Nigeria - Ikpeazu Secures $430 million Deal for Enyimba Economic City
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 10:11
News
Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has secured the nod of the African Development Bank (AfDB), private investors and other multilateral financial institutions for investment of $430 million to fast track the development of the first phase of Enyimba Economic City (EEC).

The city is a proposed free-trade zone, with independent business registry, labor law, banking regulations and more, located on over 9,500 hectares of land in the oil producing communities of Abia State, between Aba and Port Harcourt.

The governor, who spoke in Lagos during an interaction with journalists at the weekend, said he presented the EEC to investors at the just concluded Africa Investment Forum (AIF) held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to him, many of the participants at the forum agreed that ECC is a project worthy of their commitment and demonstrated their willingness to invest in the city.

The project is privately-led, but stakeholders include the local community, the state government (Abia State), and the federal government.

Advisors and financiers of the EEC include the African Export-Import Bank, African Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation.

The governor observed that while other African countries had benefitted from the funding opportunity provided by the Africa Investment Forum, Nigeria has yet to benefit.

This, he said, explained why the country presented two projects at the 2019 AIF. The four projects include Enyimba Economic City and Lagos Cable Car projects.

AIF is a market place for project developers, investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public and private sector investors to encourage investment in Africa.

In order to attract funding for African projects, the African Development Bank launched the inaugural Africa Investment Forum in 2018.

The forum is an innovative, multi-stakeholder transactional marketplace conceived by the African Development Bank, aimed at raising capital, advancing projects to the bankable stage and accelerating financial closure of deals.

AIF inaugural edition was launched in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank.

At this year’s event, four governors attended, including Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ikpeazu, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdul-Razak (Kwara) and Prof. Ben Ayade (Cross River).

According to AfDB, 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion were tabled at the forum while 52 deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest.

Among the deals that secured investors’ interest was the Enyimba Economic City.

Ikpeazu said that EEC would boost Nigeria’s participation in the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

He thanked the federal government for supporting the project which he said would create about 600,000 jobs within 10 years.

The governor disclosed that Olam International, one of the world’s leading food and agri-business companies, has already disclosed its interest in establishing a textile factory in ECC.

Ikpeazu said: “The time has come for our people to move from trading to manufacturing. EEC is the vehicle through which we are going to achieve that.”

Last month, ECC won the first Charter Cities Business Plan Contest for 2019 with a cash prize of $25,000.

To clinch the coveted prize, the Enyimba Economic City beat several other participating cities from around the world including Blackstone Charter Cities of Australia and Novgorod New Hanse Town of Russia, who came 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In a statement released by the Charter Cities Institute, organizers of the contest, the Institute said: “We are pleased to announce the winners of our Charter Cities Business Plan Contest. After application reviews and interviews, 1st prize and $25,000 is awarded to Enyimba Economic City (Nigeria), 2nd prize, $10,000, to Blackstone Charter Cities (Australia), and 3rd prize to Novgorod New Hanse Town (Russia).

“We launched the Charter Cities Business Plan Contest to identify teams around the world with forward-looking, viable plans for a Charter City. The winners each exceeded our expectations regarding the location, target industries, and growth potential of their respective Charter Cities.

“The Charter Cities Institute looks forward to working with all three teams as they execute their plans.”

ECC is a 9,464-hectare Greenfield Charter City. It will connect the 9 states of South-East and South-South Nigeria, with a population of about 60 million, turning the area into a global business hub.

The city will leverage existing and improved infrastructure, including high-grade roads, rail, airports, inland ports, natural gas pipelines, a 540 MW powerplant, water treatment and waste management.

Enyimba Economic City will feature a state-of-the-art administrative structure to attract residents and businesses.

Enyimba’s core industry will be manufacturing, with ancillary drivers including logistics, medical, entertainment, education, commerce, lifestyle residency, and aviation.

The city with an annual output of over $5 billion will provide over 600,000 direct jobs, massively transform the economy of the south-eastern region of Nigeria and even beyond.

Several multilateral institutions have also dubbed the city one of the most transformational projects in Africa today.
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South Africa - Ramaphosa: Triple life term for Uyinene Mrwetyana's killer must act as deterrent for others
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 10:11
News

Dear Fellow South African,
 
The three life sentences handed down to the rapist and killer of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana by the Cape High Court are befitting of this heinous crime. The life sentences serve the cause of justice and must act as a deterrent to men who rape and kill the women of our country.
 
We remain firm in our resolve that a life sentence must mean life. Those who commit crimes against women and children must know that they will be caught and tried, and that our courts will act firmly against those found guilty.


The pain we felt as a nation at the brutal killing of Uyinene, of Jesse Hess, of Leighandre Jegels, of Janika Mallo and of the many other slain women and children remains fresh. We dare not rest.
 
The violence perpetrated by men against women remains a scourge and national crisis that we must act urgently to end.
 
The Emergency Action Plan to deal with the scourge of gender based violence that I announced at a special joint sitting of Parliament in October is being implemented. The women of our country demanded that financial and other resources should be made available to address this national crisis. I directed that government should respond the call that had been made by the women of our country. The government has responded. The responsible government departments have together reprioritised R1.6 billion for the plan to be resourced and implemented.
 
The plan focuses on improving access to justice for survivors of violence and prevention campaigns to change attitudes and behaviour. It involves measures to strengthen the criminal justice process and to prioritise the creation of economic opportunities for women who are vulnerable to abuse.
 
I have directed that I be given weekly reports on the implementation of the plan. There has been notable progress on a number of aspects of the plan.
 
We are on track to achieve our target of establishing 11 more sexual offences courts by the end of the current financial year. A new Sexual Offences Court has been opened in Sibasa in Limpopo and eleven regional courts across all provinces have been identified for upgrade.
 
To protect the rights and dignity of child survivors and mentally disabled survivors, CCTV systems have been upgraded at 38 regional courts. Two weeks ago I opened the High Court in Mpumalanga and I was pleased to see that the court has the appropriate facilities to protect the rights and dignity of child survivors and mentally disabled survivors. Such facilities allow testimony to be given without having to face assailants in an open courtroom.
 
We are in the process of establishing three new Thuthuleza Care Centres centres in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Provinces are identifying underutilised buildings that can be refurbished and used as shelters.
 
Clearing case backlogs is a priority. The National Prosecuting Authority is implementing a 100 day rapid results approach to speed up case turnaround times. Courts with significant backlogs in the North West, Eastern Cape and Limpopo have been identified for roll-out.
 
National and provincial 24-hour call centres to deal with complaints against police officials, prosecutors and magistrates on gender-based violence and femicide cases are now up and functioning. We are working to reduce the GBV case backlogs at forensic laboratories and are developing a tracking mechanism that will be rolled out in January 2020.
 
The SAPS has allocated 312 new recruits currently undergoing basic training to the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units. To date, 7,000 rape evidence collection kits have been distributed to police stations across the country. A project to reopen unresolved murder and sexual offences cases (so-called cold cases) will soon be operational. It has already begun in the Eastern Cape.
 
Government employees who work with children and mentally disabled persons are being vetted against the National Register of Sex Offenders. To date, 1,222 officials have been vetted, including prosecutors and members of the SAPS.
 
Legislative reform is underway to tighten conditions around bail and sentencing for perpetrators of gender-based violence, as well as provisions that extend the protection afforded to women and children.
 
We are rolling out an education, awareness and prevention campaign on various media platforms. This includes providing information on how to access the Thuthuzela Care Centres and the gender-based violence command centre.
 
The women of our country are tired of living in fear. It is their rightful expectation that they should be protected from violence, and that perpetrators of such acts should be imprisoned.
 
I have taken personal responsibility to ensure the emergency plan is implemented, and I will provide our citizens with regular reports on our progress.
 
Gender-based violence is not a problem of the rich or the poor. It is not a problem of the townships or the suburbs or the villages. It impacts us all, and we have had enough of its deeply harmful effects: broken families, ravaged communities and lives destroyed.
 
Our success depends on the involvement of each South African. It is a responsibility none of us should abdicate. We must all get involved. Let us not look away.
 
Let us work together, in the words of the Freedom Charter, ‘sparing neither strength nor courage’ to eradicate this evil from our country.
 
With best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa
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Nigeria - Man bathed with hot water during argument dies
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 10:11
News
A quinquagenarian, Gbenga Oposanwo, has died after 54-year-old Segun Mopoderun allegedly poured hot water on him during an argument in the Ogba-Aguda area of Agege, Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that after the attack, the 58-year-old Oposanwo was rushed to hospital for treatment where he later died and his corpse was deposited in the mortuary.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said in a statement on Sunday that homicide detectives from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department had arrested Mopoderun, adding that he would be charged.

Elkana stated, “On Saturday, November 16, 2019, around 6.30 p.m., one Segun Mopoderun, 54, of No. 3 Iyanu Oluwopo Street, off County Road, Ogba-Aguda, Agege, Lagos State, allegedly poured hot water on one Gbenga Oposanwo, 58, of the same address, during an altercation between them.

“The victim was rushed to hospital for treatment, where he later died. The corpse has been deposited in the Ikorodu General Hospital mortuary for autopsy. The suspect has been arrested by homicide detectives from the SCIID, Panti, Yaba. An investigation is ongoing; the suspect will be charged.”

In another development, a yet-to-be-identified painter was crushed to death by a driver, Meshach Baba, under the Masha overhead bridge in the Surulere area of the state.

It was learnt that Meshach was driving a Toyota Camry with number plate Lagos BDG 24 FL on top speed when he suddenly veered off into another lane, crashing into a motorcyclist and his passenger in the process.

Meshach also rammed two other vehicles coming from the Shitta area of Surulere.

