Thursday, August 31, 2023

Dozens arrested at gay wedding in Nigeria

Gay rights activists in Nigeria are criticizing the arrest and detention this week of dozens of people who attended a same-sex wedding. It is one of the biggest mass arrests in recent years targeting the country’s LGBTQ community.

A Nigerian police spokesperson said 67 people remained in custody on charges they broke the law by attending the same-sex wedding in the Delta state town of Ekpan.

The Delta state police said they received information about Monday’s wedding after officers on routine patrol Sunday randomly stopped one of the invited guests and interrogated him. It was not clear if he was stopped based on what he was wearing.

The police raided the wedding venue on Monday and rounded up the two grooms, along with guests.

Authorities also paraded the defendants before the media and said the accused will be made to face the law.

"We already have the remand warrant from the court to still have them in custody because we still have more evidence to bring up together,” Bright Edafe, the Delta state police spokesman, told VOA by phone, “but by the end of this week, they'll be charged to court."

Edafe said police recovered materials, including hard drugs and gay marriage ceremonial dresses, during the raid.

If convicted, the defendants face 14 years’ imprisonment, according to an anti-homosexuality law that went into effect in 2014. Police said others accused in the case will be jailed for 10 years if convicted.

The latest arrests come five years after police raided a hotel in Lagos and arrested 57 men for homosexuality.

But criticism has been growing following the latest incident. Rights group Amnesty International condemned the arrests in a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and asked authorities to "put an immediate end to this witch-hunt."

The group said that the arrests discriminated based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, and that Nigeria's law was being increasingly used by officers to harass, blackmail and extort victims.

"Basic rights of privacy, freedom of association has been rolled back, and it's worrying because you don't see public pushback against this,” said Kayode Somtochukwu Ani, founder of Queer Union for Economic and Social Transformation. “And because these human rights abuses are launched on minorities, particularly minorities … the state knows that they can drum up moral panic about [it]."

Edafe said he disagrees with activists defending the detainees.

"If Amnesty International knows what they're doing, they'll know that there's a law in this country that prohibits gay marriages, so calling the same government who put that law in place to take action, I wonder what kind of action they're requesting,” he said. “This is Nigeria, and whomever must live in this country must live by the laws of the land."

Homosexuality is widely viewed as a Western import in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria.

In May, Uganda passed a law that punishes homosexuality by imposing the death sentence, despite pressure from Western governments and rights organizations. Two men this week were charged under the new law for what authorities called "aggravated homosexuality."

By Timothy Obiezu, VOA

Related stories: Hunting down gays in Nigeria

Dozens arrested in Nigeria after anti-gay law passes

Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Video - Nigerian traders say sanctions on Niger are adversely affecting business

Since the announcement of a border closure in July, several cargo trucks carrying goods to Nigeria from Niger, Chad and Mali have been stuck at various border points in the country’s northern region. Traders say they are losing millions of dollars in income.


Meta launches Creator Lab in Nigeria

We hosted young, emerging and aspiring creators across lifestyle and entertainment as part of our Creator Lab programme in Nigeria. The first-of-its-kind educational program brought creators together in person to connect with fellow creators, participate in immersive workshops and experience the latest innovations within our ecosystem.

The programme, which took place in Lagos, had over 40 creators and influencers present to learn how to explore creativity and grow on Instagram. As part of the programme, the creators were encouraged to create inspiring content that showcases optimism using the hashtag #PositiveVibesOnlyChallenge.

“We are excited to launch Creator Lab Live in Nigeria, a first-of-its-kind event by Instagram to support emerging and aspiring creators to grow on Instagram. Nigeria already has a thriving creator ecosystem with a global cultural influence and provides an excellent opportunity for us to support them as they navigate their journeys and careers. We recognise the amazing content they create across our family of apps and are committed to helping creators to grow their communities and make a living across our platforms. As we work toward shaping the future of digital content and experiences, we are excited and invested in giving creators a home base to build community and create engaging content through various content formats and creative tools.” – Moon Baz, Creator Partnerships Lead, Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Meta

A fireside chat titled “How to Keep Relevant in the Creator Space” was held during the programme with Amarachi Amusi (ashmusy), who spoke about the importance of staying up-to-date with trends and remaining consistent as a creator.

The Creator Lab Live was attended by several talented content creators including Taaooma, Markangelcomedy, Ayomidate, Frank iTom, Miss Techy, De General, Twinz_love, Lizzy Jay, and Geenafoodiesandspice, who also took part in the #PositiveVibesOnlyChallenge. 


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Nigeria to encourage investments rather than borrowing according to finance minister

Nigeria will seek to encourage investments rather than rely on borrowing to create jobs, Finance Minister Olawale Edun said on Monday, as the new government tries to find a solution to sluggish growth, double-digit inflation and a high debt burden.

Edun, 62, who doubles as coordinating minister for the economy, was speaking to reporters in Abuja after president Bola Tinubu held his first meeting with his new cabinet following last week's swearing-in of ministers.

"The federal government is not in a position to borrow at this time," Edun said, adding that the emphasis is on creating a stable environment to attract both local and foreign investments.

Nigeria's economy has been battered by previously low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered two successive recessions in 2016 and 2020. The country has since exited that recession but growth is still fragile.

The disruptions weakened Nigeria's public finances and created large deficits, leaving the previous government reliant on both local and foreign loans to plug holes in its budgets.

Tinubu at his inauguration in May vowed to expand the economy by at least 6% a year, lift barriers to investment and create jobs, while also tackling rampant insecurity.

He has embarked on some of the boldest reforms that Nigeria has seen in years, including scrapping a popular but costly petrol subsidy and removing exchange rate restrictions. The naira has weakened to record lows.

The reforms are a gamble to try to kick-start growth but inflation has soared, worsening a cost of living crisis.

Edun, an ex-investment banker, who was special adviser to Tinubu on monetary policy before his appointment as minister, said he will focus on fixing Nigeria's public finances.

He added that the government's naira revenues have increased from crude oil proceeds following a devaluation in June.

