Copy of Nigeria oil about to hit 2.2m bpd output ◉ Niger Delta demands oil firms to relocate to region ◉ Unity schools’ principals to be punished for poor results ◉ Nigeria women’s football coach goes unpaid for months ◉ 446kg of illegal ivory stolen from Nigeria again ◉ Hell visits suicide bombers ◉ Nigerian leader holds inconclusive talks to halt oil attacks ◉ Presidency to Senate – we’ll be back with that loan request ◉ If insults will bring back Chibok girls, please go on insulting me – Oby Ezeks ◉ Major tomato paste firm shutting down, sacking 1500, and bitter with the FG ◉ No country in Africa has as wide anti-corruption infrastructure as Nigeria – Ugandan MP ◉ Nigerian Highway Threatens the World’s Rarest Gorilla ◉

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Here are the headlines

Nigeria oil about to hit 2.2m bpd output
Niger Delta demands oil firms to relocate to region
Unity schools’ principals to be punished for poor results
Nigeria women’s football coach goes unpaid for months
446kg of illegal ivory stolen from Nigeria again
Hell visits suicide bombers
Nigerian leader holds inconclusive talks to halt oil attacks
Presidency to Senate – we’ll be back with that loan request
If insults will bring back Chibok girls, please go on insulting me – Oby Ezeks
Major tomato paste firm shutting down, sacking 1500, and bitter with the FG
No country in Africa has as wide anti-corruption infrastructure as Nigeria – Ugandan MP
Nigerian Highway Threatens the World’s Rarest Gorilla

 

Nigeria oil output nearly back to normal: minister

Nigeria’s oil production is nearly back to normal following a sharp drop earlier this year due to rebels attacking pipelines, the oil minister said Tuesday.
“The reality is that as of today and this morning, we are at 2.1 million barrels production. That’s substantial,” Minister of State for Petroleum Emmanuel Kachikwu said in the nation’s capital of Abuja.
Nigeria normally produces around 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd), but output dropped to a low of 1.4 bpd this year due to rebels attacks.
Addressing the press after a meeting between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and representatives from the oil-producing Niger delta region, Kachikwu said “a lot of behind the scene engagements” were paying off.
“Part of the expectations by 2017 is to target zero shutdowns as a result of militancy,” Kachikwu said, describing the talks as “fairly good, fairly civilised dialogue”.
The meeting was attended by Edwin Clark, a veteran leader who spoke on behalf of some of the militant groups in the country’s restive southern swamplands, including the Niger Delta Avengers.
Clark made 16 demands to the Nigerian government, including revamping an amnesty programme for ex-militants, reducing the military presence in the region and cleaning up pollution.
The demands borrow heavily from the Avengers, who demand a greater share of oil revenue and also want the government to finish construction of a university.
Without peace in the Niger delta, which produces the bulk of Nigeria’s oil, Buhari will struggle get the funds needed to kick-start the Nigerian economy out of its worst slowdown in years.
But analysts point out that his government can only meet so many of the demands.
“I think it’s the beginning of the discussion,” Dolapo Oni, energy analyst at Ecobank, told AFP.
“We’ve seen the demands and we know not all of them can be granted, but as much that can be done I think Buhari will do,” Oni said.
Then there is the issue of rival militant groups threatening any agreement.
On Sunday, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate group claimed an attack on a gas pipeline, saying it will “never support” the talks and declaring “this is not ending soon.”

Reuters
Niger Delta leaders want army out and oil firms to relocate to region
Leaders from the Nigeria’s Niger Delta called on Tuesday on President Muhammadu Buhari to pull the army out from the oil hub, order oil firms to move headquarters there and spend more on development to end militancy in the region.
Buhari met leaders from the southern swampland for the first time since militants started a wave of attacks on oil pipelines in January to push for a greater share of oil revenues.
At the meeting in the presidential villa in Abuja, Niger Delta leaders, joined by representatives of militant groups, gave Buhari a list of 16 demands to pacify the impoverished region where many say they do not benefit from the oil wealth.
The list “includes the withdrawal of the military in oil producing communities in the region”, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, a Niger Delta leader leading the region’s delegation, said after the meeting, adding: “We don’t want the communities militarised.”
The president sent in army reinforcements in May to hunt down militants, a move that stoked anger as residents complained of rape, looting and arrests of youths unrelated to the militants, charges denied by the military.
Buhari said military chiefs were putting together their own assessment of the militancy, his office said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The president said he would “revisit the situation” in the Niger Delta once he had all of the reports from service chiefs, which would be added to the one provided by Niger Delta leaders.
The delegation leader said oil firms should move headquarters to the region so unemployed youths – who often work for militants – could get more jobs. Foreign firms active in Nigeria are often based in the commercial capital Lagos.
The Niger Delta leaders also asked for more funds for the development and an amnesty plan for former fighters which Buhari had planned to cut.

