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Don’t Boycott 2019 Elections, House Committee Warns South-East Residents |RN

The House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Matters has advised residents of the South-East to shun agitations by pro-Biafra activists for the boycott of 2019 general election.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Dr. Chukwuemeka Ujam led a four-man team of the committee on an oversight visit to the Independent National Electoral Commission in Enugu State on Thursday.

Ujam, who represents Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency, spoke in reaction to calls by some pro-Biafra groups for residents to boycott the election.

He urged the people residing in the South-East to participate actively in the election as a measure of enthroning good governance through which they can demand for redress on their perceived marginalisation.

He said the activities of the pro-Biafra groups were major setbacks in the various political efforts to let South-East residents vote massively in previous elections, so that their votes could count.

Ujam called on the people to “exhibit total sense of maturity by ignoring such calls’’.
The lawmaker urged the people to relay the message of mass participation in their respective constituencies.

He said such problems which hinged on voters’ apathy would be tackled head on this time around across the zone through sensitisation and enlightenment campaigns.

Ujam, said that the visit was to ascertain INEC level of preparedness ahead of the 2019 elections, assuring that the committee would tackle all issues raised by principal staff of the commission in the state.

Earlier, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, Dr Emeka Ononamadu, appraised the result of the just-concluded Continuous Voter Registration in the state as very encouraging.

Ononamadu noted that INEC registered over 549,326 new voters during the exercise, but harped on the cancerous problem of `voters’ apathy’ in the South-East based on Biafra sentiments as a source of worry.

He also narrated the internal problems of lack of water and inconsistent power supply as some of the major problems confronting INEC offices in the state.      (NAN)

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How We Stopped Niger-Delta Militancy, IPOB Plot – Osinbajo |RN

Yemi-Osinbajo4

 

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

  • Nigeria’s foundation deficient, threatened – Monarchs
  • Say non-adoption of confab reports disheartening

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has singled out traditional rulers as the brains behind the successful stoppage of Niger Delta militancy and the truncation of the secession plot by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East, leading to relative peace in the two regions.

This is even as Traditional Rulers in the country have expressed described Nigeria’s foundation as deficient and threatened.

Speaking on Wednesday at the opening of the 10th National Development Summit of Nigerian Traditional Rulers in Abuja, Osinbajo noted that the monarchs have played crucial roles at the point that the country was threatened by Niger Delta militancy and the secessionist group, IPOB in the South East.

The Vice President challenged monarchs in Nigeria to take greater responsibility in resolving conflicts in the country, saying dialogue and engagements are just as important as law enforcement in tackling disputes.

According to him, “traditional rulers were better placed to champion this vision of continuing dialogue and engagement because of the respect you command from the widest possible range of stakeholders and parties.

“Dialogue and engagement are just as important as law enforcement, especially in situations triggered by misunderstandings and disagreements between people and communities who have existed peacefully side-by-side for centuries.”

Osinbajo added that although security agencies are critical elements in checking criminality and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice, overlooking the place of non-coercive conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms would do a great disservice to the people of Nigeria.

“You are also repositories of important intelligence that can be useful in detecting suspicious or criminal activity. The partnership between traditional authority and government is therefore crucial,” he said.

He said it was against this background that government co-opted the monarchs in its approach in dealing with Nigeria’s most pressing security issues in the Niger Delta and in the Middle Belt.

“I can say without fear of contradiction that the New Vision for the Niger Delta would not have happened without the support of traditional rulers and leaders in the region.

We have made it a priority to meet with them and carry them along, and ask for their wisdom and their support in resolving issues with stakeholders and communities. This was also our approach in the wake of secessionist agitation by IPOB in the South East.”

He added that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been engaging traditional rulers in the flashpoint regions, counting on the influence they wield to chart a new and collective course of understanding, instead of the default approach of resorting to violence as a way of dealing with grievances.

“As custodians of our rich history, we also believe that you have a duty to remind us of the things we have got right in the past, but from which, for some reason or another, we have departed from, to our detriment,” Osinbajo said.

He noted said the traditional cultures have long perfected timeless dispute-resolution and community-engagement mechanisms that are now under threat of being lost forever.

“As traditional rulers, your forebears and ancestors were the initiators and implementers of many of these mechanisms, and our cultural institutions have evolved ways of passing this knowledge down the generations – even if we have not been paying attention as we should.

“May I therefore most respectfully ask that you take this as a call to you, as royal fathers, as traditional rulers, as elder statesmen, to commit yourselves to deepen your partnership with government, to achieve our shared goal of laying the foundation of peace and security that will guarantee true greatness for Nigeria.”

In his welcome address, Chairman of Governing Council of the National Development Summit of Traditional Rulers, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom of Delta State, His Royal Majesty, Emmanuel Abe called for more roles for traditional rulers by the government.

He said it was disheartening that the constitutional review embarked upon by the National Assembly had remained inclusive for over a decade, while resolutions at the recent national conference, have not been considered for adoption in the interest of national survival and progress.

Abe said the country needs a good leader that will create jobs and build bridges, adding that as a result of the security challenges in the country, most traditional rulers were unable to attend the summit that started with over 400 members when it was inaugurated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua ten years ago.

