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US Troops, Drones’ Deployment Excites FG

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The Federal Government, yesterday welcomed a United States’ decision to send up to 300 military personnel to Cameroon to help the regional fight against Boko Haram, despite having itself requested more direct help from Washington.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the deployment was a “welcome development” while the military said it demonstrated cooperation was needed against the Islamists.
US President Barack Obama, yesterday announced that 90 personnel had already been sent and the full contingent would conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
“The United States has given the pledge to support the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the region,” Shehu told newsmen.
“This is the fulfilment of that pledge and we are very happy about it. The United States’ move is quite commendable.”
Military spokesman, Colonel Rabe Abubakar added: “This is how the fight can be done collectively with partners cooperating with us to fight against a common cause — terrorism — which has been ravaging the region for some time now.
“We appeal to other nations to emulate the good example of the United States. The United States has experience in fighting terrorism.
“Fighting terrorism is not one nation’s issue. It requires a global effort. We all need to work together… to fight this evil.”
Buhari, who took office in May vowing to end the violence, and on Wednesday met the US military’s Africa Command chief, General David Rodriguez in Abuja, has spearheaded efforts for a new, five-nation fighting force against Boko Haram.
The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) was due to be deployed in late July but the deadline passed with no new date announced for it to start.
The US announcement comes after the Islamic State group-allied militants have increased attacks against civilians using suicide bombers in border areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Diplomatic relations between Abuja and Washington were strained under Buhari’s predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, over the United States’ refusal to sell weapons to Nigeria.
Buhari repeated those criticisms in July on a visit to the US capital, asserting the embargo — in place because of his military’s human rights record — was helping Boko Haram.
Washington last year provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance expertise to Nigeria in the hunt for more than 200 girls abducted from their school.
The assistance included drones and spy planes as well as up to 80 military personnel.

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Senators Fault Buhari’s Planned Farm Settlements

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Some senators have expressed concerns over plans by the regime of President. Muhammadu Buhari, to establish farm settlements in each of the 108 senatorial districts in Nigeria.
They noted that any arrangement to acquire land by the Federal Government at the moment without giving details of what it would be used for, might face stiff resistance from various communities.
The President had last month, directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority to set up the integrated farm estates in 108 senatorial districts nationwide.
Already, the policy has been greeted with criticisms from the leadership of the various ethnic groups in the middle belt, and southern part of the country, describing it as an attempt in disguise, to create grazing areas for cattle.
The Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide, said the Federal Government should give details of the project before approaching state governments for land allocation.
He said, “We are in the Senate to represent our people. I know what my people want
“What we quarrel against is open grazing; we are not against ranching. We are not saying that a Fulani man that has a herd of cattle cannot come to the South to do the business of ranching but he cannot come to carry out open grazing.
“Grazing has two effects. It leads to wanton destruction of farmland. You cannot use animal husbandry to destroy crop farming. There are also criminal cases associated with it including murder.
“If the Federal Government is coming to get land in my state for ranching, it is okay because we need beef, which would be richer, when it is from the ranching system.
“However, the government should make its intention very clear on the policy to avoid major clashes and crisis.”
Similarly, Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South in the red chamber said government could make arrangements for herders to do the business of ranching but not at the  expense of the farmers.
He advised the Federal Government to go to the drawing board and come up with a modern arrangement to make ranching the way to go.
He said, “When government policies are viewed with suspicion, when citizens lack trust in government policies, then something is wrong.
“Until we address the root causes of conflicts between herders and farmers, and genuinely come out with the right way to go through dialogue, any policy that is thrown at the citizens will be looked at with suspicion which would cause some level of tension.

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Senator Wants Improved Network For Results Transmission

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The Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Kalu, says  Nigeria requires 95 per cent of national network coverage to enable electronic transmission of election results in the country.
Kalu said this in an interview with The Tide source yesterday in Abuja.
Recall that 52 senators on July 15 voted against electronic transmission of results in the forthcoming general election while 28 voted for and 28 absentees.
The senators insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission should be compelled to seek clearance from Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) while the National Assembly would have to approve the verdict of NCC.
Kalu, insisted the current network coverage was inadequate.
“I have never been against transmission of results , I only said we don’t have adequate coverage where we live,this is the issue.
“We have coverage, but it is not adequate.
‘Like Abia North Senatorial District where I come from, there is no adequate coverage, may be 43 per cent coverage, so how are we going to do that.
“ I believe in electronic transmission,but I want to quickly urge the NCC to deploy their technology to ensure wider coverage; I believe in that process because it is transparent.
“ I don’t want to listen to officials who want to buy equipment and make commissions, I am telling myself the truth, if we even have a coverage of 95 per cent it will be okay, but we have below 50 per cent in the entire country.
“I am not talking about my constituency.
“ It wasn’t a party decision to vote against e transmission and not a clique decision, it was out of my conscience.
“ I can only do what I will do that will benefit all Nigerians,” Kalu said.

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Igbo Stakeholders Decry Absence Of S’East Govs At Forum

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The absence of four Governors of the South-East in the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting held last Thursday in Enugu has been strongly condemned by members of the Concerned Igbo Stake-holders Forum (CISF). 
The leader of the group, Mr Chukwuma Okenwa told newsmen in Enugu that there was no justifiable reason that would be enough for these governors to be absent in a meeting of such magnitude.
According to him, it was wrong particularly coming at a time when the region is battling socio-economic and security concerns stemming from the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
His words: “The absence of the Governors of Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra States leaves a lot to question the commitment of these governors to the growth and advancement of the South-East in missing a crucial meeting held within their geopolitical zone.
He further described as very disturbing the conspicuous absence of the Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, or a representative from the state at the meeting. 
Okenwa said that the body language of the South-East governors in recent times leaves no one to doubt that these governors have magnified their interest above that of the region and Ndi-Igbo in general.
“Their gaze at the forthcoming elections in 2023 is becoming an unbearable distraction for them in delivering their mandate to the people,” he also lamented.
The group, therefore beckoned on Ndi-Igbo, regardless of political party affiliation, to unite and formidably negotiate a favourable space in the political scheme of things.
According to him, when this is done, we will ensure an unhindered growth and development of all Igbos, he added.

By: Canice Amadi, Enugu

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