidy for this year after the government in January reversed a pledge to end its subsidies to avert protests in the run-up to presidential elections in February 2023.

NNPC has not submitted any money to the federal government this year due largely to subsidy costs. August's bill compared with 448.782 billion naira in July, according to a document NNPC submitted on Friday to the Federation Account Allocation Committee.

Part of the increased cost was down to a bigger daily supply of petrol, which rose to 71.8 million litres, up nearly 10% from July, according to information submitted at the same meeting by regulator Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Oil production in August averaged 1.18 million barrels per day, well below the nation's OPEC quota of 1.8 million bpd, due in large part to theft from pipelines that has curtailed production.

By Camillus Eboh


Nigeria to Allow Savers to Dip Into Pension Funds for Mortgages

Nigeria enacted regulations allowing citizens to tap into their pension contributions to fund mortgages, as it looks for ways to help more people buy homes.

The National Pension Commission “approved the issuance and immediate implementation” of guidelines for retirement savings account holders to use a portion of their balance to pay for residential housing loans, it said in an emailed statement.

A pension holder must pay into the fund for at least five years to qualify, and can withdraw a maximum of 25% of the savings, it said.

Africa’s most populous nation, with more than 200 million people, Nigeria is trying to turn more of its citizens into homeowners. A report published by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2019 found the nation had a deficit of about 20 million housing units, which would require 21 trillion naira ($48.2 billion) to finance.
Citizens have faced challenges accessing property finance as most funds available are short-term whereas mortgages require payments over a long period of time.

By Emele Onu


Friday, September 23, 2022

Gunmen kill 14 villagers in northcentral Nigeria

Gunmen attacked two communities in Nigeria’s north-central region, killing 14 people and injuring many others, authorities said Thursday.

The attackers stormed the communities in Logo council area of Benue state Wednesday night, opening “unprovoked” fire on residents, said Paul Hemba, the state’s top security official.

Police in Benue confirmed the attack. The assailants shot 12 people to death in one community then moved on to another where they killed two more villagers, Hemba said. He said 15 people were “seriously injured.”

He identified the attackers as “Fulani herdsmen,” a group of mostly young pastoralists from the Fulani tribe caught up in Nigeria’s conflict between host communities and herdsmen over limited access to water and land.

In Nigeria’s middle belt and central regions, deadly clashes between local communities and herdsmen continue in a cycle of violence that has defied government measures, although security forces have recently announced some arrests and seizure of arms.

A similar attack in another part of Benue targeted a convoy of soldiers of the Nigerian army, but they were able to repel the assailants, Hemba said.

Many of the attacks in rural areas are similar. Motorcycle-riding gunmen often arrive in the hundreds in areas where Nigeria’s security forces are outnumbered and outgunned.

Authorities have in the past admitted that the inadequate number of security personnel in many of the affected areas is one of the major reasons the attacks have continued.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came into office in 2015 on a wave of goodwill after promising to end the nation’s protracted security crisis, leaves office in 2023. Those security challenges are back on the front burner as political campaigns for next year’s election begin.

By Chinedu Asadu

Toronto Star

 Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Nigeria's military warns residents of bombings targeting bandits

Nigeria's military is urging people in three northwestern states to leave forested areas ahead of a bombing campaign targeting bandits and terrorists, according to local broadcast stations and a military official.

An advertisement running on local television and radio stations warned people in Zamfara, Katsina and the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna state to leave the forests in advance of a "heavy bombardment."

Murtala Alhasan Umaru, general manager at Zamfara state TV and radio, showed the advertisement to Reuters and said the military asked them to play it. There are versions in local pidgin English, Hausa, Kanuri and Fulani.

A military official reached by phone confirmed the advertisement's authenticity but declined to share his name or any further information.

Armed gangs of men, known locally as bandits, have killed and kidnapped hundreds across northwest Nigeria over the past two years, typically operating from remote forests. The country's thinly stretched armed forces have struggled to secure the large, remote regions.

The advertisement said the bombardment would "protect the life and property of Nigerians."

One man in Zamfara state, Abdullahi Abubakar, said he had heard the broadcast on the radio and had seen military fighter jets flying overhead.

Two other residents in Zamfara, one in Gumi and the other in Shinkafi, said there had been daily bombings since Saturday morning. The two asked Reuters not to identify them by name.

By Hamza Ibrahim 


Related story: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?

Nigeria’s Buhari promises fairness in anticipated election

Nigeria’s president said Wednesday that the 18 candidates vying to become his successor will run in a “free and fair” election next year.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told the U.N. General Assembly that his goal before leaving office is to entrench “a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.”

“Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community. We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections,” Buhari said.