The Monarch said that the country has incredible potentials and uncommon ideals that could make it soar into greatness, adding that Nigeria was not meant to crawl or stagnate.

According to him, “Here is a country born with incredible potentials, established on goodness and trust, with uncommon ideals and dreams that could make her soar into high altitudes of greatness. Like the eagles, Nigeria was born with powerful wings, in the form of enormous natural endowments. Nigeria was never meant to crawl or stagnate.

“Whatever we may say or do, the fact remains that our foundation as a nation as designed by our founding fathers has been visibly deficient and threatening. Administrations come and go but none has been courageous enough to address conclusively the issue of structural flaws.

“We cannot do anything against the truth. The only way the eagle will fly is for it to realize that it is gifted with better wings than other birds and make a decision to use the wings effectively.

“We must resolve to build a new nation on a foundation of equity, justice, fairness, labour and high moral standards. This is what makes the United States of America and other advanced economies to tick.

“It is amazing how constitutional review has remained inclusive for over a decade at the National Assembly in spite of the exigency of the matter. It is equally disheartening that the resolutions of all recent national conferences were never considered for adoption in the interest of national survival and progress, the huge funds sunk in these projects notwithstanding.”  (The Sun)

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2019: Nigerians Must Be Ready for Revolution, Says Balarabe Musa |RN

By ONWUKA NZESHI

 Balarabe-Musa

Former Governor of Kaduna State during the Second Republic, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, is one politician who is down to earth any time he airs his views on the state of the nation. In this interview with ONWUKA NZESHI, he delves into various contemporary political issues. Excerpts…

 

What is your take on the recent apology rendered by the PDP to Nigerians?
It is a sensible political reaction to the allegations against them. What the PDP has done is sensible. It improves its image in the eyes of the public. It means they can admit mistakes and hopefully, they can correct the mistakes.

But the ruling party has dismissed the apology as a hoax that should not be taken seriously
No. The thing is this, APC should not say a thing like this because whatever mistakes PDP made, the APC is making the same mistakes, with even more serious consequences for the country.

Are you saying that Nigerians should forgive the PDP for its mistakes?
Yes, honestly, we should forgive them. They should give them another chance. But that doesn’t mean that I am supporting the PDP or supporting the APC. No. I am just being fair to them and everybody.

What is your reaction to the Third Force springing up outside the main political parties?
We have been having such political coalitions with various names, particularly after the Second Republic, but let us give them a chance too. Let us not dismiss them with a wave of the hand but let us be careful in dealing with them. They have not promised us what their predecessors did not promise us. For instance, we’ve had groups that proposed mega alliances and mega parties and those who promised to change Nigeria in various ways.
Apart from this Obasanjo group, there is still another group which has not appeared but maybe they are afraid of appearing. They are a group of secessionists from both the North and South. These groups include the Afenifere in the South West; the Middle Belt Forum in North Central and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in the far North.

These are socio-cultural organisations in different regions. Why are you calling them secessionist groups?
Of course, they are all secessionist groups. If you know the history of every one of them including the Ohaneze, you will agree with me that they are secessionist groups. I am telling you what they are in reality. In the case of ACF, they are not so vocal about it but you know they have been secessionists right from the beginning. They don’t openly call for secession from Nigeria but they want Nigeria on their terms and if they can’t get it, they must secede. The same thing with the Afenifere; the same thing with Ohaneze Ndigbo and the other groups. The philosophy of these groups is that their ethnic or regional agenda must come first and Nigeria comes second. If they can’t get Nigeria on their terms, they will rather break away.

This is strange. Do you really believe that these groups are not socio-cultural organisations?
They are more than socio-cultural organisations; they are basically secessionists. They wear the toga of the socio-cultural organisation but basically, they are secessionist groups because, for them, it is not Nigeria first. It is their area first, Nigeria second. That is the truth.
I know you are surprised at what I have said but that’s the truth. The political parties are the only groups working for Nigeria. No matter how much you dislike the PRO, APC and the other political parties, they don’t champion the cause of one particular area, they champion the cause of one united Nigeria. I call them secessionist groups because they want a Nigeria created only on their own terms.

What could be responsible for people placing sectional interests above national interest?
It is a major challenge. Every country has nearly the same problems as we have in Nigeria but other concentrates on their national interest first and whatever sectional interest they have is secondary because they know that they need to have a country first before they pursue their individual interests. For instance, if Nigeria breaks up, do you think there will be anything left in Nigeria?
If the secessionists, particularly the ACF, Ohaneze and Afenifere, the three biggest groups; if each of them gets what they want then what will be left of Nigeria? If the ACF does not get Nigeria on its terms, they could secede. But after that what are they going to do? Is there really anything new they can bring to the table? After all, they have been involved in the governance of Nigeria right from the beginning. I think you know the leaders of these groups, ask them what contributions have they made when they had the opportunity to preside over the affairs of Nigeria. The same thing you should ask the Afenifere. Most of them have been involved in Nigerian politics right from the beginning. What have they done specifically for the West?
I will give you an example. We have now a political party solely for the East and that is APGA. What have they done for the East particularly? It is a regional political party based on ethnic sentiments. The party has even won governorship election in Anambra State and has been ruling the state since the party was formed. Can they point at anything significant that the party has done in furtherance of the interest of the South East more than the other political parties? I mean other parties such as NPN, PDP, APC and so on. Can they name any distinguishing achievement of any of these ethnic and secessionist groups? No. Nothing.