According to Elkana, the yet-to-be-identified passenger, who might be a painter, died on the spot, but the motorcyclist survived the crash.

The PPRO, who confirmed the accident in a statement, said the driver had been arrested and would be charged, while the remains of the painter had been deposited in a mortuary.

Elkana stated, “On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, around 12.30pm, a case of a fatal motor accident involving three Toyota cars and a motorcycle at the Masha overhead bridge was reported at the Surulere Police Station. A driver of a black Toyota Camry with number plate Lagos BDG 24 FL, Meshach Baba, of No. 10 Odogbolu Street, off Ademola Aguda, Lagos State, was driving from the National Stadium on top speed towards the Masha area, when he swerved into another lane and hit a Bajaj motorcycle with a rider and his passenger, and also hit two vehicles that were equally coming from Shitta towards the National Stadium.

“The passenger on the motorcycle died on the spot. The name and address of the passenger are not known yet, but indication showed that he might be a painter, because his clothes were stained with different colours of paint.

“The corpse has been deposited in the Randle General Hospital mortuary in Surulere. The damaged vehicles were removed from the road for VIO inspection, while the driver, who caused the accident, has been arrested. An investigation is ongoing and the suspect will be charged.”

Meanwhile, two suspected traffic robbers, Sylvester Uzo and Azeez Ibrahim, have been arrested for allegedly stealing a phone belonging to one Femi Omojolowo on the Community Road in the Bariga area of the state.

Elkana said operatives from the Bariga Police Division, who acted on a tip-off, arrested the suspects, who had confessed to the crime.

He added that the suspects would be charged.

The PPRO said, “On Sunday, November 10, 2019, around 11.30pm, acting on a tip-off, operatives of the Bariga Police Station arrested one Sylvester Uzor, 23, of No. 128 Moradeyo Street, Agboju, Lagos State, and his accomplice, Azeez Ibrahim, 23, of No. 16 Jane Onifade Street, Iyana-Ipaja, with a black iPhone 7plus.

“They were arrested on the Community Road in Bariga. The suspects snatched the phone from one Femi Omojolowo, 28, of No. 42 Owokonikan Street, Surulere, Lagos State, around 8.30 p.m. The suspects have confessed to the crime and have been charged.”
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Nigeria - Buhari, redeem six years of failed power privatisation
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 10:11
Opinions
By Editorial

CONTRARY to all expectations, the power sector privatisation has turned out to be an unreserved fiasco. The optimism of economic and social revolution touted as an inevitable accompaniment of a steady and uninterrupted electricity supply has come to naught. Six years after the privatisation was pulled off by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigerians are now yearning for an urgent intervention to save the sector from an utter collapse, which could be only a matter of time.

Encumbered by a public power sector that reeked of corruption, ineptitude and facility decay, Nigeria had readily embraced an option of reform, which could only be effectively implemented through privatisation. “To the Nigerian people, who have demonstrated such great patience and confidence, putting up often with darkness…I say better days are coming,” Jonathan had boisterously promised. But rather than carry out a transparent bidding process that would have attracted not just the much-needed investible funds but also the technical know-how, the exercise was mired in opacity.

In place of the experts and foreign investors that privatisation set out to attract, a motley group of Nigerians with practically no antecedent in power sector business and lacking the financial muscle was thrown up as the new investors. The result is now obvious; instead of an effective and efficient power sector that would guarantee constant electricity supply to light up homes and fire the industries, boosting the economy, Nigerians are now saddled with an albatross.

As currently structured, the power sector stands on a wobbly tripod, made up of the Generation Companies, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Distribution Companies. While it is the duty of the GenCos to generate electricity, the TCN, which is still wholly owned by the government, takes the responsibility for the transmission to the grid, from where the DisCos can then sell to the consumers. But none of them has been able to inspire confidence.

When the power assets were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, the electricity generated in Nigeria that day was 3,712.4 megawatts, from an installed generation capacity of 12, 910.40 MW and available capacity of 7,652.60 MW, according to data attributed to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator. For a population of 171.8 million then, this was ridiculous. But despite the generation capacity of 12,910.40 MW, the transmission could only boast a wheeling capacity of 8, 100 MW, while 5,375 MW remained the peak that had ever been generated.

Six years down the line, with a population of about 200 million, very little has changed. The distribution capacity is still estimated at around 4,000 MW, barely over the 3.712.4 MW of November 1, 2013. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was quoted in a report two months ago as saying that installed power generation had improved to 13, 427MW (as against 12,910.40 MW in 2013), while the TCN Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, said the national grid had the capacity to transmit 7,000 MW.

These figures remain mere academic, as long as they do not translate into improved electricity supply to consumers. What is however undeniable is the fact that the DisCos, which directly interface with the consumers, have emerged as the weakest link in the electricity supply value chain. They keep complaining about cost-reflective tariff, even though they have been found wanting through and through.

They whine over the reluctance of consumers to pay when more than 55 per cent of those consumers are not metered, and access to electricity remains a mirage. For sure, the GenCos are not generating enough and the TCN is not transmitting adequately, yet, even the little that is available is rejected by the DisCos. For example, 9,310.64 MW of electricity was reportedly rejected between August 13 and August 20.

Rejecting loads when there is not enough to go round may sound outrageous but there are other weighty issues that pointedly betray the investors as utterly out of their depth. Particularly, funding has remained a knotty issue. Having raided the local banks for money to buy the firms, the local investors have not been able to fund the needed facility upgrade that should have brought about improvement in electricity supply.

Although a REUTERS report put the cost of the purchase of the power assets in 2013 at $2.5 billion, the TCN MD said the DisCos alone would require a whopping $4.3bn investment to make the desired impact. Shorn of credit options, following challenges in servicing their loans, the investors are now at their wits’ end – uncertain of what step to take next, except perhaps to let go of their majority shares and pave the way for a takeover by capable foreign investors.

As the designated revenue collectors on behalf of other operators in the industry, the DisCos are heavily in debt and have failed to remit money collected to the others. As of July, the TCN said it was being owed N270 billion by the DisCos. The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had also said last year that the Discos’ indebtedness to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Company stood at N500 billion. “NBET also owes GenCos N325.784 billion, which can be settled if NBET collects what the DisCos are owing,” he said.

This debt burden has completely thrown the power sector off balance. Admitting that it would be difficult to pay, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan, said only a monthly revenue of N725 million by each of the DisCos could guarantee them meeting the 35 per cent threshold remittance requirement. Yet, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Authority, appears helpless.

As Osinbajo has contended, only a recapitalisation can solve the problem. The government has already made some strides in this direction by bringing in Siemens, whose three-phased road map is expected to ultimately deliver 25,000 MW. The deal involves the German government and Siemens collaborating to increase electricity transmission and distribution capacities in Nigeria.

Although the government, which owns 40 per cent equity in the DisCos, has been castigated for not discharging its responsibilities satisfactorily, it has still taken some notable steps to pull the power sector out of its current mess. Apart from a loan intervention of N213 billion in 2014, another sum of N701 billion was announced two years ago to guarantee the NBET to be able to pay GenCos for two years. In August, President Muhammadu Buhari announced another intervention of N600 billion.

It is time for President Buhari to intervene decisively in the power sector logjam. The government cannot just continue to shell out public funds in this manner for a sector that has been privatised. Nobody needs to be told now that the privatisation was shoddily done but something drastic has to be done to salvage the situation in the national interest. The government has to take advantage of the performance review due in December to see whether to continue with the status quo or not.

Power remains a big incentive for economic and social development. When the government manages to get rid of the current investors, efforts should be geared towards targeted foreign investors, as is currently the case with Siemens, to get replacements. In Singapore, the system of Open Electricity Market is adopted. It allows consumers to migrate to other companies if they are not satisfied with the services they are getting. Nigeria will benefit immensely from such a system. What obtains now is still a monopoly that was in place before privatisation.
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Uganda - Kasingye defends Museveni for blocking twitter follower
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
Chief Political Commissar of Police, AIGP Asan Kasingye, has defended President Museveni’s decision to block one of his followers on Twitter. This follows a suit filed by Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, a Harvard University student in August 2019 challenging the President through the Attorney General for blocking him on twitter.

In the same suit, Seguya also challenges the Kasingye, government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo for blocking him from accessing their respective Twitter handles as well.

He contends that the decision of the three government officials denied him a right to participate in the affairs of his country, arguing that it was unnecessary in a free and democratic state.
Through his lawyer, Male Mabirizi, Seguya argued that the three twitter handles were helping them as people living in the diaspora to get information and feedback from the state actors.

He asked the court to declare the decision by the trio to block him from following them on twitter as illegal.
In his response to the suit on November 8, 2019 in an affidavit, Kasingye says Seguya’s application is misconceived, lacks merit and amounts to abuse of court process.

He states that he opened his twitter handle in April 2015 as a personal account for his private use.
“My account is for private/personal interest such as family, football, religion, sharing jokes and at times police-related matters but at a personal level like any other Ugandan citizen,” reads the affidavit in part.

Kasingye says his Twitter profile shows clearly that his views are not necessarily those of the Uganda Police Force and neither do they represent his official position in the force.

He says that Seguya can get information about Uganda or President Museveni through State House twitter handle and different media organisations, through their social media and websites, among other options.

He also says that the same information can be obtained from Media Centre via its official Twitter handle as well as its website.

“I have been advised by the Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Chambers whose advice I verily believe to be true that the twitter handles @KagutaMuseveni and @OfwonoOpondo are private twitter handles and not for the offices they hold,” the affidavit adds.

