Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have called for the creation of more states and local governments in the region to enhance its rapid development.
The call is coming on the heels of the declaration by the Nigerian Senate that states will be created before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration .
The stakeholders who said this at the end of the 9th roundtable conference organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Rivers state in Port Harcourt also called for mechanism to regulate the exploration and exploitation of oil in the region with a view to checking its attendant hazards.
They also condemned kidnapping for ransom and urged both states and federal government to create employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the region.
The communiqué which was signed by the conference chairman Prof B. B Fakae, the Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University of Science and Technology, stressed the need for a strong media campaign to enthrone peace in the region.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Alhaji Idi Farouk said that the roundtable with the theme: “Developing a Frame Work for Peace Campaign in the Niger Delta” was aimed at proffering a holistic solution to the problem of the Niger Delta.
“NOA recognizes the fact that he who wears the shoe knows exactly where it pinches, therefore, it is important that practical solution to the problems in the Niger Delta must necessarily emanate from the region itself, he said.
Represented by Mrs Patricia Oladipo, he urged all Niger Deltans to see the campaign for peace in the region as a collective enterprise.
The state director of the organization, Chief Andy Nweye said that NOA had produced a book for civics education for schools in the country.
El-Zakzaky’s Dramatic Return From India Raises More Dust …FG Wants Me Dead, Kirikiri Prison Better Than Indian Hospital -El-Zakzaky …He’s Unruly, India Willing To Send Him Back, FG Claims
Barely 96 hours after landing in New Delhi for medical treatment, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, has reportedly discharged himself from the Medenta Hospital and may likely return to Nigeria, today.
The President, Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said that El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who were airborne as at the time of speaking with our correspondent, yesterday evening, left New Delhi around 5:00 p.m. Nigerian time, heading back to the country.
Musa, in a statement, blamed the Federal Government for scuttling the IMN leader’s planned treatment.
He said, “Following lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment in New Delhi of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it is now confirmed that the Sheikh is on his way back to Abuja.
“In a video message sent through his office, the Sheikh said it was decided that they will be taken to the airport to be flown back to Nigeria.
“He has left Delhi by 17:00 Nigerian time.”
He prayed that “may that be the best option in the circumstances.”
The group added, “The Nigerian government’s interference and scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered by the court is the direct cause of the impasse.
“The government never wanted the medical leave in the first place, and did whatever to stop it by all means possible,” Musa alleged.
The Federal Government had earlier refuted El-Zakzaky’s allegations, stating that he attempted to violate the conditions of his treatment by making unreasonable demands, including insisting on lodging in a five-star hotel in New Delhi with free access to “all manner of visitors.”
Earlier, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, yesterday, had condemned Federal Government’s claims that he was unruly in India.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had claimed that the leader of IMN had refused treatment from those he called “unknown doctors” put in place to treat him in India.
The Shiites leader insisted he wanted to be treated by those booked to treat him before he and his wife left Nigeria.
However, the IMN leader, in a short statement, yesterday, said, “I have heard that the Nigerian authorities have issued some statements which are laced with lies.
“It is up to people to agree with me or with the government’s version of the story.”
But the Federal Government had apologized to India for what it termed El-Zakzaky’s “unruly behaviour” in the country.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after state officials resisted his pressure to hand-over his International Passport to him.
It states: “He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.”
Meanwhile, there was mild drama at the Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, India, yesterday, as leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, refused to be treated by those he described as unknown doctors deployed to treat them, saying they were different from those engaged for their treatment before they departed Nigeria.
El-Zakzaky, who spoke through an audio recording, also alleged that the condition at the Indian hospital he was taken to was worse than Kirikiri prisons.
The Shi’ites leader and his wife arrived in India last Tuesday for treatment, following the ruling of Kaduna State High Court.
This is even as his group, IMN, yesterday called on the Federal Government to allow the personal doctors of the El-Zakzakys to take over their medical care. In the audio recording, El-Zakzaky accused the Federal Government of frustrating his medical treatment in India.
Speaking in Hausa, he said the situation at the hospital in India was “pathetic and worrisome,” alleging that the management of Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, had been threatened not to admit him for treatment.