OIL OUTPUT

Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said on Tuesday that oil output had recovered to 2.1 million barrels a day, roughly back to levels before the attacks began in January.
The attacks, which put four key export streams under force majeure, had led production to plunge to just 1.37 million barrels per day in May, the lowest level since July 1988, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 2.2 million barrels in January 2016.
Nigeria has held months of talks to end the violence but no lasting ceasefire has been agreed in the oil hub, where many complain about poverty, even though the region provides much of Nigeria’s oil exports.
Nigeria agreed on a ceasefire with major militant groups in 2009 to end an earlier insurgency. But previously unknown groups have since taken up arms after authorities tried to arrest a former militant leader on corruption charges.
Under a 2009 amnesty, fighters who lay down their arms receive training and employment. However, of the $300 million annual funding set aside for this, much ends up in the pockets of “generals” or officials, analysts say – an endemic problem in a country famous for graft.
Any ceasefire would be difficult to enforce as the militants are splintered into small groups of angry, young unemployed men even their leaders struggle to control.
A major group, the Niger Delta Avengers, had initially declared a ceasefire in August but then claimed another attack last month.
The group has threatened to step up attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta if the president pursues a military campaign, its spokesman Mudoch Agbinibo told Reuters in written responses to questions.

Nigeria: State to Sanction Principals for Poor Students Performance

The Federal Ministry of Education has directed principals of the 104 unity colleges to intensify efforts toward standing out as flagships in the nation’s education sector.
Ben Goong, the Deputy Director (Media), disclosed the ministry’s directive in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Lagos.
Mr. Goong said that the ministry had set targets for the principals to shore up academic performance in their respective colleges.
He said that the directive became necessary in view of the huge investments government was making on the colleges and the education sector in general in recent times.
“Henceforth, targets are being set for the unity colleges across the country.
“The targets will be in terms of each college’s performances in major external examinations, such as WASSCE (WAEC), SSCE (NECO), UTME (JAMB), NABTEB and other related examinations,” Mr. Goong said.
According to him, beginning from the 2016/2017 academic session, principals of unity schools whose students post outstanding performances in external examinations will be rewarded.
“Those colleges whose students fail to live up to the desired expectation will equally be sanctioned,” Mr. Goong said.
He added that so far, the Federal Science and Technical College, FSTC, Yaba, had distinguished itself in various academic competitions within and outside the country.
The deputy director added that the FSTC had remained the flagship of unity colleges across the country.
According to Mr. Goong, the school has won several laurels in various competitions in recent times and posted spectacular performances in external examinations.

Nigeria suffers setback as Dutch-based defender pulls out of Algeria clash

ADO Den Haag defender Tyronne Ebuehi has rejected the chance to make his international debut for Nigeria following his decision to pull out of Super Eagles 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier clash against Algeria.
However, the 20-year-old left the door open for future appearances for the Super Eagles.
Ebuehi, who was named in the Super Eagles’ squad to face Algeria told his club website yesterday, October 31, that the time was not right.
He said: “I see it as a great honour that I am recognised in my homeland.
“But at this moment ADO Den Haag requires my full attention, especially now that I have settled in the team.
“Therefore, it seems to me that now does not seem the right time to travel to Nigeria for the match. I want to focus completely on the club, but I certainly do not rule out that I will honour a possible next call.”
Ebuehi, who has made seven appearances for ADO this season, was expected to feature in Nigeria’s right-back, a position Genk star Wilfred Ndidi struggled to settle in the Super Eagles last qualifier against Zambia.
Ebuehi was born in Holland to a Nigerian father.

Nigeria women’s football coach goes unpaid for months
Report by BBC Sport

Less than a month before the start of the African Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon, it has emerged that Nigeria coach Florence Omagbemi has not been paid by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
The former international, who played in four Fifa Women’s World Cups, has now gone eight months without pay.
The NFF claims the situation will be resolved before the Super Falcons fly out to Cameroon to defend their African title.
The continental championship takes place from 19 November to 3 December with Nigeria in Group B alongside Mali, Ghana and Kenya.
“It’s been a challenging year for the federation financially but we’re working hard to resolve this before the team depart for Cameroon,” NFF official Chris Green told BBC Sport on Monday.
He added: “Omagbemi has been very calm about it and it has to be sorted out as soon as possible.”
The NFF, which appoints and pays national coaches, has also not paid outstanding bonuses to players as well as camp allowances.
“I’m working round the clock to ensure the coaches and players are paid what they are owed,” said Green.
It is not the first time Nigerian coaches have been caught in the web of unpaid salaries.
The list of coaches who have gone without pay includes football greats Samson Siasia, Sunday Oliseh and the late Stephen Keshi.