He asked the court to dismiss Seguya’s application arguing that he (Kasingye) enjoys the constitutional right to decide who to associate with on his private or personal account. Court is yet to start hearing the matter.
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Seguya Hillary Innocent Taylor a Ugandan Harvad University student who sued President Museveni for blocking him on twitter. Courtesy Photo
Nigeria - Kogi: Wada, Akpoti, Melaye react to governorship, senatorial elections
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in Saturday’s Kogi governorship election, Musa Wada, has described the results so far released by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a sham.

He rejected the results saying it did not reflect the wishes of the people who willingly cast their votes for him.

He urged all lovers of democracy to join hands with the PDP in the condemnation of the entire process.

While addressing journalists in Lokoja on Sunday flanked by his running mate, Sam Aro, Mr Wada decried what he tagged as the “militarisation of the election” alleging that security agents colluded with the APC to harass and intimidate voters.

He said the whole exercise was a daylight robbery as results were written everywhere for the APC.

“It is better for the government not to in the first place conduct the election when it knows it will not reflect the wishes of the people,” he said.

Mr Wada also accused the Commissioner of Police of relocating to Dekina collation centre to influence the elections in favour of the APC.

Mr Wada won nine of the 19 local government areas declared so far, scoring a total of 168, 144votes as against the APC candidate and governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, who scored 375,083 votes across 10 states.

Also the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Natasha Akpoti, has called for the outright cancellation of the election, saying it was a “civil war” imposed on the Kogi people by Mr Bello.

She said violence and thuggery inflicted on the people on election day should not be allowed to go without a penalty.

She said the results were a product of massive rigging.

Mrs Akpoti scored a total vote of 8539 votes from the 19 local government areas declared so far.

The candidate of the PDP in the Kogi West senatorial seat, Dino Melaye, also shared the view of the SDP, calling on INEC to cancel the election,

While reacting to the outcome of the election, Mr Melaye said he was surprised that INEC was busy declaring election which saw people dead and violence unleashed on the party.

He said the elections should be cancelled as they were heavily rigged.

Although the results of two local government areas were yet to be declared, it is obvious that Mr Bello is in a clear lead and most likely to emerge the winner.

The elections across the state were largely marked by violence, ballot box snatching, and vote-buying which left at least four persons dead.

Many observers, including PREMIUM TIMES reported the extent of violence and vote-buying that characterized the elections.

At least two observer groups, YIAGA and Situation Room, have called for the outright cancellation of the election.

But the National Commissioner for Voter Education, Media and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said the issue of cancellation of the results was beyond INEC, saying only the collation and return officers had the powers to make any pronouncement on the election.

He told Channels Television on Sunday that the commission did what it was required to do by law, and other stakeholders were required to play their roles to ensure a peaceful election.

The APC, which is set to win the Kogi governorship election, has however commended the process and the security operatives for their efforts. The party accused the PDP of trying to instigate violence when it knew it could not win the election.
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An elderly man casts his vote in Kabba Bunu, Kogi West 16/11/2019 NAN
Rwanda - Rwanda looks to Japan for sustainable irrigation schemes
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
As Rwanda scales up efforts to increase irrigated farmland, it is seeking to learn from the Japanese on building effective and sustainable irrigation schemes, the Director-General of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has said.

Dr Patrick Karangwa was speaking on Friday, November 15, 2019, in Kigali during the second meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC), a project for Water Management and Capacity Building in Rwanda.

The project is supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Karangwa said that sometimes important irrigation schemes are being set up in districts, but after some time [about two years] their yield starts diminishing owing to the lack of proper maintenance or management.

The project, which was launched in April 2019, seeks to improve the capacity of irrigation scheme management in the model sites in three districts of Ngoma, Rwamagana and Gisagara.

The practices will be rolled out in other parts of the country, he added.

Although operation and maintenance of the developed irrigation schemes are expected to be transferred from the government to farmers’ cooperatives, the project developers argue that they lack capacity such as know-how and financial means to manage them effectively.

Agriculture production in Rwanda heavily depends on rainfall with only 3 per cent of arable land under irrigation, which poses a threat to sustainable farming practices.

Increasing irrigated acreage

Karangwa said that so far irrigated farmland in the country is estimated at 53,000 hectares.

The target is to double the irrigated acreage to 102,000 hectares within the next five years – by 2024.

Through WAMCAB, Karangwa said, Japan is bringing in its expertise in training and supporting water users’ organisations – mainly farmers – to utilise water from dams, and be able to cover some of the maintenance costs for major irrigation projects that the government sets up.

“Japanese say they have reached a level where water users’ organisations and local administrative entities are able to set up irrigation infrastructures and expand irrigated land without reliance on central government’s support because they have a way to collect fees charged on water use from already existing irrigation facilities,” he said.

“That is the know-how we want to learn from them,” he said.

An estimated 50,000 farmers are expected to benefit directly from WAMCAB project, said Norio Kuniyasu, WAMCAB Chief Advisor for Irrigation Policy.

Kuniyasu indicated that the project will cover almost 15,000 hectares in three districts selected as model areas, which are namely Rwamagana and Ngoma (in Eastern Province) and Gisagara District (in Southern Province).

“The main problem of the farmer is lack of water. So, in order to provide enough water to the farmer, we would like to improve the capacity of the water users’ organisation in order to increase the volume of the water,” Kuniyasu said.

“Once farmers get enough water, they can produce not only maize, but also more valuable crops like tree tomatoes, and any other fruits and vegetables. And by doing so, they can increase income from the sales of their produce,” he said. 

Kuniyasu said that farmers will have to pay a reasonable fee for the water they have used so as to enable water users’ organisation to run operations including maintenance of irrigation schemes.

“Through the exercise of our project, we would like to calculate the more realistic and practical price of the water fee [to be paid by the farmer],” he said.
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Rwanda - Twins born at 5 months survive
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
Rwandan twins born at 24 weeks (approximately 5 months) in July this year at King Faisal Hospital Kigali have managed to defy the odds to become the first babies in the country to survive having been born at such a tender age.

The twins were born with very low weight: the boy had about 660 grammes while the girl had 620 grammes.

Medical doctors say that the normal weight of a newborn baby born under normal circumstances ranges between 2600 grammes (2.6 kg) and 4500 grammes (4.5kg)

According to the medics, premature delivery was caused by a condition of high blood pressure that their mother developed during pregnancy.

After delivery, medics at the hospital referred the babies to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where they have been taken care of since the end of July, and now, almost three and a half months down the road, the little ones have responded well to treatment and they are soon going to be discharged.

Currently, the male baby has 2 kilograms and 90 grammes, and the female has one kilogram and 500 grams and they are learning to breastfeed normally.

Dr Edgar Kalimba, a Pediatrician who is also the Director-General of the Hospital said in an interview with media that in Rwanda, there are about 3000 cases of children being born prematurely every month.

He said 20 out of every 1000 prematurely born babies in Rwanda don’t survive.

“Most of the babies that are born with over 64 weeks (7 months) survive. However, going down to those born when they are less than 28 weeks, the chances reduce,” he said.

According to Kalimba, King Faisal Hospital started the Services of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit about 15 years ago and so far, it has treated over 2000 children, 70 per cent of whom cases of premature births, while others are victims of other neonatal complications.

Kalimba said that more than 90 per cent of the prematurely born babies received in their NICU department recover and are discharged.

“We see the results of our work. Children that were born prematurely in our hospital that are growing up, and are smart even in their school studies,” he said.

Peace Mutesi, the mother of the twins said it was a difficult situation for her and her husband as they did not know that such things happen. 

She thanked the medics, and above all God who is making the recovery process possible

“I thank God who was with us. He (God) has used the medics to do a lot for us in the form of taking care of the children and treating them. The medics have done what they could do as humans, but life comes from God,” she said.

Felix Ntaganira the father of the twins said he did not believe they could survive. 

“I didn’t see their chance of living, but now I have believed that it is possible based on how things are,” he said.

Dr John Baptist Nkuranga, a Pediatrician at KFH specialising in neonatology (treating prematurely born children) said that premature deliveries are mostly caused by the rise in blood pressure during pregnancy. 

Other causes include malnutrition among mothers; sicknesses like malaria, infections and diseases that affect the reproductive system.

 According to Dr. Nkuranga, cases of defects in the nature of a woman’s womb can also cause premature deliveries.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.

Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.

WHO also says that three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
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World - Benin Activist Brings Health Kits to Haiti's Poor
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
French Beninese writer and activist Kemi Seba is in Haiti this weekend on a humanitarian mission.

Seba traveled to the Caribbean nation to show support for the PetroChallenger anti-corruption movement and for the residents of the poorest slums of the capital.

VOA Creole spoke with the activist as he was distributing sanitary kits in Port-au-Prince.

"We wanted to show that we are capable and that we don't have to wait for the government to act, we can take action ourselves to show our support," Seba said.

"Although we have meager resources we only exist when we can share what we have with others in the context of this dimension, this dynamic," he added. "We have medical staff with us, midwives, specialists who are not only distributing the kits but also doing free consultations. They are volunteers who gave their time to make this happen."

The sanitary kits contained items such as soap, toothpaste and medicine. Seba said his NGO bought the medicine, which it distributed with the help of local doctors who accompanied them. While the kits don't address everyone's needs, he said they do contain basic items that can help with some of the people's most urgent needs.

"We wanted to do this because Haiti is a source of black pride worldwide, and because Haiti faces an extremely difficult situation now because of this crisis, which affects the social and economic sectors of the country," Seba said. "Many are unable to purchase medicine because they have not been paid for five months."

Haiti's health sector has suffered during the anti-corruption and anti-government protests that intensified in February of this year. The country's health sector took to the streets in October, joining anti-corruption protesters to decry the deplorable conditions such as lack of water, electricity and sanitation, which has jeopardized health care workers' ability to care for the sick.

