Nigerian President Mohamadu #Buhari will chair an emergency meeting with top security chiefs in the capital Abuja. The meeting is in response to warnings from the U.S. and the UK about possible.
Nigerian President Mohamadu #Buhari will chair an emergency meeting with top security chiefs in the capital Abuja. The meeting is in response to warnings from the U.S. and the UK about possible.
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is holding emergency meetings Monday with security chiefs after several foreign missions issued terror warnings last week for the capital, Abuja.
Buhar’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, made the announcement in a tweet late Sunday. He said top security officials including the defense minister, armed services chiefs, police and heads of other security agencies will meet the president in Abuja on Monday morning.
Shehu said the meeting is to further review and strengthen the security network in the country.
The meeting follows series of warning by various foreign missions in Nigeria of an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, especially the capital.
The U.S., UK, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Turkey and Austria last week issued advisories to their citizens warning against non-essential travel to Nigeria.
Nigerian authorities insist the country is safe and that there is no cause for alarm.
But the warning caused fears among residents and led to the shutdown of businesses and activities.
Security expert Senator Iruegbu said authorities are only trying to allay fears but that the warnings must be taken seriously.
"We have to continue as members of the public for one's safety, we have to continue demanding that they should improve. When they give assurances, I think that's the right thing to do because you don't need to create more panic or to show the public you're not in charge of the situation,” said Iruegbu.
Nigerian security forces have been battling jihadist groups in the northeast for years, but concerns that such groups may be expanding their attacks elsewhere are growing.
In June, authorities blamed Islamic State West Africa Province or ISWAP for an attack on a church in southwest Nigeria that killed 40 worshippers. It was the first attack in the region to be blamed on a terrorist group.
One month later, ISWAP claimed responsibility for a massive jailbreak in Abuja that freed more than 800 inmates. More than half of the escapees were recaptured but hundreds more are at large, including more than 60 terror detainees.
Last Wednesday, security agencies raided a residential area in the capital and arrested at least two terrorism suspects, according to local media reports.
By Timothy Obiezu
Related stories: U.S. authorities departure of non-emergency staff from Nigeria
The artifacts were received on Tuesday from the U.S. Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H. E. Zubairu Dada.
The Nigerian government has been among many African countries that have been pushing for the return of stolen African artifacts to their countries of origin.
Hundreds of the historic objects are on display in foreign countries despite repeated calls for them to be given back.
Most of the artifacts were stolen from their countries of origin during the colonial period.
Earlier this month, Nigeria offered to loan the artifacts back to countries that would agree to the repatriation request.
“Many museums are responding positively, and it is the right thing to do for any museum of a country because you cannot illegally take artifacts away from their original place, display them in your museums,” the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Abba Tijjani, said.
By Jerry Omondi
Delegates from Canada have called for collaboration with Nigeria to strengthen trade opportunities and investment in the various sectors of both countries to grow their economies.
The delegates made the call at the Canada-Nigeria Trade Mission event organised by Africa Canada Trade and Investment Venture, held in Lagos.
While speaking on the theme: “Exploring New Opportunities for Canada-Nigeria Trade and Investment,” the delegates said both countries should collaborate and invest in Fintech, housing, technology, oil and gas, start ups and other sectors to improve on their economies.
The Chief Growth Officer and Legal Counsel, Vida Group, Canada, Huge Goodday, said there is strong appetite to strengthen trade relations between Nigeria and Canada because there are a whole lot of opportunities to tap into.
He said with Nigeria’s huge population and a growing middle class, there is a lot of potential, such as in housing, oil and gas, technology and Fintech investments, which Canada creates a stable economy from.
Goodday said both countries face the same challenges, which makes it important for collaboration on solutions to harness these potentials and opportunities
The Chief Executive Officer, Africa Canada Trade and Investment Venture, Kenneth Oguzie, said there are lots of sectors to explore such as, real estate, labour, energy, education and partnership on critical components with Canada as a trade partner to Africa and Nigeria.
He said there is a need for various stakeholders to come together to talk about the opportunities existing between Canada and Nigeria trade and highlight how to mitigate the challenges or barriers.
“Nigeria has business opportunities, as well as for start ups, technology, mining, renewable energy. We have our Canadian delegates as well people from the private and public sector here to talk about those opportunities. When the bilateral trade agreement between Canada and Nigeria becomes ratified we will see more progress,” he said.
The Director of International Affairs, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Temitope Akintunde, said Nigeria’s population of about 200 million people presents a very good opportunity for every foreign investor to invest in the country.
Akintunde noted that exploring Fintech is one of those key areas that Nigeria can start dealing with in terms of trade relations, especially for start ups as there are lots of opportunities out there, which Nigeria should take advantage of with Canada’s trade relations.
“A lot of bilateral agreements have already been signed between the governments of the two countries. It is just left for us to look at those information, get them and tap into those opportunities so those agreements are not just lying there,” she said.
The President, Colindale Consulting Business Solutions, Damian Maclnnis, said breaking the barriers between Canada and Africa is important, as it will help build economies.
He said having joint venture investments between Canada and Nigeria is the quickest and most efficient way to grow the economies of both countries.
By Adaku Onyenucheya
Two Nigerians living in Canada have been appointed to the cabinet of the new government of Alberta.
Another Nigerian also won a councillorship election into a city office in a Canadian city.
Messrs Kaycee Madu and Akolisa Ufodike were appointed by Danielle Smith, the new premier of Alberta, on Monday, 24 October.
Mr Madu, who was formerly Alberta’s justice minister, moved to the ministry of labour and immigration and is now Deputy Premier and Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions.
Mr Ufodike will serve as Deputy Minister at Alberta’s Ministry of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Ms Smith, speaking on her cabinet, said, “I am thrilled to be working with this strong, determined, united group of MLAs.”
“Alberta’s future is bright – but there’s a lot of work to be done. Our team will work every day to gain your trust, make bold changes and continue to build the most innovative, entrepreneurial and welcoming province in the world,” she added.
Also in Canada, Ayo Owodunni became the first black person to become a City Councillor in Kitchener, London Ontario, Canada.
Mr Owodunni’s election has been commended by President Muhammadu Buhari who praised the contributions of the Diaspora in promoting Nigeria’s image abroad and acting as brand ambassadors.
Mr Owodunni won the Municipal elections for Ward 5 in a keenly contested race for the office, according to a statement by Mr Buhari’s office.