"The federation earns dollars and if those dollars are feeding through, at let's say, 700 naira or 750 naira or so to one dollar as opposed to 460 naira where it was before. Clearly, that is repairing the finances of government," Edun said.

"So, that's the plan."

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Monday, August 28, 2023

Video - Nigeria's women football star Oshoala trains girls at her academy

Nigeria's Super Falcons are just back from the FIFA Women's World Cup where they went out in the Round of 16 and star forward Asisat Oshoala who also plays for Barcelona has been using her break to meet and train with the girls at her football academy in Lagos.

Friday, August 25, 2023

President Tinubu orders immediate resolution to disagreement with Emirates Airline

Nigeria's president, Bola Tinubu, has ordered an immediate resolution to disagreements with Emirates Airline (EMIRA.UL) and visa issuance by the United Arab Emirates, the president's spokesman said on Thursday.

The UAE stopped issuing visas to Nigerians last year after Dubai's Emirates suspended flights due to an inability to repatriate funds from Africa's biggest economy.

Tinubu's office said in a statement on Thursday that he met with the UAE's ambassador to Nigeria, Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, and that Tinubu is prepared to "personally" intervene in the dispute.

"We must work together. We need to agree on core aviation and immigration issues," Tinubu said in the statement.

Al-Shamsi was quoted in the same statement as saying; "We are getting somewhere. These are small issues, all within a family, and they will be resolved."

Emirates Airline said in March it has "substantial" revenue trapped in Nigeria and has made slow progress in repatriating the blocked funds.

Nigeria has withheld at least $743 million in revenue earned by international carriers operating in the country, global airline industry association IATA said in March.

Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, faces shortages of foreign currency despite some reforms.

The dollar shortages have made it difficult for some foreign

airlines that sold tickets in the Nigerian naira currency to get their money out of the country.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Former oil minister of Nigeria Alison-Madueke charged with bribery by UK police







British police said on Tuesday they had charged former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke with bribery offences, saying they suspected she had accepted bribes in return for awarding multi-million pound oil and gas contracts.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer, has one of the most corrupt political systems in the world and its former colonial ruler Britain has been a destination of choice for Nigerian kleptocrats seeking to enjoy their wealth.

Alison-Madueke, 63, served as petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015, under former President Goodluck Jonathan. She also acted as president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2014-2015.

"We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts," said Andy Kelly, Head of the National Crime Agency's (NCA) International Corruption Unit.

"These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation."

Alison-Madueke was arrested in London in October 2015, a few months after leaving office, and has also been the subject of investigations in Nigeria and the United States.

She has previously denied allegations of corruption but could not be reached on Tuesday. A London lawyer who was acting for her in 2015 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NCA said she was currently living in St John’s Wood, an upmarket area of west London, and would appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Oct. 2.

It said Alison-Madueke was accused of benefiting from at least 100,000 pounds ($127,000) in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.

Charges against her also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods, the NCA said.

It added that assets worth millions of pounds relating to the alleged offences had been frozen, and that it had provided evidence to the U.S. Department of Justice that enabled them to recover assets worth $53 million linked to Alison-Madueke.

Nigerian courts have also ordered the seizure of tens of millions of dollars' worth of assets including properties, cars, large quantities of jewellery and a gold iPhone in a series of rulings in recent years.

News of the British charges comes a month after a London court ordered the confiscation of $130 million from a former Nigerian oil state governor, James Ibori, in an unrelated but equally high-profile case involving political corruption in Nigeria.

With its highly developed legal and financial industries and lucrative property market, Britain is a global money-laundering hub and the NCA's anti-corruption unit is part of the authorities' effort to stem the tide of dirty money.

By Michael Holden and Estelle Shirbon, Reuters

Related stories: Ex-Oil Minister of Nigeria Seeks $215 Million in Defamation Lawsuit

Nigeria former oil minister Alison-Madueke arrested

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Possible Trans Niger oil pipeline leak investigated by Shell Nigeria

Shell's (SHEL.L) Nigerian business is investigating a possible leak on its Trans Niger oil pipeline, which passes through the Bodo community in Rivers state, after being alerted to the potential problem on Aug. 18.

Oil theft and pipeline sabotage are common in the southern oil production heartland of Nigeria, with Shell blaming most spills on pipeline vandalism and illegal tapping of crude.

The 180,000 barrel per day (bpd) pipeline is one of two conduits that export Bonny Light crude from Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer.

"We are working with the community and other stakeholders to ensure we can safely look into and resolve this situation," said company spokesperson Bola Essien-Nelson without providing further detail.

No force majeure has been declared.

The investigation into the Trans Niger pipeline comes days after another Shell pipeline in Nigeria resumed exports.

The medium sweet grade Forcados was scheduled to ship 220,000 bpd in July, but loadings were suspended for about a month because of a potential leak at the export terminal.

The cause of the Forcados suspension has yet to be determined by a joint investigation between company and community representatives in tandem with government agencies.

By Tife Owolabi, Reuters

Related story: The Criminals Undercutting Nigeria’s Oil Industry

Friday, August 18, 2023

Two dozen Nigerian soldiers die in air crash and evacuation mission gone awry

At least two dozen Nigerian security operatives have died in total after a helicopter conveying dead and wounded soldiers from an evacuation mission in Niger state, 249km (155 miles) north of Abuja, crashed on Monday.

The evacuation mission had been to retrieve soldiers wounded or killed in an ambush by armed bandits in Chukuba village in the Shiroro local government area of Niger state.

The figures were given by a spokesperson for the Nigerian military, Major General Edward Buba, during a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday. He said there were 14 soldiers and seven wounded ones aboard the aircraft when it crashed, alongside two pilots and two crew members.

Buba said an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the crash.

Authorities have yet to disclose the details of the evacuation mission or any more information about the crash, including whether there were any survivors.

“These officers and men were answering the call of duty while on an evacuation mission. In their dedicated service to our beloved country, they paid the ultimate price,” President Bola Tinubu said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We will forever remember them, not just as servicemen, but as national heroes who gave their all for the peace and security of our country,” Tinubu said.

