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Botched Chibok Trip: Riding In The Storm

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“Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creature of men
-Benjamin Disraeli
Until April 14, 2014,
Chibok, a subsurb community of about 90 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital, was perhaps not known by many people outside the state capital or better still the North East geo-political  zone of the country.
But the unfortunate incident of April 14 rather opened another window in the history of Chibok, where a government secondary school is sited. Like the history of many communities, the unfortunately circumstance that played out in Chibok and eventually lifted the Borno community to what many called a national embarrassment or a slap on the nation’s security, was better imagined than experienced.
No fewer than 200 girls of the secondary school were abducted by Islamic militants of Boko Haram sect; a situation which Borno State governor described as, “a dark era in the history of insurgency in the state.”
Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are under emergency rule as a result of terrorist attacks that have claimed many lives. Though, the actual number of the girls in the den of the abductors is still not certain, days and weeks came by, but there was no report where the girls were camped. This perhaps heightened the fear that all may not be well with the abducted girls, more so with unconfirmed reports that they were allegedly being raped, abused and enslaved by Boko Haram gunmen.
Just as the security personnel continued to comb the forest for the abducted girls without success, parents and well-meaning Nigerians, most of whom went into fasting for divine intervention, demanded for the release of the female students. The nationwide protests by labour and civil society groups added a new dimension to the unfortunate incident, coming on the heels of the arrival of foreign anti-terrorism experts to assist in the ongoing search and rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.
United States of America (USA), which had earlier predicted the disintegration of Nigeria by 2015, saw the Boko Haram terrorists attacks as an opportunity to act the Big Brother role of protecting Nigeria from terrorist insurgency. Britain, Israel and few other nations reportedly offered their counter-terrorism experts to carry out the surgical operations of the cancerous growth at the neck of our dear country; a price, which is still shrouded in secrecy.
There was optimism in many quarters that with the international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria’s efforts at fighting terrorism, success was in sight. But as weeks went by with no hope of the abducted girls being released, hopelessness and betrayal became the mood of most Nigerians with several accusations of  the Presidency being incapable of steering the ship of the nation.
As the riddle of the Chibok girls abduction remains unsolved, Nigerians woke up to the claims and counter-claims about President Jonathan’s aborted trip to Chibok, apparently designed to reinforce confidence on Nigerians on his administration’s ability and capacity to fight Boko Haram insurgency to a stand still.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) took the President and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the cleaners and the latter replied not without casting aspersions on the former’s alleged plan to pull down the President or discredit his actions and programmes.
APC, yearning for change in the political landscape of the country, believed that Jonathan’s aborted visit to Chibok betrayed Nigerians who voted him into office. In a statement in Lagos, APC Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, accused Jonathan of bungling the fight against the sect as well as exhibited cluelessness in handling the abduction of the school girls.
As if that was not strong enough to pull the carpet off the feet of Jonathan, APC added that the President’s action, “deepened the pains of the parents and guardians of the girls and indeed that of the whole nation, when he should have been the consoler-in-chief at such a difficult time for a nation he leads.”
Side by side with that discredit, APC noted that Jonathan threw away to the winds the chance of redeeming the battered global image of his administration in handling  the abduction of the school girls.
APC’s reaction to Jonathan’s alleged aborted Chibok visit, no doubt, suggests that the President, who is afraid to visit a crisis zone, cannot lay claim to being a Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Importantly, APC’s presentation of garment of shame on the Jonathan administration is not ignorant of the fact that its supporters are likely to decode such message with partisan lens and operationalise their stand for a change in Nigeria.
But the ruling PDP refused to be taken to the gallows as a sacrificial lamb. Jonathan’s spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, discountanced  the report that Jonathan refused  or cancelled the visit to Chibok.
According to him, there was no plan on the itinerary of the President to visit Chibok even when it was widely reported that the president’s advanced team had landed in Borno State.
Wondering how the Press may have carried the report of the president’s visit to Chibok, Abati believed that it might be the handiwork of mischief makers.
If Reuben Abati was economical with his defence and explanation, Special Adviser on Media to the Rivers State PDP Chairman, Jerry Needam, was not. He took the prosecutor’s bread back to the prosecutor. In an attempt to unmask what he called “APC’s self righteousness and political glory,” Needam said the opposition party’s action was only intended to nail PDP and the President to the wall for the populace to see.
“We know the stock in trade of APC. We are not unaware that APC is all out to pull the President down or discredit his actions”, “Needam said.
According to him, APC cannot justify what he called the “noise” it was making about the Chibok girls side by side the fact that both the Borno State  Governor (Shettima) and the government are of APC stock. “Who is fooling who?,” he asked.
Rather than shift the goal post, Needam said Shettima and APC have the moral burden to tell Nigerians what happened at Chibok especially against the backdrop that the Borno State governor reportedly directed the students to sit their WAEC examination at Chibok against security advice of the examination body and the Federal Ministry of Education.
It may not be a matter of who is right or wrong in the alleged aborted Chibok visit by Mr President, if Nigerians realise that in security matters, one plus one is not usually two.
While the botched Chibok visit rides in the storm, Nigerians are unanimous that the abduction of the Chibok girls should be devoid of politics, and if we must play politics, it must be done objectively.
Surely, the last may not have been heard about the abduction of the Chibok girls, but making a mincemeat out of it amounts to a show of shame for Nigeria and Nigerians when the citizens should be united irrespective of party affiliation in the war to free the nation from the clutches of terrorists.

 

Samuel Eleonu

Abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State

Abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State

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APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request

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The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn. 
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.

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A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law

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Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs.  Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.

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NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System

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Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed. 
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and  the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
  “We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
 Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers. 
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
 ”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
 “Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat. 
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc. 

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