How do we get over this sectionalism and enthrone nationalism in Nigeria?
First of all, let us have a true Nigeria. The root cause of all these is the social, economic and system controlling all developments in the country and the political leadership produced by the system.
Both our economic and social systems are based on self-interest first and public interest is secondary or even non-existent. Let us change the system and the political leadership produced by the system. We need to have a system based on public interest first and enlightened self-interest, second.
In addition, let us by any means possible work towards free, fair and transparent elections capable of establishing a legitimate government in Nigeria.
Thirdly, let us begin the whole process by re-defining the leading role of the government in the economy to ensure peace, justice, equality, the dignity of the human person and progressive even development of the whole country. These are possible things to achieve and if we do these things, then we will be able to eliminate these divisive tendencies.
All countries that are advanced in terms of national unity, peace and progress have done what I suggested that we should do. If we adopt this approach we would have eliminated a lot of problems confronting us as a country.
Even the advanced countries have not solved all their problems but that has not resulted in the collapse of those countries or made it impossible to develop. Take for example Britain, Germany, United States and the rest of them, have some of these sectional tendencies but it has not made it impossible to govern with national unity, democracy and progress.

What is your reading of the political dynamics that will shape 2019?
Unless we work hard; unless those of us who are conscious enough, who have the vision, who are committed and who want to see a united, democratic and progressive Nigeria, make every sacrifice to bring these dreams about, the present negative state of the nation will continue until it leads to… well, we hope a constitutional revolution. If the constitutional revolution becomes impossible, we may have a proletarian revolution. These are the realities of life.

How do we achieve this constitutional revolution?
We should aim at solving our problems to avoid a distraction or disruption of social order. We should face our problems with a constitutional revolutionary approach. Constitutional revolution is possible, by which I mean, let the National Assembly, states houses of assembly and even the legislative arms of the local government councils be really what they ought to be. Let them work for the people and not for themselves. Let them be revolutionary in their work and by so doing they can bring about changes in the constitution which will enable us to solve our problem constitutionally or legally and without disruption of social order.
But if this becomes impossible, then the inevitable will happen which is a proletarian revolution. Check the history of all the advanced countries particularly the western countries we know are better: Britain, France, United States, Germany etc. They are today what they are because they got themselves involved in a constitutional revolution. Remember what happened in these countries before they got to where they are today. The American Civil War, during which they fought over two issues -slave trade and British colonial policy. Britain itself had to deal with a monarchy to enable parliament to function. The same thing happened in France and Germany. These were revolutions but constitutional ones.

If we are to embark on a constitutional revolution in Nigeria, what issues should we be tackling?
The issues are so many. The issue of restructuring will be part of it. Whether there is a revolution or not, restructuring is a normal thing. The only mistake in Nigeria is the misuse of the idea of restructuring which unnecessarily frightens some people. Every person who wants to know whether he is going accordingly or not; everybody who wants to find out whether what he is doing is right or wrong will have to review it. Restructuring means reviewing a system. For instance, we have lasted 100 years since the creation of Nigeria. We have adopted various types of government, adopted so many policies but now we see a lot of problems like corruption and waste of economic resources, political anarchy and the rest of them. Why should we keep suffering in these problems for 100 years without going back to find out what went wrong? How can we change things for the better? That is simply the goal of restructuring. It is only the political manoeuvres who want to manipulate things for selfish purposes that have made the idea of restructuring bad and frightening. But in truth, it means a holistic review of the state of the nation. What is wrong with that?   (New Telegraph)

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Spain Takeover Will Escalate Crisis, Catalan Leader Warns |The Republican News

Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont warned, on Thursday, that the crisis over his drive for independence would escalate if Spain follows through on its vow to suspend the region’s autonomy.

The government “will create an even more serious, extraordinary situation by seizing Catalonia’s political autonomy,” he wrote in a letter to the Spanish senate.

The senate is poised to approve measures on Friday to take away Catalonia’s powers.

Puigdemont said that would be an “affront” to Spain’s constitution.

In the senate, the central government is preparing to invoke the never-before-used Article 155 of the constitution which allows it to intervene in Catalonia.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government plans to use this article to strip Puigdemont and the rest of his executive of their political powers. It also plans to take control of Catalonia’s regional police force, public broadcaster and parliament.

Those measures are intended to last for up to six months, until regional elections are called and a new Catalan parliament is sworn in.

Spain’s senate, where Rajoy’s Popular Party has a majority, will convene Friday to formally approve measures under Article 155.

Puigdemont said the measures would violate “the principle of political autonomy” of Spain’s regions. He added that the constitution does not give the central government blanket powers.

The Spanish constitution states Spain is “indivisible”. But Puigdemont’s separatist government declared itself “above” the constitution when it held an independence referendum on October 1.