Another 446 kilograms of illegal ivory shipped from Nigeria

Vietnamese authorities have seized 446 kilograms (981 pounds) of ivory illegally shipped from Nigeria after finding 3.5 tons at the same port last month, an official said Wednesday.
The ivory seized Tuesday had been hidden in timber in a container at Cat Lai port in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, Customs official Le Dinh Loi said.
Authorities seized 3.5 tons of ivory in three shipments smuggled from Africa at the same port last month.
State media say 1 ton of ivory costs $1.8m on the black market.
Vietnam will host an international conference on illegal wildlife trade in Hanoi later this month that is expected to be attended by Britain’s Prince William, a vocal critic of the trade.
Elephant ivory is used as jewelry and home decorations in Vietnam, which bans hunting of its own dwindling population of elephants.

NEFF Extends Membership to NDIC, ACFE,
The Guardian Newspaper Reports

The fight against electronic fraud has widened as the Nigeria electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) welcome into its fold the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).
NDIC provides cover for banking industry depositors’ fund, while ACFE is the world’s largest anti-fraud organisation and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education.
The NeFF Chairman and Director, Banking and Payments System, Central Bank of Nigeria, ‘Dipo Fatokun, said the coming of the two institutions was part of strategies to accommodate new and systemically important stakeholders in the fight against electronic fraud in the industry.
Fatokun, who disclosed these at the third general meeting of the group with the theme: “Exploring New Protective Measures Against Social Engineering Vulnerabilities”, said that social engineering has become rife in cybercrime attacks in Nigeria.
“Almost on a daily basis, a plethora of messages are sent by these criminals with the express intent to con the unsuspecting recipient using techniques that appeal to vanity, greed or authority. It is therefore, important that we look critically at measures that will protect the industry as a whole from the menace of social engineering attacks,” he said.
But in a report presented at the meeting by Zenith Bank, social engineering is the use of tricks and psychological manipulations by a fraudster to collect sensitive security information from unsuspecting users.
The sensitive information include passwords; bank account details; unauthorised access to corporate systems; credit/debit card details and Persoanl Identification Number; identity theft, among others.
In Nigeria, some of the emerging information security threats in banking include social media; phishing emails; physical access to details; shoulder surfing; clicking on applications that appears to be useful and legitimate software; stealing of important documents, among others.

9 KILLED IN CAR BOMB BLAST AT CHECKPOINT IN NORTHERN NIGERIA
Report by ASSOCIATED PRESS

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — A car bomb targeting a military checkpoint on a road leading to Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri exploded Tuesday, killing all nine people in the vehicle, police and witnesses said.
Those killed were the driver and passengers in the explosives-laden minivan, said police deputy superintendent Victor Isuku, blaming Boko Haram Islamic extremists. Army spokesman Colonel Sani Kukesheka Usman put the number of dead at eight. He said the attackers wore “suicide vests” in addition to the car bomb.
Bus driver Garba Saje was driving behind the vehicle. “Suddenly, a loud bang sounded and all I could see was smoke,” he said. “My legs are still shaking because I am in shock over the increased bombing attacks.”
He said he is not going to drive for a while because “everyone is a target now.”
The van came off a rural road and blew up shortly after turning onto the tarred main road near Gubio town in a “massive blast,” said truck driver Habib Isa. Gubio is 95 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and headquarters of the military campaign to halt the insurgency.
Boko Haram recently has stepped up attacks after a months-long lull caused by a leadership struggle in the Islamic State-affiliated group.
Tuesday’s explosion follows four suicide bombings in three weeks in Maiduguri, which is home to nearly as many refugees from Boko Haram as residents. Two of those suicide bombers tried, but failed, to enter a camp housing more than 16,000 refugees.
The uprising has killed more than 20,000 people over seven years and forced some 2.6 million people from their homes.
Separately on Tuesday, Nigeria’s military reported “a wave of mass defection” by Boko Haram fighters with their families in neighboring Chad. A statement said 240 fighters surrendered recently to a multinational force that seeks to counter the extremists. It said they have been commended for abandoning “terrorism” and have been assured of good care as long as they remain in camps.

Nigerian leader holds inconclusive talks to halt oil attacks
From Associated Press