Only one woman is among the 18 presidential candidates listed by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, on Tuesday. Nigeria’s political world remains male-dominated, and women rarely make it into top positions.

Analysts had predicted the February 2023 election would be a two-man race between Bola Tinubu, 70, a former governor of Lagos from Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 75, who placed second in the 2019 presidential election.

However, the growing popularity of Peter Obi, a former governor of southeast Nigeria’s Anambra state, has put him ahead of the other candidates, according to a recent poll.

The electoral commission projected that 95 million voters would participate in the February election. Security and economic crises have caused hardship for many of the more than 200 million citizens of Africa’s most populous country.

Despite being one of the continent’s top oil producers, Nigeria is grappling with a 33% unemployment rate and a 40% poverty rate, according to the latest government statistics. The country has also battled an insurgency by Islamic extremist rebels in the northeast, as well as armed violence now spreading across parts of the northwest and southeast regions.

Such challenges make the presidential election a “battle for the soul of the country,” Idayat Hassan, who leads the West Africa-focused Center for Democracy and Development, said. 

By Chinedu Asadu


Bankers Are Fleeing Nigeria’s Stagnating Economy as “Japa” Beckons

Francis Eze spent nearly a decade at one of Nigeria’s biggest banks working for a salary far lower than the one he’d negotiated in his interview. As a bachelor and then as a newlywed, he found a way to manage on a tighter budget.

His wife, a nurse, had long told him about colleagues at her hospital who had been recruited to move abroad but Eze wasn’t interested. Then with private school fees for two children coming due this year, the pair joined the flood of skilled Nigerians leaving the country amid a plummeting naira and a stagnating economy.

“I realised how insufficient the money was to take care of a family of four,” Eze, 38, said by phone from Toronto, where his family relocated in January. “I told my wife we should do as others were doing.”

The widespread brain drain from Africa’s most populous country -- popularly known as “japa”, which means “to run swiftly out of a bad situation” in the Yoruba language -- is having a devastating effect on the financial sector. Banks, already suffering from rising interest rates, higher operating expenses and threats of a spike in non-performing loans, are being forced to increase spending on training and recruiting, and in many cases lower their standards for new hires.

“It is a reality and we are just ensuring that we are recruiting more than are leaving,” Roosevelt Ogbonna, chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest bank by assets, said by phone, without saying how many employees had left.

Better schools, higher salaries and more fringe benefits abroad, combined with a lack of local job security, is pushing mid- and early-career employees abroad, according to a report released this month by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Struggling Economy

Africa’s biggest economy has suffered through two recessions in the last six years. Soaring inflation, which hit a 17-year high of 20.5% in August, has eroded household purchasing power and shrunk local currency salaries. So skilled workers are turning to big western economies, where other Nigerians have built successful lives, particularly Canada, the US and the UK.

The number of Nigerians who received UK work visas rose to 15,772 for the year through June, from 3,918 in the year through December 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic, according to a report by the UK Home Office released last month.

Last week, Moody’s warned that higher inflation and interest rates could see non-performing loan rates at Nigerian lenders spike. But for the banks, the concern over asset quality is currently being overshadowed by employee flight.

In a bid to fill the gaps, bankers are spending more time “training the existing workforce and equipping new graduates,” which may entail lowering the entry standards at some point, said Abubakar Suleiman, chief executive at mid-size lender Sterling Bank Plc. “The opportunity is to hire smarter, train better and make banking more responsive to fill the vacancies.”

The bankers’ union recommended offering remote work and modeling “the work patterns and the work conditions of their staff against global practices.” Ogbonna said Access Bank is looking beyond salary to create an environment that is “inclusive and conducive” to retain its workers, without elaborating.

Eze, who works for a food company in Canada, said ultimately it will come down to money.

“Unless you have good work conditions, including salary that can cover your cost and you also make some savings, even if a little, you’ll be thinking of where to run to,” he said. 

By Emele Onu


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Hundreds of Schools Are Shut Down in Nigeria Due to Insecurity

The new school year started in Nigeria this month, but more than 600 schools are still closed due to a surge of kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs, according to authorities. Nigeria already has one of the world’s highest rates of out-of-school children and the U.N. says the problem has gotten worse. Timothy Obiezu reports from Kaduna State, Nigeria.


Related story: Nigeria shuts schools in Abuja over fears of attack

Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?


Mother loses appeal in custody case, Ontario court sends her three children to Nigeria

An Ontario appeal court has sent three children back to Nigeria and the custody of their father, rejecting their mother’s arguments that she could not get a fair shake in that country because of patriarchal attitudes and anti-gay prejudice.