That vote istelf was ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

The Catalan parliament is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to formulate a response to Madrid. (France24)

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I’ll Address Genuine Grievances, Restructuring Hijacked By Secessionists – Buhari

 

 

BuharisickinAsoRock

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

  • Says call for restructuring proper but hijacked by secessionists

From Juliana Taiwo – Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigerians that the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign-rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric.

  This is even as he described the era when oil prices were an average of $100 per barrel and oil production stood at about 2.1 million barrels a day, as a great piece of luck that was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.

According to him, “we were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit.”

  The President, however, said his administration intends to accelerate progress and intensify its resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems.

  In his Independence Day broadcast to mark the nation’s 57th anniversary, he said despite the trials and tribulations the country has gone through, October 1 remains a special date for all Nigerians as it marks the day when “we attained one of the most precious of human desires — freedom.”

The President stressed that the country must “first be secured. The economy must be re-balanced so that we do not depend on oil alone. We must fight corruption, which is Nigeria’s Number One Enemy. Our administration is tackling these tasks in earnest.”

  He said it was gratifying that in the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom.

  “A political party at the centre losing elections of State Governor, National Assembly seat and even State Assemblies to the opposition parties is new to Nigeria. Added to these are complete freedom to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development. But like all freedoms, this is open to abuse.”

  Buhari said the call for restructuring was proper but regretted that it’s been hijacked by secessionists.   He said: “Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.  “As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict, which we went through.

  “I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there the consequences of such folly.

  “At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for national debate, not some lopsided, undemocratic body with a pre-determined set of objectives.”   The President, while commending the Niger Delta leaders for restoring peace in the region, promised to address genuine grievances in the region soon. “Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities. Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta.”

  Buhari commended the military leadership in the country for working very hard to crush the activities of Boko Haram, and also the country’s neighbours for their support in the fight against terrorism.

“On security, Nigerians must be grateful to our gallant Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets.   “Nigeria is grateful to its neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat this worldwide menace of terrorism.

“Not even the most organised and most equipped police and security forces in the world can escape the menace of modern-day terrorism, as we have seen in recent years in Europe and other parts of the world. But we are not letting up,” he affirmed.    The President further reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring the release of the remaining Chibok girls as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity.

With respect to the economy, Buhari said the government has remained proactive in its diversification policy, noting that Federal Government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which was launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success.

He disclosed that a new presidential initiative would start with each state of the Federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths with the aid of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s development finance initiatives.

  The President admitted that power has remained a huge problem for the country but expressed optimism that his administration would attain 10,000 megawatts by 2020.

  “Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all-time high of 7,001 megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial logjam bedeviling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 megawatts by 2020.   “Elsewhere in the economy, the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.

“The country has recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation, naira rate is beginning to stabilise, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.”

  On the fight against corruption, the President admitted that it has not been an easy task but assured that his administration would see the war to its logical conclusion.   “We are fully aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task. We expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion. But we are determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic.   “In this fight, the government has empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases, and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.  “The administration’s new institutional reforms include enforcing Treasury Single Account, Whistle-Blowers Policy, Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System.

  “We have signed multi-lateral cooperation agreements on criminal matters with friendly countries. There are signs of increasing cooperation from the Judiciary. Recently, the Chief Justice of the Federation directed Heads of all our Courts of the first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officers found to have been compromised.

  “I commend the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees. They should, in addition, ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws. But fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation. I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn. By not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption. The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – Federal, State and Local Governments. CHANGE will then be real,” the President said.    (The Sun)

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Despite Agitation, Nigeria Won’t Break Up, Says Gowon |The Republican News

yakubugowon1

Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd)

Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan

A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on Monday, said despite the agitations in the country and other developments threatening the unity of Nigeria, the nation’s youths would keep the nation together.

Gowon spoke at the 50th-anniversary programme of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, a forum moderated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

A N152.5m project, executed to encourage youth involvement in agriculture, was also declared open as part of the anniversary.

At the event were the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who represented acting President Yemi Osinbajo; the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Moses Alake, who represented Governor Abiola Ajimobi; and the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji.

Others at the ceremony were the President, African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina; Chief Joe Makoju, who is the Special Adviser to President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; and other dignitaries from across Africa.

Asked if he was scared about the unity of Nigeria, Gowon said, “I am not scared for the unity of the nation. I have confidence in Nigeria and the youths of this country that they will make sure that they take over and do better than we left for them.

“I have no fear that all these rantings and so on, no; I have confidence that the youths of this nation will keep Nigeria going and make it greater. Diversity is our source of unity and strength.”

According to Gowon, Nigeria is at a great disadvantage in agriculture and food production because the average age of its farmers is 60 years.

He stated that there must be concerted efforts to trigger the interest of the nation’s youths in agriculture.

Gowon said, “The average age of farmers in Nigeria is 60 years; soon, they will pass on and that includes me. We have to encourage the younger ones to be interested in agriculture so that they can take over from the older generation that has been feeding the nation. This is what happens in Europe, America and China today and we must encourage it in Nigeria.