Local news outlet Leadership reported that the helicopter was evacuating the bodies of security operatives killed by bandits before crashing in Chukuba. The newspaper said sources confirmed the armed men carried sophisticated weapons that could bring a helicopter down.

The helicopter took off from Kaduna Airfield to Minna but lost contact with control towers from both Kaduna and Minna, Leadership reported.

Dogo Gide, the notorious leader of a group of bandits that has been a source of terror across parts of northwestern Nigeria bordering the countries of Niger and Chad, has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Premium Times, another local outlet.

The warlord, an ethnic Fulani from Niger state, has been linked to Ansaru, a faction of Boko Haram that drifted westwards from the restive northeast.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the claim at the time of this report. 

Al Jazeera

Nigeria gives $235 million to states to buy rice, maize to ease food shortages

Nigeria has approved a total of 180 billion naira ($235 mln) for its 36 states to procure rice and maize to cushion the effects of food shortages across the country and hardship caused by reforms, Borno state governor Babagana Zulum said on Thursday.

President Bola Tinubu has embarked on Nigeria's boldest reforms in decades, including scrapping a popular but costly petrol subsidy and devaluing the naira, a move he hopes will boost growth.

But the actions have stoked inflation which climbed to an 18-year high in July. Food prices have soared due to widespread insecurity, flooding in farming areas, a weaker currency and higher transport cost, worsening a cost of living crisis in the country.

Nigeria will release its second-quarter growth data on Aug. 25, the first after Tinubu initiated reforms.

Zulum said 5 billion naira will be given to each state as partly a grant and a 2-year loan to buy 100,000 trucks of rice and 40,000 trucks of maize, he said after a National Economic Council (NEC) meeting headed by the vice president in Abuja.

"NEC ... expressed serious concerns regarding increasing costs of food items, increasing costs of transportation, amongst others as a result of subsidy removal," Zulum told reporters.

Tinubu is under pressure from unions to offer relief to households and businesses. Labour unions have criticised his ending of the fuel subsidy without measures to mitigate rising prices.

Last month, Tinubu announced a 500 billion naira package to boost employment and directed the release of more than 200,000 metric tons of grains to families to ease hardship.

Tinubu has said subsidy savings will be used to set up a fund to build infrastructure. The government plans to deploy mass transit buses powered by natural gas and electric vehicles with charging points in Nigeria to reduce transport cost. 

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related story: President Tinubu Unveils Broad Plan to Ease Cost of Living Pain

Thursday, August 17, 2023

President Tinubu Names Ex-Investment Banker as new Finance Minister of Nigeria

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu named Wale Edun, who served as his senior adviser on monetary policy, as finance minister.

A former chair of Lagos-based investment bank Chapel Hill Denham Group, Edun has played a key role in the West African nation’s market-pleasing moves away from the unorthodox methods of the central bank under its suspended governor Godwin Emefiele.

Nigeria’s dollar bonds due in 2027 erased earlier losses on the news, gaining 0.4 cents to 84.5 cents on the dollar, according to indicative pricing data collected by Bloomberg.

Read More: Nigeria Eurobonds Lead Emerging-Market Losses for Second Day

Edun will be responsible for boosting government revenues, which are among the lowest in the world as a proportion of the economy. That’s essential to help narrow a budget deficit expected to reach 5% of gross domestic product this year while reducing debt service payments, which in 2022 amounted to a staggering 96% of government revenue.

His track record is promising. Edun served as commissioner of finance in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos between 1999 and 2007, when Tinubu was governor, and was credited with more than doubling the state’s revenues on his watch.

Since the president’s inauguration on May 29, Tinubu has taken significant steps to repair the country’s fiscal situation. He scrapped a fuel subsidy that had been a long-standing burden on government finances, costing $10 billion last year, and reformed Nigeria’s widely criticized exchange rate system that also sapped revenues.

Read More: Nigeria Forecasts Record $9.5 Billion of Taxes in Second Half

The benefits are already visible. Federal tax collection totaled 1.65 trillion naira ($2.1 billion) in June — a record for a single month — and are projected to reach 7.5 trillion naira in the second half, versus 5.5 trillion naira in the previous six months.

That will take total tax collection this year to 13 trillion naira compared to 10.1 trillion last year, with the Nigerian authorities projecting revenues will surge to 25 trillion naira in 2024, buoyed by the reforms and improved tax collection.

S&P Global Ratings on Aug. 4 raised Nigeria’s credit outlook to stable from negative on the basis of the reforms, which have also been welcomed by investors, leading to a rally in bond yields and sending stocks to a 15-year high.

Still, Africa’s most populous country — where 40% live in extreme poverty — faces significant economic challenges amid slow economic growth and the rate of inflation at an almost 18-year high.

In addition to picking his finance minister, Tinubu selected 45 other ministers, including seven women. Heineken Lokpobiri was named minister of petroleum and Adebayo Adelabu, a former deputy governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria, will be the minister of power.

Anthony Osae-Brown and Ruth Olurounbi, Bloomberg 

Related stories: Senate okays president Tinubu Cabinet nominees

President Tinubu Unveils Broad Plan to Ease Cost of Living Pain

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Medical tourism spending by Nigerians rises by over 40 percent

Nigerians spent at least 1 million U.S. dollars on medical tourism in the first few months of 2023. Medical experts attribute the increase to the mass exodus of medical personnel abroad and poor healthcare systems at home. Those experts say Nigeria's government needs to increase its spending on the health sector to encourage more people to get treatment in the country.


20,000 to be trained by Google for digital skills in Nigeria

Google plans to train 20,000 Nigerian women and youth in digital skills and provide a grant of 1.2 billion naira ($1.6 million) to help the government's create one million digital jobs in the country, its Africa executives said on Tuesday.

Nigeria plans to create digital jobs for its teeming youth population, Vice President Kashim Shettima told Google Africa executives during a meeting in Abuja. Shettima did not provide a timeline for creating the jobs.

Google Africa executives said a grant from its philanthropic arm in partnership with Data Science Nigeria and the Creative Industry Initiative for Africa will facilitate the programme.

Shettima said Google's initiative aligned with the government's commitment to increase youth participation in the digital economy. The government is also working with the country's banks on the project, Shettima added.