"The crisis has had a devastating impact on us," Dr. Jessy Adrien, executive director of the government university hospital, told VOA Creole in October. "Patients are unable to reach us and neither are medical staff due to the barricades in the streets."

Adrien said the crisis has also created a human resource shortage and a dangerous sanitary situation.

"For over three or four weeks, there has been no trash collection and this has created a dangerous, deadly sanitary condition, whereby germs and bacteria are multiplying. For hygienic reasons we must be able to dispose of these biohazards efficiently," she said.

During a September 20 protest, a young doctor working at a Port-au-Prince hospital told VOA: "Sometimes we're unable to get to the hospital due to the fuel shortage. ... A child died recently at our hospital due to this fuel shortage. People can't live like this."

The protests that have swept Haiti were sparked by a fuel price increase in July 2018. They have intensified and swept the nation since then, with thousands taking to the streets on a weekly basis to demand President Jovenel Moise step down. Protesters accuse him of being corrupt and being incapable of resolving the country's problems.

Haiti Anti-Government Protests Lose Momentum November 10 protest was significantly smaller than previous Sundays as members of opposition met to discuss transitional government

President Moise denies the corruption allegations and in recent weeks has taken steps to address the protesters' concerns, such as naming new Cabinet ministers, visiting local businesses, and speaking directly to the people on traditional and social media. He has also called for a national dialogue to discuss ways to resolve the political impasse, but the opposition has repeatedly rejected the offer.

Activist Seba told VOA he hopes his effort will spark future progress.

"We hope this will not be a just drop in the bucket, but rather the beginning of a process to address this issue with sister institutions and medical partnerships who are already working here. I want to especially thank the medical staff who helped us bring this mission to fruition today," he said.

The local residents, who did not wish to be photographed, expressed gratitude and thanks to Seba and his team for taking the time to visit them and address some of their most urgent needs.
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Nigeria - Ekweremadu reiterates call for decentralised policing
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has reiterated his call for the decentralisation of policing in the country. Ekweremadu made the call at a security summit organised by the Agbaja Youths General Assembly in Udi, Enugu State, over the weekend.He said as much as community policing was a good option, “it can only work in Nigeria when the police is decentralised, because both community policing and decentralised policing function better together.”

The senator, who represents Enugu West, pointed out that returning to decentralised policing would go a long way in minimising the security challenges facing the country, recalling that security challenges escalated when decentralised policing was abolished.

“The police should be in charge of internal policing in the country, while soldiers are for external services. The practice in most countries operating a federal system of government is decentralised policing.
“Ideally, we should have a federal, state and local government police for effective policing. For checks and balances, in cases of abuse by some actors, a federal Police Service Commission (PSC) is recommended to regulate the activities of the different tiers of policing. So, until we decentralise our policing, we will not get it right, security-wise.

“Decentralised policing is also part of the restructuring many Nigerians have been clamouring for,” he said.
But experts have harped on the need for state and local governments to introduce security taxes to address the issue of police underfunding.

They made this call over the weekend in Abuja at a two-day workshop on media engagement on police funding and bail process organised by the Nigerian Police Programme (NPP).The Lagos State Intervention Lead, NPP, Tosin Osasona, argued that policing was a very expensive enterprise across the world, noting that the key to proper funding was how innovatively states could tax the growing informal sectors.

Stating that almost every police service across the world derives a percentage of its operational costs from grants and donations from businesses and foundations, Osasona argued that it was impracticable for states, in the face of acute underfunding of the police from the Federal Government, to hinge the functioning of the police services that is solely responsible for local security on donations.“Why can’t states be innovative?” he queried.
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Ike Ekweremadu
Nigeria - PDP, APC squabble over polls’ credibility
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
Rights bodies flay elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, petition ICC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections as shameful, saying the polls have damaged Nigerians’ faith in democracy.

In a statement, the opposition party said: “The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.

“Nigerians and the entire world watched in horror as the APC-led government trampled our democracy under foot with an utmost impunity that can only be obtainable in Hitler’s Germany and Samuel Doe’s Liberia, where the lives and rights of citizens meant nothing to suppressive power-mongers.

“Citizens agonized as APC-controlled security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres, shoot and kill innocent citizens, cart away ballot boxes, stuffed them with already thumb-printed ballot papers in favour of APC, after which results are allocated and handed over to a compromised
INEC to announce against the will of the people.

“It is distressing that under the President Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count; power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of the gun. Nigerians now ask; are we still in a democracy?

“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted. They have completely lost hope in INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, which has shown itself to be a repressive tool in the hands of dictatorial forces.

“As a party, we condole with the families of our compatriots that were killed in Kogi and Bayelsa states and prayed that God grant their souls eternal rest.“The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.

“Our party will therefore continue to fully exert itself in upholding the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians despite the manipulations of the APC.“The PDP urges Nigerians to remain resilient and focused. Our party will, in due course, address Nigerians on the way forward in the overall quest to retrieve stolen mandates, rescue our nation from dictatorial forces and reinforce democratic practice in our country.”

But in a statement yesterday, the APC applauded the elections, saying; “In Kogi and Bayelsa States, we were certain of securing the majority votes for the two governorship seats and the Kogi West senatorial seat. “As expected, not being in the tradition of PDP to thrive under orderly and credible electoral process, they did their best to discredit the process. We are glad that the voting processes came to a successful end in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

“The party thanks security agencies and other officials who did their best to minimise the impact of the PDP thugs whose sole agenda was to create chaos and scare voters from coming out to vote. Of course, the PDP did not achieve their objective of winning through violence.”

Meanwhile, the elections have continued to draw criticisms over violence and intimidation by security operatives.The police confirmed three persons dead during the election in Kogi. Commissioner of Police, Akeem Busari, who made the disclosure to newsmen, said the command was still compiling its report on the poll, to ascertain the actual number of casualties. Busari also said 10 persons were arrested during the election.He said the three died in Lokoja when armed thugs invaded St. Luke Primary School, Adanakolo. He described the situation in the state as calm.

Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room said the Kogi State governorship and senatorial election was a major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process and called for its cancellation.It also called on INEC “to fully interrogate the election in Bayelsa State with view to identifying the high incidences of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.”

Criticising the polls, former Kaduna State Governor and leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Balarabe Musa, said: “What do you expect from the results of the elections in the two states? The outcome is already known. There is no democracy in Nigeria.”

Also, rights group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA AFRICA rejected the outcome of the governorship and senatorial elections in Kogi State. Addressing a press briefing in Abuja, Abdul Hussaini, the chairman of YIAGA’s Watching The Vote, said the people of Kogi were not given the opportunity to fully exercise their right to vote. “Therefore, the results of these elections, regardless of the outcome, cannot be said to reflect the preferences of voters in Kogi.”

Rights body, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) went further by petitioning the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking it to investigate persons behind violence in Bayelsa and Kogi States during the elections.

The petition dated November 16, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor.SERAP said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions, they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.”

International observers, Diplomatic Watch, also expressed alarm over reports of violence and intimidation in both states.The Watch consists of teams deployed from Austria, European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.

The PDP candidate in the Kogi State election rejected the poll, accusing the police of colluding with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undermine the will of the people.Describing the results released by INEC as sham and murder of democracy, Musa Wada urged all lovers of fairness to join hands with the PDP in condemning the charade.

Flanked by his running mate, Sam Aro, during a press conference in Lokoja, Wada decried the militarisation of the election, even as he accused security agents of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to intimidate voters.

He said the exercise was daylight robbery, alleging that results were doctored for the APC. INEC should not have conducted the election if it knew it would not reflect the wish of Kogi people, he said.“Imagine, Okene LGA, which used to return 40,000 votes in past elections suddenly brought out 112,000 votes while her neighbour, Okehi, also brought in 64,000; figures that would be more than the rest of the local governments in the state.

“It is the insincerity of the APC that has made the whole process a sham. It is not about Wada but of the suffering masses of the state. I am pained for the people who would continue to suffer for another four years.”

On whether he could get justice at the courts, Wada said: “It is common knowledge how all the institutions have been bastardised by the APC government. However, I have to exhaust all legal means to get redress.”
“You can see that Lokoja, the state capital, which was agog yesterday is a shadow of itself as nobody is celebrating. The results are not the true representation of what happened on the field.

“We were prepared for the election. We campaigned across all the local government areas. But how can one confront a government with all the apparatus of cohesion? Imagine security agents using helicopters to teargas voters. It happened in Ganaja. Some people were shot at from the helicopter. In fact, two persons lost their lives.”

The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mrs. Natasha Akpoti, also rejected the results of the poll, calling on INEC to cancel the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and other parts of Lokoja, and order a rerun.In a petition to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Akpoti claimed election did not hold in 780 polling units in Kogi Central.

“The APC-led thugs were shooting at voters, which resulted in the death of voters. The thugs, in most cases, were shielded by security agents who were supposed to provide security for the citizenry.“What happened in Kogi Central and other parts of the state is a far cry from a credible election. Ballot boxes were destroyed and burnt in Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori Magongo and Okehi Local Government Areas and other parts of the state.

“SDP agents were chased away from various polling units of Kogi Central. In some polling units, SDP agents were tied with ropes by APC thugs. In Okene Local Government, our agents were not even allowed to come near the polling units, as APC thugs were seen brandishing guns and announcing to voters not to come and vote unless they were to only vote APC.”

Also, the Bello/Onoja Governorship Campaign Council yesterday called on the PDP to shelve its alleged plan to spread falsehood. It urged the opposition party to await the conclusion of the election process, which it described as “free, fair and peaceful.”