“During our time, agriculture was the main thing and plans were made for agro-allied development. We started to clear big areas for agriculture and inviting the federal and state governments, private sectors and even individuals to get involved in agriculture.”

In his speech, Obasanjo urged African countries to increase their interest in all aspects of agriculture and research while effort must be made to engage more women in agriculture.

The former President agreed with Gowon that Nigerian farmers were ageing, saying it was important to make agriculture attractive to the nation’s youths.

He stated, “Looking back, lITA has been a major blessing to the continent of Africa. In the past 50 years, the institute’s research has helped to avert major disasters that plagued African staples, including cassava and maize.”

Obasanjo added that Nigeria must commit itself to growing and eating its own indigenous foods, while also calling on the Federal Government to develop policies that would enable agriculture to grow and thrive.

Osinbajo, who was represented by Ogbeh, said Nigeria was heading for 450 million in population, arguing that feeding such a large population would be tough but possible.

“At over three per cent growth per annum, we are reportedly heading for 450 million persons by the year 2050; but feeding 450 million is tough though not impossible.

“If China and India did it, we too can. So, as we move on, we must reflect on the challenge of the quantity of output and quality of consumption. And to achieve this, we urge you (IITA) to engage in more research,” Osinbajo said.

The AfDB President, Adesina, commended IITA for contributing to agriculture in Africa.

“At the African Development Bank, we have decided to work with amazing institutions to help drive Africa’s agricultural sector transformation. The bank will be investing $24bn in agriculture over the next 10 years to help turn agriculture into a business all across Africa.

“Our goal is to ensure that Africa feeds itself within 10 years and unblocks the full potential of its agriculture,” he said. (Punchng.com)

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Middle Belt Will Not Follow The North If Nigeria Breaks Up, Says Prof. Jerry Gana

JERRY-GANA1

National President of Middle Belt Forum, Prof. Jerry Gana

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

A former Minister of Information and current National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Prof. Jerry Gana, has told northerners preaching division that if Nigeria breaks, the minorities in the Middle Belt will not follow them.

Gana said this while delivering a sermon at the St. Matthew’s Church, Maitama, Diocese of Abuja (Anglican Communion), in Abuja on Sunday.

The Middle Belt is believed to have the largest number of ethnic groups in Nigeria.

The former minister, who was the guest preacher, therefore, lambasted the Coalition of Arewa Youth Groups for issuing a quit notice to Igbo living in the North.

Gana said, “They think when it comes to break-up, we will go along with the North. We have already told them that if they allow this country to break up, we are not going to the North. We are staying where we are. So, just take notice. If it comes to that, we will tell you that you are Arewa and we are ‘Middle-Belters.’

“We love Nigeria and it was changed to a federal system because of the minorities so that we can have a place. So, we love Nigeria but in the unlikely event that people want to go their way, the Arewa in the Sahel will go. But we will remain here in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The former minister also slammed a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University and the spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, for supporting the quit notice issued by the northern youths.

Gana said nobody had the right to dictate to a citizen of Nigeria where he could live.

He added, “One of them, who also spoke is a former vice-chancellor. I thank God he didn’t sign my certificate. My own was signed by Prof. Ishaya Audu. How can a man of that stature, of that status, of that level of leadership, say he supports the youths in Kaduna to give to other legitimate citizens, an order to go? Who are you? Who says that?

“In this country, there are no second-class citizens. We are all first class. We are all sons and daughters of this land and that was why I decided to call a conference of all the minorities from 14 states and we had to state in clear words that the quit notice was totally unconstitutional. This is our home.”

Gana said the way forward was for the Federal Government to embrace restructuring as the solution to the nation’s challenges or the nation would die.

Gana, who said even former presidents were beginning to support restructuring, advised the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to entertain dialogue and debate.

The ex-minister said, “In a democracy, dialogue is the language, consultation is the way. Two cannot work together unless they agree. So, there needs to be dialogue and mutual respect.

“Anywhere you have the diversity of ethnicity or religion in the world, the type of system that works is federalism. And that is the way. And each one must build his federal system the way it suits him. It cannot be imposed; it cannot be engineered in favour of one person.”

Meanwhile, a former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has urged Nigerians to shun all forms of violence, criminal acts and behaviour capable of dividing the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Gowon made the call on Sunday in Sokoto at a one-day National Prayer Rally organised by Nigeria Prays.

“We should value the lives of our fellow human beings that God has created for a purpose. May we never take lives with impunity.

“We are offering fervent prayers that Nigerians will never raise their hands against one another.

“They should love one another irrespective of religious, ideological, political and ethnic affinities,” he added.

Gowon, the National Convener, Nigeria Prays, appealed to Nigerians to collectively pray for the speedy recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also urged Nigerians to pray for the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and leaders at all levels.

He solicited for sustained prayers for peace, unity and socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria.

Gowon said, “Prayer can solve problems better and faster than soldiers, as well as physical weapons of war.

“I have no doubt in my heart that God will honour our collective prayer and intercession for our dear nation, as well as heal our nation of insecurity.