He said: “The hospital officials received us well, they told us that they parked two ambulance vehicles to deceive the crowd while taking us out of the airport through another way, saying it was for our own safety.
“On getting to the hospital, we were placed under tighter security worse than what we witnessed in Nigeria. We are currently more confined than when we were in Nigeria, worse than a prison setting.
“Contrary to what was agreed before our arrival that our own personal doctors would supervise this treatment, they’ve changed the arrangement. So, we objected receiving treatment from strange doctors without the supervision of our own trusted physicians.”
However, hours later, the hospital, according to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, agreed to the request of Sheikh El-Zakzaky to use known and appointed doctors for his treatment.
Speaking further, the Shi’ites leader had said: ‘’Right now, we are in the city of New Delhi in India. Like you all know, we came here for medical treatment due to some ailments that I and my wife, Zeenat, have been suffering from.
‘’There is a bullet in Zeenat’s body and there is also the need for her to get her two knee caps replaced, among other ailments.
“On my own part, there are also particles of bullets that were broken into pieces in my eyes, hands and thighs which have been poisonous to my body.
“I think what they are supposed to do first of all is to extract these bullets of which I know the surgery cannot be done in Nigeria, hence the reason for my referral abroad.
‘’Second, the poison needs to be extracted from my body, some of which they said is in my bones and they said the surgery will take some time.
‘’I also have problems with my eyes. Since the second surgery, my eyes have been weak and I was also advised to travel to India for surgery.
“We were happy because we know that by coming here, we’ll get a befitting hospital that will perform the surgery. The medical advice to come to this hospital, which they called Mendata, was given to us by some foreign doctors that visited us in Nigeria and that was why we requested to be brought to this hospital.
“While in Nigeria, we got information that the United States Embassy had given instruction that we shouldn’t be accepted in this hospital. We also heard that they obeyed the order and said they won’t accept us, so we were even thinking of going elsewhere in India but were later informed that the order had been lifted.
“We then proceeded to India. On our arrival, we were received by the hospital staff from the airport and they escorted us down to the hospital. His fans at the airport
‘’While on our way from the airport to the hospital in an ambulance, the staff of the hospital were narrating how some people besieged the airport just to see us before proceeding to the hospital, but they (the hospital) tricked them by keeping two ambulances at the location where my supporters were waiting and drove us out in another ambulance at a different location.
‘’They also said another set of people besieged the hospital just to see our arrival but they decided to use an alternative entrance to the hospital because they were trying to avert stampede.
‘’When we got here, a staff of the Nigerian Embassy told us they had already assembled, with the staff of this hospital and security operatives discussing on what to do when we arrive. They later took us to an Indian security outfit that is even more sophisticated than the one we were kept in Nigeria.
“Back home in Nigeria, they agreed that nobody should take us to any other hospital but we got to realise that the doctors they brought to us were there just to give advice. We then told them we won’t allow any other doctor, aside from our trusted doctors, to attend to us so they don’t do to us what they couldn’t do with their bullets in Nigeria.
“All that we have seen here have shown that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention. I have been in detention for many years but I’ve never seen this kind of security that I’m seeing here. Even at the door of my hospital room, there are many heavily armed security personnel waiting.
“They didn’t even allow me to go to the next room, I started asking myself that all these while I have been in detention, I have never seen this type. Even if I’m in the cell, they usually lock us up around 9 p.m. and open the cell around 7 a.m. and they allowed us to go anywhere we want in the area we are. “
“It will not be possible for us to come out of detention just to get medical attention and now find ourselves in another form of detention. We won’t submit ourselves to people we don’t trust. There is a need for us to go back home since it has been agreed that we should travel out to get medical attention and India is not a place we can trust.
‘’There are other countries that have volunteered to take care of our treatment, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. We can choose from among these three.”
Meanwhile, a member of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, IHRC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attitude of the Indian government has portrayed El-Zakzaky as a common criminal when no court in Nigeria has convicted him.
He said the Indian government had given El-Zakzaky an ultimatum to leave Indian soil if he refused to receive treatment from unknown doctors billed to treat him.
He said: “I just received very worrying news from the Indian government that ultimatum has been given to the leader of IMN, to leave India if he does not agree to the doctors specified to treat him. It is extremely bad the way he is treated.