Google director for West Africa Olumide Balogun said the company would commit funds and provide digital skills to women and young people in Nigeria and also enable startups to grow, which will create jobs.

Google is committed to investing in digital infrastructure across Africa, Charles Murito, Google Africa's director of government relations and public policy, said during the meeting, adding that digital transformation can be a job enabler.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

20 new charges filed against suspended central bank chief of Nigeria

Nigerian prosecutors have filed a 20-count indictment against suspended and detained central bank governor Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday, one of them accusing him of “conferring unlawful advantages”, a government lawyer says.

President Bola Tinubu, who has embarked on the boldest reforms in Africa’s biggest economy in more than a decade, has launched a probe of the central bank under Emefiele after criticising its policies at his inauguration in May, especially moves to prop up the naira currency.

It was not immediately clear what the new charges were. But court documents submitted by the Attorney General’s Office last month showed that Emefiele faced criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of funds charges, among others, which carry long jail terms.

Emefiele, who made an unprecedented run for the Nigerian presidency last year, was suspended by Tinubu on June 9 and has been held in detention by the secret police since June 10.

The suspended bank chief pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm. A judge granted him bail following his plea on July 25 but he was immediately rearrested.

“We have filed a matter with comprehensive charges” and “we are withdrawing the [firearm] case at the Federal High Court in Lagos,” a government lawyer told the Reuters news agency.

Emefiele has challenged his detention and filed an application for bail but has not publicly commented on the accusations.

He introduced a multiple exchange rate policy to keep the currency artificially strong, which Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, had viewed as a matter of national pride.

Appointed by Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, Emefiele was due to retire next year. He was the second-longest-serving governor of the central bank and oversaw the biggest economic downturn of Africa’s largest economy.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Suspended Nigeria central bank governor Godwin Emefiele charged

Former Central Bank Chief of Nigeria charged with Illegal Firearm Possession

Eurobonds drop from Nigeria as government says no need for petrol price rise

Nigeria's international dollar-denominated bonds fell on Wednesday, after the president's spokesman said petrol prices did not need to rise more, and blamed foreign exchange shortages on "gross mismanagement" at the central bank.

The 2051 maturity dropped as much as 1.7 cents on the dollar to 68.894 cents, its lowest since June 2, before recovering to trade 0.57 cents lower at 1045 GMT.

President Bola Tinubu axed a popular but costly petrol subsidy after coming to power in late May and soon after devalued the naira currency, both of which were long demanded by investors, driving a rally in Nigeria's overseas bonds that peaked at the beginning of August.

Nigeria, reliant on fuel imports, is still suffering dollar shortages and petrol retailers have called for further price increases due to the weakening of the exchange rate making fuel more expensive to import.

"The slowdown to the pace of reform in Nigeria, and the potential for even the reversal of some reforming steps already taken, in combination with data released by the central bank, has weighed on investor sentiment, causing a reversal of some of the outperformance of Nigerian eurobonds against its peers," said Yvette Babb, an emerging market fixed income investor at William Blair.

The scrapping of the fuel subsidy saw petrol prices more than triple and pushed already double-digit inflation to an 18-year high in July, data showed on Tuesday.

Tinubu rejects further petrol price increases, his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, told reporters, adding that Nigeria did not need an "upward movement of pump price in order to accommodate the market-driven reality".

The decision is disappointing for investors, Carlos de Sousa, an emerging market debt portfolio manager at Vontobel, told Reuters.

"President Tinubu hit the ground running since day one of his presidency in terms of progressing fast with reforms, and now it seems like further progress will be more gradual."

The fuel subsidies had been widely criticised for eroding the government's finances and ability to service debt, Ayodeji Dawodu of investment bank BancTrust said in an emailed note.

"The presidency may be bowing down to pressures from labour unions and manufacturers," he added.

Tinubu launched an investigation into the central bank under suspended and detained governor Godwin Emefiele after criticising its policies at his inauguration in May, especially steps to prop up the naira.

Authorities are now seeking ways to stem the fall of the currency, which has hit record lows on the black market.

Acting central bank governor Folashodun Shonubi met Tinubu on Monday to discuss ways to improve liquidity after the bank revealed it had a $19-billion derivatives commitment as of 2022.

By Rachel Savage and Jorgelina Do Rosario, Reuters

Monday, August 14, 2023

Niger junta is open to diplomacy according to Nigerian delegation

Coup leaders in Niger are open to diplomacy to resolve a standoff with West Africa's regional bloc, a group of senior Nigerian Islamic scholars said on Sunday after meeting the junta in Niamey.

Their visit comes as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) explores its options to restore civilian rule in Niger, including potential military intervention, following the July 26 ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum - the seventh coup in West and Central Africa in three years.

In a sign the bloc is still pushing for a peaceful resolution, ECOWAS chairman and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu approved Saturday's mission to Niamey by the delegation of Islamic scholars, who had vowed to promote dialogue.

The group's meeting with junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani lasted several hours, said Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, who led the delegation.

"He said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter," Lau said in a statement on Sunday.

Tiani reportedly emphasised the historic ties between Niger and Nigeria, saying the countries "were not only neighbours but brothers and sisters who should resolve issues amicably".

There was no immediate comment from the junta on the meeting, but Tiani's reported comments are one of few recent signs he is open to negotiation.

The coup leaders' previous rebuffs of diplomatic efforts by ECOWAS, the United States and others had raised the spectre of further conflict in the impoverished Sahel region of West Africa, which is already dealing with a deadly Islamist insurgency.

With diplomacy faltering last week, ECOWAS activated a standby military force it said would be deployed as a last resort if talks failed.

For now, the bloc is pursuing efforts for further negotiations. On Saturday, the bloc's parliament said it would ask Tinubu, who holds the bloc's revolving chairmanship, to get his permission to go to Niger, its spokesperson said.


Any military intervention by the bloc could further strain regional ties as juntas in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have voiced support for Niger's new military authorities.

On Saturday, Tiani sent a delegation, led by his defence chief General Moussa Salaou Barmou, to the Guinean capital Conakry to thank leaders there for their support - a sign of the junta's desire to affirm alliances as it stands up to regional and other powers.