“Speaking on Mr Owodunni’s historic victory, President Buhari said the record-setting election of the Nigerian, the first ever for a black person highlighted the various initiatives undertaken by him as a consultant, facilitator, and trainer, supporting businesses in their efforts to promote learning and bring diversity, inclusion and cultural understanding in the workplace.
“The President urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to always promote the government’s development agenda wherever they lived and ‘never be afraid to dream big and never give up on your dreams.’
“The President congratulated Owodunni and his spouse, Folake and their two children on this very important election victory,” the president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
By Chiamaka Okafor
Desperate to survive, many locals fleeing raging floods which have wrecked their homes and livelihoods are also forced to depend on floodwater for sustenance.
For displaced inhabitants of northern Bayelsa’s Odi town, who have found new homes in roadside shacks and tent shelters with no access to running water, stagnant floodwaters are the only available alternatives for drinking, cooking and bathing.
As she rinses her uncooked fish in dirty floodwater next to her neighbor doing his laundry, local trader Chigozie Uzo shares her fears of catching a waterborne disease.
“I’ve heard of cholera,” she told CNN, “but I don’t have a choice than to use this water.”
Meters away from Uzo, a young girl aged no more than five years old squats to urinate in the same floodwater she had rinsed her pot and plates in.
Humanitarian agencies fear the floods will contribute to a health disaster and Nigeria has already seen a rise in cholera infections as floods ravage many parts of the country.
According to UNICEF, “more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance – 60 per cent of which are children – and are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in the past decade.”
A rise in cholera infections could be devastating for the country as the World Health Organization warns of a “strained global supply of cholera vaccines.”
Bayelsa and 30 other Nigerian states have reported thousands of suspected cholera cases, the country’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said in a recent report.
Bayelsa is among 33 of 36 Nigerian states grappling with the devastation of the country’s worst flooding in a decade. More than 600 lives have been lost in floods across the West African country, its government says, and almost 1.5 million people have been displaced, according to the country’s humanitarian ministry.
Aniso Handy, 56, has remained in his house in Odi, which has been overrun by water.
“I still live here,” he told CNN as he paddled his canoe into his flooded living room before making his way to a dry room upstairs.
“My family doesn’t stay here because of the flood and for their safety … but I know how to swim,” he said.
For some in the community, such as 27-year-old Igbomiye Zibokere, this is not the first time they have experienced the devastating effects of flooding.
During the last major flooding in 2012, her sick mother drowned in her room when water engulfed their home, she told CNN.
“My mum was ill when the floods came in 2012. The water level was high and my sister and I couldn’t carry her. All we could do was cry as she drowned in her room,” Zibokere said.
Zibokere, who is a petty trader, said she returned from the bush near her home in early October to find it taken over by water. The water level rose to her neck and they were forced to leave the house.
She and her young children are now homeless and living rough in a makeshift tent by the roadside.
“We are in a canopy. If it rains, the canopy would be blown away by the wind and we’ll be beaten by the rain. I’m suffering now. No food to eat or water to drink,” the mother-of-five said.
Displacing the living and the dead
In Bayelsa’s capital Yenagoa, located 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Odi, floods have displaced not just the living but also the dead.
In Yenagoa’s Azikoro village, residents said bodies have been seen floating in floodwaters around a local cemetery.
Adjusting to life wading through the stench of the stagnant water isn’t the only worry for residents of Azikoro as the cost-of-living skyrockets in Bayelsa due to the floods.
With major highways underwater, Bayelsa has been cut off from the rest of the country. Boats have become the only way to get around much of its environment.
To get to Bayelsa, travelers pay around 2,000 Naira (less than $5) to get on a packed tipper truck to cross flooded roads.
Those unable to afford the fee can be seen wading through the water carrying what little possessions they can.
Nigeria’s current flooding has been attributed to above-average rainfall and an overflowing dam in neighboring Cameroon. But the situation has also been exacerbated by poor drainage infrastructure, environmentalists have said.
With a warmer climate causing more intense rainfall, authorities also blame climate change for the floods. In the meantime, the country aims to tackle one of the major causes of its flood problems by holding bilateral talks with Cameroon on the periodic opening of its dam, Nigeria’s humanitarian ministry said.
“We must initiate a bilateral discussion with authorities in Cameroon next month (November 2022) on the periodic opening of the Lagdo dam,” a statement by the ministry said last week.
Complaints leveled at authorities
But weeks since the flooding began, Nigeria’s government has yet to declare the flood a national emergency.
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, told local media last week: “It’s certainly an emergency situation but it all depends on what you mean by the declaring state of emergency. We have not reached a situation in my view where the relevant emergency management authorities have not been able to deal with this situation.”
Handy isn’t pleased with the government’s response.
“Nigerians are used to managing. If not, we would have all died,” he said. “Nigerians care for themselves, we’re more like infants that have no father or mother.”
Authorities in Bayelsa say they are racing to provide relief items for the thousands displaced.
According to the local government, around 20,000 people now live in displacement camps, where they are provided “two meals daily” along with “medical services, potable water and other emergency aids.”
But for Zibokere, government efforts are rarely felt in her community.
“When relief items are sent to the community by the government, individuals handling them distribute most of it to their relatives. The rest of us are left in hunger,” she said.
Bayelsa government spokesperson Daniel Alabrah said the government was aware of these complaints.
“We hear some of those complaints but we cannot verify them because while some claim not to have gotten the relief materials, others say they got it,” Alabrah told CNN. “These reports help us to monitor the process to see that relief materials get to the persons they are intended for,” he added.
With the rains still coming and more expected through November, more intense flooding is imminent, the Nigerian government warns.
By Nimi Princewill and Larry Madowo
The UAE has reportedly banned Nigerian citizens from entering the country, according to trading partners.
Immigration authorities in Dubai announced on Friday that new visa applications for Nigerian citizens will be rejected and current applications will be refused without refunding applicants.
A notice has been allegedly issued to its trading partners in Nigeria which includes travel agents
"All Dubai applications submitted are now rejected. It is general for Nigerians and approvals are on hold at the moment," the notice read, according to Nigerian media.
"Kindly advise your clients to resubmit C2=A0 applications when the issue is resolved between both governments."
"Kindly advise your clients to resubmit applications when the issue is resolved between both governments," the alleged notice reads.
