Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nigerian designer seeks to challenge norms with gender-fluid fashion

A Nigerian designer is making waves in fashion with a gender-fluid clothing line, which he says is intended to challenge the notion that non-binary dressing is a Western concept and to defy societal norms in a country where LGBT rights are restricted.

Adeju Thompson, founder of the Lagos Space Programme brand, designs clothing that transcends traditional gender boundaries, drawing inspiration from his African heritage and personal experiences.

One of Thompson's collections was partly informed by Gelede masquerades, a Yoruba custom where men don traditional female attire in an homage to matriarchy. Thompson hopes incorporating such elements into his work can help highlight gender fluidity in Nigeria's history.

His brand has found success abroad, with pieces stocked in stores across North America, Europe and Asia.
"In Nigeria being queer isn't something that is accepted," Thompson said in an interview. "I am just expressing myself as a designer, and through my work highlight that these ideas aren't Western constructs."

Thompson joins a growing number of Nigerian designers who are seeking to create new spaces for non-binary self-expression.

Thompson said he hopes his designs will spark an "alternate African narrative" that celebrates diversity and challenges traditional views on gender and identity.

(This story has been corrected to remove the reference to Thompson's work struggling in Nigeria in paragraph 4, and to clarify context in paragraphs 3 and 6) 

By Sanni Kazeem and Vining Ogu, Reuters 

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Video - Bakers in Nigeria threaten shutdown amidst rising production costs

Master bakers across the country contemplate shutting down operations due to escalating prices and excessive taxes. They want the government to bring down the cost of bread production and reduce import duties on baking materials and equipment.


Related story: Video - Rising Food Prices spark protests and smuggling in Nigeria


Video - Central bank of Nigeria raises interest rate to 22.75%

The interest rate hike is in response to surging inflation which has reached 29.9 percent. The rise in inflation is largely driven by fiscal deficits, rising food prices, a weakening naira, and the removal of a fuel subsidy.


Related story: Video - Nigeria inflation hits high of 29.9%



Meningitis outbreak kills 20 students in northern Nigeria

A meningitis outbreak has killed 20 students in northern Nigeria, local media reported Wednesday (Feb. 28).

The death toll which remains provisional was announced by the Yobe state Education commissioner.

The outbreak has been recorded in some secondary schools in the state.

Over a hundred cases have allegedly been reported with three patients said to still be in an intensive care unit responding to treatment.

Meningitis is an infection which causes an acute inflammation of the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord. It can be life-threatening unless diagnosed and treated early.

Transmission is through direct person-to-person contact, including droplets from the nose and throat of infected people.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention shared Wednesday (Feb. 28) on its X account (formerly twitter) a meningitis vigilance map.

Indeed, weather conditions can favour prevalence of meningitis.

Most of cases in the country are reported across states in the northern region.

According to the WHO, the west African nation reported 124 deaths from meningitis between 1 October 2022 and 16 April 2023.

African News 

Related stories: Video - Meningitis kills 269 people in Nigeria

Death toll in meningitis outbreak in Nigeria reaches 813


Activists urge Nigeria to delay Shell’s $2.4 billion sale of assets in deeply polluted Niger Delta

Local activists and international environmental groups want Nigeria’s government to delay approving the sale of oil company Shell’s onshore assets, claiming Shell is trying to shirk its environmental and social responsibilities in the highly polluted Niger Delta.

The London-based company is trying to sell its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company — which operates its onshore assets in the delta — to Renaissance Africa Energy Company, a consortium of local companies. Shell says the $2.4 billion divestment deal is part of a “wider reconfiguration of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.”

But the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), a Dutch non-profit, released a report Wednesday saying Shell shouldn’t be allowed to divest in the delta unless it takes “responsibility for its toxic legacy of pollution and ensures the safe decommissioning of abandoned oil infrastructure.”

Protesters have appealed to the government of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, to halt the sale until environmental concerns are addressed. Lezina Mgbar, a 54-year-old healthcare worker and farmer who participated in a weekend demonstration in the country’s oil capital of Port Harcourt, said her Korokoro Tai community in Ogoniland has been “severely” affected by oil spills.

“In the morning, children and women have to travel far to get water, so children often cannot get to school on time, and our farm yields are poor,” Mgbar told The Associated Press. “We demand that Shell restore our land and clean our water before any divestment.”

Scientific studies have found high levels of chemical compounds from crude oil, as well as heavy metals, in the delta, where the industry largely drives Nigeria’s economy but can leave communities’ water sources slick with contaminants.

Activists say Shell has a history of poor divestment in the region. They point to a wellhead blowout in the Santa Barbara River, which flows through the Niger Delta, in 2021. The wellhead wasn’t producing but wasn’t decommissioned by Shell or its new owners, Aiteo Eastern E & P. The facility spewed crude oil and associated gas for 38 days and caused planet-warming methane to be released into the atmosphere, killed fish and devastated riverside farms.

Richard Steiner, an environmental consultant with a history of work in the Niger Delta, said the blowout on the Santa Barbara River highlights the risk of Shell and other oil majors transferring assets to new local firms without resolving legacy environmental and social concerns first.

“Many of the purchasing companies do not have the technical or financial capacity to manage these oil and gas operations safely,” he said.

Shell says it assesses the financial strength, culture and social and environmental performance records of companies it sells assets to. A spokesperson added that “mandatory submissions to the federal government allow the regulators to apply scrutiny across a wide range of issues and recommend approval of these divestments, provided they meet all requirements.”

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who holds the portfolio of petroleum minister, will ultimately decide the fate of the Shell-Renaissance transaction. His spokesperson did not comment when contacted on Monday.

SOMO’s report documents other cases of environmental pollution that were allegedly not addressed by Shell before past divestments. Two communities, Ogale and Bille in Rivers State, have been in court pushing to make the company address past environmental concerns.

Shell and other oil companies often blame third-party interference, namely militant attacks and vandalism by oil thieves, for spills. However, companies still must clean up regardless of the cause, according to Nigeria’s law.

The deal with Renaissance is the latest move by Shell to limit its onshore operations in Nigeria while focusing on deepwater operations. Other companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, have been taking similar steps but without the scale of protests Shell, which is the most dominant in the region, has faced.

The civil society coalition that helped organize protests aimed at delaying the sale have petitioned Tinubu to adopt a set of principles to ensure more responsible petroleum industry divestments.

That “would help ensure a transparent process that would assess the capacity of the incoming companies, with meaningful community consultation throughout, address environmental pollution and deteriorating and abandoned infrastructure,” said Florence Kayemba, director of the Niger Delta-focused Stakeholder Democracy Network, one of the groups that came up with the principles.

Unlike in previous sales, Shell is transferring all its subsidiary shares to Renaissance, resulting in a change of ownership that would see SPDC continue to carry liabilities. Shell has said SPDC, with new ownership, will continue with the current staff and be responsible for remediation where spills have occurred in the past.

SOMO’s report noted the arrangement but said the energy giant is still trying to avoid its responsibility.

Audrey Gaughran, SOMO’s director, told the AP in a statement that “ensuring that the historical pollution, the lack of funding for safe decommissioning and poor financial transparency are fully addressed in Nigeria will be an important litmus test for a just energy transition across the world.” 

By Taiwo Adebayo, AP

Related story: Video - Nigerian oil spills agency investigates pipeline leak in Niger Delta

Nigeria detains Binance executives in cryptocurrency crackdown

Two senior executives at Binance have been detained in Nigeria as the country cracks down on cryptocurrency exchanges, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The executives flew to Nigeria following the country's decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites last week but they were detained by the office of the country's national security adviser and their passports seized.