"We are pan-African. When our people have problems, we are always present, and we will always be there," Guinea's interim president, Mamady Doumbouya, said at the meeting, according to a video shared late on Saturday night by the presidency.

In the footage, Doumbouya - who led a coup in Guinea in September 2021 - did not say whether Conakry's support for the Niger junta would include military backing if ECOWAS decided to use military force. Mali and Burkina Faso have already said they would help defend Niger.

At stake is not just the fate of Niger - a major uranium producer and Western ally in the fight against the Islamists - but also the influence of rival global powers with strategic interests in the region.

U.S., French, German and Italian troops are stationed in Niger, in a region where local affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State have killed thousands and displaced millions.

Meanwhile, Russian influence has grown as insecurity increases, democracy erodes, and leaders seek new partners to restore order.

Western powers fear Russia's clout could increase if the junta in Niger follows Mali and Burkina Faso, which ejected the troops of former colonial power France after coups in those countries.

By Felix Onuah and Sali Samb, Reuters

Related story: Nigeria envoys meet with Niger junta

Friday, August 11, 2023

Video - Nigeria Air to be operational fourth quarter of 2023

After much delay, Nigeria Air is expected to begin operations later this year. The new air carrier is partnering with Ethiopian Airlines, which predicts Nigeria Air will help grow Nigeria’s GDP, expand the hospitality and tourist sectors, and add jobs.


At least 20 villagers killed in latest attack in Nigeria

At least 20 people were killed by gunmen in north-central Nigeria early Thursday, surivors said, the latest in a cycle of violence targeting remote villages in the West African nation.

Dozens of gunmen arrived in Plateau state’s Heipang village after 1 a.m. and opened fire on villagers, most of whom were asleep, residents said.

“In a particular family, they killed five people — both the father, the mother and the children,” said one survivor, Jacob Dadi.

Dadi said villagers recovered 17 bodies in Heipang and then more people were shot to death as the gunmen fled to nearby brush land that often act as their hideout.

A local youth group, the Berom Youth Movement, said 21 people had been killed in total and seven others were injured.

Police confirmed the attack occurred but could not provide any detail about casualties in the area, which is 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Jos, the Plateau state capital.

Such attacks have become common in many parts of Nigeria’s northern region, where several armed groups target villages with inadequate security, either killing or abducting residents and travelers for ransom.

The attacks have defied security measures, including those introduced by Nigeria’s new president, Bola Tinubu, who was elected this year after promising to end the killings.

Residents in Heipang blamed the attack on herders of Fulani origin, who took up arms after clashing with farming communities for several decades over limited access to land and water. Plateau is among the areas with the most such attacks, with more than 100 people killed in the state in recent months.

Plateau Gov. Caleb Mutfwang said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack. The governor “appealed to security agencies to redouble their efforts and put an end to the senseless killings” in the state, Gyang Bere, his spokesman, said in a statement.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Video - Nigerian music producer praises AI as productive and cost-saving

Eclipse Nkasi, a music producer based on the outskirts of Lagos is generating afrobeat music using artificial intelligence. One of his first creations is an artificial musician named Mya Blue.


Nigeria envoys meet with Niger junta

Niger's military junta met with two Nigerian envoys on Wednesday, offering hope for dialogue before a summit with regional leaders that could result in military action to restore democracy.

The talks took place as Niger accused France of violating its airspace, attacking a military camp and freeing "terrorists" to undermine the country. Paris denied the charges.

Army officer Amadou Abdramane, speaking for the coup leaders, made the allegations in a video statement without providing evidence, stoking tension ahead of Thursday's meeting of West African heads of state, who are expected to discuss options including military action against the junta.

"What we are seeing is a plan to destabilise our country," Abdramane said.

France's foreign ministry rejected the accusations, saying its aircraft was operating under an existing agreement with Niger forces and its troops were in the west African nation at the request of legitimate authorities.

During its standoff, the junta has rebuffed diplomatic overtures from African, U.S. and U.N. envoys. The junta leaders made an exception by meeting on Wednesday with two envoys of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who also chairs the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in the capital Niamey, a Nigerian government source said.

The envoys - prominent traditional leaders Lamido Muhammad Sanusi and Abdullsalami Abubarkar - were allowed into the country despite closed borders.

Only Sanusi met junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, while his counterpart met with other representatives at the airport.

"We’ll continue to do our best to bring the two parties together to improve understanding. This is the time for public diplomacy," Sanusi told reporters upon his return to Abuja.


The party of Niger's deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, accused the junta, which seized power on July 26, of keeping him and his family in "cruel" and "inhumane" detention at the presidential residence.

In a statement calling for a nationwide mobilisation to save them, the PNDS-Tarayya party on Wednesday said the Bazoums had no running water, no electricity and no access to fresh goods or doctors.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. was greatly worried about Bazoum's safety and was still looking for a reversal of the military takeover.

"We continue to engage with our partners in the region. We continue to engage with other governments," he told a briefing.

U.S. troops are in Niger along with French, Italian and German forces as part of international efforts to combat Islamist insurgents devastating the Sahel region under agreements with the now-deposed civilian government.

Rhetoric against former colonial power France has been a feature of coups in the region over the past two years, including in Mali and Burkina Faso, whose army rulers are strongly backing the generals now in charge in Niamey.

The junta has revoked military pacts with France, but Paris has rejected that decision, saying it was not taken by Niger's legitimate authorities.


The coup was triggered by internal politics but spun into an international drama. ECOWAS, the United Nations and Western countries have pressured the junta to stand down, while Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to defend it.

The political scene became more complex on Wednesday as former rebel Rhissa Ag Boula announced a new Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) aimed at reinstating Bazoum.

"Niger is the victim of a tragedy orchestrated by people charged with protecting it," Ag Boula's statement said. The CRR would use "any means necessary" to stop the military takeover and supports international diplomacy, he said.

The challenge from Ag Boula raises the spectre of internal conflict in Niger, which until the coup was an important ally for the West in a region where other countries have turned towards Russia.