The reports added that the UAE will keep this decision until diplomatic issues between Abu Dhabi and Abuja are resolved.
Last month, the UAE reportedly stopped issuing tourist visas to people aged under-40 from a number of countries, including Nigeria.
The New Arab has contacted the Nigerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and UAE embassy in London for comment about the claims.
There was early morning fire outbreak at the headquarters of Nigeria’s office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) on Wednesday, but the examination body has said the situation is under control.
Videos of flames at the WAEC headquarters located in Yaba, Lagos, were in circulation early Wednesday morning with unconfirmed reports suggesting that staffers were trapped in the building.
According to sources, some of the workers and particularly the non-academic staff union members had resumed when the fire incident was observed.
However, no one could ascertain the cause of the outbreak as everyone reportedly scampered for safety.
Situation under control -WAEC
Reacting to the development in a telephone conversation, the Acting Head of the Public Affairs Unit of WAEC, Moyosola Adesina, said the situation was under control.
Mrs Adesina said no one was hurt and that everyone in the building was successfully evacuated by fire fighters.
She said; “Yes, the fire outbreak was noticed at the headquarters this morning and the fire fighters were quickly invited.
“I can confirm to you that everyone in the building was successfully evacuated and that the fire has been put out.”
The spokeswoman said she could not ascertain the cause of the incident yet but that efforts were on to “do that.”
WAEC had on Thursday officially launched a platform for digital certificates but this has been followed by mixed reactions.
While some users of the platform commended the examination body for the innovation, many others have accused it of rip off.
But WAEC said all the identified issues were being looked into for resolutions.
By Mojeed Alabi
The Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Oyo State, Wale Lasisi, has called on the government to give doctors incentives to mitigate the issue of brain drain bedeviling the health sector.
Mr Lasisi made the call in Ibadan on Tuesday at the opening of the 2022 Physicians’ Week, with the theme: “Nigeria’s Healthcare Delivery System and the 2023 Democratic Transition: A Time to Change the Narrative.”
He said the problem of brain drain had been on since 1960, as many people leave the country on a daily basis.
“In those days, the pattern was people training abroad and coming home to practise.
“As things degenerated over time, many people who have been exposed abroad ran back while those who have had the opportunity of training abroad also ran back when they saw the quality service there.
“UK is trying to replace its own workforce and make sure its people get the best of healthcare, thus coming down to Third World nations in Africa, including Nigeria, to recruit medical personnel.
“In the immediate future, the best that the government can do is to add incentives to retain those who are on ground,” Mr Lasisi said.
In his lecture, Vice-Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, Ayodeji Agboola, advised those contesting for one position or the other to put the issue of healthcare in the front burner.
“We have heard several promises from 1960 till when the civilian rule started in 1999.
“So much legislation had also been made and we have heard that they wanted to develop primary healthcare but we have not seen any significant improvement.
“My advice and plea to all of them is to make sure that they put primary healthcare into focus,” Mr Agboola said.
Fola Adeniji, of University College Hospital, Ibadan, said if the brain drain trend should be allowed to continue, the country would be at the risk of having a collapsed health system.
“For every physician trained in Nigeria, government must have spent an average of N3.8 million, which is equivalent to $10,000.
“So if that individual decides to leave the country, that means the country will be losing investments in that individual,” Mr Adeniji said.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the event, Akinyinka Omigbodun, described doctors as endangered species, as many of them were leaving for other places, with the few remaining already overwhelmed with the number of patients.
Mr Omigbodun urged the association to bring together policy makers and stakeholders to implement policies that would benefit the sector.
In his goodwill message, the Chief Medical Director of UCH, Jesse Otegbayo, noted that the nation’s healthcare system had suffered a lot, especially in terms of poor allocation of resources to the sector.
He, however, said this year’s budget had given the sector the highest allocation, for the first time in many decades.
Owodunni won in Ward 5. Owodunni is a Senior Manager at the Black Professionals in Tech Network.
Reacting to this, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said the record-setting election of the Nigerian, the first ever for a black person highlighted the various initiatives undertaken by him as a consultant, facilitator, and trainer, supporting businesses in their efforts to promote learning and bring diversity, inclusion and cultural understanding in the workplace.
The President urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to always promote the government’s development agenda wherever they lived and ” never be afraid to dream big and never give up on your dreams.”
The President congratulated Owodunni and his spouse, Folake and their two children on this very important election victory.
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday authorised the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their families from Nigeria due to a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the country.
The latest travel update comes after the United States and the United Kingdom warned on Sunday of a possible terrorist attack in the capital Abuja, especially aimed at government buildings, places of worship and schools, among other targets.
"The U.S. Embassy Abuja continues to have limited ability to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Nigeria," the State Department said.
Nigeria's Department of State Services said the United States had previously issued similar warnings and urged citizens to remain alert.
Insecurity, which is rife across most Nigerian states, is a major issue among voters who will choose a new president next February.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Related stories: US and UK warn of possible attack in Nigeria's capital
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has directed relevant government agencies to develop an action plan for the prevention of flood disasters in the West African country.
According to the president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Buhari directed the Minister of Water Resources to lead and coordinate with the Ministries of Environment and Transportation as well as State Governments to develop a comprehensive plan of action for preventing flood disasters in Nigeria.
Nigeria has been hit by perennial floods that caused the loss of hundreds of lives and massive destruction of property.
Currently, more than 2.5 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.
Flooding has affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country this year, killing more than 600 people and displacing 1.3 million people.
The UN says the country has recorded a rise in cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases.
Shehu noted that President Buhari is regularly receiving updates on the flooding situation and is committed to addressing the challenges caused by the disaster in the country.
By Jerry Omondi
The Kaduna State Chapter of Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, yesterday said no fewer than 10,000 doctors left Nigeria for the United Kingdom, UK, for greener pastures in the last seven years, saying Doctors in Kaduna State are the least remunerated.
The NMA while celebrating its ‘2022 Physicians’ Week’ lamented continued brain drain in the medical profession in the last seven years, amidst deadly deceases in the country that required more medical doctors.
At a news briefing as part of activities to mark the ‘Physicians’ Week’, the Chairman, Kaduna State NMA, Dr. Madaki Sheyin, said a Nigerian doctor is poorly paid, over worked, lacked necessary work tools and has become a target for kidnappers.
