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For The Record

As AKULGA Sues For Peace …

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Below is the conclusion of an excerpt from the keynote address presented by Pst. Christopher Briggs, mni, JP (Permanent Secretary Emeritus) at the Akuku-Toru Peace and Security Conference held at the Multi-Purpose Hall, Abonnema on Saturday, August 3, 2019. The first part was published on Friday.

In this presentation,
INSECURITY shall be considered to be any breach of the peace that contributes to incessant or recurring conflicts which, more often than not, results in violence, wanton destruction of lives and properties and other forms of criminality.
In setting the tone for meaningful discussions in this conference, please permit me to draw needful attention to some 18 salient points of concern:
*No AKULGA son was among the contestants during the Presidential election. The two main contending candidates were from Northern Nigeria and were of Fulani extraction; bound by tribe, religion and language. No violence of any form was reported in their home towns or home states.
We in AKUKU-TORU (and Abonnema in particular) were not at war with any declared aggressors or sworn enemies.
*Few days to the Presidential elections, Abonnema was reported to have been virtually invaded and occupied by strangers, mostly youths who were neither indigenes nor known residents of the community.
*These strangers were transported into Abonnema mainly by road, meaning they had to pass through the only inlet/ outlet to the community, which is the Abonnema bridge, with a mounted 24-hour military check point. Also within walking distance was the Abonnema Divisional Police headquarters with the closest proximity to the only entry point into the town.
*The vehicles that conveyed these “troops” could not have been too few not to be noticed. They passed through several check points from the East-West Expressway, through the Emuoha/Ogbakiri Junctions and the several 24 hours military and Police check points to Tema Junction and the Harry’s Town military base. No one suspected, queried, intercepted or prevented these questionable movements?
*On arrival in Abonnema, these strangers emptied into compounds and houses, after hibernating in several drinking and smoking joints as they call them. Most of these joints were along the only major road in the town, meaning they were not in hiding.
*They conversed in languages that easily gave them out as non-indigenes. They gave Out enough clues and information to suggest their business interests and who they may be representing.
*Among these strangers were known and easily identifiable sons and daughters of the land who piloted them through the nooks and crannies of the community.
*Their dresses, physical looks, tattoos, hair-dos, slangs, gave them out.
There were or should have been sufficient uniformed and plain cloth security agents, informants and INEC officials or observers in Abonnema, as a LG headquarter to sense the looming dangers.
*Our traditional rulers, Chiefs, elders, men and women, Pastors and opinion leaders saw or heard about these strange and disturbing developments. Compound Chiefs could easily have gotten information on these strangers in their domains and the houses that harboured them.
*The hosts and sponsors of these strangers (from all sides of the divide) and their hatchet men and women were well known in the community.
*Could anything have changed if the right things were done early enough that may have prevented the violence or was there a conspiracy of silence by all for unknown reasons.
*Heavy military hardware and sophisticated weapons were deployed extensively by all parties: dynamites, SMGs, Pump action guns etc.
How did these weapons get into the town and into the hands of those that used them when needed?
*Every indigenous youth involved in this sad incident came from known homes and have parents or relations. Some may have been direct children or wards of prominent personalities in the community.
Who are they and what has been done with what we already know?
*In all of these, were there no arrests that were made to unravel the many questions begging for answers?
*What has been done in concrete terms to support the directly impacted bereaved families?
*Noting the fact that the success of every security operation begins and ends with efficient and effective intelligence gathering and their timely processing and usage, could it be a justifiable conclusion to state that some if not all of us seated here today, may have in one way or another, by our actions and inactions, facilitated the sad occurrences that befell AKULGA and Abonnema in particular?
The Effect And Consequences Of Violent Conflicts And Insecurity
The excessive presence of security personnel in any environment is indicative of perceived threat or potential for the breach of peace. No meaningful investor will be attracted to such environment. The effects of insecurity, therefore, can be very damaging.