“May we experience an abundance of God’s mercy and showers of blessings over our lives and our nation as we raise our voices in heartfelt prayers today in Sokoto, ‘’ he said.

The North-West Zonal Coordinator of Nigeria Prays, Bishop Godwin Okafor, said the rally was organised to pray for sustained peace, unity and stability of Nigeria. (Punchng.com)

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Secession: Nigeria Is Better Together, Says U.S, APC Rejects Restructuring

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• APC, El-Rufai reject restructuring

By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Romanus Ugwu, Fred Ezeh,  Abuja 

The United States of America has cheery news for Nigeria: the country is better together, amid calls by some secessionist groups.

The bearer of the unity message was United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, who said Nigerians who preach unity will overcome those calling for secession.

Symington said this at an event to celebrate America’s 241st anniversary, in Abuja, yesterday.

The US envoy said his country and Nigeria share many similarities and, most notably, diversity.

Symington recounted how the first American President, George Washington, warned that those who seek to weaken a country would always seek to start by causing disunity.

He said, just like America, Nigeria will remain a united country because of its determined people and leaders.

“Every time we have been challenged, we overcame danger because we had visionary leaders committed to union and citizens committed to ensuring justice for all.

“Today, Nigeria is fortunate to have such leaders and citizens. Together, they are dedicated to keeping Nigeria united and just ensuring that every Nigerian is heard and taken into account and treated fairly.

“Together, those Nigerians will overpower any call to divide this nation. Thanks to them, thanks to you, the lamp of unity and justice burns brightly both in our nations tonight. And the sight of a united Nigeria’s light lifts Africa and with it, the world.”

The US envoy said Nigeria’s diversity is an inspiration to many countries. He said that, just like the US, Nigeria’s plurality is a source of strength.

“Wherever I meet a Nigerian, I ask ‘What do you like the most about your country?’ I like our diversity, our resilience, our energy, our warmth, our spirit, our food’ is the response.

“Just like the United States, Nigeria is a wonderfully diverse nation whose differences and diversity are sources of strength and reason for pride.”

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, have rejected calls for the restructuring of the country.

National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stated that the priority of the Federal Government is not restructuring, but “to fix the economy, restore hope to Nigerians and create jobs for the teaming youths”, while El-Rufai described those calling for restructuring as “opportunists and irresponsible.”

El-Rufai, who spoke on a television programme monitored in Lagos, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has done far more in practical terms than past administrations. He said many of those calling for restructuring see it as opportunism.

The governor said some of the practical steps taken towards restructuring is the inclusion of state governors in economic policy-making at the national level.

He said things that had been hidden from state governments are now much more open as they are now more involved in investigations of finances of the Excess Crude Account, among other things.

“We meet every month under the auspice of the National Economic Council (NEC), and working together with the Federal Government, we chart directions of economic policy, and that is part of shifting the federal-state balance. A lot of the talk about restructuring is political opportunism and irresponsibility, in my opinion.

“People who have presidential aspirations think there is a platform upon which they will exploit this. As I said, if you look at the APC manifesto, all the elements to divulge power to the state to change the balance in the Federation are there, and we are committed to that as a party.

“The national chairman of our party will restate that commitment and we are discussing it and, as I said President Muhammadu Buhari and (Prof. Yemi) Osinbajo’s government has taken very concrete steps, rather than rhetorics, to actually move in that direction, and we are going to move in that direction. But, we do not believe the basis, for it is rhetoric and opportunism; we do not believe that the 2014 National Conference report is a sensible basis to even begin.

“We all know the circumstances under which the so-called Confab was put together, we all know the composition, how lopsided it was, how important stakeholders were not taken into account, how even the composition and numbers do not reflect the demographics and the diversity of this country, and we took a position, as a party, not to participate, but to encourage our state governors to be there at the table.”

Speaking in Abuja, Oyegun noted that although the party avoided the word ‘restructuring’ in its manifestoes, it promised devolution of power and true federalism.

He, however, declared that the party won’t renege on its manifesto. “A lot of people talk about restructuring without any commonality. We have stated clearly what we want to do; devolution, true federalism.

We really avoided the word restructuring because it means so many things to so many people. But, our priority for now, for today is to fix the economy and restore hope, provide jobs to the teeming millions of our youths all over the country. So, it is a matter of priority.”

Asked if the APC-led federal government will allow ‘Biafrans’ to secede, Oyegun said: “I think that is the most unlikely thing, I don’t think it will go that far.”

Meanwhile, former Information minister and chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Jerry Gana, has joined the call to restructure Nigeria.

He insisted that the solution for increased agitation by different ethnic groups lies with the implementation of the 2014 confab report. 

Gana, who spoke at the public presentation of a book, “African Study Bible” in Abuja, yesterday, said government “cannot afford to turn deaf ears to the loud cry of Nigerians to the call for the restructuring of the Nigerian system.”  (The Sun)

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Return Our Oil Blocks, We’re Tired Of Living With The North, Niger Delta Militants Tell FG,

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Chukwudi Akasike

A coalition of Niger Delta militants on Friday called on the Federal Government to return all oil blocks being controlled by northerners to the people of the oil-producing region.