The case of Olubukola Ajayi and Eyitope Ajayi is one of a growing number of disputes in Canada that set concerns about international child abduction against arguments about unfairness and discrimination in foreign jurisdictions.

Ms. Ajayi argued in court that she was justified in bringing their three young children to Canada without the father’s consent last November, because of discrimination, abuse (which Mr. Ajayi denies committing), patriarchal attitudes and the influence of her ex-husband’s family in Nigeria.

She asked the Ontario Superior Court to assume jurisdiction for the couple’s parenting issues and grant her sole decision-making authority over the children.

On the same day, Mr. Ajayi asked a Nigerian court to dissolve the marriage.

In Nigeria, homosexual acts may be punished with jail sentences. Mr. Ajayi made reference in a court document filed in Nigeria to Ms. Ajayi being linked to the LGBTQ community. That forced Ontario judges, in an initial ruling and an appeal, to grapple with how Nigeria’s legal system operates, and determine whether its courts would put the children first.

“I ran here just for a fair shot at protecting my rights as their mom,” Ms. Ajayi, who trained as a lawyer in Nigeria, said in an interview. Both she and her ex-husband are dual citizens of Canada and Nigeria, as are the children; Ms. Ajayi travelled to Canada to give birth to the children here.

But the courts here, she said, “did not understand how being a man in Nigeria gives all this extra privilege and power. I had never planned to alienate my children from their father and his family. But I knew that that’s what they wanted to do to me in Nigeria.”

Paul Riley, a lawyer for the father, said the decision showed that Ontario courts will stand up to child abduction.

“I think what the decision shows this week is that Canada is not going to embrace those who involve themselves in child abduction. You are not going to leave your country and then wrap yourselves in the warm embrace of the Ontario judicial system.”

Canada is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets out the legal rules for returning children to their home jurisdiction. But Nigeria is not a member of the convention, and Ontario law provides that the province’s courts may take jurisdiction in such a case where it is satisfied that the foreign country does not put children’s best interests first.

A two-woman, one-male panel of Ontario’s Divisional Court released a written ruling this week explaining why they had upheld Family Court Justice Tracy Engelking’s decision to reject jurisdiction in the case. Having taken the children without consent, Ms. Ajayi needed to show they would suffer serious harm if returned to Nigeria, Justice Elizabeth Sheard, Justice Katherine Swinton and Justice David Aston said.

The judges said they accepted Justice Engelking’s ruling from May that Ms. Ajayi had failed to do so. Justice Engelking found that Ms. Ajayi had only ever said she might be asexual, and that Mr. Ajayi himself had testified in Ontario that he supports gay rights. An expert in Nigerian law testified that none of this would be a factor in determining the children’s best interests in a Nigerian court.

Justice Engelking also ruled the children were not at risk of harm with their father, noting that Ms. Ajayi had left the two older children in their father’s care for an extended period when she came to Canada to give birth. As for the father’s family’s influence, Justice Engelking pointed out that Ms. Ajayi’s mother is a superior court judge in Nigeria.

The children are now back in Nigeria. Ms. Ajayi said she will not return to Nigeria but her lawyers will fight in that country for primary custody for her, “and to have them returned back to me.” If they do not succeed, they will ask for video call access and holidays with Ms. Ajayi in Ottawa.

Nicholas Bala, a professor specializing in family law at Queen’s University, said that more mobile societies have produced growing numbers of international family law disputes.

“In the absence of persuasive evidence of abuse or discrimination, it’s appropriate to send these cases back to the country of origin – which also has the effect of telling people that Canada is not going to become a haven for child abduction,” he said.

He said it is also a “question of balance.” In some countries, politics may wrongly enter family-law disputes. “I think the court was satisfied that Nigeria in 2022 is not one of those countries.”

Ms. Ajayi’s lawyer Valerie Akujobi said it’s a challenge when Canadian courts have to make determinations based in part on attitudes and sentiments in a foreign jurisdiction.

“The court does try to strike the right balance; in this case, we just felt that certain aspects had been perhaps lost in translation.”

By Sean Fine

The Globe and Mail

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Nigeria to ban consumption of cow skin ‘ponmo’ for lacking nutritional value

Nigeria is proposing a ban on the consumption of cow skin known as ‘Ponmo’ for lacking nutritional value.

“To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are the only people in the world that overvalue skin as food, after all, Ponmo has no nutritional value,” Muhammad Yakubu who heads the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), Zaria, Kaduna State said.

NILEST is the government agency responsible for the promotion of leather production in the Agricultural Research Institute Act of 1975. It conducts research on leather products and the use of local tanning materials in Nigeria.

Yakubu, who spoke in Abuja, said that cow skin consumption was contributing to the downward slide of production in Nigeria’s leather industry.