Below are some of the known effects and consequences of insecurity:
Needless rancour, tensions and disagreements on nearly every issue.
General atmosphere of mistrust, divisions.
Social dislocations and displacement of people.
Fear of sabotage by perceived enemies with associated anxiety and frenzy.
Heightened hostilities between rivals whenever there arises a need for consensus.
People live in fear and apprehension etc.
Perpetual occupation of our homeland by security agents with the concomitant consequences and collateral damages.
The danger of having our homeland infested by miscreants who have no stake in our development.
The Way Forward:
The establishment of a robust Truth and Reconciliation Committee comprising men and women of distinction, people of proven character and general acceptance to mediate and genuinely reconcile all injured, aggrieved, disenchanted warring parties with their sponsors and patrons.
Establishment of a rehabilitation and value re-orientation center for all identified vulnerable youths.
The establishment of a second-chance school programme with a purpose designed vocation-oriented curriculum for all drop-outs and all who can still pursue formal education.
Commissioning of purpose-designed Skills Acqusition training for all youths based on individual needs assessment.
Declaration of amnesty and re-integration for all repentant cultists and the mopping up of all weapons from all combatants.
Regular Town Hall meetings to be held in all communities to discuss the issue of security.
Traditional Rulers and Chiefs to introduce the KYN (Know Your Neighbour) data gathering strategy to ascertain all who have genuine businesses in their respective locations of residence.
Consequently all Family/ compound Youth Leaders should be constituted to monitor and regularly report any influx of strangers into the town. All such persons should be placed on some local surveillance to ensure their sincerity of making AKULGA a place of residence.
A Peace And Security Charter should be developed and endorsed by all political parties and their leadership. This document shall state the terms and conditions under which all politicians and their party members shall operate in the respective communities.
Concerted effort should be made to reconcile traditional rulers whose cordial relationships are in question and has posed a threat among their respective communities
The Chairman, AKULGA Traditional Council of Rulers and Chiefs should constitute THINK-TANKs at community and LGA levels to advise on the daily management of the peace and security of the LGA.
Setting up of an educational fund to assist and sponsor youths who are outstanding in their studies and careers.
Concerted efforts should be made to sustain this dialogue while we seek genuine and workable ways to engage our youths constructively as partners and stakeholders in the sustainable growth and development of AKULGA.
The most unprofessional inter-mingling of security agencies with the local politics and their direct PARTISAN interventions in elections must be checked. In the same manner, our reverred chieftaincy institutions should keep their dignified statesmanly distance from partisanship and be seen and adjudged as neutral, ensuing peace, equity, fairness and justice for all at all times.
Conclusion:
Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of insecurity; therefore national security has become a major issue for the government and people. As Nigerians, insecurity is not peculiar to AKULGA. With what we are witnessing today, Akuku-Toru is on the right track.
Let me remind all of us that this conference seeks to develop a strategic response to our security challenges in AKULGA. What will make the difference is the honesty and sincerity of purpose that shall drive this task. The different approaches we shall adopt within the limits of our resources and our capacity to engage all stakeholders including sons and daughter in the Diaspora as well as development partners at various levels shall determine the success we shall collectively achieve.
The state and local governments have major roles to play. Business organizations, the civil society, religious and faith-bases organizations, individuals, social clubs, community members and residents of AKULGA, including our gallant security agencies whose unrelenting efforts and sacrifices we must commend, shall be required.
Let me thank Your Excellencies, Your Royal Majesties, Chiefs, political leaders and the AKULGA community for the support expressed by your presence to participate in this initial effort to bring lasting peace and security to our homeland.
In closing, let me read from the book of 2 Corinthians 4:8-
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”.
May the good Lord bless you all and thank you.