“Under the current situation, it seems he has no choice than to go back to Nigeria. He has been given some hours to respond to their ultimatum. This, to me, is totally unacceptable by any standard.
“This is a man that has not been found guilty of anything, to the extent that in his own country, the highest court has granted him permission to be treated.
‘’The Indian government, by its behaviour, depicts Sheikh El-Zakzaky as a common criminal. This is really outrageous and those who stand for justice should please respond.”
But in a statement, Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, said the IMN leader had violated the terms under which the court allowed him to travel. Gekpe said he demanded to have his passport and sought free movement, adding that he wanted to receive visitors and also made a request to be checked into a 5-star hotel. She said he had behaved so badly that the Indian authorities were willing to return him to Nigeria.
Her statement read: “The court on August 5, 2019, granted Sheikh Ibraheem EL-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Consequently, the government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the Order.
“In line with the court order, El-Zakzaky was approved to embark on the trip with state officials and his choice to be accompanied by his aides and personal doctors was not opposed by the government.
“On August 12, 2019, he and other members of the entourage went to India via Dubai. It is to be noted that El-Zakzaky particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India. However, on reaching Dubai, El-Zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
“He requested that his passport be handed over to him but the state officials would not budge to his pressure. The situation became worse in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks. ‘’
In addition, he demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds as well as requested to be allowed to check into a 5-star hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital. ‘’
The request was refused on the ground that he came into the country for medicals and not as a tourist (more so that his visa was issued on medical grounds and not for tourism).
He also demanded that police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.
“Against medical ethics and standard practice, he requested to nominate doctors of his choice to join the ones tasked by Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife. This created a stalemate, which the hospital insisted that he would not dictate to it on the choice of medical personnel to carry the required medical treatment.
‘’Frustrated by his antics, the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect. This is on the account that they will not allow him to use their country to internationalise his group’s activities.
El-Zakzaky “Against this background, the Nigerian government wishes to commend the stand of the Indian government as well as apologise to her for the unruly behaviour of El-Zakzaky.
“Similarly, the attention of the public and indeed the international community is hereby drawn to these unfortunate developments.
“The government also wishes to use this opportunity to affirm its readiness to undertake the prosecution of El-Zakzaky through the due process if and when he is returned to the country. On this note, his foul cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded.’’
India denies detaining El-Zakzaky, wife, meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria has denied detaining El-Zakzaky, stating that there was no condition or ultimatum to the patient.
In a series of tweets from its official Twitter handle @india_nigeria, the High Commission assured that medical treatment is provided to consenting patients.
The tweets read: “Please be assured that medical treatment at reputed Indian hospitals is provided to consenting patients, as per medical norms. Protocol and safety steps are taken as necessary. There is no condition or ultimatum by India.”
It also denied reports that Indian police and security services were collaborating with Nigerian security services to place, El-Zakzaky, the Shi’ite leader in custody.
The mission added: “Such reports are not true. India has always been responsive to humanitarian requests. Medical treatment request was received from both El-Zakzaky and the Government of Nigeria, and we readily agreed. No other connotation should be attached to the matter.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) back to Nigeria with immediate effect for fear of his internationalising his group’s activities in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, disclosed this in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja.
She said El-Zakzaky’s cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded because since arriving in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.
“The court on 5th August, 2019, granted Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Consequently, the government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order.
“In line with the court order, El-Zakzaky was approved to embark on the trip with state officials and his choice to be accompanied by his aides and personal Doctors was not opposed by the government.
“On 12th August, 2019, he and other members of the entourage went to India via Dubai. It is to be noted that El-Zakzaky particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India. However, on reaching Dubai, El-Zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
PDP, Experts Condemn Buhari’s Ban On Food Import …Say It’s Plot To Punish Nigerians
The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) says Federal Government’s outright banning of food importation will lead to inflation and further impoverish the masses.
The President of the society, Prof. Bashir Raji, said this while reacting to the recent pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari, that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should not give “a cent’’ to importation of food.
In a telephone interview with newsmen, yesterday, he described the move as “a right policy, right timing but wrong approach.’’
It would be recalled that Buhari had, last Tuesday, in Daura, Katsina State, directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country with the steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security.