According to a statement by Kingsley Fanwo, chairman of APC Media and Publicity Committee, the party said it had credible intelligence that “the leadership of the PDP has directed the national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, to quickly address a press conference, to condemn an ongoing process that has been adjudged free, fair, credible and peaceful, just because they are seeing the handwriting of people’s rejection on the wall.”
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National Commissioner in charge of Kogi, Kwara and Nassarawa, Muhammed Kudu Haruna (left); Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Kogi State, Prof. James Apam and Administrative Secretary, INEC, Kogi
Nigeria - Man arrested for killing 58-year-old landlord
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
Detectives attached to Ogba Police Station have arrested, one Segun Mopoderun for allegedly killing his 58-year-old landlord, Oposanwo Gbenga.It was learnt that on Saturday morning, police went to number No 3, Iyanu Oluwopo Street, off County, Ogba-Aguda Agege, after a woman made a distress call to report that the suspect had allegedly poured hot water on the 58-year-old landlord.

The suspect allegedly poured the deceased hot water minutes after they engaged themselves in altercation. Police operatives said the deceased died as a result of injuries sustained.

It was gathered that the suspect was arrested and immediately transferred to the Homicide section of the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIOD), Panti Street, Yaba, where he is being detained

Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, who confirmed the killing, said that the incident occurred at about 6.30am on Saturday. Elkana said: “The victim was rushed to hospital for treatment where he later died. The corpse is deposited at Ikorodu General Hospital Mortuary for autopsy. The suspect has been arrested by homicide detectives from the State Criminal Investigation Department Yaba. Investigation is ongoing, the suspect would be charged to court at the end of investigation”, he added.

Similarly, two persons lost their lives in an auto crash that occurred at the weekend at the Masha, Surulere area of Lagos.Elkana said that the accident which occurred around 12.30 pm involved three Toyota cars and a commercial motorcycle.

“This is a case of fatal motor accident involving three Toyota cars and a motorcycle at Masha overhead bridge which was reported at Surulere police station. It involved the driver of a Black Toyota Camry with registration number Lagos BDG 24 FL named Meshach Baba of number 10, Odogbolu Street off Ademola Aguda Lagos. The driver was coming from National stadium on top speed inward Masha when he swerved to another lane and as a result rammed into a commercial motorcycle and his passenger. The driver also hit two vehicles that were equally coming from Shitta inwards the National stadium.“The passenger of the motorcycle died on the spot. Name and address of the passenger are not known yet, indication showed that he might be a painter because of stains of different colours of paints on his clothes. The corpse was deposited at Randle General Hospital Mortuary, Surulere. The damaged vehicles were removed from the road for VIO inspection. The driver who caused the accident is arrested. Investigation is ongoing, the suspect” he added.
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Ghana - December 17 Referendum: House of Chiefs stirs controversy
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
A statement issued by the National House of Chiefs (NHC), calling for a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum on local government elections, has stirred controversy in the house.

At the centre of the disagreement are the President of the house, Togbe Afede XIV, and his vice, Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII, on the one side, and the Paramount Chief of the Sefwi Anhwiaso Traditional Area, who is also the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the NHC, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, and the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, on the other.

Last Thursday, Togbe Afede and his vice jointly signed a statement indicating that the house was against the proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in local elections and, therefore, called on Ghanaians to vote ‘No’ at the polls.

The statement elicited reactions from Ogyeahoho Gyebi and the Okyenhene, who expressed indignation about its contents.

The Okyenhene, in a statement, said the contents of the statement signed by Togbe Afede and his vice did not reflect the views of the traditional leadership of the country.

Ogyeahoho Gyebi, who spoke on Joy FM and Asempa FM, said the decision was not the collective view of the house because it did not go through due process.

But Togbe Afede, in a statement issued yesterday, maintained what was contained in the earlier statement, saying: “Any suggestions that the proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in our local elections was not discussed by the house are not only dishonest but also wanton mischief.”

Ogyeahoho’s position

Reacting separately to the original statement, Ogyeahoho Gyebi said the ‘No’ vote should be disregarded.

He said personally, he was not aware of any consultation or meeting held to discuss the matter in the house and added that as far as he was concerned, the statement came from the two individuals and not the entire House.

He said he feared that once the two major political parties had taken different positions on the referendum, attempts by chiefs to take a stance on the referendum could be seen as involving themselves in party politics.

Okyenhene surprised

In a statement issued on November 15, 2019, the Okyenhene expressed surprise at the statement from the President and the Vice-President of the NHC.

The Okyenhene, who is also the President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, said his statement was informed by “complaints from the chiefs and the people of the Eastern Region and well-meaning Ghanaians in reaction to the purported opposition of the NHC to the December 17th referendum”.

Stating what he described as the facts, he said the NHC was a responsible body of eminent chiefs and the symbol of traditional and national authority, for which reason its position on critical national issues evolved from broad consultations and deliberations to reflect and enforce collective national conscience and aspirations.

The Okyenhene said the statement by the NHC did not have the knowledge of Ogyeahoho Gyebi, “who has found the need to express shock at not being aware of the statement by the President of the NHC and other related matters, in violation of due process”.

He said the Standing Committee of the NHC had no record of deliberations on the matter and also the whole house was not informed or met on the matter in question.

“The leadership of the various Regional Houses of Chiefs have not been informed or consulted. In relation to the above, it is the considered opinion of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs that the statement issued by the President of the NHC does not reflect the views of the traditional leadership of Ghana,” the Okyenhene’s statement said, and asked the public to expect from “Nananom, in the coming days, a communiqué on this critical national issue, in line with established consultative processes”.

Togbe’s riposte

In a riposte yesterday directed at Ogyeahoho Gyebi, Togbe Afede expressed disappointment in his colleague for denying that the house and its Standing Committee had discussed the referendum.

Togbe Afede’s statement touched on a visit to the house by a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Kwasi Boateng Adjei, on December 19, 2018, at the invitation of the house to discuss the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).

“Togbe President directed the Governance and Development and the Legal Affairs committees of the house to meet and prepare a position paper on the election of MMDCEs for the consideration of the house and subsequent presentation to government,” the statement said.

It also mentioned a report by the Asokoremanhene and Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, submitted to the house on January 22, 2019, which stated: “The house should strongly object to the notion that membership of local assemblies should exclusively comprise representatives of political parties, as in Parliament.”

Standing Committee Meeting

Togbe Afede’s statement said the Standing Committee of the house, at its meeting on February 26, 2019, discussed and adopted Nana Asante’s report as the position of the house, as captured in the minutes.
“The election of MMDCEs on partisan basis was discussed by the committee. The committee also adopted a memorandum on the election of MMDCEs submitted by Nana Susubribi Krobea Asante, Asokorehene, as the position of the House,” it said.

Other meetings

Lending further credence to his position, the President of the NHC said: “The house, at its meeting on 27 February, 2019, had a final discussion on the election of MMDCEs through partisan elections,” adding that Ogyeahoho Gyebi was at the meeting.

The statement also indicated that a multi-stakeholder conference was held at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium, Legon, on June 7, 2019, and again Ogyeahoho Gyebi was present.

Basis

Following from the developments, Togbe Afede said, the proposed referendum to allow partisan politics in local elections was thoroughly discussed at the NHC, both by the Standing Committee and the General Meeting.

Other views

Meanwhile, the President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, has declared his full support for the statement issued by the President of the NHC which advocated a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum, reports Charles Benoni Okine.

He told the Daily Graphic yesterday: “We elected the President of the NHC, and per his mandate, he can take decisions on our behalf, and in this case he did so because that has been our position.”

Nii Dowuona, who is also the Paramount Chief of the Osu Traditional Council, said the NHC had been discussing the issue of the referendum since 2018 and had taken a strong position, adding that “our collective view and position, as expressed by the President of the house, is not out of the blue”.

The Awoemefia of the Anlo Traditional Area, Torgbi Sri III, would, however, not state a firm position on the matter, writes Timothy Gobah.

He, however, urged Ghanaians to go out and exercise their franchise on December 17, saying “everyone must vote”.
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Togbe Afede XIV
Ghana - Strengthen basic education to prepare children adequately
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Prof. Stephen Adei, has called for the strengthening of basic education to adequately prepare children for further studies.

He said quality education at the basic level was vital to the success of children’s educational career.

Speaking at the first anniversary lecture of the Northern Accra Diocese of the Methodist Church Ghana at New Achimota last Thursday, Prof. Adei said for the free senior high school (SHS) policy to be successful, there must be improvement in basic education.

The lecture was on the theme: “Ghana’s development history and current agenda: Are we progressing?”

What to do

Prof. Adei noted that teachers played a key role in quality basic education and stressed the need for them to be paid well and provided with incentives to motivate them to carry out their work.

While teachers were motivated to work hard, the NDPC Chairman said, society must insist that they pay greater attention to their work and refrain from strikes.

He further called for the improvement of supervision in basic schools, saying the effects of proper teacher supervision on pupils were enormous.

He intimated that if trained teachers could not produce literates at the basic school level, that might be a management issue.

Sustainable country

Touching on sustainable national development, Prof. Adei said the four things that Ghana needed to achieve that goal were improvement in the material welfare of the people, social cohesion, cultural development and a change in attitudes and behaviours.

He said Ghana was endowed with natural resources that must be harnessed for the benefit of the people, noting that Ghana needed to invest in heavy industries, such as petrochemical, which required the use of petroleum products and salt, which it had in abundance.

“To become the properly developed country that we are yearning for, we need integrated aluminium, iron and steel industries to make use of the huge bauxite and iron ore deposits that we have,” he said.

Good policies

Tracing Ghana’s history, Prof. Adei said it had seen some improvement in terms of development, but added that there was more to be done.

He said the current government had good policies that would propel the country forward and cited the Planting for Food and Jobs programme as one of such laudable policies.