Ponmo is a popular supplement in soups prepared in many Nigerian homes especially in the Southwestern part of the country where families of different class use it as an alternative or together with beef meat and chicken.

Yakubu said prohibiting the consumption of Ponmo will be necessary to revive the comatose leather industry in Nigeria. He is not the first to threaten the consumption of Ponmo in Nigerian households.

In July 2019, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warned Nigerians to be careful when buying Ponmo.

NAFDAC DG Moji Adeyeye said their investigations revealed that “unscrupulous businessmen and traders are now diverting animal hides meant for industrial use into the food chain for consumption”.

Adeyeye said that investigations further revealed that some of the companies illegally imported hides from countries such as Lebanon and Turkey.

Consequently, NILEST DG Yakubu is calling on the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives for legislative backing to ban the consumption of Ponmo.

Yakubu argued that the consumption of cow skin is partly responsible for the present comatose state of tanneries in Nigeria.

He also said the current National Leather Policy had addressed some fundamental problems of the sector.

“If we get our tanneries, our footwear, and leather production working well in Nigeria, people will hardly get pomo to buy and eat,” Yakubu said.

“When implemented fully, it would turn around most of the comatose tanneries and ginger greater output in production.”

The Guardian

Related story: Video - Nigerians claim to have the best Jollof rice in west Africa

Nigeria battling floods ‘beyond control’ as warning given of dams overflowing

Nigeria is battling its worst floods in a decade with more than 300 people killed in 2022 including at least 20 this week, as authorities said the situation is “beyond our control.”

The floods in 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states and capital city have affected half a million people, including 100,000 displaced and more than 500 injured, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said.

The disaster has also destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland, worsening fears of a disruption of food supply in Africa’s most populous country.

Since 2012, “this [the flood-related deaths] is the highest we ever had,” said Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesperson for the disaster management agency.

Nigeria sees flooding every year, often as a result of non-implementation of environmental guidelines and inadequate infrastructure. Authorities are blaming the floods this year on water overflowing from local rivers, unusual rainfalls and the release of excess water from Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon’s northern region.

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency predicted more floods in 2022 than last year due to “excessive rainfalls and contributions from external flows” such as the dam in Cameroon.

On Monday, Nigeria’s disaster management agency alerted more than a dozen states of “serious consequences” in the coming weeks as two of the country’s dams started to overflow.

“I want to advise all the governments of the frontline states to move away communities at risk of inundation, identify safe higher grounds for evacuation of persons and prepare adequate stockpiles of food and non-food items,” said the head of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Habib Ahmed.

In the north-west Jigawa state, floods killed more than 20 people in the last week, Yusuf Sani Babura, head of the Jigawa State Emergency Management Agency, told the AP. The state has recorded 91 deaths from flooding this year – more than any state in the country.

“We are facing devastating floods beyond our control,” said Babura. “We have tried our best and we couldn’t stop it.”

The floods have also destroyed crops, mostly in Nigeria’s northern region, which produces much of what the country eats, raising concerns that they could further affect food supplies already disrupted by armed conflict in the country’s north-west and central regions.

In the Benue state, Aondongu Kwagh-bee said he visited his rice farm recently and discovered that a heavy downpour had “wiped away everything.”

“Right now, there is nothing there. Just sand filled up and the rice has been washed away,” the 30-year-old said.

Akintunde Babatunde, an Abuja-based climate analyst, said the main cause of Nigeria’s annual flooding problem was the poor infrastructure of roads, drainage and waste disposal.

“Unusual rainfall is evidence of the changing climate,” he said.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Video - Nigeria’s Naira struggle against the U.S. dollar persists

Nigeria is struggling to stabilize its currency the Naira amid pressure from dwindling forex inflows. Despite several attempts by the Central Bank to stabilize the local currency, its value continues to depreciate in 2022. Its value has almost declined by 49 percent against the U.S. dollar since January 2020.

Video - Over 1 million Nigerian voters deregistered

More than a million new voters in Nigeria have been removed from the country’s voter’s roll. The country's electoral commission says the new registrants were discovered to be invalid and thus, ineligible to vote.

Video - Nigeria urged to look at renewable energy to curb the power Shortage

There is an untapped potential for electricity generation in the renewable and embedded generation business in Nigeria. Its growth has been limited due to concerns over the ability of companies to distribute and pay for electricity. Dolapo Kukoyi, Managing Partner at Detail Commercial Solicitors shares his thoughts.