Binance did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The crackdown follows a period after several cryptocurrency websites emerged as platforms of choice for trading the Nigerian currency, which has suffered chronic dollar shortages.

The naira's official exchange rate has been trading at levels close to the parallel market level after the currency was devalued last month, its second adjustment in less than a year.

Africa's largest economy has been experiencing crippling dollar shortages that have pushed its currency to record lows after foreign investors fled following a previous oil price collapse and introduction of capital controls in 2015.


Related story: Nigeria plans clampdown on Binance, other crypto firms



Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Video - Nigeria bans exports of locally produced LNG to boost supply

The country's petroleum ministry says the ban will increase the amount of cooking gas for the domestic market, which will automatically reduce the price of the product.


Related story: Shell successfully conducts first remotely controlled well completion offshore Nigeria


Video - Nigeria plans to streamline bureaucracy to reduce costs

The move follows recommendations from a 2012 report that suggested the elimination or merger of some 220 of more than 500 government agencies.


Related story: Nigeria to merge, scrap, government agencies to trim costs



Video - Nigeria inflation hits high of 29.9%

Inflation in Nigeria soared to 29.9 percent in January, the highest mark in nearly 30 years. Food costs, which rose at an average rate of 35.4 percent in the same month, are the main driver of the rising cost of living.


Related stories: Video - Rising Food Prices spark protests and smuggling in Nigeria

Nigeria unveils big rate hike as hardship prompts worker protests



Argentina Vs. Nigeria Friendly Match Cancelled

Next month’s international friendly match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and world champions Argentina has been called off.

No official statement has been made by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over the cancellation of the high-profile friendly game slated for March 26, 2024, in Los Angeles, USA.

According to BBC Sport reporter, Oluwashina Okeleji, the cancellation was a result of the short time to process visas for the Nigerian delegation.

Okeleji stated that the US organisers of the game have already drafted in Costa Rica as replacement for the Eagles.

The friendly game between the Eagles and Argentina was initially scheduled to hold in China but was cancelled.

The game was cancelled after Lionel Messi failed to appear in a friendly game between Inter Miami and an Hong Kong Selected XI.

He received a lot of backlash from fans who had to be refunded by the organisers of the game.

The former Barcelona captain explained that he sustained an injury, hence his absence from the game.


Related stories: Argentina to play Nigeria in the US, replacing China tour


Shell successfully conducts first remotely controlled well completion offshore Nigeria

Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) has successfully completed the first remotely controlled well completion operation offshore Nigeria.

The operation was performed at the Bonga field, in 1,060 m water depth. The well completion operation was performed utilizing a Remotely Operated Controls System (ROCS) that has been supplied by Norwegian technology company Optime Subsea.

Optime Subsea's ROCS eliminates the need for both the umbilical, which traditionally connects the surface to the seabed for controlling the tubing hanger in subsea well completions, and the topside hydraulic control unit. This innovation not only cuts costs but also significantly reduces the amount of deck space required for these operations.

“We are very pleased with the performance of the ROCS. It means that we can perform well completion operations quicker, at lower cost, and with substantially lower CO2-footprint compared to conventional systems,” says Justus Ngerebara. Lead Well Engineer at SNEPCo.

Last year, SNEPCo took delivery of its first ROCS from Optime Subsea and have worked closely with Optime Subsea to integrate the system into its operations.

Using a ROCS means that operators can cut approximately 50 tonnes of equipment from their offshore transportation list, which means substantially lower CO2-footprint. It also means reduced operating time and less HSE exposure on the drill floor. In total, it reduces both CAPEX and OPEX for operators.

Optime Subsea has performed multiple ROCS operations in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, but this was the first in African waters. The operation was led by Optime Subsea’s operation in Nigeria, supported by personnel from the company’s headquarter in Norway.

“To be able to free up valuable deck space immediately after the operation, through shipping the ROCS to shore, is a significant advantage for the rig operator. We are delighted to bring this technology to Nigeria and very grateful for SNEPCo’s innovative and ambitious approach to subsea well completion operations,” says Rodger Hooker, Chief Service Officer at Optime Subsea.

Optime Subsea has offices in Notodden, Norway; Houston, Texas; and Lagos, Nigeria. Over the past decade, the company has established itself as a leading specialist on subsea intervention and controls systems globally.

ROCS details. When completing subsea wells, the tubing hanger is placed on top of the wellhead, as a seal towards the rest of the subsea well.

Normally the tubing hanger is controlled through a dedicated hydraulic umbilical which adds a large 20-30 ft control container. When running the umbilical, it is also clamped to the tubing for increased stability.

ROCS replaces these operations by remotely controlling a controls unit toward the wellhead. This allows for safer, simpler and more efficient operations.

ROCS is mobilized in a single basket, prepared and made up onshore, allowing it to be ready to run immediately when offshore, from a rig. Avoiding mobilization of 50 ton + of topside equipment

The ROCS is 100% universal and can be applied to any type of subsea well.

World Oil

Nigeria building collapse kills six, with others feared trapped

A shopping plaza under construction in Nigeria's southeastern Anambra state collapsed late on Monday, killing at least six people, with others feared trapped in the rubble, the emergency agency said.

The building, with more than 120 shops, collapsed in the city of Onitsha, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Tuesday.

"Some of the rescued persons have been taken to different hospitals in Onitsha for treatment," NEMA said.

A search was under way for other survivors, it said.

Building collapses are frequent in Africa's biggest economy and top oil producer due to lax regulations and often substandard construction materials. 

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Related stories: Video - At least 8 killed in Nigeria school building collapse

Building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria kills 30



Nigeria unveils big rate hike as hardship prompts worker protests

Nigeria's central bank delivered its largest rate hike in absolute terms in around 17 years on Tuesday to tame soaring inflation, amid nationwide trade union protests over price rises that have left people struggling to meet their basic needs.

Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Olayemi Cardoso said the 4-percentage-point increase to 22.75% was needed as previous rate hikes had not cooled price pressures enough.

Inflation has reached almost 30%, its highest in almost three decades, driven by a steep fall in the naira currency , the removal of a fuel subsidy, fiscal deficits and conflict in food-producing parts of Africa's most populous nation and biggest economy.

Labour unions protesting on Tuesday said two of President Bola Tinubu's key reforms - allowing the naira to devalue twice in less than a year and scrapping the fuel subsidy - were making people's lives a misery.
"We are suffering in Nigeria. It was not like this before. There is real hunger," said fashion designer Surijadeen Idayat at a protest in the capital Abuja.

In a sign of the desperation, a deadly stampede broke out at a food distribution site on Friday, authorities said.

"This was not the situation a year ago. I have to cut down the number of meals in the family," said Ibrahim Mamuda, a 56-year-old resident of the northern city of Kano who said he has twelve children and that they are only eating one meal a day.

Tinubu has defended his bold but unpopular reforms, which he hopes will help him double Nigeria's growth rate to 6% annually from roughly 3% now.

In an effort to ease the pressure on vulnerable households, his government this week approved the resumption of direct cash transfers to those in need.


Tuesday's mammoth rate hike brings Nigeria closer to Ghana, which defaulted on its debts in 2022 and cut interest rates from 30% to 29% in January, and the insurgency-hit Democratic Republic of Congo, which has an interest rate of 25%.