He, however, called for the acceleration of the development processes.

Infrastructure development

The NDPC Chairman also pushed for Ghana to improve on its infrastructure projects such as railways, which he believed would drive the national development agenda to greater levels.

He also called for the improvement in the road network in the country.

Prayer

In the nation’s quest to attain accelerated development, he said, prayer must also be taken seriously and called on Christians to continue to pray for the country.

Deforestation

The Chairman for the event, Prof. William Baah Boateng, said deforestation “was killing the country”.

Therefore, he said, there was the need to protect the forest reserves to sustain the environment.

He advised the people to ensure proper disposal of their solid and liquid waste to make for proper sanitation across the country.
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Prof. Stephen Adei
Liberia - Ex-soldiers’ muster gets poor attendance
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
The leadership of the disbanded soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) failed to gather the much publicized 15,000 members for a general muster held on Friday, 15 November, following weeks of creating panic among residents of Monrovia.Capt. Jerry Kollie, one of the officials of the disbanded soldiers, presented to the Chairman of the ex-soldiers at least 1,000.00 men instead of the 15,000.00 he had boasted of during the weeks of publicity here.In the midst of the muster was the presence of a batch of riot officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP), which appears to pose some fears into the ex-soldiers attending the muster.

Ex-soldiers could be heard complaining why the police in battle gears should flood the premises of the Slipway Football field, the venue of the general muster.
Having fear that something might spark up, many of the ex-soldiers began leaving the filed in small groups with others standing along the Gabriel Tucker Bridge to observe from distance what might unfold.There were mixed reactions and mixed feelings among the ex-soldiers, as most of them wondered why their leadership rushed with the muster without allowing them to be present in spite the huge spending on transportation that they had to go through for muster.

Ex-soldiers Prince Y. Johnson (now Nimba Senator), George Boley and Alfred G. Koiwood, ignored the purported order issued by Capt. Jerry Kollie for their appearance for the muster.
It was also noticed that while more ex-soldiers were arriving at the venue for the muster, their officials were leaving the field without any proper information dissemination to keep the arriving ex-soldiers updated on the situation.Other ex-soldiers who were angry about the manner in which things went, proceeded to their (ex-soldiers’) office on Carey Street to ascertain from the leadership the next date that the muster will be reconvened.

Meanwhile, ex-soldiers living with disabilities have threatened to boycott any other general muster to be convened because they do not have free money to lavish on a worthless venture.
The ex-soldiers expressed disappointment as they could not see the Minister of States for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill who was expected to deliver a special message from President George Manneh Weah.

Dozens of ex-soldiers who had gathered at two other locations, the D. Tweh and Saye Town Football Fields saw no official from the ex-soldiers to address them on whether there was a muster held.After waiting for hours without any signs of progress, the ex-soldiers started leaving their respective locations with mixed feeling.Earlier, the ex-soldiers’ co-chairman for administration, Capt. Jerry Kollie says they are giving the government the benefit of the doubt to see its seriousness about resolving the issue of their benefits.He says upon President Weah’s return to the country, the ex-soldiers would re-convene.
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Liberia - Fake loan scheme hits CDC
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
President George Manneh Weah’s governing Congress for Democratic Change terms as an extreme provocation and escalation of lawlessness, unauthorized individuals operating a loan scheme in the name of the party.The CDC claims some persons are running a loan disbursement office in the name of the party a spit throw from its national headquarters in Congo Town, collecting illegal fees from thousands of partisans without knowledge of the leadership of the party or seeking its authorization.

It warns that these individuals are acting outside the knowledge and authority of the party. The CDC calls on all partisans to remain peaceful and law-abiding while its leadership takes steps to resolve the incident within due process of law.The National Executive Committee of the CDC in distancing the party from the unauthorized activities of the group calling itself “Liberians in support of Democratic Change (LSDC), describe the group as fake.

National chairman MulbahMorlu claims said group without approval from the party has launched a ‘Micro loan program’ in the name of the CDC and is already collecting ‘Registration fees’ from struggling citizens, as requirement for membership.The CDC denounces this personal whim as contemptible, misguided and insensitive to the realities of the challenges the party strives to overcome.

Speaking over the weekend in Monrovia, he said the leadership of the CDC informs the public that while it welcomes any loan assistance effort to empower ordinary citizens, it however rejects mischievous and un-institutionalized corridors being aligned with the CDC while promoting strange objectives that run counter to the general interests of the ruling party and its partisans.

As a mass-based redemptive movement for the people, the CDC says it is never short of plans, programs or ideas to empower its own and hence; remains steady in working and advocating for the socioeconomic/educational uplifting of its members, a necessity considered sine qua non for the strength and robustness of the party.When this paper contacted Deputy Minister of Commerce, Madam Jemima Wolokollie via mobile phone about the allegation, she could not be reached, as her phone rang endlessly.

“This singular objective drives the CDC’s recently launched educational, economic and social development platform, a loan assistance program meant to assist our people in market investment initiatives, sustainable livelihoods, health, education, food security, and nutrition”, chairman Morlu asserts.According to him, the CDC expects nothing less than the unrestrained commitment and support of its gainfully employed members to this program, a contrast to the un-institutional approach by the self-styled group (LSDC) acting outside the knowledge and authority of the CDC.

The party says,it’s unfortunate that while there continues to be a lack of commitment by employed officials to support party programs, these individuals (some being government officials) and their cohorts seek creative means to undermine the CDC and its membership by supporting anti-party agendas.Morlu announces the CDC will launch a formal inquiry into the so-called LSDC micro loan program, allegedly under the stewardship of Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business, Jemima Wolokollie.

The CDC says it has irrefutable evidence that Deputy Minister Wolokolie, aided by Madam Jackie Capehart, Mr. Joshua Sackie, Mr. Budu Wilson, Mr. George Kailondo, Mr. Rodney Wilson, and all members or recent ‘former-members’ of the Unity Party/ANC, have begun setting up CDC structures and appointing District Coordinators with instructions to identify individuals for micro finance loans.

Morlu describes the alleged individuals as extortionists, who fled the CDC for greener pastures during its challenging moments, and have now returned more sophisticated, warning them to desist immediately or face disciplinary actions, ranging from suspension to expulsion within context of the rule of law.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor
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Nigeria - Yoruba nation, Fulani invasion and the task ahead
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Opinions
By Emeritus Professor (Senator) Banji AkintoyeWe Yoruba Nation are confronted by countless daunting challenges today. In all directions, our nation is suffering decline and retrogression. Our educational system, once the flagship of our development achievements, is fearfully sick. Our nation’s whole future is imperilled because the masses of our educated youths roam the streets without any hope of jobs, most of them unable to marry and start raising their own children, some falling into crimes, and countless hundreds of thousands seeking ways to flee abroad. Among the most desperate, many are falling for the temptation of trying to reach Europe through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, and very many of these are dying daily in the desert and the sea. Of the hundreds of thousands who manage to succeed in reaching other countries, hardly any ever think of returning home these days, and our Yoruba nation is becoming dispersed across the world. Back home in Nigeria, various Nigerian policies and realities discourage the spirit of enterprise among our people. Businesses are failing, others are relocating to other countries, and the prospects of employment continue to plummet. Most of the industries established by our leaders in the 1950s have closed shop, and most of other assets created then have been allowed to perish. Infrastructures are declining abysmally in all directions and, in particular, federal infrastructures are strangulating our Yoruba homeland. Our agriculture has suffered neglect for decades, until we now must depend on food importations to feed our growing population. Federal take-over, and incompetent or even hostile federal handling of some of our leading achievements, such as our great university in Ife and our produce exports, have engendered a spirit of frustration and lack of confidence among our people. On the whole, we Yoruba people of today are suffering a depth of poverty that no known generation of Yoruba people have ever suffered.

Altogether, we are a nation under very devastating stress in the context of Nigeria. But none of these reverses ranks as high now as the invasion which our Yoruba homeland has been experiencing since 2014. Since 2014, gangs of Fulani herdsmen and militias, coming from the Nigerian Northwest and other parts of the Nigerian far North, have been destroying farms in our homeland, killing large numbers of farmers and farmers’ wives and children, raping and killing women, destroying villages, kidnapping people, and generally engaging in uttermost rampage in various parts of Yorubaland. It has been the same in the homelands of the many peoples of the Nigerian Middle Belt, in the Igbo homeland in the Southeast, and in the homelands of many of the peoples of the South-south.In short, the whole of the Nigerian Middle Belt and South have been experiencing unimaginable disruption since 2014 as a result of persistent rampages by Fulani herdsmen and militias. And it is my belief and recommendation that we must get rid of this invasion without any delay. It is only after we have done so that we can meaningfully tackle any of our other challenges.

To be able to get rid of the Fulani invasion of our land, we need to understand it. For a start, it was very difficult for the people of Nigeria, and for informed observers abroad, to understand it. Most people everywhere thought it was merely an escalation in the traditional conflicts between farmers and cattle herdsmen. Most intellectuals who studied the situation thought it was caused simply by the fact that the serious droughts and consequent loss of grasslands in the Nigerian far North in recent years were compelling herdsmen to veer generally southward in search of grasslands for their cattle. International television organizations like CNN and Aljazeera described it to the world as merely a worsening of traditional conflicts between farming folks and cattle-herding folks in Nigeria.

However, as the years have rolled on and the mass killings and devastations have continued, people have come to understand the situation much better. It is now known conclusively that there is a serious agenda in progress – an agenda of the Fulani people for the forcible remaking of Nigeria. No sincere Nigerian or informed foreign observer now doubts that an uncommon programme is being pursued in Nigeria – a programme without any other programme like it in any other country of the world. Nigeria’s most influential statesman, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has called it an agenda of “Fulanisation” of Nigeria.