“Nigerian doctors have been rendered unimportant by successive governments for inadequate attention to the heath sector.
The one week medical activities has the theme, “Nigeria’s Healthcare Delivery System and The 2023 Democratic Transition: A Time To Change The Narrative’, is in tandem with the most important upcoming event in Nigeria while the sub-themes’, Mitigating The Impact Of Brain Drain On The Dwindling Human Resource For Health In Nigeria and Health Sector Reforms In The Face Of Emerging Public Health Threats’, were chosen as continued reminder to our governments that things are falling apart in the health sector.
“The issue of progressive depletion of human resource for health cannot be over emphasized. With the recent article from an Online Newspaper of 9th October 2022 titled “200 Nigerian Doctors Move to UK in One Month’, the fact that checks on the website of the General Medical Council, GMC, the body which licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK, showed that the GMC licensed at least 200 Nigerian-trained doctors between August 31, 2022, and September 30, 2022 was revealed.
“The statistics also showed that between January 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022, about 1,307 doctors trained in Nigeria were licensed in the UK as Nigeria continues to battle one of the worst situations of brain drain in its history. Overall, 10,296 doctors who obtained their degrees in Nigeria currently practice in the UK.
“Dispersion of the emigration data for Nigeria trained doctors to UK is as follows: 233 in 2015, 279 in 2016, 475 in 2017, 852 in 2018, 1,347 in 2019, 833 in 2020 in spite of COVID Pandemic and 932 in 2021 during recovery from COVID.
“The Kaduna Doctor is even worse hit by this poor welfare conditions, doctors in the State’s employ as at today receive only 60 percent of the CONMESS salary scale, a far cry from what those in the Federal and other States are receiving. We call on our Governments to quickly declare emergency action in Nigeria’s health sector for the sake of her citizens”.
“This alongside insecurity is largely responsible for the high turnover of doctors in the state and mass exodus causing both internal and external brain drain”.
The doctors therefore appealed to Kaduna state government to immediately implement the report of the Committee on Review of Medical Doctors and other health workers’ salaries in Kaduna State and also domesticate the newly approved hazard allowance for doctors.
By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
A Nigerian court has ordered a final seizure of two properties and cars owned by former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the country's economic crimes commission said on Monday, in the latest ruling related to graft allegations against her.
Alison-Madueke was a key figure in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan who served as petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015. She has been dogged by corruption allegations since she left office but denies the charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement that High Court Judge Mobolaji Olajuwon issued the final forfeiture of the former minister's $3 million homes and cars in Abuja.
Alison-Madueke's whereabouts are unclear, but she was last known to be in Britain.
A court has previously ordered the seizure of her upmarket property in the commercial capital Lagos and frozen funds that were said to be part of the rent collected from the property.
In 2017, the U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint aimed at recovering about $144 million in assets allegedly obtained through bribes to the former minister.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Related stories: $21 million seized from Nigeria's former oil minister Alison Madueke
The Nigerian government is looking to expand its leather export sector which brings in 500 million U.S. dollars annually as it diversifies its economy away from oil and gas. But the plan is a threat to a local delicacy from the cooked cow skin popularly known as “ponmo”.
The United States and Britain on Sunday warned of a possible terrorist attack in Nigeria's federal capital Abuja, especially aimed at government buildings, places of worship and schools, among other targets.
Nigeria is fighting an Islamist insurgency mainly in the northeast, but in July the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a raid on a prison in Abuja, which freed around 440 inmates, raising fears that insurgents were venturing from their enclaves.
The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria said "there is an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically Abuja" and added that shopping malls, law enforcement facilities and international organisations were among places at risk.
"The U.S. Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice," the embassy said in an alert to citizens in Nigeria.
The United Kingdom government warned that its citizens in Nigeria should stay alert due to an "increased threat of terrorist attack in Abuja."
"Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests, as well as places visited by tourists," it said.
Insecurity, which has spread across Nigeria, is a major issue for voters when they go to the polls next February to elect a new president to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria's foreign affairs ministry was not immediately available to comment.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Related stories: Video - Is Nigeria's security crisis out of control?
In Nigeria’s oil-rich Bayelsa state, nearly one and a half million people have been affected by severe flooding. The government is promising emergency supplies to deal with severe shortages of food and fuel. Ahmed Idris reports from Yenagoa.
Nigeria LNG is still producing and exporting liquefied natural gas despite a force majeure declaration made due to heavy flooding, a spokesperson told local television channel Arise TV on Thursday.
The company made the legal declaration earlier this week amid the worst flooding in 12 years, saying all of its upstream gas suppliers had declared force majeure.
Sources told Reuters this week that no cargoes had yet been cancelled, and that the force majeure was pre-emptive in case the flooding continued for much longer and did impact loadings.
NLNG spokesperson Andy Odeh said that while the company was still operating, it was "not getting enough gas" due to the impact of the flooding on its suppliers.
He said NLNG would work to protect facilities from future flooding, which he said was worse than usual due in part to climate change.
Authorities blamed the flooding, which affected 33 of Nigeria's 36 states, on unusually heavy rain, joined with the release of water from a dam in Cameroon.
Portugal relies heavily on NLNG gas and oil major Shell, NLNG's largest single offtaker, are at most risk from the outage, according to investment bank Jefferies.
By Libby George
With Nigeria's election campaigns in full swing ahead of February's vote, fact-checkers in the country say they are working together to counter cases of disinformation.
For journalist Opeyemi Kehinde, the first task each day is searching the internet, television programs and social media for any information that may need a second look. If he spots anything dubious, Kehinde posts it to the messaging platform Slack, so that he and other fact-checkers can verify the information.
Kehinde heads FactCheckHub, an Abuja-based organization that is one of eight members of a wider fact-checking initiative known as the Nigerian Fact Checkers Coalition.
Together, they combine resources and expertise to help tackle misinformation ahead of Nigeria's general election.
The Nigerian Fact Checkers Coalition started four months ago.
"Since the advent of various social media platforms and internet access, a lot of people have access to much more information than a decade or two ago," Kehinde said. "We felt as this election is coming up soon, there's need for more advocacy, media literacy, fact-checking of information released by politicians, stakeholders in the elections, as well as the Nigerian populace."
The Nigerian Fact Checkers Coalition holds weekly meetings and publishes its findings through the members' respective newsrooms.