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari held inconclusive talks Tuesday aimed at halting attacks that have slashed the country’s oil production, raising fears of more militancy, civil society leaders said.
The militants responsible for most of the attacks, the Niger Delta Avengers, were not represented and dissociated themselves from Niger Delta representatives they called corrupt. International oil companies and state governors also attended.
Representatives of the southern oil-producing region wanted the government “to commit to some credible process of dialogue,” said Ledum Mitee, secretary of the Niger Delta Forum.
Instead, Buhari said he would consider what they said, align that with a report expected from security agencies and then make an “appropriate response,” Mitee said.
A statement from the president’s office said he would consider the reports and then “we will revisit the situation to ensure that we succeed this time.”
Buhari insisted that Niger Delta leaders had more to do than anyone else to bring peace, given the “influence they have on militant groups.” That ignored the Avengers’ condemnation of those leaders.
The two sides had agreed to a truce that neither has honored. Nigeria’s military continues punishing raids that Mitee said often target entire communities. The Avengers on Oct. 20 blew up a subsea pipeline, declaring they had crippled exports from U.S. Chevron’s Escravos terminal. Two other terminals that were attacked have not exported for months.
The president last month claimed the militants are “sponsored by economic looters” — referring to allegations they are backed by politicians in the mainly Christian south, home to former President Goodluck Jonathan, who voted against Buhari, a northern Muslim, in 2015 elections.
In Houston, the U.S. oil capital, Buhari declared last month that constituencies that gave him 97 percent of votes “cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5 percent.”
Attacks this year have cut up to a million barrels a day from the usual 2.2-million-barrel production, throwing Africa’s biggest economy into recession.
The Avengers are demanding that oil multinationals leave the region, noting decades of careless production has destroyed fishing grounds and agricultural fields and brought nothing but misery to residents.

Nigerian Senate rejects Buhari’s foreign loan plan

Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to take on almost $30b in external borrowing to fund a record budget spending as the country battles to overcome a recession.
The plan was turned down “due to lack of documents supporting the request”, said the Senate in a statement posted on Twitter.
Buhari had last week sent a letter to parliament urging lawmakers to approve his plan to raise $29.6b to fund sorely needed infrastructure projects over the next three years.
Nigeria has been trying to diversify its sources of funding to support an economy battered by the plunge of the global price of crude and ongoing rebel attacks on oil infrastructure.
The West African economic heavyweight depends on oil for 70% of its government revenue and the bulk of its foreign exchange.
Buhari’s government has been accused of being slow to react to the deepening economic crisis. His government is counting on overseas loans to fund next year’s budget.
Financial analysts said the Senate’s decision could still be negotiated.
“It’s not an outright rejection per se. It’s a process that has to continue”, Bismarck Rewane of the Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company, told AFP.
“The president has to go back, make some concessions to the lawmakers on the desirability of the loan,” Rewane said.
But Rewane warned that the loans should be spent on projects that would boost productivity, create jobs and tackle poverty.
“There is nothing bad in taking loans particularly in an inflationary period but such loans should not throw the country into another debt trap,” Rewane said.
Nigeria, a country of 180 million people, is struggling to emerge from a recession with renewed unrest in the oil-producing Niger delta strangling exports.
In September, the African Development Bank publicly confirmed a planned loan of $4.1b over the next two years, Bloomberg News reported.

Man-Made Hunger Stalks North East Nigeria

Let’s just get this over with: famine grabs your attention. Unfortunately for aid organizations, it’s difficult to convey the extreme hunger that just falls short of famine.
While, to the best of our knowledge, what is currently happening in north-eastern Nigeria does not quite meet a formal definition of famine, it is nothing short of a disaster. For the UN to declare a famine 20 percent of families in a state or province face extreme food shortages, over 30 percent of the population must be acutely malnourished and hunger causes two out of every 10,000 people to die every day.

Millions cut off from aid

When MSF¨ alerted the international community of a ‘catastrophic humanitarian emergency ‘ in June, they were encountering rates of malnutrition and mortality rates in young children that were consistent with famine conditions in newly accessible towns. And this is likely to be just the beginning. About 2.1 million people in Nigeria remain completely cut off from any external assistance because of the conflict.
We don’t know what their conditions are like, but the conditions in these newly accessible towns raise grave concerns.

Mass displacement

The ongoing war with Boko Haram that stretches across Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has displaced 2.6 million people, both within national borders and across them. It has also left 6.3 million without enough food.
Military forces of each of the affected countries have been mounting military operations against Boko Haram, pushing the insurgency back from the territory it had gained since 2009. It is the violence that is driving food insecurity in north-eastern Nigeria, and the consequent insecurity and displacement. The lack of food is the cumulative impact of three years of lost farming seasons, or of crops and livestock left behind, or looted. It is a consequence of towns and villages cut off by fighting, preventing people from leaving or food from coming in.
Insecurity prevents aid getting through
For the aid organizations in Borno State, the epicenter of the conflict, insecurity is the greatest single barrier to delivering emergency assistance, and there is precious little we can do about it. People still in inaccessible areas are hardly going to cultivate their way out of hunger: even if people could plant crops, the next harvest is more than 12 months away. So aid supplies and the populations we suspect are in the greatest need remain cut off from one another.
Sudden, mass hunger of the scale we’re seeing in North East Nigeria is only possible because of actual and threatened violence. To be sure, there are other long standing factors, but it is the violence that has caused a level of hunger in these areas that is not currently present in the rest of northern Nigeria.

If the insults will bring back Chibok girls, you can go on insulting me – Oby Ezeks.