Nigeria's international dollar bonds initially rose as much as 0.5 cents on the dollar as Cardoso spoke, before falling to again trade below their previous closing price.

Capital Economics analyst David Omojomolo said that Cardoso had "stepped up to the plate" by showing greater appetite to tackle Nigeria's inflation problem than the central bank had done previously.

But he said further inflation surprises or naira weakness could force another hike. 

By Chijioke Ohuocha and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, Reuters

Related stories: Video - Rising Food Prices spark protests and smuggling in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria vows to address rising cost of living amid protests

Nigeria imposes annual levy on expatriate workers

Nigeria has imposed a mandatory annual levy for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring them to pay $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other categories.

The move is meant to encourage foreign companies to employ more Nigerian workers.

Staff of diplomatic missions and government officials are exempt.

President Bola Tinubu has warned that the levy should not be used to frustrate potential investors.

He spoke while launching the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL) handbook on Tuesday, adding that the government was expecting to improve revenue and indigenisation.

He said that its aim was to balance employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

"The goal is to close wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labour force while increasing employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians in foreign companies in the country," he said.

There are more than 150,000 expatriates in Nigeria, according to local media citing data from the interior ministry.

They mostly work in the oil and gas, construction, telecommunication and hospitality sectors.

Nigeria is one of Africa's biggest oil producers. Its oil and gas exports account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The move comes as Nigeria is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a generation, which has led to widespread hardship and anger in recent months.

Labour unions and government workers on Tuesday held demonstrations to protest against economic hardships.

Mr Tinubu acknowledged that Nigerians were going through a difficult period.

He said efforts were being made to improve the country's finances and grow the economy.

The levy applies to employees who work for at least 183 days in a year.

The scheme imposes fines of up three years and jail terms of up to five years for a person or organisations that do not comply, including failure to provide accurate information.

The Nigerian Immigration Service will be responsible for enforcing the levy.

Local media quoted Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Oj as saying that it would be operated on a public-private partnership model between the government, the immigration service and a private firm.

Nigerian economist Abubakar Abdullahi says the levy is good for the country and won't frustrate potential investors as "they'll love to see the country grow as well"."I believe Nigeria stands to benefit from this levy as more companies will start looking inwards as there are qualified Nigerians from all sectors," he says.

By Basillioh Rukanga, BBC

Related stories: Over 10,000 doctors left Nigeria for UK in last 7 yrs

Nigeria suffering from medical brain drain

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Video - Rising Food Prices spark protests and smuggling in Nigeria

Nigeria is on the brink of a food crisis as skyrocketing prices, exacerbated by smugglers, leave millions struggling to afford basic necessities. The situation has prompted trade unions to call for protests against the government's handling of the crisis. The cost of food has risen by almost 40% in the past year alone, leaving many Nigerians unable to feed themselves or their families. With no end in sight to the crisis, the country is facing an uncertain future.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Video - Nigeria vows to address rising cost of living amid protests

Video - Nigeria sees hundreds hit the streets over growing crisis



The eco-entrepreneur sparking the electric vehicle revolution in Nigeria

Mustapha Gajibo is driving change in Nigeria with his groundbreaking company, African Motor Works. The entrepreneur is transforming Nigeria's transportation sector while focusing on affordability and sustainability.

"Our main reasons for building electric vehicles are the high cost of mobility, cost of energy and carbon emissions," Mustapha Gajibo, Founder and CEO of African Motor Works, tells SCENES.

The young business owner's interest in electrifying Nigeria's transport options was sparked by the constant problems with the country's electricity supply.

"We spent weeks, sometimes months, even up to a year without electricity. So that has really motivated me to come up with this company," explains Mustapha.

The start-up company manufactures 200 vehicles monthly and produces mass transit vehicles such as large buses, minibuses and tricycles. Each vehicle has a simple battery-swapping system and can be fully charged in less than 40 minutes.

African Motor Works employs 24 workers and plans to expand its workforce. According to the electric vehicle creator, building a solid team is the key to his company's success.

"I don't call them staff. I call them family. Whatever glory we achieve, we achieve together," says Mustapha.

The reputation of African Motor Works is gaining momentum in Nigeria, and Mustafa hopes his venture will inspire other manufacturers across Africa. He dreams of one day seeing his African vehicles driving through the streets of New York, Beijing and other cities worldwide.

By Gregory Ward & Hillary Ebele Nnoruka, EuroNews

Related story: Video - Nigerian engineering students build electric car

Monday, February 26, 2024

Nigerian military speaks on reports of alert over coup plot

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has denied allegations that the Guards Brigade has been put on high alert over suspected activities of coup attempts in the country.

The Acting Director Defence Information, Tukur Gusau, a brigadier general, disclosed this on the DHQ official X account on Sunday.

Mr Gusau said the attention of the DHQ was drawn to a report published by SaharaReporters on 25 February claiming that the Guards Brigade had been put on high alert following unusual movements, leading to suspicion of a coup plot in Nigeria.

The report also said the suspicion prompted an emergency meeting involving President Bola Tinubu, the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Commander of the Guards Brigade, Adebisi Onasanya, a colonel.

Mr Gusau said the publication was a figment of the imagination of the publisher and should be disregarded by the public.

He said the Chief of Defence Staff, Christopher Musa, had repeatedly reiterated the unalloyed commitment of members of the armed forces to the protection and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.

“It will be recalled that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa OFR had in various fora reiterated the unalloyed commitment of members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the protection and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Therefore, the Defence Headquarters strongly condemn this unsubstantiated assertion which is just a figment of the imagination of the publisher and enjoins members of the public to disregard it,” the statement said.

Last week, Mr Musa had cautioned those demanding a coup in the country.

Read the full statement below:


1.​The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to a malicious and unfounded article published online by @SaharaReporters on 25 February 2024 claiming that the Guards Brigade has been put on high alert following unusual movements, leading to suspicion of a coup plot in Nigeria. The publication also asserted amongst other things that the suspicion prompted emergency meeting involving President Bola Tinubu, the Chief of Staff to the President and Commander of the Guards Brigade.

2.​The publication also asserted amongst other things that the suspicion prompted emergency meeting involving President Bola Tinubu, the Chief of Staff to the President and Commander of the Guards Brigade.

3.​It will be recalled that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa OFR had in various fora reiterated the unalloyed commitment of members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the protection and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Therefore, the Defence Headquarters strongly condemn this unsubstantiated assertion which is just a figment of imagination of the publisher and enjoins members of the public to disregard it.

4.​Furthermore, the Defence Headquarters calls on relavant security agencies to immediately take appropriate action against the Sahara Reporters for this unpatriotic action. Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters will seek legal redress on the issue which has the ulterior motive of creating unnecessary tension in the country.



Brigadier General

25 February 2024

Acting Director Defence Information

By Ademola Popoola, Premium Times

Nigeria to merge, scrap, government agencies to trim costs

Nigeria's government has approved a plan to merge, scrap, and relocate several agencies to streamline its bureaucracy and cut costs, the information minister said on Monday.

The move followed recommendations from a 2012 report from a government-appointed committee that suggested the elimination or merger of some 220 of more than 500 government agencies.

Information Minister Mohammed Idris told reporters that under the plan announced on Monday more than 20 government agencies will be merged, subsumed under existing ministries, or relocated.

Streamlining government bureaucracy in Nigeria has been the subject of debate for years, with critics pointing to overlapping mandates and redundancies among agencies.

President Bola Tinubu has set up a committee to ensure that necessary legislative amendments are made within 12 weeks to ensure the plan is fully executed, said Hadiza Bala Usman, an adviser to the president, who gave details of the policy.