In August, the coalition published an open letter urging politicians not to use misinformation and falsehoods, and to ensure that information disseminated during campaigns is accurate and fair.
Last month, the group hosted politicians, security agents, independent electoral bodies and civil society groups at a conference to discuss the impact of falsehoods.
Kehinde said the group is seeing some successes, but is experiencing pushback, too.
"We have some politicians who are now setting up media teams to attack fact-checks that are published by members of the coalition, to provide alternative facts to some of our evidence-based reports, based on their misleading claims," he said.
Public opinion in the country is often shaped by ethnic and religious backgrounds, especially during elections. And with a population of over 200 million, the ratio of fact-checkers to citizens in Nigeria is very low.
Abuja-based communications expert Pamela Braide said spreading falsehoods can have serious implications.
"Communications and politics go hand in hand, misinformation is part of it. What it does is it increases people's mistrust, it [damages] relationships of the people, communities, and it often leads to violence before it is verified," Braide said.
But by combining their efforts, members of the fact-checking coalition can quickly counter false information.
Kemi Busari, coalition member and editor at verification website Dubawa, explained how the coalition sprang into action when it spotted a viral video about a politician.
The fact-checkers found the video had been manipulated in an attempt to mislead voters into thinking the politician supported a member of the opposition party.
"We did the fact-check and we realized that some guys just decided to extract some part of it," Busari said. "The video was shared in the group and we did the fact-check and all of us published it, and that increased the scale or audience of the fact-check. It's best we come together. We can co-publish our fact-checks; we can co-author fact-checks."
Busari said the coalition is just getting started.
"We're also looking at several partnerships with embassies, Google, and some other organizations. Particularly we're seeking partnership with organizations who could help with live fact-checking. We want to be engaged in live fact-checking of every [one] of these conversations," he said.
As election campaigns and rallies gather pace across Nigeria, the fact-check coalition may have a large task ahead.
By Timothy Obiezu
Clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the Nigerian state of Benue left at least 23 people dead, a local official said on Thursday, the latest deadly incident fuelled by growing pressure on land resources in Africa's most populous country.
Violence between farmers and pastoralists has become increasingly common in recent years as population growth leads to an expansion of the area dedicated to farming, leaving less land available for open grazing by nomads' herds of cattle.
Kertyo Tyounbur, chairman of the Ukum local government area of Benue where the violence took place, gave a death toll of 23.
Local resident William Samson said the trouble started on Tuesday when villagers killed two herders and stole their cattle. This was followed by a reprisal attack by herdsmen on Wednesday on the village of Gbeji, he said.
Reuters could not verify his account from other sources in the remote rural area.
Benue is one of Nigeria's Middle Belt states, where the majority Muslim North meets the predominantly Christian South.
Competition over land use is particularly intractable in the Middle Belt as the fault lines between farmers and herders often overlap with ethnic and religious divisions.
The Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast has worsened the problem by driving herders into the Middle Belt and further south, analysts say, while climate change and increasing aridity in the North are also contributing factors.
By Chijioke Ohuocha
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Theophilus Blamoh and two of his friends were walking to buy items for their dinner in the central Nigerian city of Ilorin on the evening of September 6, when a black pick-up truck stopped beside them. One door opened and someone shouted at them to enter. It was a policeman.
When they didn’t reply, two policemen jumped out and cocked their guns. The trio, now scared, entered. Just before the vehicle drove on, a policeman recognised one of the young men as a fellow church member and let him go before driving off to the nearby police station.
“They searched our phones but they didn’t find anything incriminating,” Blamoh, a 23-year-old performing arts undergraduate at the University of Ilorin told Al Jazeera. “They checked my account balance and found I had just withdrawn my last 1,000 naira.”
One officer asked why they were not Yahoo-Yahoo boys [internet fraudsters], ostensibly so there could’ve been more money for the taking. When Blamoh asked why a police officer would ask that, they started hitting him with the butts of their guns.
Stories of police brutality are rampant in Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy. Two-thirds of its estimated 200 million people are below the age of 30 and many, like Blamoh, say they have either had a personal experience with the police or know someone who has.
As decades of torture, maiming and killing by the country’s security forces stacked up, young people across the country took to the streets for days, beginning on October 8, 2020.
The target of their anger was the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a rogue police unit accused of extrajudicial killings, extortion and kidnapping among other nefarious crimes.
Called #EndSARS, the protests ballooned into a massive call for the abolition of the squad. It flickered out on October 20 that year after soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters at a popular landmark – the Lekki tollgates – in the commercial capital Lagos.
At least 12 people died and hundreds of others were wounded, according to Amnesty International. A leaked report by a panel of inquiry launched by the Lagos state government found the Nigerian military culpable but the authorities rejected the report.
Two years on, experts and activists say justice has not been served and brutality by security agencies has continued, mostly away from the public eye.
On October 11, 2020, the Nigerian government announced the disbandment of SARS. But, citizens say, SARS officers are still in service as plainclothes policemen patrolling the streets, extorting, arresting and torturing citizens without reason.
Between January and September last year, there were 164 recorded extrajudicial killings by law enforcement agents according to Global Rights, a Washington, DC-based human rights group. This October 4, Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi in the southeast, reportedly marshalled soldiers to flog civil servants for coming late to work.
‘Justice is elusive’
Rinu Oduala, a Lagos-based activist who was vocal during the 2020 protests, said the Nigerian government is yet to actualise real police reforms. That makes young people “afraid to step out of their homes, in a bid to not become victims of torture, extortion, harassment and extrajudicial killings”, she said.
Moreover, many families of the victims are yet to receive compensation or justice, including those who died at the Lekki tollgates, said Osai Ojigho, country director of Amnesty International in Nigeria.
“Justice is still elusive and more so where representatives of the government continue to dispute the number of dead and injured people at the Lekki tollgate shooting,” she told Al Jazeera.
“This is very disappointing…the lack of punishment for erring police officers sends a message to young people that their lives do not matter,” Ojigho added.
‘A change in psyche’
The status quo has led to conflicting opinions – online and offline – about the success of the #EndSARS protests.
Kikelomo Shodeko, a senior analyst at Horizon West Africa, an Abuja-based security consultancy firm, said the demonstrations were a turning point.
“What it has brought about is a change in psyche,” she said. “It helped young people recognise their capacity to organise not only protests but also politically,” she said.