It is now known conclusively that there is a serious agenda in progress – an agenda of the Fulani people for the forcible remaking of Nigeria. No sincere Nigerian or informed foreign observer now doubts that an uncommon programme is being pursued in Nigeria – a programme without any other programme like it in any other country of the world. Nigeria’s most influential statesman, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has called it an agenda of “Fulanisation” of Nigeria.

Briefly stated, the agenda has the objective of inculcating Fulani settlements into all parts of Nigeria and creating a situation in which Fulani emirates shall command the lives of people in all parts of Nigeria. Nigeria will therefore become a country in which all parts will be forcibly dominated by the Fulani. Since the Fulani of Nigeria, who are only about six million in population, are too few for such a massive enterprise, as many as possible of the Fulani who belong to most countries of West Africa (altogether numbering up to 23 million) will be encouraged to move into Nigeria.

It is very obvious that much indoctrinating of Fulani people all over West Africa has been engaged in for this agenda. From close observations, the content of the doctrine seems to be the spreading of a belief that Nigeria is the country that Allah has destined to be the home of the Fulani nation. While the Fulani have lacked acceptable levels of political influence in other countries of West Africa (including even Guinea where the Fulani, with about 42% of the population, are the largest single ethnic nation), the Fulani have almost consistently had great influence in Nigeria even since before the coming of British rule. In the early 19th century, a small number of Fulani, led by a Reformer, subdued the large and rich Hausa nation and established Fulani rule over the Hausa people. Under British rule, the British chose the Fulani as a “friendly people”, generally helped to build up Fulani influence and, at independence, left Nigeria under the dominant control of the Fulani. Since the 1950s, Fulani men and Fulani proteges have almost consistently held dominant positions in Nigerian affairs – from Ahmadu Bello, to Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and now Buhari again. All these historical facts are being explained as God’s hand at work in Nigeria for the Fulani nation. The large numbers of Fulani herdsmen are also seen as a God-provided tool for the Fulani agenda, because the herdsmen have traditionally had easy access to virtually all corners of Nigeria.

Since the 1950s, Fulani men and Fulani proteges have almost consistently held dominant positions in Nigerian affairs – from Ahmadu Bello, to Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and now Buhari again. All these historical facts are being explained as God’s hand at work in Nigeria for the Fulani nation. The large numbers of Fulani herdsmen are also seen as a God-provided tool for the Fulani agenda, because the herdsmen have traditionally had easy access to virtually all corners of Nigeria.

Much of the information about the intentions of the Fulani agenda is from statements made by the Fulani themselves – either by prominent Fulani individuals, or by spokesmen for notable Fulani organizations such as Miyetti Allah, Gan Allah Fulani Association, and the most influential Fulani organization, Fulani Nationality Movement. Such statements are very many, but we cannot do more than pinpoint a few in this speech. In 2014, a tirade against all non-Fulani peoples of Nigeria was published in the worldwide social media. It was credited to one Aliyu Gwarzo, and it promised that if any people of Nigeria resisted Fulani control, “we Fulani” “will kill, maim, destroy, and turn Nigeria into Africa’s most bloody war zone”. He concluded with the warning: “The Mujaheedin are more than ready, and by Allah, we shall win”.

It is important to point out that in January of that year 2014, the popular first governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, had raised the alarm that an “insurgency” was about to break out in Nigeria, an insurgency that would be better armed, more murderous and more widespread than Boko Haram, an insurgency that was being organized by some notable Nigerians for the purpose of achieving a political objective.

In my experience, the historically most important one among the Fulani statements to date is the letter of threat which a Fulani organization wrote to the Governor of Benue State, Governor Sam Ortom, in early January 2018. In late 2017, the Benue State government had enacted a law to regulate nomadic cattle herding in Benue State, in order to reduce Fulani violence against Benue State citizens. In response, a Fulani organization wrote to threaten that Fulani people would attack the people of Benue State. On January 01, 2018, the threatened attack came massively, destroying many villages and taking the lives of about 78 people, all in one night. As Benue State carried out mass burials and a state mourning, a delegation of citizens sent by the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum arrived on January 05 in Makurdi to sympathize with the people of Benue State. The governor then shocked the assembled delegates and leaders of Benue State by announcing that he had received yet another letter of threat from the same Fulani organization that had written the letter of late 2017, and he read out the new letter. The new letter threatened that greater attacks would soon come on the people of Benue State;that the source of the problem was that the nationalities of Benue State believed that the land of their homelands belonged to them; that the land did not belong to these peoples but to the Fulani; that the Fulani were now on the warpath to seize their land; that the same thing applied to the land of all the peoples of Nigeria; that the Fulani had accumulated enormous funds and weapons for this war, and had invited all Fulani from all over West Africa to come and help take the land of all of Nigeria; and that the Nigerian Federal government could not stop the Fulani.

Some of the visible evidence and success of the Fulani agenda are already significantly visible in most parts of the Nigerian Middle Belt and South. The Fulani herdsmen who are part of the agenda usually come rearing a considerable number of cows, accompanied, or followed at a short distance, by some militiamen armed with sophisticated assault weapons, mostly AK47 rifles. While traditional cattle herders had commonly come, and still do come, peacefully rearing their cows, respecting farms along their way, and doing nothing to hurt anybody or any property, the agenda-driven herdsmen since 2014 have come intent on provoking conflict. Such a herdsman would let his cow ravage a farm – or, according to many farmers, would guide his cows into a farm. When conflict with the farmer ensues, the cow herder scurries away from the scene, and the militiamen then move in to kill the farmer and other persons, and to destroy villages and other assets.

Under cover of the widespread violence, large numbers of non-Nigerian Fulani are arriving and spreading out and taking hold of territory in the Middle Belt and the South, including Yorubaland and including the Yoruba parts of Kwara and Kogi States. The Fulani settlements or hide-outs exist today in scattered locations in Yorubaland. In some parts of the Yoruba homeland, their populations are considerable – especially in areas such as Oke Ogun in Oyo State and the Yewa area of Ogun State. Some of these Fulani settlements or hide-outs may have some cow herders tending their cows, but most are occupied by people who have no visible jobs or means of livelihood. Every settlement or hide-out has some armed militiamen.

While traditional cattle herders had commonly come, and still do come, peacefully rearing their cows, respecting farms along their way, and doing nothing to hurt anybody or any property, the agenda-driven herdsmen since 2014 have come intent on provoking conflict. Such a herdsman would let his cow ravage a farm – or, according to many farmers, would guide his cows into a farm. When conflict with the farmer ensues, the cow herder scurries away from the scene, and the militiamen then move in to kill the farmer and other persons, and to destroy villages and other assets.

From time to time, from these hide-outs, small gangs of armed men go out to attack nearby villages, to kidnap people, or even to hold up highways, rob motorists and passengers, kidnap or kill passengers, rape and kill women, and kill children, on farms or isolated paths to farms. When they kidnap people, they usually take the kidnapped into the forest where they brutalize them while demanding ransom from their families by telephone. In this way, they have extorted unknown millions of Naira from Yoruba families.

These Fulani rampages reached a peak in the Yoruba homeland in Southwest Nigeria in 2015 when they kidnapped on his farm one of the most eminent Yoruba citizens of our time – Chief Olu Falae, a former Secretary of the Nigerian Federal Government, former Nigerian Finance Minister, and former Nigerian presidential candidate. They came to his large modern farm in broad daylight, kidnapped him and killed some of his farm workers. They then took him captive into the forest, and held him there in drenching rain for three days while some of their people called his family by telephone from some unknown place to demand ransom. The public has never learned how the ransom was delivered; obviously, it is unsafe for Chief Falae’s family to disclose this.

The Fulani rampages have not been limited to farms of arable crops. They have also been extended to farms of tree crops. After releasing Chief Falae, they came again and again for months in the night to burn palm trees in his palm-tree plantation. On some of such nights, they made sure to damage or destroy farm structures and equipment. In various other parts of the Yoruba homeland, including parts of Kogi and Kwara States, owners of tree crop plantations – palm trees, fruit trees, rubber trees, wood trees – have experienced similar devastation of their tree-crop plantations.

In more recent months, kidnapping on highways has escalated most noticeably. One attack on the highways resulted, in August 2019, in the killing of Mrs Olufunke Arakunrin, the daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Chief Rueben Fasoranti.

Under these kidnappings, which are really a feature of the Fulani invasion of Yorubaland, local crimes have escalated troublingly, with some local criminals kidnapping people for ransom, in order to take some share in the Fulani ransom bonanza.


NEW CLIMAX

In early November 2019, the government of Oyo State enacted a law to curtail nomadic cattle rearing in Oyo State. While we Yoruba people are rejoicing at the law and congratulating and thanking our Oyo State Government, some Fulani organization has issued threats against all Yoruba people of Nigeria. They are saying that they see the Oyo State law as an attack by all Yoruba on the Fulani, and that they will mobilize all the power of the Fulani from all over West Africa and the world for an attack on all of Yorubaland in Nigeria.

WHAT WE YORUBA SHOULD DO

We Yoruba must embark immediately, seriously and universally on generating awareness and vigilance among our people, and on getting ready to defend our families, our communities, our farmlands, our villages, and our churches, mosques and shrines. When a country is not aware of a coming invasion and not ready to defend itself, it is easy for the invaders to succeed. But when the people of a country are widely aware and are ready to defend their land, it is difficult for an invasion to succeed.