Africa's largest economy is grappling with sluggish economic growth, low revenue and rising public debt.
After taking office in May last year, Tinubu embarked on the boldest economic reform program in decades, but his government is now under pressure to cut the cost of governance and improve efficiency.

Although welcomed by investors, unions say the reforms have have led to soaring costs at a time when Nigerians are already grappling with sky-high inflation. 

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Students from Nigeria who fled war in Ukraine are being told to leave Europe

Olabisi* was out to get groceries during her post-graduate clinical rotations at the Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University in western Ukraine on the morning of 24 February 2022 when she heard loud bangs. Then came breaking news alerts: Russia was invading Ukraine. She rushed home to pack a few belongings.

“In the course of moving, I lost my certificates and even my passport,” she said.

She headed towards the border between Ukraine and Romania with hundreds of thousands of others. Thankfully, with her Ukrainian ID card, she was allowed passage. From Romania, she travelled by train to the Netherlands, along with other students whose lives had just been uprooted.

Olabisi chose the Netherlands because – like a number of western European countries – it had announced plans to take in people displaced from the Ukraine war, and she had heard it was cheaper and more welcoming than others.

In 2022, the European Union activated a rule called a Temporary Protection Directive, granting those fleeing war a stay for up to two years – until March 4, 2024. In mid 2023, the Netherlands decided that non-Ukrainian citizens or “third world nationals with temporary residence” must leave a year earlier than previously announced. They – most of them students – brought a collective case against the Dutch government insisting that they be allowed to stay the allotted time. The Council of State, the Netherlands’ highest administrative court, agreed.

But now time is running out for Olabisi and those like her. Roughly 2,200 people from different nationalities are said to be affected. (Students interviewed for this story say they prefer their luck in Europe over the option of returning to Nigeria, where they consider the academic system sub-par and prone to interruptions.)

Olabisi is one of an estimated 4,000 Nigerian students who had been studying in Ukraine before the war. The eastern European country had attracted African students, particularly medical students, partly due to the relatively low costs of studying and partly as a product of student exchange programmes dating back to the former Soviet Union’s investment in African countries.

Olabisi and other students say that, to make matters worse, the Nigerian government has not adequately intervened via its embassies to help them.

They say Nigeria has left them in limbo, just as it did with the 1,625 Nigerian students in Ukraine who were finally evacuated to Nigeria in July 2022, four and a half months after the war broke out.

Nigerian diplomats missing in action, in Europe?

The Nigerian mission in the Netherlands disputes this. Eniola Ajayi, Nigeria’s ambassador to The Hague, told openDemocracy: “All the reprieve that students got in the Netherlands was due to my efforts… I have helped them as much as is possible within my capacity. This is the truth.”

The embassy claimed the mission housed some “families at the Guest Chalet of [Ajayi’s] Residence until they were able to get alternative accommodation” and cash assistance was given to others. The embassy also mentioned the case of a depressed student who was sent back to Nigeria for medical treatment.

The mission said it had given Nigerian nationals ample notice of the Dutch government’s intentions. To stay beyond the March 2024 deadline, the Dutch government has advised students to either seek asylum if they could prove their lives would be at risk back home, or accept an independent offer of 5,000 euros to return there.

Olabisi does not qualify for asylum as her life is not at risk in Nigeria but she doesn’t want to return to the country she left since she was 17. Now 30, she cannot imagine rebuilding her life again, especially as Nigeria experiences a steep economic decline.

Nigerian government, still missing in action

While the Nigerian government backs the return of students who are currently abroad, there is no safety net for those who do so, the students claim.

Wasiu Sidiq, 21, was studying at Lviv National Medical University when the war broke out and he was evacuated. When he returned to Nigeria, he attempted to continue his studies remotely – but stopped when the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria said it would not recognise medical certificates issued for online study.

The government claimed it was providing an option for the evacuated students to continue their education in Nigerian universities instead. The Foreign Affairs Ministry published a call-out on its website asking concerned students to register towards being placed locally – but the website link never worked and no students could register.

Sidiq, frustrated, decided to return to Europe, where he headed for Lisbon and is currently working in customer services for 890 euros a month. He tried to start uni there, but does not speak Portuguese and so has been unable to.

“If I don’t go to work, I cannot eat or pay my rent,” he said. “So I don’t have the time to go to the language class. All of us are just doing that.”

Sidiq claims students have tried to contact the Nigerian embassy in Lisbon for assistance with resettlement and negotiations on residence permits.

“They have not responded to us at all,” he said. “The embassy is not working. I have to leave Portugal to go and renew my passport.”

openDemocracy approached the Nigerian embassy in Lisbon for comment. A consular assistant insisted the embassy could only respond in person, in a physical meeting. Written questions and requests for a virtual meeting were ignored. Repeated requests were also made to Aminu Tanko, head of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Abuja office of the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM). The latter promised a response that did not come.

Consular failures, according to John Osuntokun, a professor and former Nigerian ambassador to Germany, are largely due to lack of priority.

“It is a large country and there are so many issues waiting for attention and this situation is going to be the least important to them,” he said. “My advice to them will be to come home.”

Osuntokun said standard practice is for complaints from Nigeria’s foreign missions to be relayed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice.

Asked if the ministry had received any such requests from the embassy, the foreign ministry spokesperson told openDemocracy: “The ministry has not received any such complaints.”

Two years into the war and with fate hanging in the balance, experts believe there is little the embassies can offer now. “Consular services are not services that provide long-term solutions; they are supposed to provide immediate help and assistance,” said Matthew Ayibakuro, a governance adviser at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Nigeria.

* Name has been changed.

Ope Adetayo, openDemocracy

Related story: Video - Fourth Batch of Nigerian Evacuees Arrives Nigeria

Video - Nigeria's medical council bans certificates issued from Ukrainian universities

Nigerians blocked from volunteering to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Friday, February 23, 2024

Video - GDP growth stronger than expected in Nigeria

Data released by Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics showed that gross domestic product grew 3.46 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023. That pace was quicker than in the two preceding quarters. Analysts credit the growth to increased oil output, and government reforms to boost growth that are finally taking effect.


Video - Nigeria vows to address rising cost of living amid protests

The government said it will deploy measures, including greater security for farmers against attacks from armed groups and providing them with better tools to increase production. Protesters are angry at the high rate of inflation, driven largely by high food prices and the government's decision to end a fuel subsidy.


Related stories: Video - Nigeria sees hundreds hit the streets over growing crisis

Protests in Nigeria over skyrocketing inflation as local currency hits record low value



World's longest subsea cable spanning 45,000km has landed in Nigeria

Meta's 2Africa subsea cable, which is 45,000 km long, has reached the shores of Lagos State and Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria. The deep-sea cable project will connect 32 other African countries and directly support economic development in Africa, fostering further growth of 4G and 5G and increased broadband penetration to millions of people and businesses across the continent.Meta's 2Africa subsea cable, which is 45,000 km long, reached the shores of Lagos State and Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria.

The deep-sea cable project will connect 32 other African countries and directly support economic development in Africa.

It will also foster the growth of 4G and 5G and increased broadband penetration to millions of people and businesses across the continent.

Bayobab, a pan-African digital connectivity solutions provider, partnered with MTN Opco's to land the 45,000km subsea cable at Mopo-Onibeju Lekki area of Lagos, according to Guardian Nigeria. The Akwa Ibom phase of the project has landed in Ibeno in Akwa Ibom state, South of Nigeria and is handled by the Nigerian Equinix Company, MainOne.