Western powers fear Russian influence could grow stronger if the junta in Niger follows Mali's example by ejecting Western troops and inviting in mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group.

Ag Boula played a leading role in uprisings by Tuaregs, a nomadic ethnic group in Niger's desert north, in the 1990s and 2000s. Like many former rebels, he was integrated into government under Bazoum and his predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou.

The coup's border and airspace closures have cut off supplies and hampered aid. The takeover has also prompted foreign financial sanctions against one of the world's poorest countries.

By Abdel-Kader Mazou and Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related story: Nigeria not ruling out force in Niger

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Nigeria not ruling out force in Niger

Bola Tinubu, who also chairs the bloc ECOWAS, still believes diplomacy is the "best way forward" to resolve the crisis, according to his spokesman.

So far efforts by ECOWAS and the United States to convince Niger's new rulers to hand back power to the democratically elected leader have made little headway.

The soldiers who took charge defied a Sunday deadline to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face the possible use of force and have been unswayed by negotiations, instead staging a rally at a stadium in the capital Niamey.

"No options have been taken off of the table," Tinubu's spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said on Tuesday.

The United States said it still hopes the coup could be undone but is "realistic", a day after a top US envoy appeared to make no progress in an unannounced visit.

"At the same time, we are making clear, including in direct conversations with junta leaders themselves, what the consequences are for failing to return to constitutional order," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on social media that he had spoken to Bazoum "to express our continued efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the current constitutional crisis".

Delegation rebuffed

ECOWAS -- the Economic Community of West African States -- imposed trade and financial sanctions on Niger after the rebel soldiers toppled Bazoum.

Instead of heeding the bloc's seven-day ultimatum to reinstate Bazoum or face potential military intervention, the soldiers who seized power closed Niger's airspace.

The bloc also sought to send a delegation to Niamey on Tuesday ahead of Thursday's crisis summit.

But the ruling military blocked the mission, saying public "anger" triggered by the bloc's sanctions meant the delegation's safety could be at risk.

In a statement, ECOWAS confirmed that the visit by a joint delegation with African Union and United Nations officials had been refused.

In a further show of defiance and possible intent to hold on to power, the military leaders announced on Monday the appointment of Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as the new prime minister.

'Difficult' talks

ECOWAS is struggling with a cascade of coups since 2020 that have now hit four of its 15 members.

In Mali, Burkina Faso and now Niger, all the takeovers have been fuelled by jihadist insurgencies that have claimed many thousands of lives, forced at least two million from their homes and dealt crippling blows to some of the world's poorest economies.

On Monday, veteran US envoy Victoria Nuland met with Niger's military rulers for more than two hours but came away empty-handed.

She described her talks as "extremely frank and at times quite difficult".

She said she offered the coup leaders "a number of options" to end the crisis and restore relations with the United States, which like other Western nations has suspended aid.

"I would not say that we were in any way taken up on that offer," she told reporters before her departure.

Niger's new head, General Abdourahamane Tiani, did not attend the meeting, and Nuland was unable to see Bazoum, who has been detained since July 26.


The military leaders in Mali and Burkina Faso have expressed solidarity with Niger, saying any military intervention would be seen as a "declaration of war" against them.

The two countries sent letters Tuesday to the United Nations and the African Union, calling on them to prevent "military intervention against Niger" where the security and humanitarian consequences of such action "would be unpredictable".

Algeria, which shares a long land border with Niger, has also cautioned against a military incursion, which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said would be "a direct threat" to his country.

Bazoum, 63, was feted in 2021 after winning elections that ushered in Niger's first-ever peaceful transition of power.

He took the helm of a country burdened by four previous coups since independence, and survived two attempted putsches before he himself was ousted.

France has 1,500 troops in Niger and the United States has 1,000 personnel, most of whom are deployed at two major air bases.


Related story: Senate in Nigeria rejects president’s demand to send troops to Niger

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Video - England vs. Nigeria Full Highlights - FIFA Women’s World Cup, 2023


Senate okays president Tinubu Cabinet nominees

Nigeria's Senate on Monday approved 45 of President Bola Tinubu's nominees to Cabinet positions after individually vetting them in the past week, paving the way for their swearing-in as government ministers.

Among those approved is Olawale Edun, a longtime Tinubu adviser who has long been tipped to become the next finance minister in Africa's biggest economy.

The Senate president said three names were yet to be approved as lawmakers awaited their security clearance.

Nigeria's Senate has the power to stop a president's Cabinet appointments, but Tinubu's ruling party has a majority in the chamber and the nominations were expected to be approved.

It was not immediately clear when the nominees will be allocated their ministerial portfolios.

Under Nigerian law, the president is required to choose at least one Cabinet member from each of the country's 36 states.

The number of Cabinet nominees has led to criticism from opponents who say this will lead to a bloated administration at a time when Tinubu has asked citizens to be patient with his reforms, the removal of a popular but costly petrol subsidy, that has lead to soaring prices.

Tinubu won a disputed February election on promises to reboot the country's flagging economy, deal with a high debt burden and double-digit inflation, and address widespread insecurity.

By MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters

Monday, August 7, 2023

Video - Nigeria face off against England in Round of 16 of the Women's World Cup

Nigeria's Super Falcons will take on the Lionesses of England for a place in the quarterfinals of the ongoing World Cup at the Brisbane stadium in Australia on Monday. The Falcons were the first African side to qualify for the Round of 16 after playing out a goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland.


Senate in Nigeria rejects president’s demand to send troops to Niger

The head of the Senate in Nigeria, Godswill Akpabio, said Saturday that the chamber rejected military force to reinstate President Bazoum Mohamed in Niger, following a military coup.

The Senate also pleaded with the current head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, to embrace diplomacy in handling the toppling of the democratic government.

The bloc last Sunday gave coup leaders one week to reinstate Bazoum.

Akpabio said parliament leadership agreed to meet Tinubu to discuss the chamber’s resolutions.

Tinubu sought Friday the support of the Senate in official communication sent to the chamber to implement ECOWAS resolutions on the situation in Niger.