He said the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
The country had achieved food security, and for physical security, “we are not doing badly,’’ the President had said.
But Raji, who emphasised that the policy would be good if properly articulated, however, advised that the president should put into consideration the nation’s food production as well as consumption.
The don specifically noted that the country required about eight million tonnes of rice annually, adding that “currently, the country is producing just about 3.7million tones.’’
Raji decried that the country was not meeting up to 50 per cent of its needs.
“With the outright ban, there is no way the country can meet up with the required 50 per cent in one year,’’ he said.
He suggested that the Federal Government embark on the ban gradually over the next five years putting in place incentives and measurable targets to ensure that the 50 per cent shortfall was met during the period.
“But now the way was going, definitely there will be a lot of inflation, there will be high prices and considering the economy at the moment a lot of people will suffer.
“The president must have been fed the impression that because of the drop in the importation of rice through our ports, the rice we consumed in this country is produce locally which is not true.
“There is a lot of increase in the production of rice locally but there has been increasing smuggling from neighbouring countries which eventually ends up in Nigeria to complement what is produce locally.
“The policy if properly articulated will be beneficial on the long run but is quite clear that we still rely a lot on importation of food and outright banning is likely to bring about inflation.
“It will also bring about pressure on the black or parallel foreign exchange market and high cost of food, especially rice.
“We don’t import yam, we don’t import cassava, beans and we don’t actually import most of our staple food; the ones we import are basically rice maybe wheat, milk, sugar and some of the exotic foods.
“Unless we can produce one and a half times what we required, it will not be a good decision to ban outright importation of food, especially now that a lot of people are suffering economically,” Raji said.
The SSSN president decried that a lot of populace were currently not eating local rice as it ought to be due to series of complaints. He however advised the Federal Government to give incentives in terms of free seeds of the varieties to enable people to eat locally produced rice.
Raji urged the government to consider issues regarding production and processing by buying some of these medium scale processing mills and giving them to cooperative farmers at 50 per cent discount.
“Government should give incentives in terms of input and processing so that the rice can meet the standard required by the people.
“Such incentives will go a long way in assisting the country to meet the required target of rice production and consumption in the next five years before banning importation,” he said.
Raji pledged the readiness of the society to work with the Federal Government to ensure that land degradation and climate change mitigation safeguards were put in place following the envisaged massive farming activities the policy might generate.
In the same token, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), not to release forex for the purpose of food importation as a move by the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress to punished and further impoverish Nigerians.
The PDP said the directive would worsen food scarcity, “exacerbate the already harsh economic situation and the general depression, frustration, resentment and despair in our country under President Buhari’s watch.”
In a statement issued by party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP said rather than formulating and implementing policies to make life suitable for Nigerians; the APC-led government is taking pleasure in inflicting more pains to its citizens.
The statement read: “It is indeed appalling that instead of bringing solutions to the depreciating living conditions in our nation, President Buhari is rather imposing more suffering by ordering the removal of subsidy on food even when it is manifestly clear that he had failed on all fronts to achieve any level of food security despite the huge resources available to his administration.
“The party says by the directive, the Buhari-led Presidency and the APC have again demonstrated their insensitivity towards millions of Nigerians who are already suffering from acute hunger and starvation due to severe food shortage and high prices brought by President Buhari’s misrule.
“The PDP states strongly that Nigerians do not, in any way, deserve such suffering being foisted on them by such directive on food.
‘Such situation will only breed further despondency among our citizens, heighten our security challenges and put more pressure on compatriots, many of who, in the face of suffering occasioned by APC misrule, are resorting to suicide and slavery mission as options.”
The party counselled that instead of removing subsidy on food and putting more suffering on Nigerians, President Buhari should cut the “billions of naira being wasted on luxuries in his Presidency and free the funds for the welfare of the masses.
“Furthermore, the PDP urges President Buhari to recover the over N14 trillion siphoned by APC interests under his administration including the stolen N9 trillion detailed in the leaked NNPC memo and channel the resources towards food security for Nigerians.
“The PDP states that it is a complete disservice to Nigerians for the government to place restrictive directives on food for the masses, while interests condoned by the same administration are frittering our common patrimony.