CEO Frédéric Schepens said this landing represents the fourth in a series of six landings spanning five countries. Among these are three destinations in West Africa—Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d'Ivoire—as well as South Africa. He also noted that Nigerian service providers will obtain world-class capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.

"The 2Africa initiative is at the core of the work we do as Bayobab, with the ultimate goal of connecting Africa to the world and the world to Africa. We are eager to continue offering services that will expand the rapidly growing African digital economy and positively impact growth across the continent," he said.

Managing Director, Bayobab Nigeria, Josephine Sarouk, commented on the significance of the deep-sea cable landing, stating that arrival in Nigeria will supercharge Nigeria's digital economy, creating space for a vibrant ecosystem bringing digital services to millions of Nigerians in line with the government's vision for a thriving digital economy.

"Our investment in 2Africa is part of our commitment to our customers, bringing resilience to networks and capacity due to the growing demands for digital services such as Fintech, IoT, AI, and e-learning, which continue to revolutionise the way customers engage with services, fueling the demand for more data. This landing is further proof of our long-held confidence in the future of the continent," she said.

The consortium behind the 2Africa subsea cable is made up of several companies, including Meta, China Mobile International, MTN Global Connect, Orange, Vodafone, Egypt Telecom, Saudi Telecom Company, and the West Indian Ocean Cable Company. The deep-sea cable will go a long way towards transforming the region's connectivity landscape. 

By Victor Oluwole, Business Insider Africa

Related story: Meta launches Creator Lab in Nigeria

Argentina to play Nigeria in the US, replacing China tour

 Argentina scheduled exhibitions against El Salvador and Nigeria in the United States next month as part of Copa America preparations, replacing a China tour canceled after Lionel Messi didn't play at Inter Miami's preseason game in Hong Kong.

Argentina will play El Salvador on March 22 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Field and Nigeria four days later at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Argentina Football Association said Thursday.

Messi, Argentina's captain, is likely to be with the World Cup champions and miss Miami's Major League Soccer match at the New York Red Bulls on March 23.

World Cup champion Argentina had been scheduled to play Nigeria at Hangzhou and Ivory Coast at Beijing during a tour of China from March 18-26.

Messi said before Miami's friendly against a local all-star team in Hong Kong on Feb. 4 that he was suffering from a groin injury, and his absence sparked spectator anger. He played three days later in Tokyo in an exhibition against Vissel Kobe.

Argentina, the defending world and South American champion, opens the Copa América against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 at Atlanta, then plays Chile five days later at East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Peru on June 29 at Miami Gardens, Florida.


Relates story: Chinese sports authorities cancel Argentina vs Nigeria friendly


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Nigeria records 411 cases of Lassa fever and 72 deaths in six weeks

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said Nigeria recorded 411 confirmed cases and 72 deaths from Lassa fever across 21 states of the federation from week one to week six of 2024.

The NCDC in its latest situation report for week six spanning 5 to 11 February, revealed that the number of new confirmed cases increased from 70 in week 5 to 83, with nine deaths in the reporting week.

According to the situation report, 65 per cent of all the confirmed cases were from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi while 35 per cent were reported from 17 states.

The report noted that the number of suspected cases in 2024 (2,122) decreased when compared to that reported for the same period in 2023 (8280).

According to the disease control centre, the predominant age group affected by Lassa fever is 21-30 years, and two new health workers were affected in the reporting week.

NCDC added that the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System has been activated to coordinate response at all levels at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

The agency also enumerated some of the challenges in its fight against Lassa fever across the country, listing; late presentation of the cases leading to an increase in CFR, and poor health-seeking behaviour due to the high cost of treatment and clinical management.

Other challenges are poor environmental sanitation conditions and poor awareness reportedly observed in high-burden communities.
Lassa fever

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

By Leshi James, Premium Times

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Video - Trade between Nigeria and China records significant growth

Data from the Chinese Customs Authority shows bilateral trade between Nigeria and China has reached 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. Experts forecast trade volumes between the two sides to accelerate in the years ahead as they deepen their relations. 


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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Video - Drop in oil production leaves government budget of Nigeria under stress

Despite missing OPEC's 1.5 million barrels per day target, Nigeria set ambitious sights in 2024, eyeing a daily production target of 1.7 million barrels. But the year is off to a rocky start. January 2024 oil production fell to 1.42 million barrels per day, a drop of 3,000 barrels per day from the previous month. Experts worry that the consequences could be dire.


Related story: NNPC has no plans to raise petrol prices after devaluation


Nigerian woman gives birth at Lagos' Onipanu Bus Stop

 A Nigerian woman has given birth at a bus stop in the main city of Lagos to the jubilation of a crowd that had gathered nearby.

The unnamed woman was waiting to board a bus at the Onipanu Bus Stop when she unexpectedly went into labour on Monday, the emergency services said.

Female market traders helped her to a quiet spot, while first responders rushed to the scene.

She gave birth to a "bouncing" baby boy, the emergency services added.

The mother and child were then taken to hospital, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (Lamesa) added.

No further details have been released about them, but Nigerians on social media have been posting congratulatory messages - and suggesting names for the newborn.

Facebook user Sunday Ogunsola suggested that the baby should be called Abiona, a Yoruba name which roughly translates to "born during a journey".

The name would highlight the idea that the child was like an explorer, ready for a lifetime of adventures.

Another person on Facebook commented that the woman had saved on hospital bills by giving birth at a bus stop.

By Mansur Abubakar, BBC

E-gates to be installed at all international airports in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Ministry of Interior has announced that biometric e-gates are currently being installed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and at the e-border data and control center at the Nigeria Immigration Service headquarters.

Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, honorable minister of interior, said e-gates will be installed across all five of Nigeria’s international airports, providing Nigerians with streamlined arrival while the e-border system will enhance national security.

As of February 19, four out of the planned 10 gates have been installed at the airport. It is expected that the remaining six gates will be operational before the end of the month.

Dr Tunji-Ojo said the new gates will reduce waiting times for arriving passengers. “With an impressive clearance time of just 30 seconds per individual, the gates are set to establish a new standard for efficiency in airport processing, comparable to global benchmarks.”

They are also designed to enhance national security by providing an additional layer of scrutiny for inbound travelers. “Through advanced biometric scanning and automated flagging systems, the gates will swiftly identify individuals of interest or those on watchlists, bolstering the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service to safeguard the nation’s borders,” the minister said.

In total, the nationwide project aims to deliver a total of 40 e-verification gates across multiple airports by the end of the first quarter. These installations will include 10 gates in Abuja, 17 in Lagos, five in Kano and four each in Enugu and Port Harcourt.

By Kylie Bielby, Passenger Terminal Today 

Related story: Video - Aviation sector sees record growth in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria sees hundreds hit the streets over growing crisis

The protesters say they want immediate action from the government to help reduce the soaring cost of living in the country.


Related story: Protests in Nigeria over skyrocketing inflation as local currency hits record low value

Naira hits record lows, stocks sink



Nigeria plans clampdown on Binance, other crypto firms

The Nigerian government is considering blocking the online platforms of Binance and other crypto firms to avert what it considers continuous manipulation of the forex market and illicit movement of funds, officials with knowledge of the policy option have told PREMIUM TIMES.

The recent unprecedented weakening of the Nigerian currency has seen the naira falling to all-time low of N1,800 to a dollar in the parallel market.