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For The Record

I Deserve A Second Term-ABOLGA Boss

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As council chairmen in the 23 local government areas of Rivers State and other aspirants warm up for the April 17, 2021 local government elections in the State, the stakes are very high, especially for those gunning for a second term. This is following the directive by the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for them to showcase what they have been able to put on ground in terms of projects in their first outing which is gradually coming to an end, for them to secure second term tickets on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Against this backdrop, The Tide embarked on a project tagged, ‘Operation Show Your Projects’ by which the council chairmen are expected to use the media platform to show to the world what they have been able to do for their people within the past three years to justify their bid for a second term in office, even as the council polls are fast approaching.
The Governor’s tall order, from all indications, appear to be the minimum requirement for the incumbent local government helmsmen to seamlessly secure the PDP ticket in the forthcoming elections in keeping with the giant development strides of the Wike administration at the State level.
It is on the strength of this that the Executive Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Hon Daniel Opelia Daniel, graciously took the first shot in reeling out the projects vis-a-vis his achievements in office in this interview while at the same time highlighting what makes the local government tick even in the face of debilitating challenges of finance and nature.
Tucked in the far end of the Orashi region of the state, Abua/Odual Local Government Area is unique in a sense, as it is located on both water and land, making the terrain a little bit complex and difficult in terms of accessibility and preponderance of economic activities.
Despite constraints militating against large scale development, as the area hardly boasts of the business mix as could be found in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas, particularly in relationship to having a buoyant internal revenue generating mechanism to complement its monthly receipts from the Federation Accounts.
In spite of this seeming setback, Hon Daniel happily beats his chest and comes to the inevitable verdict that his stewardship thus far has provided the much-needed dividends of democracy to his people, which makes him deserving of a second term. For him, it is so far, so good.
Of a truth, Daniel is a man who does not only engage in infrastructural development but also in human capacity building, which he believes is the actual wealth of the people. This ultimately makes him involve them in economic activities, which is the thrust and direction of his administration’s developmental projects.
A crack team of The Tide crew, comprising the General Manager, Chief Ernest Chinwo, the Acting Editor, Mrs Juliet Njiowhor, veteran journalists, Dagogo Josiah and Ben Obe with a team of reporters and camera man were in Abua/Odual Local Government Area to see first hand the projects so far executed.
Excerpts.
From our poll, you are among the top five best chairmen in the state. What is your reaction to this?
I am not surprised because I have managed the resources properly and our achievements are there for all to see. Our books are also open for scrutiny.
What will you describe your almost three years in office like?
It has been challenging and tasking, humbling and fulfilling. I feel so grateful.
Tell us how you have piloted the affairs of the council in two years plus?
We inherited a workforce that gulps over 70 percent of the allocation after statutory deductions. The previous administration got approval to employ 100 persons but ended up employing 490 persons . This increased the wage bill by a 100percent . That is from 43 million to about 82 million . This is a move that is highly unreasonable by any standard.
What is the average monthly JAAC allocation of your council?
Averagely, I will say it is between N150million to N160million, JAAC allocations come after statutory deductions such as Local Government Civil Service Commission, Traditional Rulers Council, the Primary Health Care Board and the Local Government Pension Board . All these institutions
have a percentage that are by law allocated to them monthly.
What are the other challenges of the local government?
The 1999 Constitution has to be reviewed if the Local Governments across the country are to operate with maximum results . The constitution is what gives room to all the instability in Local Government Administration.
What have you been able to do despite the challenges you pointed out?
When we came in, we carried out a need assessment and within the powers of the LGA, we thought that we can shrewdly manage the little resources to embark on meaningful projects that will affect the people, so, we thought it wise to complete the market that has been abandoned for seven years . And we awarded the contract for the completion of the market .
We also in the process awarded the Park which was built at the time we were still in the Old Ahoada Local Government Area. The park was almost a refuge site . Today, as I speak , we have paid 100 percent for the two projects and the park is now in use while the market is undergoing finishing touches .
The Anyu Civic Centre was also in an uncompleted state so we upgraded it .
There was high cry of lack of proper transportation in the Main Riverine communities ( Adada ,Ogboloma axis), so, we provided two ferry boats at the cost of N3 million each.