“The PDP wants to believe that while Mr. President enjoys the comfort, luxury, sufficiency and safety of the government house, he is barely aware of the sufferings of Nigerians.”
Also reacting, a Nigerian knowledge institution, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his directive to the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), to stop issuing forex for food importation into Nigeria, warning that such restriction would increase the rate of suffering among majority of Nigerians.
‘Bobrisky’: Army’s Unfair Jab At Wike
Even the most casual exploration of the realm of paradoxes easily reveals the difference between lying and telling a lie. While in lying, there is the implication of willfulness, in the second case, the actor only delivers a message without liability for the content of such a message. A further exploration of this paradox easily betrays how much the modern world depends on reports and other communication that could easily fall into the category of half-truths, crass untruths and blatant lies. For instance, virtually all the books of fiction that define the literary culture of the contemporary world are chronicles of untrue situations. Taking it to specifics, who was Robinson Crusoe? Who was Gulliver of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’? Coming down to African literature who can trace the lineage of Mai Sunsaye, the lead character in the book, ‘Burning Grass’ by Cyprian Ekwensi? The common truth about these books is that they are mere fictional works built around typical figures that may not have existed and even if they did, may not have manifested exactly in the forms they were presented to the world.
Meanwhile, the world’s dependence on fictional reports is even more pronounced in the flood of daily briefings produced for top officials of government, business and clergy by subordinates, who could easily assert the liberty to forward mere figments of their imagination to higher authority, in place of credible eye witness accounts and associated dependable intelligence.
A recall of this paradoxical sojourn was spawned by a recent jab against the Rivers Governor, Chief Nyeson Wike by the Army in respect of one wanted ‘Bobrisky’ – presented in the public domain as a most wanted criminal. Incidentally, there is a real life Bobrisky whose birth name is Okuneye Idris, a male who straddles the internet with provocative posts of himself mimicking females and a portraying bohemian character. With an estimated networth of $250,000, Bobrisky’s show has a princely commercial value.
Meanwhile, acting out his missionary zeal in running the affairs of the Rivers State as the governor, Nyesom Wike had acted on the basis of otherwise credible security report, and placed a bounty of N30 million to be
paid to anyone who provides useful assistance to the capture of a fellow presented to the public domain also as ‘Bobrisky and who for the purpose of clarification in this piece will be assigned the name ‘Bobrisky 2’. The latter Bobrisky is reportedly a notorious criminals who with his gang terrorises the Ogoni axis of the state. Soon after the announcement of the bounty, the governor announced to an elated Rivers community that Bobrisky 2 had been arrested by the Army, and he was in the process of releasing the N30 million to the Army. No sooner had the words fallen out of the governor’s mouth that the same Army he was favouring turned against him by denying the arrest of Bobrisky2 by their men and specifically called him a liar.
The moral of the preview to this story is that even if Wike’s claim on Bobrisky 2 was false, he could not have been the author of the narrative. The entire package on Bobrisky2 could have been provided him by elements in the official Rivers State Security network of which the Army constitutes a critical component. And given that the Army was even the would-be primary beneficiary of the bounty, whatever report on the arrest that never took place could have come from military sources. By implication, therefore a lie was fed to a whole state governor who innocently paraded it to the entire state, only to be ridiculed by the very Army he was trying to favour.
While in the course of his busy schedule as governor, Wike may not be inclined to dwell exhaustively on such an issue, the public take on it goes beyond the governor’s response. The level of insecurity in the state has reached fever pitch with the governor launching a multi-faceted all-out war on the syndrome. Needless to note that in this onslaught against insecurity, the Army remains a most critical component. As the ultimate hard-blow response to wherever decisive physical action is required in taming the scourge and its sponsors, its contributions can never be over-emphasised. In that context, therefore, the Army occupies a pole position that renders their word and action of equal sanctity as gospel truth. Hence, having the Army portrayed as indulging in any circumstance that is associated with disparaging the governor of the state comes with a sour taste.
comes with a sour taste.
The Army can however still vindicate itself by clearing whatever mix up has come up in this saga, by arresting whoever the real character is, even with his obvious misrepresentation as Bobrisky, since even with another name, he is still the terror in the equation and needs a date with the soldiers. Especially,as the bounty is still intact.
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