Presidency and regulatory sources say the government decided to move against Binance and other crypto firms following reports that currency speculators and money launderers were using them to execute criminal activities. Authorities believe the ‘criminal activities’ going on on platforms are contributing significantly to the weakening of the naira.

Binance, a digital assets platform, serves as a window for peer to peer transaction allowing users to advertise interest to sell or buy currencies of their choice.

In September 2023, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed a disclaimer on Binance Nigeria Limited, saying the platform was “neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal”.

Despite the warning by the regulatory agency, the firm continued its operation, attracting huge patronage especially among urban youths and suspected speculators and money launderers.

Aside suspicions of economic sabotage, officials also speak of national security concerns as the platforms are often patronised by other criminal groups including for payment of ransom.

Law enforcement sources say the digital asset platforms are also routinely deployed for manipulation of forex values through fake deals that serve to prop up values or cause a fall.

A source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involved in probing criminal complaint against digital asset platforms, who was however not authorised to speak to the press, described the process as a “sophisticated heist against the Nigerian economy”.

According to her, by allowing simultaneous opening of buy and sell windows for a single user, manipulators often fake interest to sell dollars which they then buy at a speculated rate to themselves through the buy window.

“This therefore gives the dollar a fake value against the naira which then sets a frenzy and mislead the market. This fake price is then often quoted by BDCs who raise their prices to meet the Binance benchmark even without any corresponding demand in that segment,” she said.

A senior executive at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) described as “troubling” the bearish downward trade of the naira against the dollar in the last 10 days, attributing it to artificial devaluation caused by the speculative sites.

“Through manipulative rent seeking, Binance’s global reach results in higher USD to NGN exchange rates often being used as a benchmark for currency trading, misleadingly devaluing the Naira in global markets.”

But he added that trading on the platform is encouraged by activities of money-launderers and terrorist financiers “who have no qualms with the arbitrage”.

“We started noticing this sharp trend from February 9, and since then it has caused significant devaluation of the naira against the USD. This is simply criminal,” he said.

Binance has had similar accusations of currency manipulation and unethical conduct leading to sanctions in many countries and an ongoing lawsuit in the United States.

If the government decides to invoke a ban on the digital asset trading site it would be treading the path of countries like Malaysia, France and Malta, among others.

The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) had announced Tuesday that it was joining forces with the Central Bank of Nigeria to clamp down on currency speculators and economic saboteurs.

The Head of Strategic Communication at ONSA, Zakari Mijinyawa, hinted in his Tuesday statement that individuals and organisations involved in wrongful activities in Nigeria’s Forex market would be identified, investigated and penalised.

Contacted on Thursday night on the planned clampdown on Binance and other crypto firms, Mr Mijinyawa said he was at an “important meeting”. He did not answer or return subsequent calls made to him.

Binance could not be reached Wednesday morning. Multiple calls to a customer service number listed for it rang out unanswered.

By Abdulrahman Abdulmalik, Premium Times

Related story: Video - Central Bank of Nigeria gives guidelines on cryptocurrency

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Davido commits ₦300 Million for orphanages in Nigeria

Grammy-nominated Nigerian musician Davido has announced plans to donate a sum of “300 million naira to orphanages around Nigeria as my yearly contribution to the nation details of disbursement tomorrow."

Davido made this revelation in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

The pledge on Tuesday, February 20 is an outcome of the Adeleke Foundation founded by Davido in 2022 with the help of other charitable organisations, in a bid to help vulnerable children.

In July 2023, he announced the foundation donated over 200 million to orphanages in the country and 13,818 children benefited from it. He also promised to donate some more money in 2024.

In the press release posted at the time he said: "I founded the DAF in 2022 with a strong desire and passion to continually assist and create a proper framework for the ongoing charitable works to benefit the good people of Nigeria...", arts and entertainment online portal xtribeafrica reported.

The charitable tradition began back in 2021 after the singer's birthday, when he made over ₦200 million in donations after sharing his bank account details on his Twitter (now X) page.

Africa News


Defense chief of Nigeria accuses nations withholding arms sales over abuses of ‘double standards’

Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell his military weapons because of human rights concerns.

Gen. Christopher Musa’s comment underscores one of the biggest challenges for Africa’s most populous nation in combating a deadly and complex security crisis, from the Islamic militant insurgency in northeast to the dozens of armed groups targeting travelers and communities in the northwest and central regions.

“Even with our money, it is difficult getting equipment,” Musa told reporters in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, acknowledging a huge need for items such as helicopters, drones and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

“Some say human rights, some say ‘You have killed’ … but again, sometimes, people pointing fingers at you have done worse and yet nobody is holding them to account. It is these double standards that (are) making the world more dangerous,” Musa said.

He declined to name the countries in question when asked by The Associated Press.

Nigeria’s security forces for many years have faced allegations of extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests. The United States and other major arms suppliers at one point or another have withheld the sale of weapons over those accusations.

In December, at least 85 civilians were killed when a Nigerian army drone erroneously targeted a religious gathering in northwest Kaduna state, the latest of several such incidents.

Musa said Nigeria’s military has continued to improve on its human rights record and is holding its personnel to account. Alleged abuses are often investigated, and a report on the December incident will be released soon, he said.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces have the capacity to secure Nigeria (and) the entire region,” Musa said, but added that the lack of needed weapons will continue to limit that capacity.

However, there is little evidence to show that Nigeria’s military has improved on its human rights record, according to Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria.

“Protecting civilians should be their priority (and) they should look at all human rights violations they have committed to ensure accountability,” Sanusi said.

U.S. military support to Nigeria has at times included training on how to mitigate risks to civilians, according to a State Department statement in January on security cooperation. It said that in August, Nigeria delivered the first payment for 12 attack helicopters worth a total of $997 million.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Terrorists kill traditional ruler, five residents, burn down vehicles in Katsina, Nigeria

Six residents, including the ward head, Haruna Wakili, were killed when terrorists attacked Yar Nasarawa, a community in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State on Monday.

Residents said the terrorists abducted about 38 residents, including women and children and left 10 residents with gunshot injuries. They also burnt down six houses, eight commercial vehicles and shops in the community.

Yar Nasarawa is less than five kilometres away from the Army Super Camp situated in Faskari. The camp was established by the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in 2018.

“The attackers came prepared. I have never seen them in such number,” a resident, Auwal Liman, who said he ran into the bush during the attack, said. “While some of them were shooting indiscriminately, others were putting vehicles and shops on fire.”

The terrorists stormed the community around 11 p.m. and blocked all entries and exits to ward off support from the military and members of the Community Watch Corps in the area.

The six dead residents were buried Tuesday morning in the community, according to Mr Liman.

“We are in a sorry situation. We can’t go to the farm. When we stay away from our farms and local markets, the terrorists follow us into our communities and kill us. Our lives hardly matter,” Mr Liman lamented.

Motorcycle-riding terrorists have been unleashing mayhem on residents in the north-west for over a decade. leading to layers of humanitarian crises in the sub-region.

“The terrorists were merciless in yesterday’s attack,” a resident, Abdullahi Adamu, said. “They burnt down a child. They took him inside his mother’s room set the room ablaze and slaughtered another old man in the same house. It was barbaric.”

Mr Adamu, who said he climbed a rock outside the community and waited till early morning, said he has lost hope in the government and security agencies.

The police spokesperson in the state, Abubakar-Sadik Aliyu, confirmed the attack to journalists in Katsina but did not provide the details.