We are also building a Civic Centre for the people of Omelema which is in a roofing stage .
What impact have you managed to make in education?
We paid a student grant of 20 thousand Naira to 358 undergraduate students and gave 200 thousand Naira each to Abua/Odual students in Law School for the 2019/2020 batch B .
In respect to power , what can you tell us?
Because majority of our people are farmers , we decided to undertake payment of electricity bill for them to cushion the effect of bills . I started this as a Caretaker Chairman and have continued same up to date . And let me add that we don’t only pay the bills , we maintain all electrical facilities in the whole of Abua area because the Odual axis has not been connected yet.
Mr Chairman , what have you done for your fellow Elected Officials, councillors and Vice Chairman?
Ordinarily, the law grants loan of N1.3 million to councillors but I looked at it and said, what car can a councillor buy with N1.7 million? So we came up with a resolution that in order to better the lives of these officers after living office , their loans should be increased by a 100 percent . And today, we have paid all of the lawmakers .
What is your working relationship with the governor like?
The Governor has given us freedom to operate and his doors are also open for us to run to him for advice and guidance
For me, he has been like an elder brother and a father. Any Chairman who has Wike as a Governor and is not doing anything should blame himself.
How will you rate the governor’s performance?
His performance has been excellent. I will give him above 80 percent.
How much debt is the council owing under you and how much did you inherit?
The council under my watch is not owing a dime . We have done all that we have done without taking a loan. On debts inherited, yes, we inherited judgment debts and their likes running into millions of naira, but we have successfully upturned those judgment debts through the legal process.
Highlights of Achievements:
Re-construction of Ailing Infrastructure:
On assumption of office as chairman, Daniel was of the view that as he assumed duties in 2018 as an elected Executive Chairman, he took the bull by the horn despite the poor allocation, embarked on reconstruction of some moribund infrastructure in the LGA as abandoned by my predecessors before arrival. The cost of reconstruction contract gulped up to N29 million, which according to him, is 95 percent of the sum stated above.
Market And Town Hall Projects:
The chairman who disclosed that the council under his watch was able to re-construct the market structure that collapsed due to torrential flood in the area which amount to N21, 235,000 is a land mark achievement of his administration.
He further disclosed that a town-hall projected at Omelema-Abua which his government embarked
upon at the cost of N30 million is nearing completion, including the daily market, among other projects speaks volume.
These, he affirmed remained the major projects we have envisaged. Though, opted that during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was able to provide the people with sound and result-oriented development in the area, which some of them could not be completed due to the ouster of the latter as Nigeria’s President.
Ravaging Flood:
The chairman also lament the repeated ravaging of flood during the rainy season as the roads, farm lands, bushes and other aquatic lives which represents the source of livelihood of the people of the LGA, were badly affected, urges the Rivers State Government (RSG) and other agency of government responsible for checking flood to visit Abua/Odual LGA as the people source of livelihood had been washed away by flood.
He said that council was able to tackle the scourge with the little resources at its disposal was used to phase out the heat of the flood in the area.
Dwindling Finances:
The Chairman, despite the dwindling finances of the council, was able to embark on some projects to improve the state of the people’s welfare.
Executed Projects:
The Council boss was able to list some on-gong and completed projects in the LGA to include, an ultra-modern market awarded at the cost of over N125million, the Abua, central motor park constructed at over N88million, and town-hall at Anyu Community in the Odual Districts of the LGA, which amounts to N21million.
He listed an on-going town hall project in Omelema at the cost of N8million, while 358 Abua/Odual students in higher institutions in Nigeria got sum of N20,000 each to go back to school after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
13 law students, accounding to the council boss were given N200,000 each.
Renovation of Council’s Headquarters:
The Chairman of the LGA, Hon Daniel Daniel also disclosed that he renovated the council headquarters at Abua Central.
Procurement of Out-board Engine
Council, the chairman said, procured tow out-board engines to ease transportation at Odual axis, He stressed that his
Over bloated Workforce:
The Council Chairman said that his government also inherited an over-bloated workforce, stating that the council had 400 workers when he assumed duty as chairman.
Thereafter, another 100 workers were employed by the Rivers State Local Government Service Commission.
Wage Bill:
Daniel, as chairman of Abua/Odual put the council’s wage bill at N80 million monthly, adding that his government pays ‘ex-trouble makers’ the sum of N100,000.00 each every month to maintain peace and security in his domain under the supervision of the police and other security agencies. And interestingly, he said they are about 35 in number on the council’s payroll.