We have two examples to look at and learn from. First, the peoples of Benue State in December 2017 to January 2018 were not much aware of the looming danger, and were not seriously ready to defend their homelands; they apparently were hoping for federal help; and the result is that the Fulani attack on January 01, 2018 succeeded in wreaking enormous devastation. In contrast, after the Ekiti State Government enacted a law in 2016 to curtail nomadic cow rearing and the Fulani began to threaten reprisals, Ekiti State immediately mobilized the traditional hunters. And the result has been that the Fulani were not able to carry out the kind of mass attacks in Ekiti that they were threatening to do. From January 2018, the people of Benue State at last took steps to mobilize themselves, and the Fulani invaders have been experiencing serious resistance there since then.

The lesson is clear for us Yoruba. We must respectfully, and in the true spirit of family, urge our governments that, as they make laws in this situation, they should take steps to rev up awareness and vigilance among the generality of our people. They should also wake up and energize existing vigilante and citizen defence forces that we have at our disposal. We Yoruba are blessed with many of such forces. Pre-eminently, we have Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC). We also have very capable branches of Agbe Koya under the leadership of such brave and seasoned warriors as Olamilekan Ayikaaka, Dr. Kunle Oshodi and Olalere Ayalu. We have a plethora of smaller similar organizations such as Yoruba Koya Movement, Soludero, etc with each of these doing what they can do; we shall quickly show the Fulani marauders that Yorubaland is not the kind of land they can invade.

But we must also mobilize our traditional hunters, in all our cities and towns. And our State Governments might consider reviving the colonial Forest Guard institution, for special deployment in our rural areas.

But nothing can match the mobilization of all our people to be ready and vigilant. As a means to getting this done, we must call upon all our self determination organizations – from the prestigious OPC, Agbekoya, Soludero, Yoruba Koya; to the humblest of our civic organizations – to take the message to all of their members. The number of organizations today in our Yoruba World Congress, YWC, the umbrella of all Yoruba Socio-cultural and self determination groups, stands at 85, representing millions of our people. We must activate each of these our organizations to mobilize their members to be vigilant and ready to defend their families, homes, villages, farmsteads, farmlands, towns and cities.

And we must mobilize our millions of people in the Diaspora. The Fulani organizations threaten that they will bring Fulani people from everywhere in the world to attack Yorubaland. We Yoruba must show them that we have overwhelming millions that we can summon from the Diaspora, and that those millions are educated and very capable people, and that some of them are among the most educated, most skilled, and most resourceful people in the world.

I have heard some of our wisest people say that the war which the Fulani people may soon bring upon us is the prophesied war in which we Yoruba people will definitively retrieve the dignity and liberation of our nation. I am not sure what to say about that. I am a historian, and historians are not trained to speculate or prophesy. But I say proudly to my people, get ready and let us win this war decisively and absolutely. And get ready to rise to the highest peaks of human courage and statesmanship in the handling of the outcome of the war.

However, we Yoruba, because we are a nation given to positive and constructive approaches in all things, will like to propose a possible alternative to war.

The alternative consists of two steps;

STEP 1: We demand that the Fulani should immediately remove, repudiate and cancel their agenda of conquest and subjugation of other peoples of Nigeria. This would give the peoples of Nigeria the opportunity to find peaceful and harmonious coexistence in Nigeria.

STEP 2: After this has been done, all the people of Nigeria should join hands together to restructure Nigeria in ways that countless Patriots have been proposing for years, in ways that would make Nigeria a workable country. We hope and expect that all other peoples of Nigeria will support this demand of our Yoruba nation.

I thank you all.

*This piece was excerpted from a speech delivered by Yoruba Leader, Emeritus Professor (Senator) Adebanji Stephen Akintoye at a roundtable organized by a Self Determination Group, Yoruba Oodua Union; held at Ile-Ife, Osun State on 16th November, 2019.
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Professor Banji Akintoye
Nigeria - EU reacts to violence, intimidation in Kogi, Bayelsa elections
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
The reports of widespread incidents of violence and voter intimidation in Bayelsa and Kogi states have been strongly condemned by the European Union.

A statement by the Diplomatic Watch also expressed concern at the disturbing reports of fatalities and missing people, urging stakeholders to call for calm.

The Diplomatic Watch deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States to monitor both state elections on November 16.

“We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi. There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families.

“We encourage all stakeholders, in particular, political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice.

“We are also concerned by evident vote-buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi.”

The EU commended the commitment of voters in both states who came out to vote and asked that those enshrined with the mandate to see through a smooth democratic process should continue to act in all capacity.

“We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights. We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials; members of the NYSC; civil society; and the media. All should be able to carry out their fundamental role in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment.”
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Photo: EUinNigeria Twitter Handle
Nigeria - Buhari congratulates Bayelsa Governor-elect David Lyon
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by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
Politics
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Bayelsa state governor-elect David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Lyon shocked his PDP challenger Senator Douye Diri, by winning the governorship election on Saturday by a large margin, in a state hitherto a stronghold of the PDP, since 1999.

His victory was announced by the returning officer, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, Vice-chancellor, University of Benin, at the INEC Collation Centre in Yenagoa on Sunday night.

Lyon won in six out of eight local government areas and scored 352,552 votes while the PDP candidate polled 143,172, more than half of the votes coming from Sagbama LGA, home base of Diri’s sponsor, Governor Seriake Dickson.

Buhari in a statement on Sunday night commended Lyon for the impressive victory, the first time the APC would win a governorship post east of the Nigeria since its formation in 2014.

President Buhari also commended APC supporters in particular and Nigerians in general in the State who exercised their civic rights in a peaceful manner, notwithstanding the pockets of unrest recorded in some locations.

Condemning the loss of lives in Bayelsa, particularly prior to the election, the President commiserated with the families of the victims.

‘‘Violence during elections vitiates our commitment to demonstrate to the world and upcoming generation that we are a people capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.’’

He noted that while officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies did their best within the ambit of the law to ensure free, fair and credible elections, it was unfortunate that pockets of unrest, mostly sponsored by desperate politicians, were recorded during the poll.

The President looked forward to working with the incoming government to improve the lives of the people in Bayelsa State, while ensuring the security of lives and property of all citizens.

President Buhari urged Governor-elect Lyon to carry other divergent interests along in the next phase of governance, imploring those not satisfied with the outcome of the poll to seek redress through the constitutionally established channels.
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Governor elect David Lyon
Africa - New emoji set aims to shatter image of Africa as zone of famine and war
Image Profile
by FricNews
Nov 18, 2019 - 9:11
News
O’Plérou Grebet designs images that reflect culture of his country, Ivory Coast.

In January 2018, O’Plérou Grebet set himself a challenge. For every day of the year, the graphic design student, then aged 20, decided to design an emoji that reflected the culture of his home country, Ivory Coast, and the wider region of West Africa.

“I wanted to create a project to promote African cultures to change the image the Western media have of Africa: hunger, poverty and wars,” he said. “I wanted to show a different and positive side.”

Adopting a different theme each week, he shared his daily designs on Instagram. He started with food and drink – a topic that everyone identifies with. “People love to eat,” he said. He began sharing designs of foutou, (a bowl of mashed plantain and cassava) and gbofloto (fried dough balls) online. One of his favourite images, showing a plastic bag bursting with purple liquid, represents bissap (dried hibiscus flower juice). “I have memories related to it,” he said. “Women sell it in little plastic bags outside of schools, and I bought it from kindergarten to high school.”

He didn’t tell his teachers or classmates at Abidjan’s Institute of Sciences and Communication Techniques about the project – but people soon noticed as it grew in popularity online. People began sending requests for new designs – anything from hairstyles to forms of transport. “I received congratulations and encouraging comments from many people across Africa and the diaspora, telling me my work is important and I should not stop,” he said.

An advertising agency sent Grebet an Apple Mac so that he could create designs for iOS as well as Android phones. This year he launched a compilation of the images, which have since been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Grebet’s designs aren’t official emojis, because they have not been approved by the Unicode Consortium, a California-based organisation that reviews requests for new designs and sets standards for characters across different programmes and platforms. Grebet is working on a submission to the body. For now, images from his app, Zouzoukwa – which means “picture” in Bété, the language of the Bété people from the south-western Ivory Coast – can be used as stickers or standalone images.

The number of official emojis has increased rapidly over recent years – a greater range of skin tones are now available, as well as icons that represent different types of disability, such as canes or wheelchairs, and symbols that are gender neutral. But vast areas of life remain unrepresented.

“I think [Zouzoukwa designs] became popular because they fill a gap in digital communication for Africans. My work helps us to communicate more clearly, using emojis that represent how we live and what we want to say,” Grebet said.

One of his favourite designs is “You saw that?”, a facial expression that he says is used in Ivory Coast and means something similar to “I told you so”. After posting it online, people elsewhere in West Africa began sharing the meaning of the expression in their home country. “My [Instagram] followers from Cameroon commented that they also use this gesture, but as a warning sign, like, ‘If you do that, you will see what I will do,’” he said.

Another of his favourites is the Zaouli emoji design, a mask and dance from the Gouro people of Ivory Coast. “I love [the Zaouli design] because it’s a mix of many arts: painting, sculpting, music, dancing – and because I like its appearance too,” he said.

Tech companies should do more to make sure their products are representative, said Grebet, but he added: “At the same time, I think it’s not really their role, but today with social media we have tools to make our voices heard and impact [what] these companies create. He cited the example of the campaign group Emojination, which pushes for greater representation among the official set of emojis and helped Rayouf Alhumedhi, then a Saudi student in Germany, get approval for the the hijab emoji.

Grebet has now created 376 different designs, and he hopes to keep going by creating images for countries across Africa. “My biggest dream right now is to travel to more African countries, discover their cultures, turn their popular and traditional cultural elements into emojis,” he said.
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The emoji depict themes covering everything from food and drink to hairstyles and public transport. Photograph: O’Plérou Grebet
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