Bring Back Our Girls: Unbowed, Unmoved and Unperturbed
By BELINDA OTAS, OpenDemocracy

The 2014 abduction of 276 Chibok girls shocked the world. But it gave birth to a movement that has heralded a new kind of advocacy in Nigeria.
Two and a half years after the brazen abduction of 276 Chibok girls by Boko Haram militants, the Bring Back Our Girls Movement (BBOG) continues to advocate for their release, asserting its non-negotiable, unequivocal demand: “To bring back our girls now and alive”. The recent return of 21 of the girls, in a deal reportedly brokered by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross, reminded the world about the horror of their abduction from their school dormitory in Borno State, north eastern Nigeria. While 57 girls managed to escape, 197 remain in captivity. In May 2016, Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the girls, was rescued by the local joint task force. Hope remains high, as President Muhammadu Buhari has promised the government will “redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfill our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home. Already, the credible first step has been taken and Government will sustain the effort until all the remaining girls return safely”.
The abduction of the girls thrust Nigeria into the glare of the global news media, highlighting the inability of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to protect its citizens. An international outcry, under the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, was driven by the BBOG Movement. Born out of a need to ensure the plight of the girls was not dismissed, BBOG filled the leadership vacuum that emerged after the slow response by the government, and became an authoritative voice with its marches, daily sit-ins and online activism. Kadaria Ahmed, a journalist and media entrepreneur, describes the movement’s efforts as “amazing, particularly because they are operating in an environment where civic and civil advocacy is fairly new. Nigerians are not used to the idea that regular people get behind a cause and support it – not for personal gains but with a view to promoting a shared cause”.
The co-conveners of BBOG are Obiageli Ezekwesili, Saudatu Mahdi, Maryam Uwais and Hadiza Bala Usman. Ezekwesili is the recognised face and voice at the forefront of the group’s work. She explained that the group has remained resolute in its stance because the goal has always been that until the girls return home to their parents, BBOG’s work is not over. “One of the chants of the Bring Back Our girls Movement is ‘when we shall stop?’ And the response is not until our girls are back and alive. When shall we stop? Not without our daughters. It came out of the pledge we made that until our Chibok girls are rescued, it’s an unfinished business. We must find them and enable them to have a second opportunity in life. We haven’t achieved that and consistent with our pledge, we are staying on and we are staying steadfast”.
BBOG has been relentless in its campaign to keep the conversation about the Chibok girls in the hearts and minds of Nigerians and the international community. At the height of the story’s visibility in the news media in May 2014, #BringBackOurGirls was one of the most popular hash tags on Twitter, with over 4 million mentions. However, those numbers dropped drastically to a mere 25,123 by April 2015. While this confirms that social media activism and hashtags are not responsible for the security of a nation, it also poses a question if national amnesia and news fatigue had set in about the plight of the girls?
BBOG’s work has experienced its fare share of challenges. I asked Ezekwesili about the girls’ abduction being called a ‘scam’ ahead of the last presidential election, as a way to destabilise the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. She said: “Initially, it would infuriate me. Then it began to make me feel absolute pity, that they lacked empathy. I felt they had lost an essential part of their humanity. Especially after the proof of live video by CNN, and when the mother of Amina Ali Nkeki identified her, almost fainting at the sight of her daughter. Then we got another video where Dorcas Yakubu was pleading to be rescued alongside her classmates”. Ezekwesili goes on to add: “These parents have been pining to see their children. It’s a waste of valuable time to focus on people who call it a scam”.
A more serious challenge to the movement came when it started being viewed as the opposition by the government. This is the narrative that played out leading up to Nigeria’s hotly contested 2014 general election. The more BBOG became vociferous with its demand for the girls to be rescued, the more antagonistic the relationship between state and the advocacy group became. This led to their sit-ins and protest marches being disrupted by the police. Ezekwesili tells me that the government of the then president, Goodluck Jonathon, “banned the BBOG from coming out at all to the Unity Fountain (where they had their daily sit-ins), as well as marching on the street. Then the FCT Police Commissioner, who later became an Assistant Inspector General of Police, made it formal that he was banning our movement from engaging in our protest. So, we went to the courts to assert our rights as citizens, and as enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The court ruled in our favour.”