The coalition comprises Niger Delta Watchdogs, Niger Delta Volunteers, Niger Delta Peoples Fighters, Niger Delta Warriors, Bakassi Freedom Fighters, Niger Delta Movement for Justice, Niger Delta Fighters Network and Niger Delta Freedom Mandate.

Leaders of the eight groups said in a statement that the Niger Delta region shall declare its independence on October 1, 2017, and free itself from enslavement by the North.

The militant leaders include John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs); Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers): Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors) and Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters).

Others are Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters); Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice); Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network) and Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate).

In a statement released after their meeting in Port Harcourt, the militant leaders warned all companies operating on such oil blocks to vacate within three months.

The agitators explained that their action was based on the ultimatum given by some northern youth groups to the Igbo to vacate the North within three months.

The statement read, “A coalition of the Niger Delta militants met today in Port Harcourt to review the recent call by Arewa youth groups that the Ndigbo should vacate all the northern states within three months.

“We see the declaration by Arewa youths as a consultative declaration, which the northern elders, leaders, the political elite, security heads from the North and governors were fully aware of.

“We demand 100 per cent control of our resources. We demand that the Federal Government should hand over all oil blocks owned by the northerners to Niger Delta indigenes. All the companies operating in such oil blocks/wells should vacate within three months.

“The Federal Government should immediately relocate the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and all the offices that have to do with oil/gas sector back to Niger Delta states and immediately replace the Group Managing Director (of NNPC) with an indigene of Niger Delta.

“All northern indigenes working in NNPC and any other board that has anything to do with oil/gas should be sacked with immediate effect.

“We demand an independent and the sovereign Republic of Niger Delta. We are tired of living with the North under Nigeria. We are tired of the President’s sentiments to the Niger Delta people.

“The President can have time to receive the Chibok girls, but could not have time to meet with the Representatives of the Niger Delta agitators. Our money has been used to fund Boko Haram, a problem created by the northerners in order to use it as a conduit to syphon off the resources of Niger Delta.

“On October 1, 2017, we shall declare our independence, come rain, come shine. We shall take our destiny in our hands and free ourselves from the slavery of the North as they are tired of one Nigeria.”

They maintained that all the companies and businesses owned by the northerners in Niger Delta should be vacated within three months, saying, “From October 1, 2017, we don’t want to see any northerner close to (the) Niger Delta; any attempt to penetrate shall meet fierce resistance. This time, we are not going to play defence, but attack.”

They also called on all agitating groups to resume attacks and bombings of all oil and gas pipelines, especially the exporting lines across the Niger Delta region with immediate effect, saying the measure was aimed at ensuring zero oil and gas production before October 1, 2017.

They further said, “We also demand that the Federal Government should immediately replace the Inspector General of Police with an indigene of the South-West, the Director-General of the Department of State Services with an indigene of South-East, and the National Security Adviser with an indigene of South-South.

“The Speaker, House of Representatives should voluntarily resign and hand over to an indigene of the South-South.”   (Punchng.com)

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The Igbo Are Not Happy, Nigeria Must Take A Decision On The Igbo

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                                                Azuka Onwuka

Azuka Onwuka; azonwuka@yahoo.com; 0809-8727-263 (sms only)

Before August 9, 1965, the Singaporeans were seen as an irritation in Malaysia. Then Singapore was one of the 14 states of Malaysia. Singaporeans were viewed as arrogant, stubborn, and domineering. While the United Malays National Organisation wanted affirmative action or “quota system” for the Malays, the People’s Action Party of the Singaporeans insisted that the best thing for the country was a merit-based policy on all issues, so as to bring out the best in the nation and create a spirit of excellence.

This constant disagreement and tension resulted in race riots. It got to a point where the Malays could take it no more. So on August 9, 1965 they convened the parliament, with no Singaporean parliamentarian present. At that sitting, the legislators voted unanimously (126 – 0) to expel Singapore from Malaysia.

When the Singaporeans heard that they had been expelled from the nation, at first they were devastated. But they took their fate in their hands and started building a new nation. And, indeed, by applying merit and the pursuit of excellence, Singaporeans built a country that moved from the Third World to First World in record time, overtaking Malaysia in all ramifications.

Interestingly, despite this sad way of parting, Malaysia and Singapore have remained good neighbours. In spite of the success that the latter has recorded, it has not made Malaysia not to record its own success.

There are many similarities between the story of Singapore and Malaysia and the Igbo and Nigeria. The Igbo are not happy with the quota system policy used in the admission into federal schools and federal positions. They want competitiveness in every sector, which will lead to the best being selected, for the sake of excellence.

The Igbo are seen as arrogant, noisy, domineering, greedy, over-ambitious, to mention but a few. Many Nigerians see them as irritants. They get killed frequently, especially in the North, at the least misunderstanding. Sometimes the cause of the provocation is someone from Denmark, Cameroon or another part of Nigeria.

There are many Nigerians who will easily tell you: “We will never allow an Igbo person to rule Nigeria.” There are many who believe that the problem of Nigeria is from the Igbo and that once the Igbo are done away with, Nigeria’s problems will disappear.