“The Senate recognises the fact that President Tinubu by virtue of his correspondence has not asked for the approval of this Senate to go to war as being erroneously suggested in some quarters.

“The Senate calls on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as chairman of ECOWAS to further encourage other leaders of ECOWAS to strengthen the political and diplomatic options and other means with which to resolve the political impasse in Niger Republic,” according to a statement.


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Video - Labour unions in Nigeria begin strike against fuel price hike, cost of living

Nigerian workers across numerous sectors have gone on strike, after the government removed fuel subsidies. Petrol prices and other costs are soaring. Talks with unions have broken down. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Abuja, Nigeria.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Protest against soaring cost of living under president Tinubu erupts in Nigeria

Black market collapses in Nigeria due to fuel subsidy removal



President Tinubu sends more cabinet nominees to Senate

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu has sent 19 additional names to the Senate to be approved for cabinet positions, a week after submitting 28 names for confirmation, according to a letter read out by the Senate President.

Tinubu is under pressure to quickly revive Africa's largest economy, which is facing a high debt burden, double-digit inflation and widespread insecurity.

His cabinet nominations come nearly two months after he was sworn into office. Tinubu and his ministers have their work cut out for them, including dealing with the fall-out from scrapping a popular fuel subsidy that benefited the rich but cost the government $10 billion last year alone.

The new nominees included former governors and political associates and technocrats. Given Tinubu's party majority in the Senate, his cabinet picks are expected to be confirmed.

On Wednesday, hundreds marched through major Nigerian cities to protest at the removal of the subsidy and demand a new minimum wage after Tinubu axed it in the country's boldest reforms in decades, aiming to help the economy out of slow growth.

Tinubu has sent a total of 47 names to the Senate for approval. Under the constitution, the president must include a member from each of the country's 36 states in his cabinet which includes ministers, ministers of state (junior ministers) and ministers in the presidency. 

By Camillus Eboh, Reuters

Nigeria cuts power to Niger

Nigeria has cut its electricity supply to Niger, AFP learned on Wednesday from a source close to the management of the Nigerien Electricity Company (Nigelec), in line with the sanctions decided by the West African neighbors of Niger destabilized by a coup.

"Nigeria disconnected since yesterday (Tuesday) the high voltage line that carries electricity to Niger," the source said. A Nigelec agent for his part indicated that the capital, Niamey, was "supplied thanks to local production".

On Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, decided on sanctions against the putschists who toppled President-elect Mohamed Bazoum a week ago.

In addition to a one-week ultimatum to restore constitutional order and the suspension of financial transactions with Niger, ECOWAS decreed the freezing of "all service transactions, including energy transactions".

According to a report by Nigelec - the country's sole supplier -, in 2022, 70% of Niger's share of electricity came from purchases from the Nigerian company Mainstream. Electricity is produced by the Kainji dam (western Nigeria).

Many neighborhoods in the city of Niamey are normally subject to power cuts and Nigeria's decision will aggravate this situation.

To free itself from its strong energy dependence on neighboring Nigeria, Niger is working to complete its first dam by 2025, on the river of the same name. Some 180 km upstream from Niamey, the Kandadji dam should generate 629 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, is dependent on its foreign partners in many areas. "The sanctions will hurt our country very badly," Nigerian Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou said on France 24 on Sunday, as sanctions are increasing internationally.


Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Video - Nigeria mobilizes $500 million to boost food production

Africa's most populous nation has been under intense food insecurity exacerbated by growing inflation. The funds are expected to boost agricultural production in the West African nation.


Video - Four stowaways from Nigeria survive 14 days on ship’s rudder before rescue in Brazil

On their 10th day at sea, four Nigerian stowaways crossing the Atlantic in a tiny space above the rudder of a cargo ship ran out of food and drink.

They survived another four days, according to their account, by drinking the seawater crashing just metres below them, before being rescued by the Brazilian federal police in the southeastern port of Vitoria.

Their remarkable, death-defying journey across some 5,600km (3,500 miles) of ocean underlines the risks some migrants are prepared to take for a shot at a better life.

“It was a terrible experience for me,” said 38-year-old Thankgod Opemipo Matthew Yeye, one of the four Nigerians, in an interview at a Sao Paulo church shelter. “On board, it is not easy. I was shaking, so scared. But I’m here.”

Their relief at being rescued soon gave way to surprise.

The four men said they had hoped to reach Europe and were shocked to learn they had in fact landed on the other side of the Atlantic, in Brazil. Two of the men have since been returned to Nigeria upon their request, while Yeye and Roman Ebimene Friday, a 35-year-old from Bayelsa state, has applied for asylum in Brazil.

“I pray the government of Brazil will have pity on me,” said Friday, who had already attempted to flee Nigeria by ship once before but was arrested by authorities there.

Both men said economic hardship, political instability and crime had left them with little option but to abandon their native Nigeria. Africa’s most populous country has longstanding issues of violence and poverty, and kidnappings are endemic.

Yeye, a Pentecostal minister from Lagos State, said his peanut and palm oil farm was destroyed by floods this year, leaving him and his family homeless. He hopes they can now join him in Brazil.

Friday said his journey to Brazil began on June 27, when a fisherman friend rowed him up to the stern of the Liberian-flagged Ken Wave, docked in Lagos, and left him by the rudder.

To his surprise, he found three men already there, waiting for the ship to depart. Friday said he was terrified. He had never met his new shipmates and feared they could toss him into the sea at any moment.

Once the ship was moving, Friday said the four men made every effort not to be discovered by the ship’s crew, who they also worried might offer them a watery grave.

“Maybe if they catch you they will throw you in the water,” he said. “So we taught ourselves never to make a noise.”

Spending two weeks within spitting distance of the Atlantic Ocean was perilous.

To prevent themselves from falling into the water, Friday said the men rigged up a net around the rudder and tied themselves to it with a rope. When he looked down, he said, he could see “big fish like whales and sharks”. Due to the cramped conditions and the noise of the engine, sleep was rare and risky. “I was very happy when we got rescued,” he said.