This change may influence political attitudes as the country heads towards general elections next February. In August, the country’s electoral commission announced that 10.5 million new voters had been registered, 84 percent are aged 34 and below.
A number of these youths seem to have been galvanized to vote by the emergence of Peter Obi, a former two-term governor of the southeastern state of Anambra, as a third option to the septuagenarian presidential candidates of the ruling party and leading opposition.
Obi, 61, is perceived as a breath of fresh air and analysts say this is because young people find him relatable and are desperate for change.
Ridwan Oke, a Lagos lawyer, is determined to vote against any contestant in 2023 with “no genuine commitment to ending police brutality”.
He was beaten by policemen outside his house in the Lagos suburb of Ebute Meta in July when he told them to stop driving against the flow of traffic.
“If young people are not taking the upcoming elections seriously, then how do they plan to answer those who shot their colleagues in 2020 and gaslighted them after?” she asked.
‘Erosion of public confidence’
Unchecked police brutality is an existential danger to young people who live in fear as the relationship between the people and security agencies deteriorates, activists say.
“[T]he morale of young people is constantly dampened, seeing that errant officers have not been brought to book,” Oduala said. “Citizen-police hostility has also been on the increase, where citizens are attacking police officers perceived to be a force of oppression.”
“The danger of continued police brutality in Nigeria is an erosion of public confidence in the force responsible for keeping them safe,” said Ojigho. “[T]he police are the most distrusted security agency in Nigeria.”
Analysts say the government must be ready to acknowledge the problem, enforce punishments, educate officers and tackle corruption within the police.
“What we have are officers that are mostly uneducated and are given guns,” Shodeko said. “They should attend training in crisis, risk and emergency management. That training in itself is critical to how the police handle situations and understand their roles.”
As citizens mark the two-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, some say it may be too late given a lack of political willpower to effect change.
“I fought and spoke against police brutality for months only to become a victim almost two years later because the government refused to listen to us,” said Oke who was a legal volunteer helping detained protesters in October 2020.
Blamoh, who was locked up in a cell for four days, said two officers drove him to his hostel when he became extremely weak and dumped him at the gates. A hostel porter who saw them came and rushed him to the hospital.
“That action made me know that I should be running away from them instead of running to them,” Blamoh said.
By Pelumi Salako
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People wade through fast-flowing water, holding one another to avoid being swept away, balancing suitcases, clothing and food on their heads.
The torrent was, until recently, the East-West Road in Nigeria's Rivers state, the gateway to the nation's oil and gas.
Now parts of Rivers, along with large swathes of 32 other states, are inundated by the worst flooding in 12 years.
"We cannot access Ahoada West anymore," local government chairman Hope Ikiriko said of the area he represents. He said 30 boats were helping to move people to camps built to accommodate the area's 150,000 displaced.
"We are going to rescue people who hitherto never wanted to quit," he added.
Nigerian authorities said Rivers, Anambra, Delta, Cross River and Bayelsa states remain at risk of flooding until the end of November.
The flooding has killed more than 600 people, displaced around 1.4 million and damaged or destroyed 440,000 hectares of farmland. Health officials warn it could worsen an ongoing cholera outbreak, and even natural gas exports are at risk.
Authorities blame heavy rains and a water release from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon. Experts say global warming, and poor planning, worsened the disaster.
"Climate change is playing a big role in this," said Hiba Baroud, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt University. "But the other component is...the vulnerability of the infrastructure. This is how we end up in a disaster like this one."
The 2021 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index ranked Nigeria among the bottom 20 nations in its readiness to adapt to climate change.
Baroud said a Nigerian dam meant to backstop Cameroon's Lagdo was planned, but never completed. A lack of zoning allows houses in flood zones and poor irrigation places farmers at the edge of rivers that can inundate their fields.
"It's going to have cascading effects on diseases, on food security and so on," Baroud said.
By Angela Ukomadu
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To promote industrialisation in the country, he said that the manufacturing sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) should be more than double to 20 percent, up from the current 9 percent, among others, within the next decade.
Dangote spoke yesterday, in Lagos, at the 2nd Adekola Odutola Lecture organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in commemoration of its 50th Annual General Meeting.
He stated: “Nigeria needs to, henceforth, intensify efforts at promoting industrialization with specific focus on the attainment of the following targets in the next 10 years:
“15% manufacturing sector growth, 20% manufacturing contribution to GDP, 15% growth in export of manufactured products, 10% increase in the share of manufacturing to total export merchandize, stronger inter-industry linkage between SMEs and large corporations, improved manufacturing contribution to government tax revenue and 20% increase in manufacturing employment.”
Dangote noted that industrialisation facilitates the global competitiveness of a nation in the production of processed and manufactured goods by linking industrial activity with primary sector, domestic and foreign trade, and service activities.
His words: “To achieve industrialisation goals, it is necessary for a nation to formulate plans and policies that will enhance and sustain industrial development. Sustainable industrial development involves establishment of a conducive environment to encourage investment and ensure efficient usage of resources to increase productivity and growth of the nation.
“The creation of a pathway to steady and sustained industrial growth entails the deployment of industrialization centric strategies and policies; promotion of the National Manufacturing Philosophy; securing the buy-in of government for successful implementation of the agenda; promotion of smart manufacturing; the establishment of a robust framework aimed at improving the business environment, the extension of comprehensive and integrated support to priority sectors with strong linkages and growth potentials as espoused in the NDP 2021-2025 with particular emphasis on improved value addition and export of manufactured products. It also entails the development of strong partnership with the private sector within and outside the country.”
By Yinka Kolawole
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Starting next month, Israelis might be able to travel to a new destination in Africa directly from Ben-Gurion Airport.
Nigerian airline Air Peace could start offering direct flights between Nigeria and Israel very soon, CEO Allen Onyema revealed this week in a meeting with the Israeli envoy to Nigeria.
The launch of the new flight route between Lagos and Tel Aviv, while not officially confirmed as of yet, could come as early as next month.
New potential line good news for Nigerian Christians
The 4,300 km. route would see the flight time between the two countries decrease significantly to only six hours. Currently, the travel can often include several transfers and usually takes longer than 10 hours.
The potential line is especially significant for many Nigerian Christians who wish to travel to Israel for its holy sites.
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Nnamdi Nwaogu, a 44-year-old IT worker, has packed his bags. In Lagos, Nigeria's frenetic commercial capital, galloping inflation and a plunging naira have pummeled his salary.