In September this year, that scenario repeated itself when the administration of President Buhari tried to stop the group from marching in the capital city of Abuja. Ezekwesili points out that nothing changed: “it’s a government saying to us, why are you troublemakers, why can’t you just move on? We are not going to sit and be silent in the face of such indifference to the suffering of citizens. We came out on the basis of two pillars. The first is that of our shared humanity with our Chibok girls. The second is our social contract with the Nigerian state and people. For us, those two things are the guiding values of which everything that we do stands. We know our constitutional rights: we are not going to be brow beaten. No kind of tyranny can succeed in a democracy. It’s totally in violation of the constitution. And what we have said is that it’s perfectly right to disobey illegality”.
This of course is a very different picture to when the governing APC party was in opposition in 2014 and supported the group’s cause. In the early days of President Buhari’s administration, he granted the group an audience. Given the recent backlash, there have been accusations that as an opposition party, APC used the cause to highlight the issue of security, a major talking-point during the election. Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s official spokesperson, asserts that the objective of the government is the same as that of BBOG – to bring the girls back home. When pushed about the change in relationship in recent months, and if APC had capitalised on the group’s influence with the Nigerian populace to win hearts and votes, he said: “There’s a modus operandi for the opposition and a different one for a government in power. At the time the BBOG group was formed, the campaign was the only means available to members of the APC to influence the efforts to rescue the missing girls. However, APC is now in government. The APC government has the military and other means at its disposal. Focusing on utilising these means effectively for the girls’ rescue is the current modus operandi of the present government”.
Ahmed explains that the change in relationship is because “generally Nigerian governments are not used to receiving criticism except from organised political groups. We don’t have a history of advocacy on a large scale by regular people, so every criticism is seen as an attack on government. Now that the former opposition party is now in government, I suspect the expectation is that people would speak to them quietly about this matter. So again, I think there’s a big misunderstanding around what advocacy is and what it should be”.
The release of the 21 girls validates the work BBOG has been doing for over two years. However, it has not protected Ezekwesili, who as the spokesperson of the movement has become a prime target for online abuse and scorn. So why does she remain dedicated to BBOG and not walk away? “I’m not the kind of woman that walks away. I’m a woman of my word. When I came out for our Chibok girls, I was driven by a sense of outrage. One thing you must realise is that certain people will not understand your value construct. I live for character: I don’t live for all the other things (possessions and positions) that others consider important in life. So it will be hard for people to sometimes understand that I don’t have anything to defend”. There have been whispers that she colluded with the APC government while in opposition, so she would get a ministerial position in government. An allegation she describes as a “paltry and pathetic kind of way to view life”.
Ahmed on the other takes a different approach. It is her view that for BBOG, a collection of individuals who came together for a common good, having Ezekwesili, “a person who you know basically tends to generate strong feelings one way or the other, might not necessarily be a good thing for a movement that is seeking to do advocacy and maintain dialogue. In essence, I’m saying that with a movement like that, perhaps what you need is for the movement in itself to be the personality. I’m not sure it’s the sort of cause that does well being associated with any one individual too closely”.
Ezekwesili though remains adamant about BBOG’s objective. “The finishing line for us is that the necessary action be taken to give these girls a chance of rescue and an opportunity to regain destinies that are in suspension. When I look at some of the things that’s thrown in my direction, I think how does this even compare with the kind of suffering of these poor young women, children of poorer citizens of this country, to whom if we owe much more than we owe ourselves. How could I have the luxury of thinking about the insults somebody has thrown my way?”. For her the girls’ freedom is paramount and for that alone, everything else is secondary. “What is insult compared to the fact that we have failed these young women? Young women with promise: we don’t know if amongst those girls we may have the greatest of women in our nation. If the insults will bring back our Chibok girls, let them insult more. I just want the girls back. I’m hostage to principles.”