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For The Record

2021 Budget, Critical To Delivery Of Legacy Projects – Buhari

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It gives me great pleasure today to sign the 2021 Appropriation Bill and the enabling 2020 Finance Bill into law. I would like to appreciate the National Assembly, and in particular, thank the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and indeed all distinguished and honourable leaders and members for their cooperation in expeditiously enacting these important money bills. This will enable their implementation to commence by 1st January 2021.
I commend the sustained mutual understanding, collaboration and high-level engagements between officials of the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government, which have made the accelerated enactment of these Bills possible.
We must maintain partnership in the interest of our people, regardless of any differences regarding the Legislative provisions governing our federal budgeting process.
You will recall that I laid the 2021 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly on 8th October, 2020, and forwarded the 2020 Finance Bill shortly thereafter. It is very gratifying, indeed, that the National Assembly has completed the important Appropriation process in good time.
The Passage of the 2021 Budget, before the commencement of the 2021 fiscal year, is further confirmation of our firm resolve to maintain a predictable January-to- December fiscal year, as provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This Administration remains committed to ensuring that the annual Appropriation Bill is presented to the National Assembly in good time for the passage of the Budget before the beginning of the fiscal year. I note, with pleasure, that a growing number of State Governments are now following our lead on this matter.
Towards this end, I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the earlier submission of the 2022-2024 Medium- Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2022 Appropriation Bill, to the National Assembly. Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and more specifically, with the Budget Office of the Federation, to realize this very important objective.
I also wish to thank the National Assembly for completing its work on the 2020 Finance Bill. This Bill is very critical for the successful implementation of the 2021 Budget of “Economic Recovery and Resilience”. Its passage underscores our commitment, as a matter of routine practice, to support Federal Appropriation Bills with annual Finance Bills, designed to facilitate their implementation.
The 2021 Budget that I have just signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of Thirteen-point- Five- Eight-Eight trillion Naira (N13.588 trillion), representing an increase of five Hundred and Five-point-Six-One Billion Naira (N505.61 billion) over the initial Executive proposal. The increase, however, includes the Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Billion naira (N365 billion) provision for up scaling the Nigeria Social Investment Programme, which I requested for after laying the Budget before the Legislature.
The Details of the Budget as passed by the National Assembly, and signed into law by me, will be provided by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, subsequently.
In designing the 2021 Budget, we deliberately chose to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy. As you are all aware, our economy recently lapsed into its second recession in four years. I mentioned during the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill that we intend to use the Budget to accelerate our economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. All Ministers are to ensure that their supervised Ministries, Departments and agencies achieve the objectives set for their sectors.
I am aware of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2021 Executive Budget proposal. We will examine these amendments and, where necessary, I will revert to the National Assembly with a request for amendment, virement or other appropriate adjustments to ensure that the core objectives of the Budget are accomplished.
In spite of the adverse impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s economy and the Government’s revenues, we have made appreciable progress in the implementation of the 2020 Budget.  As at December 2020, we had released about One-point-Seven-Four-Eight Trillion Naira (N1.748 trillion) out of a total of the One-Point-Nine-Six-Two Trillion Naira (N1.962 trillion) voted for the implementation of critical capital projects, representing a performance of about Eight-Nine-Point-One Percent (89.1%).
The overall performance of the 2020 Budget currently stands at an impressive rate of Ninety-Seven-point-Seven Percent (97.7%).  This commendable outcome underscores the importance of our efforts, together with the Legislature, to return to the discipline of a January-to-December fiscal year.  The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will provide further details on the 2020 Budget’s performance, in due course.
To ensure full implementation of the 2020 Capital Budget and optimize its contribution to our economic revival efforts, the National Assembly recently approved our request to allow Ministries, Departments and Agencies to continue to expand released funds for their 2020 capital budgets till 31stMarch, 2021.  I would like to express my appreciation to the National Assembly, again, for their gracious understanding and speedy action on this matter.
The 2021 Budget is very critical to the delivery of the legacy projects of our Administration.  To fully achieve our objectives, the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget is imperative.  Therefore, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should adopt all necessary measures in this regard to achieve the objectives of the Budget, including the targeted release of capital votes.
In view of the recent rise in confirmed Coronavirus cases nationwide, we will ensure timely implementation of the health and emergency measures in the 2021 Budget to contain the spread of the virus.  We will continue to count on the close collaboration with the State Governments in our effort to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people.
During the year, I expect that we would be able to significantly reduce the adverse impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the cost and availability of basic food items, as well as other key commodities, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
I also expect that the 2021 Budget will stimulate domestic economic activities and create employment opportunities, especially for our youth.
We are intensifying our domestic revenue mobilization efforts so that we can have adequate resources to fund the 2021 Budget.  Revenue Generating Agencies, and indeed all Ministries, Departments and Government Owned Enterprises, must work very hard to achieve their revenue targets, control their cost-to-revenue ratios, as well as ensure prompt and full remittance of revenue collections.
Relevant Agencies are to ensure the realization of our crude oil production and export targets.  Heads of defaulting Agencies are hereby warned that they will be severely sanctioned.  I also appeal to our fellow citizens and the business community, at large, to fulfil their tax obligations promptly.
Being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.  I count on the co-operation of the National Assembly for a quick consideration and approval of the Plan when submitted.  I assure you that all borrowings will be judiciously applied towards growth-enhancing critical expenditures.
Considering recent budget implementation challenges, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is to take all necessary actions to ensure the effective implementation of the 2021 Budget.  Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby directed to redouble efforts towards implementation of their programmes and projects in ways that promote the greater public good.
I am also directing all relevant agencies of Government to scale-up budget implementation monitoring and evaluation efforts.  In this regard, we continue to count on the support of Civil Society Organisations and the general public, at large.
We acknowledge that Government, alone, cannot achieve the objectives of the 2021 Budget.  This is why the Budget, and its underlying policy framework, provide a lot of opportunities for partnerships with the private sector. Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby directed to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to accelerate the implementation of their Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our critical infrastructural development.
I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the Ministers superintending over the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Budget Office of the Federation; Senior Special Assistants that are liaisons to the Senate and House of Representatives; the Fiscal Policy Reforms Committee; and all others who contributed towards producing the 2021 Appropriation Act and 2020 Finance Act, that I have signed into law today.
As a nation, we are currently confronted with diverse challenges at this time.  I commend the understanding, sacrifice and resilience of our people, both young and old.  I assure everyone that our hope and confidence of a greater future shall not be in vain.
Let me conclude by commending the National Assembly, once again, for the steady support in safely steering our economy during these very challenging times.  I remain committed to sustaining the partnership with the Legislature to jointly deliver on our mandate from our people.
I thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.
May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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For The Record