Video - Presidential hopeful Peter Obi on his plans for Nigeria

Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra, is running in Nigeria's presidential race. He discusses his objectives for the country with CNN's Zain Asher.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Video - Nigeria’s entertainment sector contracts

Nigeria’s entertainment sector has contracted for the first time since 2019. Data from the Country’s Statistics Agency says the entertainment sector's GDP shrunk by nearly 6 percent despite overall growth in a nation that is home to Africa’s largest economy. Kelechi Emekalam has more. 

Related stories: Netflix involvement in Nollywood

iROKO to start financing Nollywood productions after raising $19 million

Bollywood and Nollywood collide in a tale of a big fat Indian-Nigerian wedding

Netflix first original series from Nigeria drops highly anticipated trailer


Pastoralist attack survivors unsettled in Nigeria

One sunny afternoon in April, Rahmata Adeagbo, was seated on a bed in her brother’s house where she now lives, staring blankly at the visitors.

“Ade-lo-wo … Ade-a-gbo,” the 50-year-old muttered after a long silence, painfully stringing the syllables of her late husband’s name.

On June 5, 2021, he had stepped out after receiving calls that nomadic herdsmen had laid siege to their town, Igangan, some 176km (109 miles) away from Lagos. The next time she saw him, his body was ridden with bullets, one of 11 deaths during the attack.

Before that episode, Igangan and six neighbouring towns – all in Oyo state – had experienced a number of clashes stemming from disagreements between Indigenous Yoruba farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen.

At the root of the crisis is cattle grazing on farmlands across Nigeria but the battle for resources has been exacerbated by climate change across the Sahel, worsening economic conditions and in some cases, ethnicity and religion; the nomads are mostly Muslim and the farmers are predominantly Christians.

Entire villages have been displaced and schools closed for successive sessions. Interstate food supply chains are disrupted as cattle markets have been razed and farmers have been unable to tend to their crops or have seen them destroyed.

In central Nigeria, the hotspot, as many as 13 million people are at risk of hunger, the World Food Programme said earlier this year.

Between 2016 and 2018, there were 3,641 deaths nationwide due to the conflict, according to Amnesty International. The majority of the reported victims were Indigenes and herdsmen were reported as the aggressors, launching deadly raids frequently.

But even in the southwest, where interfaith households are common and religious tolerance is deemed the highest nationwide, these clashes have become rife. In recent years, it has morphed into more dangerous dimensions involving kidnappings, rape, highway robberies, and coordinated destruction of farmlands.

In 2019, an anti-open grazing law addressing what many experts have identified as the root cause of the disagreements – resource sharing – was passed into law in Oyo. But it has not yet been implemented.

Two years later, as attacks in Igangan continued without perpetrators being apprehended, non-state actors led by a Yoruba ethnic rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo Igboho, demolished property belonging to Fulani residents.

Residents told Al Jazeera that this eviction and the controversies that followed likely spurred the June 5 attack.

Growing distrust

According to a report [PDF] by the International Crisis Group, factors that have allowed Nigeria’s pastoralist crisis to fester range from impunity and eroding confidence in the country’s security forces to the government’s poor response to early warnings.

For years, the national security architecture has been overstretched by armed groups running riot in northeast, northwest and central Nigeria.

In January 2020, as cases of insecurity spiked in southwest Nigeria, the six state governors in the region agreed to create a regional security network. It was codenamed Amotekun (Yoruba for leopard). The federal government kicked against the move citing constitutional concerns so the governors redesigned it into a state-based security vigilante to support the police, which is controlled by Abuja.

In Oyo State, the outfit launched in November 2020.

Even though the June 2021 attack remains the last full-scale one coordinated by herdsmen on residents of any of the seven neighbouring towns, residents told Al Jazeera that neither the recent reduction in attacks nor the government’s efforts had eased their fears.

Matthew Page, an associate fellow at the UK-based think-tank Chatham House, says their decision not to trust the authorities’ promise of safety is justified, explaining that “security agencies are ineffective because authorities have tolerated endemic corruption and turned a blind eye to their operational failures”.

Idayat Hassan, director of Abuja-based CDD, agreed, saying it is difficult for residents to trust the state because it has lost the monopoly of violence.

“The inability of the state to respond even when furnished with information ahead of attacks also makes citizens believe they are either complicit or abetting,” she said. “This further eroded the thin trust existing between citizens and governments.”

Peace and unease

Before her husband’s death, Adeagbo was a housewife who occasionally engaged in farmwork but her mental health has begun to suffer since and she can no longer work.

“When her husband died, she suffered a serious emotional issue,” her brother, Akeem Rasheed, told Al Jazeera. “Her husband’s death and the unavailability of resources to cater for her kids pushed her to the brink.”

Initially, he took her to the closest neuropsychiatric hospital, 77km [48 miles] from the town, for treatment. After two months, he had to take her back home because he could no longer afford her hospital bills.