“The Commissioner of Police, CP Aliyu Musa, had since deployed the command’s tactical, operational and intelligence to the scene, and currently combing the surrounding bushes for the possible arrest of the perpetrators for diligent prosecution,” Mr Aliyu said.

By Mohammed Babangida, Premium Times

Related stories: Gunmen kill four, abduct at least 40 in northwest Nigeria

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Nigeria police repel attack by gunmen, one officer dies

A group of armed men attacked a police division in Zurmi town, in Nigeria's northwest Zamfara state, but were repelled by officers with casualties recorded on both sides, the police said on Monday.

Gangs of heavily armed men referred to as bandits by locals have wreaked havoc across Nigeria's northwest in the past three years, kidnapping thousands, killings hundreds, and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.

Zamfara police spokesperson Yazid Abubakar said suspected bandits wielding sophisticated weapons attacked the division late on Sunday, killing a senior officer and wounding two others.

"The policemen on duty retaliated and repelled the attack after a serious gun duel in which many of the bandits were killed and some took to their heels with possible gunshot wounds," Abubakar said in a statement.

Abubakar said the police have begun an investigation and have deployed more men to fortify the town and arrest fleeing culprits.

Residents said at least seven people were killed during the shootout, including the divisional crime officer.
Ibrahim Mohammed, a resident of Zurmi who witnessed the attack, told Reuters by phone that an unspecified number of people were kidnapped and the police division was set ablaze.

"They ransacked the place and set ablaze some shops and cars near the police station," Mohammed said.
Another resident Usman Abubakar said, "as I speak with you, they also abducted some people whose numbers cannot be immediately ascertained."

Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is grappling with a multifaceted security crisis, including kidnappings for ransom, which has reached alarming proportions.

The widespread insecurity is exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis caused in part by the reforms of President Bola Tinubu who has yet to detail how he plans to the tackle the situation. 

By Ahmed Kingimi, Reuters

Related story: 8 police officers killed by suspected rebels in Nigeria


Protests in Nigeria over skyrocketing inflation as local currency hits record low value

Nigerians are facing one of the West African nation’s worst economic crises in years triggered by surging inflation, the result of monetary policies that have pushed the currency to an all-time low against the dollar. The situation has provoked anger and protests across the country.

The latest government statistics released Thursday showed the inflation rate in January rose to 29.9%, its highest since 1996, mainly driven by food and non-alcoholic beverages. Nigeria's currency, the naira, further plummeted to 1,524 to $1 on Friday, reflecting a 230% loss of value in the last year.

"My family is now living one day at a time (and) trusting God," said trader Idris Ahmed, whose sales at a clothing store in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja have declined from an average of $46 daily to $16.

The plummeting currency worsens an already bad situation, further eroding incomes and savings. It squeezes millions of Nigerians already struggling with hardship due to government reforms including the removal of gas subsidies that resulted in gas prices tripling.


With a population of more than 210 million people, Nigeria is not just Africa’s most populous country but also the continent’s largest economy. Its gross domestic product is driven mainly by services such as information technology and banking, followed by manufacturing and processing businesses and then agriculture.

The challenge is that the economy is far from sufficient for Nigeria’s booming population, relying heavily on imports to meet the daily needs of its citizens from cars to cutlery. So it is easily affected by external shocks such as the parallel foreign exchange market that determines the price of goods and services.

Nigeria's economy is heavily dependent on crude oil, its largest foreign exchange earner. When crude prices plunged in 2014, authorities used its scarce foreign reserves to try to stabilize the naira amid multiple exchange rates. The government also shut down the land borders to encourage local production and limited access to the dollar for importers of certain items.

The measures, however, further destabilized the naira by facilitating a booming parallel market for the dollar. Crude oil sales that boost foreign exchange earnings have also dropped because of chronic theft and pipeline vandalism.


Shortly after taking the reins of power in May last year, President Bola Tinubu took bold steps to fix the ailing economy and attract investors. He announced the end of costly decadeslong gas subsidies, which the government said were no longer sustainable. Meanwhile, the country's multiple exchange rates were unified to allow market forces to determine the rate of the local naira against the dollar, which in effect devalued the currency.

Analysts say there were no adequate measures to contain the shocks that were bound to come as a result of reforms including the provision of a subsidized transportation system and an immediate increase in wages.

So the more than 200% increase in gas prices caused by the end of the gas subsidy started to have a knock-on effect on everything else, especially because locals rely heavily on gas-powered generators to light their households and run their businesses.


Under the previous leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria, policymakers tightly controlled the rate of the naira against the dollar, thereby forcing individuals and businesses in need of dollars to head to the black market, where the currency was trading at a much lower rate.

There was also a huge backlog of accumulated foreign exchange demand on the official market — estimated to be $7 billion — due in part to limited dollar flows as foreign investments into Nigeria and the country’s sale of crude oil have declined.

Authorities said a unified exchange rate would mean easier access to the dollar, thereby encouraging foreign investors and stabilizing the naira. But that has yet to happen because inflows have been poor. Instead, the naira has further weakened as it continues to depreciate against the dollar.


CBN Gov. Olayemi Cardoso has said the bank has cleared $2.5 billion of the foreign exchange backlog out of the $7 billion that had been outstanding. The bank, however, found that $2.4 billion of that backlog were false claims that it would not clear, Cardoso said, leaving a balance of about $2.2 billion, which he said will be cleared "soon."

Tinubu, meanwhile, has directed the release of food items such as cereals from government reserves among other palliatives to help cushion the effect of the hardship. The government has also said it plans to set up a commodity board to help regulate the soaring prices of goods and services.

On Thursday, the Nigerian leader met with state governors to deliberate on the economic crisis, part of which he blamed on the large-scale hoarding of food in some warehouses.

"We must ensure that speculators, hoarders and rent seekers are not allowed to sabotage our efforts in ensuring the wide availability of food to all Nigerians," Tinubu said.

By Friday morning, local media were reporting that stores were being sealed for hoarding and charging unfair prices.


The situation is at its worst in conflict zones in northern Nigeria, where farming communities are no longer able to cultivate what they eat as they are forced to flee violence. Pockets of protests have broken out in past weeks but security forces have been quick to impede them, even making arrests in some cases.

In the economic hub of Lagos and other major cities, there are fewer cars and more legs on the roads as commuters are forced to trek to work. The prices of everything from food to household items increase daily.

"Even to eat now is a problem," said Ahmed in Abuja. "But what can we do?"


Related stories: Naira hits record lows, stocks sink

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Authorities in Nigeria Voice Worry as Rising Cost of Living Sparks Protests

Unemployment rate in Nigeria surges to 5% amidst rising cost of living

This information was disclosed in the Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) report for Q3 2023, released on Monday. Per the NBS, this rate represents a 0.8% increase from the second quarter of 2023, where the unemployment rate stood at 4.2%.

The unemployment rate among men was 4.0% and 6.0 among women. By location, the unemployment rate was 6.0% in urban areas and 4.0% in rural areas. Focusing on young people, the youth unemployment rate was 8.6%.

In Q3 2023, 75.6% of Nigeria's working-age population were employed. When examining the data by gender, the employment-to-population ratio was 77.7% for males and 73.5% for females.

Further disaggregation by location revealed an employment-to-population ratio of 71.1% in urban areas and 80.7% in rural areas.

The report noted that 87.3% of employed Nigerians were predominantly self-employed, while the remaining 12.7% were primarily engaged as employees. 80.3% of employed people in urban areas were self-employed this is lower when compared with 94.5% of employed people in rural areas.

