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…Akunyili, Amaechi, Others React

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Stand up against criminals, pay no ransom,” an elated Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, told Nigerians yesterday following the release of the journalists who were kidnapped on July 11.

Akunyili told newsmen that payment of ransom had encouraged kidnapping which has now become an industry.

“I just feel so happy that our brothers are safe and no one succumbed to the threat of the kidnappers who are criminals that go about torturing people emotionally,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has appealed to security operatives to ensure that anyone rescued or freed by kidnappers is debriefed to understand the sociological profile of those involved.

Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi stated  this yesterday at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa during a brief reception in honour of the kidnapped journalists that were rescued early in the day.

Governor Amaechi who was represented by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Blessing Wikina, said debriefing would enable them know the thought pattern and how they communicate to tackle the problem.

The Governor explained that if they debrief those who had borne victims, the security agencies would gradually be able to compile a profile on how to deal with the situation.

Governor Amaechi thanked God for the safe rescue of the kidnapped journalists who are to be reunited with their families, but expressed sadness that in spite of several appeals to those involved in criminal act of hostage taking, such unwholesome practice was going on.

He commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other security agencies for freeing the journalists unhurt and urged the victims not to allow what happened to deter them from rendering their services to society and humanity.

The State Chief Executive noted that security matters were collective issues which should not be left in the hands of one person or state government and provided the journalists with a charted air craft Topbrass Aviation Ltd with registration number ZS-SME to convey them to Lagos.

Responding on behalf of the rescued kidnappers, the Chairman, Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Wahab Oba said they did not really have much to say but to thank God for His mercy on them throughout the one week they were held hostage.

Mr. Oba also expressed gratitude to President Goodluck Jonathan for the concern shown over their kidnap, especially in the speech he made during his visit to Akwa Ibom State as well as the government and people of Abia State whom he said were wonderful to them and the Rivers State Governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi whom he described as a press friendly governor for arranging a chartered flight to take them to Lagos.

The Nigeria Police was not left out as he acknowledged the consistency and aggressiveness with which they hunted their kidnappers and hinted that “throughout the seven days we stayed with our captors, we did not stay in a place for four hours because of the way the police was chasing them”.

Mr. Oba was equally happy with journalists for the solidarity they demonstrated through the way they reported the incident which according to him made even the families of the kidnappers to be on them to effect their release because there could be trouble on the land.

“In his reaction, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr Gbenga Adefaye recommended that a harsh example be made of deviants to put an end to kidnapping.

“We hope government will put an end to these incidents of kidnap that embarrasses us all and makes Nigeria look like an uncharted jungle.

“We hope the President will take a strong step on security and reassure everyone that Nigeria is a safe place peopled by decent citizens.

“We also hope that journalists will not be afraid to perform their duties, as enshrined in the Constitution,” Adefaye remarked.

The National Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Leman Shuaibu, said Nigerians should resolve to make the recent episode, the last of kidnap saga in the country.

He told newsmen that it was time the nation got rid of the menace of such despicable and embarrassing act.

“For the first time, the nation stood up against an irresponsible act, but this kidnapping should be the last that would occur in this country,” he declared.

The NUJ president called on government to use all the arsenals at its disposal to flush out criminals that had taken over, especially in Obingwa Local Government Area of the south eastern Nigeria.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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