“They allowed me to take her away only because I promised to keep bringing her for regular check-ups, something I have not done because I don’t have money again,” Rasheed said.

As her mental state declines, her family is clinging to the hope that she will get better and that the town will not be attacked again.

But despite no attacks in recent months, residents of other communities in the region are choosing pragmatism over hope.

Across villages in Ogun state, next door to Lagos, residents are relocating to the neighbouring Benin Republic. One of them is Clement Oyebanjo, a teacher in Agbon village who moved there briefly last February after an attack in his village killed four people.

“We are not at ease and sleep with our eyes half open because we know as long as open-grazing is not banned, these Fulani herders will come back,” says Oyebanjo who is prepared to return to Benin if another attack happens.

‘Violence entrepreneurs’

After Igangan was attacked in June, its residents created a new vigilante group. One of its members was Emmanuel Oguntoyinbo whose younger brother was shot dead on his motorcycle by the attackers while returning from a party.

“We, the youths of the town, that decided that we needed to do that because initially, the community employed some vigilantes from outside, but when the government refused to pay, they left,” the 35-year-old told Al Jazeera.

Every night, armed with Dane guns and charms, they take positions across the town while others patrol strategic places in groups. The community’s youth leader, Olayiwola Olusegun, told Al Jazeera that every household contributes money every month to provide ammunition.

In Agbon, the local vigilante group continues to recruit new members. In neighbouring Ibeku, residents are now wary of visitors and report unknown faces immediately to the town’s traditional ruler.

In Ondo State, dozens of elder residents of communities like Okeluse and Molege, have fled too, while youths who stayed behind have picked up arms to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, Wasiu Olatunbosun, Oyo State commissioner for information, told Al Jazeera the government had put in place the machinery to secure towns like Igangan. He insisted that residents who claim to stay up at night because of their fear of another attack must be opposition members.

For experts like Page, the outcome of these dynamics could be an “expansion of violence entrepreneurs” and more instability even if residents embracing self-defence is justified.

The only difference, he said, between “a vigilante, political thug, insurgent, or bandit is for whom or what cause he fights”.

By Adebayo Abdulrahman

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Civilians are stepping in to keep the peace in the deadly feud between herders and farmers

Video - Conflict between herdsmen and farmers remains deadly in Nigeria

Nigeria Drops to Africa's 4th Largest Oil Producer

Nigeria is facing a record reduction in oil production, oil cartel OPEC reports, dropping from the first largest producer in Africa to the fourth, behind Angola, Algeria and Libya.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries monthly oil market report for August showed that Nigeria's production stood at 980,000 barrels a day, a decline of more than 100,000 barrels per day compared to July.

The figure was about 50% of OPEC's target for the west African nation in August.

For decades, Nigeria has been Africa's largest oil producer. But in recent years, theft and sabotage at production sites have hampered output. Petroleum authorities say more than 200,000 barrels are lost daily as a result, and that the trend is costing the country millions of dollars in revenue.

Oil was once Nigeria's biggest earner and contributor to national GDP, but the latest data shows information and communications technology and trade contributed more during the second quarter this year.

Abuja-based oil and gas expert, Emmanuel Afimia, said he's worried about Nigeria's current situation.

"At this particular point in time when the oil prices are rising, Nigeria is supposed to sit back and be enjoying revenue and inflows of forex [foreign exchange trading] through the sales and export of crude oil. But the reverse is the case, so it's really a negative thing for the country falling from that position of being the biggest producer, Nigeria will slowly be losing its influence in the global oil market," Afimia said.

Nigerian authorities also are raising concerns. Last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari said the situation was putting the economy in a precarious situation.

And earlier this week, Nigerian lawmakers sent a delegation to oil-rich Rivers State to investigate the problem and report back their findings to the Senate.

But oil and gas expert Faith Nwadishi said authorities must share the blame, too.

"It's a question of pointing one finger when four fingers are pointing back at you," Nwadishi said. "If government was doing enough, I don't think that we'll close our eyes and see our major source of revenue being stolen up to 90 percent. I want to see a situation where government is taking more action than crying out."

Petroleum authorities and security operatives have been working to halt the oil theft.

Raids in late August led to the arrest of more than 100 oil thieves and the recovery of millions of liters of crude oil and diesel.

Mele Kyari, head of the National Nigeria Petroleum Company, said the clampdown is making progress.

"What is most difficult to manage today and daring for us to live with is the issue of crude oil theft, [but] we're not helpless and our efforts are paying off," Kyari said.

Authorities in August awarded a pipeline surveillance contract to a former militant who once stole oil and vandalized pipelines. The move was criticized by citizens, but officials say the former militant's expertise will help prevent theft.