Informal employment

Informal employment in Nigeria and other developing countries seems to be very high when compared to the developed countries.

The percentage of employed individuals engaged in informal work was 92.3%, a slight decrease from the previous quarter's 92.7%. Interestingly, the rate of women involved in informal employment exceeded that of men.

"The rate of informal employment among people living in rural areas was 97.2% while the urban informality rate was estimated at 87.5%. Females are more likely to be in informal employment than males," the report said.

By Adekunle Agbetiloye, Business Insider Africa

Related story: Video - Graduates from Nigeria turn to creating jobs instead of looking for them

Lion kills zookeeper in Nigeria

A zookeeper at a Nigerian university has been killed by one of the lions he had been looking after for close to a decade.

Olabode Olawuyi, who was in charge of the zoo at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), was attacked as he was feeding the lions, the university said in a statement.

His colleagues were unable to save him as one of the lions had already fatally wounded him, the university added.

The lion has since been put down.

Mr Olawuyi, a veterinary technologist, had been "taking care of the lions since they were born on campus about nine years ago".

"But, tragically, the male lion killed the man who had been feeding them," the university's spokesman, Abiodun Olarewaju, said.

"We never knew what came over the male lion that it had to attack [him]," he added.

Nigerians on social media have been sharing graphic images of the mauling at the university in Osun state in the south-west.

The university community is in mourning, and a delegation has gone to the family of Mr Olawuyi to offer their condolences.

The university's vice-chancellor, Prof Adebayo Simeon Bamire, said he was "saddened" by the incident and ordered a thorough investigation the incident.

The students' union leader, Abbas Akinremi, told Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper that the attack was caused by "human error" after the zookeeper had forgotten to lock the door after feeding the lions.

He described the incident as unfortunate, while paying tribute to Mr Olawuyi as a "good and humble man, who attended to us nicely whenever we went to the zoo".

Abba Gandu, who has been feeding lions for more than 50 years at a zoo in Kano in northern Nigeria, described Monday's incident as unfortunate and said more safety measures were needed.

"This incident wouldn't in any way affect me personally as feeding lions is what I want to do until I die," said Mr Gandu, who started feeding lions in 1971.

He added that his worst experience was when a baboon he was trying to feed bit his finger. 

By Basillioh Rukanga & Mansur Abubakar, BBC

Related story: Lion removed from house near school in Lagos, Nigeria

School in Nigeria helps girls to heal after Boko Haram

What 19-year-old Binta Usman remembers most vividly about her early days at the Lafiya Sarari girls’ school in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state, are the frequent tears that made it hard for her to concentrate in class.

“We’d all be sitting in class and all of us would just be crying,” she says.

Like Usman, whose father was killed and family held captive by the militant jihadist group Boko Haram, all 100 women and girls at the school have either witnessed a parent’s murder or been kidnapped themselves.

Another pupil, 17-year-old Hassana, recalls being forced to join the militants, handling weapons and carry out acts of violence. “We drank blood,” she says.

Boko Haram has targeted schools as part of its campaign of atrocities in north-eastern Nigeria since 2010. It has carried out massacres and multiple abductions, including 2014’s killing of 59 schoolboys, the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014 and 101 girls in Dapchi in 2018.

Between 2013 and 2018, according to the UN, Boko Haram abducted more than 1,000 children, using them as soldiers and domestic or sex slaves. Amnesty International has estimated that 1,436 schoolchildren and 17 teachers were abducted between December 2020 and October 2021.

The Lafiya Sarari school was set up in response to the terror Boko Haram has inflicted. Established in 2017 by the Neem Foundation, a Nigerian charity set up to help communities affected by violence, the school is designed to provide support and education to those who have suffered trauma.

“What we do is a trauma-informed learning approach,” says Dr Fatima Akilu, a psychologist who helped set up the foundation. “It’s not a set programme.”

She says: “Some people have post-traumatic stress disorder, some come in with depression, some come with anxiety – it changes.

“We used to have a psychologist in the early days when we first started, but now all we have is a full-time counsellor who knows the girls, who has been with them throughout.”

Akilu initially envisioned Lafiya Sarari as a model of reconciliation, where children of victims, perpetrators and the security forces could receive education together.

But the conflict disrupted education, leaving gaps in learning for children too old for traditional primary school classes. “I didn’t even know ‘ABC’ when I came here,” says Usman, who enrolled aged 12.

The selection process involved interviewing girls aged between 11 and 14 from displaced communities and in refugee camps. “We selected girls who were tenacious and could become something because this was going to be quite a long project.

“Quite a few of the girls had come out of captivity at the time, so some of them were really in a bad state [and] needed trauma support. That was also one of the criteria because we could give them long-term treatment,” says Akilu.

Funding for the ongoing pilot programme for 100 girls came from a grant by the US Catena Foundation. Initially, the students learned together, but as they progressed they were streamed by academic achievement. Thirty pupils have successfully passed national exams and are preparing for university this year.

It is a far cry from how they arrived, fearful and distrustful. They struggled to interact or form friendships with other children and often resorted to violence at the slightest provocation. “They only knew how to fight,” says Yakubu Gwadeda, the deputy headteacher.

“They didn’t know how to interact with each other peacefully, how to queue,” he says.

Those who had been involved with Boko Haram, like Hassana, used to try to intimidate their peers with the threat of violence.

“They went through intervention sessions, coping, resilience, expressive therapy,” says the school counsellor, Hauwa Abdullahi Zaifada. “Some could not talk about their experience but we got to hear their stories through drawings and music.

“Sometimes,” she adds, “they would come to the sessions and not say a word, and we would have to reschedule.”

One of Zaifada’s primary goals was to overcome Boko Haram’s indoctrination against education. She found an opportunity when several girls spoke of their desire for revenge against those who had killed their parents or exploited them.

“I told them that you don’t have to be a soldier or hold a gun for revenge,” Zaifada says. “Education can be their revenge.

“They realised that education is valuable and can help them. That’s how they started picking up in school and doing well.”

Falmata Mohammed Talba, 20, found the daily therapy at school so beneficial that she began replicating the sessions with her two brothers, who attend a government-run school.

She helped them cope with the trauma they collectively experienced after witnessing their father’s murder by Boko Haram and then being held captive with their mother.

“When I first started, I used to see her one-on-one almost every day for about six months. Sometimes, I would even run out of the class. Talking to the psychologist helped me a lot,” Talba says.

“I helped my brothers the way Lafiya Sarari helped me. I tell my brothers, ‘This is what they told me. Why don’t you too start practising it?’ That’s how they changed.”

Talba says she and her brothers can now openly discuss their father without succumbing to tears or anger. “We now say, ‘Remember this when we were with Dad’, and we can laugh,” she says.

Hassana’s psychological progress has been notable, even though her academic advancement has been slower than that of some of her peers. She still relies on an interpreter to express herself in English.

“My relatives were so worried about my behaviour that whenever I started acting out, they would start shouting out passages of the Qur’an to calm me down,” she says. “But all that has stopped. The nightmares have also stopped.”

Seven years after the launch of Lafiya Sarari, Zaifada still has daily sessions with her students.

“Now I don’t have to look for them. They come to me if they have any issues,” she says. “Most of the issues now are environmental – peer-group influences, family issues.”

As for Usman, the crying has stopped. She smiles broadly as she shares her aspirations of winning a scholarship to study law at Cambridge University.

“I hear it is a good school,” she says.

By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, The Guardian 

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