Nwaogu, like hundreds of other Nigerians, left amid a brain drain that is punishing even for a nation used to losing its young and educated.
"We have serious doubts if this is the time for that hope to blossom," he said before flying to the UK last month.
Nwaogu began a master's degree in England, while his wife, a doctor, will join him in January with their three children.
Departing workers are impacting nearly every sector, stretching a weak healthcare system, forcing employers to recruit on a continuous basis and worsening services from banking to tech.
The phenomenon -- dubbed "japa," meaning "to flee" in Yoruba -- regularly trends on social media. Many cite unprecedented nationwide insecurity, inflation at a 17-year-high and a loss of faith in leaders before the February 2023 presidential election.
"We are witnessing an epidemic of brain drain," said Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
Ishaya said comparatively low pay, workplace assaults and lack of safety – 20 NARD members have been kidnapped this year -- were all reasons members left.
A NARD poll showed that nearly 800 resident doctors had left this year, while 85% of its leadership were planning to leave. The result is hours-long waits at hospitals, he said, doctor burnout and deteriorating care.
Real-time nationwide statistics on those leaving are not available. But British government data showed a 300% increase in Nigerians getting UK work visas in the year to June, to 15,772.
Others are going to Canada, Australia and the United States.
The exodus lead a banking industry group to release a study last month on ways to retain workers, while tech firms such as Yellow Card Financial, a cryptocurrency exchange, told Reuters they had started offering stock options and pay in dollars.
"The competition for talent is only going to get more and more intense," said Yellow Card chief executive Chris Maurice.
The pull from countries grappling with their own worker shortages is aiding the exodus.
One Nigerian accountant who moved to the UK in May said it took her just three months to get offers from two of the Big Four accounting firms; her company, she said, recently doubled its referral fee to 1,000.
Lagos-based consultancy SBM warned that the loss of skilled labour was bound to have a negative economic impact.
For Nwaogu, there is no choice.
"I want to be able to give my children a better quality of life," he said. "I can't get that here."
By Libby George
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Gunmen have abducted at least 10 healthcare workers in Nigeria's Niger state and killed an unspecified number after bandits invaded a general hospital early on Tuesday, a hospital and military source said.
Armed bandits operating for cash have kidnapped or killed hundreds across northwest Nigeria. Niger state officials have said that Islamist militant group Boko Haram had taken over multiple communities in the state, offering villagers money and incorporating them in their ranks to fight the government.
The hospital source said more than 20 staff were kidnapped, including patient relatives, while the security source said two people had been killed after the gunmen invaded the general hospital in Lapai local government in large numbers.
Niger state governor, Sani Bello said a number of people were killed during Tuesday's attack at Gulu General Hospital and unspecified number abducted including medical workers. He did not specify how many had been killed.
Separately, Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), told Reuters that 20 NARD members have been kidnapped this year, causing some of them to leave the country partly due to a lack of safety.
By Chijioke Ohuocha
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By Timothy Obiezu
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Nigeria LNG has declared force majeure because of widespread flooding that has disrupted supply, a spokesman for the company said on Monday.
The declaration could worsen Nigeria's cash crunch and will curtail global gas supply as Europe and others struggle to replace Russian exports due to the invasion of Ukraine in February.
NLNG said all of its upstream gas suppliers had declared force majeure, forcing it to make the declaration as well.
"The notice by the gas suppliers was a result of high floodwater levels in their operational areas, leading to a shut-in of gas production which has caused significant disruption of gas supply to NLNG," spokesperson Andy Odeh said.
Odeh said NLNG was determining the extent of the disruption and would try to mitigate the impact of the force majeure.
Flooding in Nigeria has killed more than 600 people, displaced 1.4 million and destroyed roads and farmland. Officials have warned that the flooding, caused by unusually heavy rains and the release of water from a dam in Cameroon, could continue into November.
NLNG's supply had already been limited due to prolific oil theft that has slashed output from what is typically Africa's largest exporter. NLNG had exported roughly 18 cargoes in September, according to Refinitiv data.
Nigeria relies on fossil fuel exports for 90% of its foreign exchange and roughly half its budget. Crude oil exports fell below 1 million barrels per day (bpd) on average in August, the lowest level since the 1980s, due to theft that has exceeded 80% on certain pipelines.
Crushing fuel subsidy costs have also kept Africa's most populous nation from benefiting from this year's surge in oil prices.
By Libby George
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Aid workers in Nigeria are struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of people displaced by floods. Floodwaters have hit the country’s oil-producing region in the south, after devastating northern, central and eastern parts of the country. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Atani, one of the worst-hit areas in southern Nigeria.
Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, responded to Thursday's ruling in a statement saying the separatist is discharged but not acquitted.
Malami said authorities will explore legal steps to revisit the court's decision. He said the court failed to take into account issues that took place before Nnamdi Kanu was extradited to Nigeria from Kenya last year.
A three-judge panel of an appeals court Thursday ruled that Kanu’s trial was unlawful, and said authorities flouted international treaties to "abduct" the separatist.
The court said the circumstances surrounding his arrest did not give the government the jurisdiction to continue to keep him on trial.
The court also ruled that the government did not provide clear evidence of when and where Kanu committed the many allegations against him.
The attorney general's office did not immediately respond to calls for further comment. But Kanu's lawyer, Ifanyi Ejiofor, spoke to VOA via phone.
"The right of appeal is a constitutional right but the fact is that order of court must be obeyed, it's sacrosanct. Saying that Nnamdi Kanu was discharged not acquitted I believe is an impudence on the judgement of the court of appeals. The court used the word abduction, that is to tell you the level of the atrocity they committed," he said.
It's not clear when he will be freed.
"We expect them to comply immediately with the court order because detention became illegal as of yesterday. Yesterday, the court directed he should be released immediately. They should release him to us without any further ado," Ejiofor said.
Kanu is leading a movement to break off southeastern Nigeria from the rest of the country to form a republic called Biafra.
A previous Biafra independence movement led to a civil war between 1967 and 1970 that killed an estimated one million people.
On Friday, as news of Kanu's court discharge spread, so did excitement in Nigeria's Southwest region.
Christian Paul hails from Imo state, one of the strong bases for the separatist movement. He believes that with Kanu’s release, the court may have been sending a message.