By Timothy Obiezu


Nigeria, Morocco begin 5,600km gas pipeline project

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines of Morocco, on Thursday, signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the commencement of construction of the 5,600km Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline.

NNPC said the much-awaited Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline project officially commenced following the signing of the MoU between the two countries and the Economic Community of West African States in Rabat, Morocco.

It said the two countries and ECOWAS executed the MoU agreement on the project, which was a significant step in fulfilling the Federal Government’s drive towards harnessing Nigeria’s abundant gas resources.

The NMGP is a 5,600km gas pipeline project, traversing 13 African countries, which, when completed will provide gas from Nigeria to the West African countries up to the Kingdom of Morocco and subsequently to Europe.

Once completed, the project will supply about three billion standard cubic feet of gas per day along the West African coast from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’’ Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania to Morocco.

Signing the agreement on behalf of Nigeria was the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari; while Director-General of Morocco’s National Office for Hydrocarbons and Mines, Dr. Amina Benkhadra, signed on behalf of her country.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, Mr. Sediko Douka, signed on behalf of the sub-regional organisation.

In his remarks at the MoU signing ceremony, Kyari described the development as a very important milestone in the NMGP project in which all the key stakeholders in the project had come together to reaffirm their commitments to deliver on the project.

While expressing his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and His Royal Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who both entrusted NNPC Ltd and ONHYM with the strategic project, Kyari stated that from inception of the project to this stage, concerted efforts had been made by the governments of both countries, which led to the achievements recorded so far.

He said the Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco would benefit immeasurably from the execution of the project, as this would extend beyond the supply of gas to energise the countries along the route.

Conceived during the visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to Nigeria in December 2016, the NMGP project is an initiative of the Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco.

It is aimed at monetising Nigeria’s abundant natural gas resources, thereby generating additional revenue for the country, diversifying Nigeria’s gas export routes and eliminating gas flaring across the country.

The pipeline will originate from Brass Island (Nigeria) and terminates at North of Morocco, where it will be connected to the existing Maghreb European Pipeline that originates from Algeria (via Morocco), all the way to Spain.

By Okechukwu Nnodim 


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Church security guard killed, pastor kidnapped by radicals in Nigeria

Suspected Fulani herdsmen on Sunday killed a Christian security guard as they abducted a pastor in central Nigeria and wounded the church leader’s wife, sources said.

James Ngyang, a member of the church led by Pastor Bung Fon Dong of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), was killed in the attack at the residence of Pastor Dong on church premises in Ganawuri, Riyom County, Plateau state, said area resident Danjen Bagu Gang.

“Armed gunmen we believe are Fulani terrorists attacked Ganawuri and abducted the Rev. Bung Fon Dong alongside James Mann, who later escaped from the hands of the kidnappers,” Gang told Morning Star News in a text message.

“The gunmen stormed the RCC [Regional Church Council] chairman’s residence, at about 10 p.m., shot and wounded the pastor’s wife, and killed one James Ngyang, a member of the church and security church worker, before they forcefully took away the pastor at gunpoint.”

On Monday, the gunmen contacted the pastor’s family and demanded 20 million naira ($46,650) for his release, Gang said, adding that Ngyang’s body was buried on that day.

Police confirmed the kidnapping of Pastor Dong. Alfred Alabo, deputy superintendent of police of the Plateau State Police Command, said in a press statement that the attack happened Sunday night, and that Mann is the principal of the Government Secondary School in Ganawuri.

“We have deployed operatives to track down the criminals and rescue the hostage,” Alabo said.

In Ruku village, Gashish District in Plateau state’s Barkin Ladi County, suspected Fulani herdsmen on Sept. 7 attacked the predominantly Christian community, shooting and wounding three Christian women who were working at a tin mining site, said Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria.

Saying the three women were receiving treatment at Barkin Ladi General Hospital after being shot at about 10:45 p.m. by “armed men suspected to be Fulani militias,” Mwantiri identified the victims as Rose Bitrus, 41; Polina Mathew, 43; and Grace Pam, 42.

Pastor’s son kidnapped

In the Abaji area of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, gunmen on Sept. 4 kidnapped dozens of people, including the son of Evangelical Church Winning All Pastor Bala Akpeni, in an attack on predominantly Christian Kutaru village, according to the ECWA’s Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS).

“On the night of Sunday, Sept. 4, many Christians were kidnapped from one of our mission fields,” EMS Coordinator James Saleh said in a request for prayer. “Among those kidnapped is Steven Bala, the son of Pastor Bala Akpeni, the missionary taking care of the prayer house there. Please pray for God’s intervention.”