Given this scenario, the Igbo want a true federal system that will make Nigeria look like what it was before 1966, with each state or region taking charge of most of its affairs and moving at its own pace. Sadly, anytime it mentions restructuring or true federalism, there are forces that resist it vehemently and insist that such will not be allowed.

Ironically, despite this view by many Nigerians about the Igbo, anytime any person or group from Igbo land asks that the Igbo be allowed to leave Nigeria to form their own country, the resistance from most Nigerians is fierce. This reaction creates a contradiction. If the Igbo are irritants and troublemakers, why not expel them from Nigeria the way Singaporeans were expelled from Malaysia? But if you see them as valuable and believe they must be part of the Nigerian state, why not treat them as equal partners in the union? What does Nigeria really want from the Igbo?

Last week news broke that the Department of State Services embarked on a recruitment exercise, with 165 people recruited from the North-West.  The report said that 51 people were recruited from Katsina State alone, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Director General of Department of State Security, Mr Lawal Daura, while the number of people recruited from the five states of the South-East was 44 and the number recruited from the six states of the South-South was 42.

Compare that with the academic performance of the different zones of Nigeria. The Unified Tertiary Matriculation Education of 2016 produced the following number of applicants from the six zones:

South-East (five states) = 335,883;

South-West (six states) = 320,691;

South-South (six states) = (299,632);

North-Central (six states plus the FCT) = 259,846;

North-West (seven states) = 163,240;

North-East (six states) = 96,220.

The six states that produced the highest number of candidates were:

  1. Imo – 104,383
  2. Delta – 78,854
  3. Anambra – 77,694
  4. Osun – 72,752
  5. Oyo – 72,298
  6. Enugu – 69,381.

The six states that produced the least number of candidates were:

  1. Adamawa – 15,615
  2. Jigawa – 12,664
  3. Yobe – 10,045
  4. Sokoto – 10,006
  5. Kebbi – 8,947
  6. Zamfara – 5,295

The states that were given a minimum of 130 cut-off mark out of 200 in the 2013 examination into the Unity Schools were:

Anambra – Male (139) Female (139)

Imo – Male (138) Female (138)

Enugu – Male (134) Female (134)

Lagos – Male (133) Female (133)

Delta – Male (131) Female (131)

Ogun – Male (131) Female (131)

Abia – Male (130) Female (130)

For the same examination, the states that were given cut-off marks of less than 50 were:

Borno – Male (45) Female (45)

Jigawa – Male (44) Female (44)

Bauchi – Male (35) Female (35)

Kebbi – Male (9) Female (20)

Sokoto – Male (9) Female (13)

Taraba – Male (3) Female (11)

Yobe – Male (2) Female (27)

Zamfara – Male (4) Female (2)

The six states that scored above 50 per cent in the 2015 West African Senior School Certificate of Education were: Abia (63.94%), Anambra (61.18%), Edo (61.05%), Rivers (55.69%), and Imo (52.49%). The states that scored below 13 percent in the same examination were Kebbi (12.08%), Katsina (10.81%), Gombe (7.41%), Jigawa (6.37%), Zamfara (6.23%), Yobe (4.37%).

These are verifiable results that have remained virtually the same for decades. And they give an idea of the number of candidates that are involved in education from each state and zone, as well as their academic performance.

The point of this essay is not that it is only the Igbo that excel in many sectors. Other ethnic groups, especially from the South, also excel. But the focus of this essay is the Igbo. From the attitude of other ethnic groups, it seems that they are comfortable with the status quo. If not, they should not be focusing on the Igbo as their problem.

The call for restructuring of the country has been promoted as the solution to Nigeria’s problem.  However, there are strong forces that are hell-bent on ensuring that the restructuring of the country will never succeed. They have been erroneously schooled that restructuring will impoverish them.

The danger in this hard line against restructuring is that if restructuring fails, the alternative may not be palatable. Nigeria has moved in a self-destructive path for long. Nigeria has been wallowing in retrogression for long because some stakeholders are afraid that pulling it out and setting it on the path of progress will cost them their feeding bottle. But nothing lasts forever.

Last week the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, met his seemingly impossible bail conditions within 48 hours. When the bail conditions were made public, the belief of many was that no serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would want to associate with him. But the South-East caucus of the Senate met and quickly chose one of them to stand bail for him. All other conditions were also swiftly met.

If those conditions were given in December 2015, no Nigerian Senator would have wanted to be associated with Kanu. Since his coming into office, Buhari has continued to display a type of croynism and prebendalism that has never been witnessed in Nigeria. And the worst beneficiaries of this are the Igbo. He has been making it clear by his words and actions that the North and the Igbo are not equal partners in the Nigerian project. He has been distributing Nigerian resources and appointments to his kinsmen and region as if they are his personal property. This brazen nepotism has made even the fiercest Igbo critics of Kanu’s call for secession to develop sympathies for Kanu.

Nigerians must decide what they want from the Igbo. It is either they want the Igbo in Nigeria as full citizens or they want them out as non-citizens. As the English say, Nigerians can’t have their cake and eat it!    (Punchng.com)

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