"They violated his human rights and kept making fresh allegations against him. At this point in time, it becomes really strategic if his release is granted by a court. It might have some political undertone,” he said.
Nigerian voters head to the polls in February of next year to elect a new leader.
By Timothy Obiezu
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Zamfara state in northwestern Nigeria ordered five media outlets to close on Sunday after they covered a political rally for the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), which took place in violation of a state ban on political activities.
The order to close came after Governor Bello Muhammad, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, banned political activities, including meetings at individuals' homes, on October 13 due to the security situation in the state.
The ban includes campaigning for February 2023 presidential elections, which began nationwide last month.
Zamfara state, along with much of northwestern Nigeria, is battling armed groups of 'bandits' who have kidnapped thousands for ransom, killed hundreds and made many roads impassable and some farming impossible.
"Zamfara State Commissioner of Police has been directed to enforce full compliance and arrest of any staff of these media organizations... performing any duties in violation of the shut down," said a statement from the state security council released on Sunday.
The statement named five outlets, Pride FM Radio Gusau, NTA Gusau, Amji TV Gusau, Gamji TV Gusau and Alumma TV Gusau. It did not specify why they had been ordered "shut down", but state information commissioner Ibrahim Magaji Dosara told the BBC Hausa that it was because they covered PDP activities held in violation of the state government's order.
Zamfara's political activity ban came alongside other measures, including restricting movement in some local areas and shutting down several roads.
The statement directed security officials to "deal ruthlessly" with anyone found violating the orders.
By Garba Muhammad
Severe flooding in Nigeria is making people increasingly desperate. Hundreds of thousands of people in several communities are out of reach, and many families are waiting for news of their loved ones. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Otuocha, Nigeria.
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Flooding in Nigeria’s Anambra state this year has displaced nearly 600,000 people. An additional 500 people have died. Nigeria's national emergency management agency says increased rainfall and the release of excess water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon have contributed to flooding in Nigeria.
A professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, Stefan Dercon, has revealed that by 2030, extreme poverty would be an African phenomenon, as the greatest number of the world’s poor would reside in Nigeria.
He said this comes as countries such as China and India have successfully grown their economies and reduced their poverty level significantly.
Dercon stated this during an in-conversation hosted by the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation. Dercon, who is the author of “Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose,” argued that the answer to a nation’s development lies not in a specific set of policies but in the key ‘development bargain.’
He said this is where the elite shift from protecting their positions to gambling on a growth-based future.
The professor said in some countries, the elites have made successful bargains that have resulted in positive developmental outcomes. He said in Nigeria, no such bargain exists adding that socio-economic outcomes continue to deteriorate.
The Chairman, Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation Leadership Council, Olusegun Obasanjo, stressed that for an elite bargain for development to occur, it is important Nigerians have unity of purpose and a common objective. He said right now, everyone is focused on his or her agenda and as a result, the country is suffering.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said one of the strategic objectives of the foundation was to build the capacity of the public sector and persuade Nigerian stakeholders to actively participate in national transformation.
“The conversation doesn’t just end here. We are taking this further in a discussion with senior public servants over the next few days and hopefully, sometime in the future. I may be able to confirm that this dialogue catalysed a process that led to positive change in Nigeria,” he said.
Present at the interactive session were presidential aspirant of the Labour Party, Peter Obi; former presidential aspirant, Kingsley Moghalu, Pascal Dozie, Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Ibru and journalist Kadaira Ahmed, who debated how an elite consensus could be formed in Nigeria.
By Adaku Onyenucheya
Twins appear to be unusually abundant in Nigeria's southwestern city of Igbo-Ora.
Nearly every family here has twins or other multiple births, says local chief Jimoh Titiloye.
For the past 12 years, the community has organized an annual festival to celebrate twins. This year's event, held earlier this month, included more than 1,000 pairs of twins and drew participants from as far away as France, organizers said.
There is no proven scientific explanation for the high rate of twins in Igbo-Ora, a city of at least 200,000 people 135 kilometers (83 miles) south of Nigeria's largest city, Lagos. But many in Igbo-Ora believe it can be traced to women's diets. Alake Olawunmi, a mother of twins, attributes it to a local delicacy called amala which is made from yam flour.
John Ofem, a gynecologist based in the capital, Abuja, says it very well could be "that there are things they eat there that have a high level of certain hormones that now result in what we call multiple ovulation."
While that could explain the higher-than-normal rate of fraternal twins in Igbo-Ora, the city also has a significant number of identical twins. Those result instead from a single fertilized egg that divides into two — not because of hyperovulation.
Taiwo Ojeniyi, a Nigerian student, said he attended the festival with his twin brother "to celebrate the uniqueness" of multiple births.
"We cherish twins while in some parts of the world, they condemn twins," he said. "It is a blessing from God."
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The Nigerian Court of Appeal dismissed the government-filed charges against Nnamdi Kanu in Abuja, the nation’s capital, after a jury faulted the legality of the case against him, according to Ifeanyi Ejiofor, his lawyer. Kanu is yet to be released from custody.
The Indigenous People of Biafra separatist group that Kanu leads has been pressing for the southeast region to break away from the West African nation and become independent. But the Nigerian government said he uses the group known as IPOB to instigate violence, leading to the deaths of many in the country’s southeast.
Kanu had been facing trial for alleged treason and terrorism but escaped Nigeria in 2017 while on bail. He was rearrested in June last year and brought back to Nigeria from an undisclosed country.
The separatist leader, who also holds British citizenship, pleaded not guilty at the resumption of his trial which his group has said is being used to stifle his secessionist campaign. The campaign reminds many of the short-lived Republic of Biafra that fought and lost a civil war from 1967 to 1970 to become independent from Nigeria. An estimated 1 million people died in the war, many of starvation.
After he was acquitted, Emma Powerful, a spokesman for the Biafra group, told the AP, “Our next target is to ensure that Biafra liberation is materialized and no human being can stop it.”
Kanu’s trial reechoed allegations of marginalization in Nigeria’s southeast region made up of the Igbos, Nigeria’s third-largest ethnic group who are mainly Christians. Nigeria’s more than 200 million people are almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.
Amid the calls for a referendum, the IPOB secessionist group became more violent, authorities and experts have said. The formation of the Eastern Security Network, its paramilitary arm, in December 2020 coincided with a spike in criminal attacks in the region.
By Chinedu Asadu