Buhari reacts to Senate’s decision to reject $30b loan

The Presidency has said it will not dispute the decision of the Senate to reject the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow $29.9 billion.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang, disclosed this while briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Senate on Tuesday rejected the request of Mr. Buhari to borrow $29.9b as part of its external borrowing plan for 2016 to 2018.
The leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, told journalists after plenary that the request was rejected due to the absence of certain documents that should have accompanied the letter.
Ita Enang, therefore, said that the Presidency would not be disputing with the senate but would rather engage with them on the issue that had been raised.
“We are not disputing with the distinguished Senate.
“There are certain information and details which will enable them to consider in detail, and appropriately the request of Mr President.
“So we are collating that information. The Budget Office of the Federation, the Debt Management Office, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Finance and the economic team are collating the information so that it can be submitted to the Senate to enable them take the appropriate decision.
“We would be engaging the Senate. We will not be disputing with them but we will be engaging with them.
“When we present a matter before the legislature it is for them to consider and as they have considered, more information is needed and that information they are entitled to it and we would provide,” he said.

Major tomato paste firm shutting down, sacking 1500, and bitter with the FG

Erisco Foods to Shut Down Factory after Numerous Calls for FG Support, To disengage 1,500 staffs immediately
After numerous complaints of lack of support by the government for his company and the manufacturing sector in general, the Chief Executive Officer, Erisco Foods Limited, Mr. Eric Odinaka Umeofia, has said he will relocate his factory from of the country to begin importation of tomato paste.
However, the federal government has repeatedly dismissed Umeofia’s claims, stating recently that between 2014 and 2016, Erisco has received 3 billion Naira subsidised credit at single digit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Erisco Foods which claims to have the largest tomato paste factory in Africa and the largest in Nigeria, said it is one of the recent manufacturers to shut down operations due to lack of federal government’s support.
The CEO said this yesterday at a press briefing in his office, stating that he would relocate his factory to China and import the same product which he was producing here in Nigeria.
He also said he would also  commence the sack of 1,500 staff in batches immediately and that this process would commence once he exhausts the raw materials in his factory.
Umeofia said: “You would recall that we had given government 30 days after much and pressure to shutdown long ago when our colleagues had closed down for over months.”
“We have written and have been explaining to all relevant government agencies. Our expectation was for government to do the needful by placing total ban on the importation of tomato paste as they did in cement, fruit juice etc. Erisco Foods Limited is one of the few patriotic companies in Nigeria whose sole desire is to help in the development of our only country Nigeria. We are the biggest tomato processing plant in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.”
He further added: “Our relocation to another country will further diminish the capacity of our economy to grow and consequently affect negatively all known economic development indices. Specifically, we are aware that if major tomato paste manufacturers like Erisco Foods Limited exits, we bet that fresh tomatoes will continue to waste in the farms while Nigeria will be spending over $1b to import the same products annually.
“The government refused to support indigenous manufacturers with a loan of less than $100m to solve the problem permanently, what a contradictory economic management; who is fooling who? The sad story about this is that most of the importers are Indians, Chinese and Lebanese.”
“This will be a big shame to Nigeria and particularly the government agencies like NAFDAC, CBN, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment that are robustly supporting the importation of a product that can easily be produced in our country but they will not care due to their selfish interest. We predict that it will take Nigeria not less than 25 years to recover from the impact of this misadventure.
Despite all the noise and preaching by some government agencies to deceive Nigerians, we are experienced enough to know where to put our investment and make profit. Nobody will be foolish enough to leave his own country to do business in another country if he is making minimum profit in his own country of birth.”
From ThisDay

Nigerian Highway Threatens the World’s Rarest Gorilla

Wildlife groups say a road project in Cross River state imperils a number of wildlife species, including the critically endangered Cross River gorilla.
Plans for a new superhighway in Nigeria’s Cross River state are facing criticism from groups that say the road system will put at risk the region’s wildlife, including the Cross River gorilla, considered the word’s rarest great ape.
The project – currently halted, although some land clearing has already occurred – also has the potential to displace some 180 indigenous communities, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which is leading an effort to put a halt to the new road system.
Upon completion, the highway will have six lanes and cover 162 miles, with 6-mile buffers on both sides. The route moves through protected areas that are home to threatened animals such as elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees, pangolins, parrots and crocodiles.
Also in the road’s path is habitat key to the Cross River gorilla, a critically endangered great ape geographically cut off by nearly 200 miles from other gorilla populations that survives in a region along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Only a couple of hundred are left.
“The proposed highway poses an enormous threat to the cultures and the wildlife of the entire region,” said WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs John Calvelli, in a statement. His organization is working with the forest stewardship group Ekuri Initiative to gather enough petition signatures to convince the state government to either create a new route for the highway or use funds to improve existing roads.
The drill, an endangered relative of baboons, could see its habitat impacted by a highway proposal in Nigeria.
According to the WCS, in the crosshairs of the highway are a host of protected areas: Cross River National Park, Ukpon River Forest Reserve, Cross River South Forest Reserve, Afi River Forest Reserve and the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary.
Preuss’s red colobus monkeys, African gray parrots, drills and Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzees are among the species threatened by the highway project.
Human lives could be disrupted as well. “The project as it stands will displace more than 180 local communities and greatly diminish the country’s natural heritage,” said WCS Nigeria Director Andrew Dunn, who urged the Cross River government to reconsider the project.

Christmas: NAFDAC warns Nigerians about consumption of spirits, gins, wine

As Christmas approaches, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) wants Nigerians to be wary of the spirits, gins and wines they consume to avoid adulteration.
NAFDAC’s Ports Head in Enugu State, Mr. John Okwori, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu that the agency recently found out that beverage fakers were focusing on these drinks.
NAN reports that the agency recently seized 11 large cartoons of fake Chelsea Dry Gin labels which could be used to package gins worth 64.76 million Naira.
NAFDAC also tracked down and confiscated a large number of fake labels of Amarula drinks.
Okwori, a deputy director in NAFDAC, said that the agency had commenced a nationwide massive mop-up of these products.
“Apart from the tracking of fake labels imported into the country, the agency is currently doing a mop-up of substandard, expired and fake spirits, gins and wines in the market.
“But we need the co-operation of every Nigerian on this issue.
“Our people should be wary of spirits, gins and wines they buy; they should securitise them to see that NAFDAC numbers, production dates, manufacturers and countries of origin are well spelt out.
“There should be a closer look at the labels to see that they are the normal and regular labels.
“They should also watch out for the colour of the drink through its container, whether it conforms to the original colour.
“If there is anything wrong in all these I have mentioned, do not buy the drink.
“Your safety and that of your loved ones, who you are giving or sharing the drink with, should come first,’’ he said.
The director urged Nigerians to promptly report to the nearest NAFDAC office, about any drink they might suspect to be fake.
“NAFDAC offices are open for public complaints, enquiries and advice every working day,’’ he said.
Okwori warned that consuming adulterated drinks could damage vital organs.
“It can lead to kidney, liver or heart complications as well as diseases, especially when such injurious drinks are consumed in large quantities due to the euphoria of the yuletide season,’’ he said.
From The Daily Post