An ECWA pastor and two members of his church taken into captivity by terrorists for two months have been released and are now recovering from the trauma, Saleh said.

“Praise God for the release of our missionary, the Rev. Ahmadu Maikudi, and two members of his prayer house after over two months of captivity in the den of terrorists and a lengthy negotiation process for their release,” Saleh said. “We appreciate all those who contributed in one way or the other to facilitate their release. We pray that God will heal them from the trauma of that harrowing experience and give them peace in their hearts.”

Area community leader Alhassan Isah said in a Sept. 5 statement that incessant invasions of the area by terrorists and bandits have come at alarming rates and called on security authorities to act.

“It’s no longer rumors but a fact that there is a serious state of insecurity in many parts and village areas of the nation’s capital (Federal Capital Territory-Abuja), with Abaji Area Council not being an exception,” Isah said. “Leaders of these communities have reported on the siege and rampaging killings and abductions of residents on daily basis by terrorists, kidnappers and bandits, thereby displacing thousands among the people and forcing them to flee out of their communities.”

Recent killings and abductions of Kutara residents Rafin Daji, Paikon Bassa, Guridi and Adagba villages in Abaji Area Council are “worrisome and condemnable,” he said.

“As matter of urgency and importance, there’s the need for security agencies to take more proactive measures before the acts of terrorism, kidnapping and banditry completely take over Abaji Area Council,” Isah said.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

Morning Star News

Related stories: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?

Insecurity Grips Nigeria's Capital

Flutterwave adds Nigeria's eNaira as payment option for merchants

Africa-focused fintech firm Flutterwave said on Wednesday it has added Nigeria's eNaira as a payment option for merchants, a move that could help boost adoption of the digital currency.

Nigeria, the first African nation to launch a digital currency, is targeting 8 million users for the app launched in October. But adoption has been slow as lenders worry the app would compete with their online platforms and reduce fee revenue.

Flutterwave said that over 1 million merchants now accept eNaira payments from their customers.

"We... are confident that this number will grow further as we continue to innovate and expand," Flutterwave said in a statement.

Nigeria aims to expand usage of its eNaira digital currency by attracting users without bank accounts after a first phase adoption saw 850,000 downloads by bank customers.

The west African country is battling to stabilise its weakening currency, curb rising inflation and boost growth after economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Chijioke Ohuocha


Nigeria’s first Technology Reality Show opens in Lagos

Unveiling the show, known as Scinovate, the Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm, said the show would boost innovation in the state, especially among the younger segment of the population.

Farm said that the state government was open to innovative ideas provided by individuals and corporate bodies to accelerate development in the state.

“Technology will strength our drive to bring Nigeria to the forefront and make the nation to depend less on oil,’’ he said, lauding the organisers of the show for bringing up ideas to foster change.

The Convener of the show, Mr Emmanuel Rotimi, said that the show was an idea to bring people with scientific knowledge in Nigeria to find ways to foster development and nation building.

“The show will try to stimulate the consciousness of Nigerians on innovation and what science and technology can do in the lives of people,’’ Rotimi stated.

According to him, the show is a pan-Nigeria contest, where 30 contestants with tech ideas will be brought together in a house for 30 days.

‘’At the end of the 30 days, there will be 10 finalists — five winners with three winning prizes.’’

The convener said that to participate in the show, the contestant must be Nigerian, male or female, with knowledge of technology and in the age range of between 18 to 40 years.

In a speech, Dr Lekan Adelakun, the Team Lead of Q’Impact Medicare, said that science was crucial in the developmental of any country, noting however, that overnment should support the development of technology.

He said that the science and technology reality show should be packaged to be attractive, noting that the nation would be better for the show.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt the show is estimated to cost about N200m with winners, expected to go home with monetary prizes.

The Sun

Nigeria to produce vaccines locally with Serum Institute of India

Nigeria will partner with Serum Institute of India to start local manufacturing of vaccines used in the country's immunisation programmes, health minister Osagie Ehanire said on Wednesday.

Africa's most populous country imports all of its vaccines, including those used to prevent polio, measles and tuberculosis, but has been seeking foreign partners to produce them at home.

"We hope to start manufacturing some of the vaccines (that) Serum Institute India manufactures and transfer the technology and skills to our people," Ehanire said after Nigeria's cabinet approved the deal with Serum Institute, the world's largest producer of vaccines.

"We are talking first of all the routine vaccines, the ones (for) the standard programme on immunisation, not COVID-19 vaccine."

Ehanire said the venture between Bio Vaccine Nigeria and Serum Institute would start by producing 15% of vaccines used in local immunisation. The government owns a 49% stake in Bio Vaccine and private investors control the rest.

By Felix Onuah