Father Paolo Parise, a priest at the Sao Paulo shelter, said he had come across other cases of stowaways, but never one so dangerous. Their journey paid testament to the lengths people go in search of a new start, he said. “People do unimaginable and deeply dangerous things.”


Related story: 3 Stowaways Travel from Nigeria to Canary Islands on Ship's rudder for 11 days

Protest against soaring cost of living under president Tinubu erupts in Nigeria

Labor unions marched across Nigeria on Wednesday to protest the soaring cost of living under the West African nation’s new president, with calls for the government to improve social welfare interventions to reduce hardship.

The unions, made up of government workers, said the economic incentives announced this week by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu to ease hardship were not enough. They also accused him of failing to act quickly to cushion the effect of some of his policies, including the suspension of decadeslong, costly subsidies that have more than doubled the price of gas, causing a spike in prices for food and most other commodities.

Tinubu on May 29 scrapped the subsidy that cost the government 4.39 trillion naira ($5.07 billion) while new leadership of the country’s central bank ended the yearslong policy of multiple exchange rates for the local naira currency, allowing the rate to be determined by market forces.

Both moves aimed to boost government finances and woo investors, authorities said. But they have had an immediate impact of further squeezing millions in Nigeria who were already battling surging inflation, which stood at 22.7% in June, and a 63% rate of multidimensional poverty.

“Since the subsidy removal, you can’t move from one place to another,” said Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigerian Labor Congress, the umbrella body of the unions. He was referring to the cost of transportation that has more than doubled in many cities, forcing a growing number of people to walk to work.

Ajaero said the labor unions have proposed an upward review of salaries but “the federal government has refused to inaugurate the committee on the proposal.“

“Mr. President can’t join the league of lamentations; he should come out openly and let us know those people who have cornered our commonwealth … and not to lament that some people have stolen our money,” said Ajaero, adding that the protest could continue for a long time.

One of the protesters, Usman Abdullahi Shagari, said he has been struggling to provide for his family, which includes five children, after the price of food items more than doubled.

“Feeding today is the most important thing,” said Shagari, 45. “Everything has increased, so that has affected the feeding of my family and my salary cannot withstand it.”

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Related story: Fuel prices triple in Nigeria, squeezing millions already struggling

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

President Tinubu says scrapping fuel subsidy has saved $1.32 billion

Nigeria has saved over 1 trillion naira ($1.32 billion) in just over two months by scrapping a popular but costly subsidy on petrol and moved to unify its multiple exchange rates, President Bola Tinubu said on Monday.

Tinubu is under pressure as prices soar following the country's boldest reforms in decades, which labour unions say have hurt the poor.

A meeting between unions and government to try to avert a planned strike from Wednesday ended without an agreement late on Monday, union officials said.

In a television broadcast, Tinubu defended his decision to scrap the petrol subsidy, which he said benefited a few elites and that the reforms would help boost the economy.

"In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which only benefited smugglers and fraudsters," Tinubu said.

The president said he was aware of the hardship caused by removing the subsidy and was "monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices," adding that he would intervene if and when necessary.

The World Bank said last month Nigeria could save up to 3.9 trillion naira this year alone after Tinubu's reforms but warned of growing short-term inflationary pressures.

Unions are pressuring Tinubu to offer relief to households and small businesses. Tinubu announced a 500 billion naira package which includes mass transit buses and cheap loans to farmers and small businesses to boost employment.

Earlier on Monday, the government said it had released grains to families, directed authorities in public schools to defer hiking school fees and will provide buses to ease transport costs for students. It also plans to set up a fund from the subsidy savings to build infrastructure.

"Sadly, there was an unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and these plans coming fully online. However, we are swiftly closing the time gap," Tinubu said. 

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related stories: President Tinubu Unveils Broad Plan to Ease Cost of  Living Pain

Fuel prices triple in Nigeria, squeezing millions already struggling

Video - President Tinubu suspends some taxes on businesses

President Tinubu Unveils Broad Plan to Ease Cost of Living Pain

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu announced sweeping measures to soften the impact of his move to end gasoline subsidies that has sent prices surging.

The 500 billion-naira ($652 million) package is aimed at improving food supply, ease transportation costs and boost manufacturing. It will also provide conditional grants to at least a million small businesses.

“Our economy is going through a tough patch and you are being hurt by it,” he said Monday in a national address. “I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not,” the president told Nigerians in prepared remarks.

Read more: How Nigeria’s Leader Is Shaking Up a Shaky Economy: QuickTake

The cost of living in Africa’s biggest economy has surged since Tinubu announced on May 29 that fuel subsidies have been scrapped, tripling the price of gasoline. A subsequent devaluation of the naira has also fanned inflation, which quickened to 22.8% in the year through June.

Food-price inflation over the same period was more than 25% and frustration turned violent in Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria on Sunday, where a 24-hour curfew was declared after youths looted a government warehouse where food is stored.

Tinubu, who has declared a state of emergency to tackle food security and supply, asked for patience in his speech.

“Sadly, there was an unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and these plans coming fully on line,” he said. “We are swiftly closing the time gap. I plead with you to please have faith in our ability to deliver.”

The end of the subsidy may help the country save more than 21 trillion naira ($21 billion) in two years, according to the World Bank.

Key Measures:

. 200 billion naira earmarked for agriculture to support the cultivation of 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of land to produce rice, corn, wheat and cassava

. The administration will also provide 225,000 tons of fertilizer, seedlings and other farm inputs and release 200,000 tons of grain from its strategic reserve

. 75 billion naira of concessional lending to fund 75 manufacturers to “kickstart” growth

. 125 billion naira for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including 50 billion naira of conditional grants to 1 million nano businesses.

. 100 billion naira to purchase a fleet of 3,000 20-seater buses fueled by natural gas.

“I urge you all to look beyond the present temporary pains and aim at the larger picture,” Tinubu said. “All of our good and helpful plans are in the works. More importantly, I know that they will work.”

In addition, he said the administration is working with labor unions to introduce a new minimum wage.

The Nigerian Labour Congress has called for nationwide protests starting Aug. 2 over what it calls “anti-poor” policies. But the action faces a court injunction and the NLC is holding talks with authorities.