No country in Africa has as wide anti-corruption infrastructure as Nigeria – Ugandan MP said in this piece published by observer (Uganda). It is titled Turning Uganda into man-eat-man zone
Written by Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda

Six of us – members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee flew to Abuja on Sunday to visit Nigerian anti-corruption agencies.
For five days, we will interact with members of the Senate and House of Representatives’ anti-corruption and financial crimes committee and that of ethics, petitions and privileges. We will also meet with the Public Complaints Commission, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Our committee is scrutinizing proposals to amend the Leadership Code Act in order to operationalize and strengthen anti-corruption agencies under it, including the Inspectorate of Government.
The Ugandan Inspectorate of Government (IG) has suffered defeats in court because of its partial establishment. Former Lubaga South MP John-Ken Lukyamuzi, who was removed from parliament for refusal to declare his wealth, won the case in court on grounds that he was not given a fair hearing.
Court agreed with Lukyamuzi that it was wrong for the inspector general of government to turn (himself/herself) into the prosecutor and judge at the same time.
One of the proposals before our committee is to establish a tribunal that will hear complaints referred to it by the inspectorate of government. I have proposed to the committee that wealth of leaders should be published in newspapers or at least in the gazette if we don’t have enough money. Colleagues on the committee have rejected this proposal and I might be forced to write a minority report.
There is no country in Africa that has as wide anti-corruption infrastructure as Nigeria: that, I think, is the reason our committee leadership selected it for this visit. Of course Nigeria is not doing well when it comes to ranking the most corrupt countries in the world. Even in Uganda, corruption is one of the things that have put us on the continental and world maps.
Before flying out, I left two fierce battles raging on back home. My village of Bukasa in Kirinya parish, Bweyogerere division, Kira municipality, is a front for one ugly war between police and citizens. The fight is over a piece of land strategically located between Akright estate and the Namanve industrial park.
A combination of people calling themselves veterans – I don’t know of which war – and all sorts of mercenaries have descended on this piece of land as if it has been thrown at them by angel Gabriel.
This is what remains of what used to be National Forestry Authority land in the area. Bukasa is separated from Butabika and Luzira by a thick papyrus swamp.
The land immediately after the papyrus swamp is what belongs to the forestry authority. It stretches about eight kilometres up to around Akright estate.
Part of this land is what government wants to use for a proposed port, standard gauge railway, Jinja Expressway and Southern bypass. But this same government covered its eyes when these grabbers took it over slowly, but surely. A small piece around Akright measuring about 40 football grounds is what remains unoccupied.
The grabbers constructed there a makeshift office, pasted it with Museveni posters and descended on the rest of the land. This land was full of trees planted by a commissioner in Uganda Prisons Service who obtained a license.
For the past two weeks, people armed with machetes, axes and all sorts of equipment have been involved in running battles over this land. Bullets and tear gas have roared in this village almost every day.
I am told policemen are also beneficiaries of this sort of land grabbing, the reason the war has raged on for a while. They consider the grabbers a friendly force because after parceling, they will also give them.
I have to emphasize that some of the tree- planters licensed over this same land that stretches to Mukono were also planning to steal it.
There is a motion before parliament for a resolution to degazette forest land around Lake Victoria. That is why I am at a loss. There are panga and axe-wielding people wanting to grab land but there are also white-color thieves processing the same land through parliament.
And that, for me, is the bigger problem for our country that makes even these Nigerian trips meaningless. Mr Museveni, because of his overwhelming appetite for power, has either inadvertently or deliberately established a thieving culture in our country that even laws won’t stop.
Those with access to formal institutions are processing resolutions in parliament to steal forest land and those with pangas are sharpening them to physically take it over.
I don’t know how many job applications I have received since I became an MP six years ago. People genuinely think that becoming an MP means having influence over government agencies to give them jobs. Also, as an MP, you must look for money to give people. That is why there is unmatched zeal to revise MP’s allowances.
Yet when I sat for senior four and six, I was sure revision was the only route to success. I didn’t need to know anyone in Uneb. There is no headmaster or parent that visited State House to plead for any candidate to get good grades.
Why then do we visit MPs and State House for jobs? That is what we must restore when Museveni finally goes. Senior four and six grades are fairly competed for and that is why they are not dominated by one tribe. We must also compete for jobs the same way football players compete for numbers in the Uganda Cranes.
The absence of this is what has bred panga-wielding people looking for any vacant land, and things can only get worse!
The author is Kira Municipality MP.

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