2020: Nigeria In 12 Months

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The year 2020 has been dreadful, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a look at events that shaped the year.
The first month of the year gave an insight into the weird things to expect as bomb blast at Gamboru in Borno State killed over 30 people and injured 35 others just three days after gunmen razed homes and killed 19 people in Tawari, Kogi State.
Another trouble for university students
Lassa fever outbreak also killed at least 29 people in 11 states during the month.
Twenty-six months after killing her husband, Maryam Sanda was sentenced to death by hanging.
The most discussed issue of the month was the decision of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, to sack Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and to declare Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who came a distant fourth during the governorship poll as the Governor of Imo State.
The Federal Government declared the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun launched by the six states of the South West as illegal.
The royal battle in Kano resumed as the then Emir, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi ll, was probed by the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission over alleged sale of landed property belonging to the Kano Emirate Council.
Fifty nine-year-old Beninese singer and songwriter, Angélique Kidjo, won the Best World Music Album award at the 62nd Grammy Award, defeating Nigerian Afro-fusion singer, Damini Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy.
The month ended with the report of an 18-year-old man, Marvellous Luka, allegedly raping his 70-year-old grandmother in Plateau.
Well, it did not end there as US President, Donald Trump, expanded the travel ban to include Nigeria and five other countries. In fact, it was erroneously reported by some media outlets that the founder of Living Faith Bible Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, was denied a visa by the US.
It was not all weird as three aid workers, who were held hostage since December, 2019, were released in Borno State.
February: COVID-19
COVID-19, coronavirus
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the commercial city of Lagos as an Italian citizen tested positive for the virus.
As of December 29, the virus infected 85,560 and killed 1,267 in the 36 states and FCT.
The National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) directed prospective Umrah pilgrims to shelve their plans for the Lesser Hajj as global efforts to contain COVID-19 heightened.
Earlier in the month, the Lagos State Government banned commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada on major routes, which led to protests and arrests.
Kano also banned street begging in the state.
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents set ablaze several vehicles carrying passengers, killing at least 30 in Auno, Borno State.
A former governor and lawmaker representing Yobe East, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, sponsored a bill to rehabilitate repentant Boko Haram insurgents.
Nigerians were shocked that international flights to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos were diverted to Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, due to poor weather and complications with new equipment.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sentenced a former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, to seven years imprisonment.
He joined other high profile inmates, including a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame; a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, and a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, at the Kuje Custodial Centre.
Hours to his inauguration, the Supreme Court sacked David Lyon of the APC as Governor-elect of Bayelsa State on the grounds that his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
Duoye Diri of the PDP who came second during the poll was sworn in as the governor of the state.
INEC also de-registered over 70 political parties in the country.
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, kicked over what he termed “unfortunate reports” in mainstream media and comments on the social media berating the appearance of his four wives during his swearing in and the fact that he has 27 children.
A former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Buba Galadima, also “kicked”, describing as political vendetta the decision by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over his residence and company over “debts to the tune of N900 million.”
A report of alleged attempts by the Federal Government to hand over about $100 million the United States authorities said was stolen by a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, to Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, a top member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), also generated uproar.
The month also witnessed a royal scuffle as the Oluwo of Iwo in Osun State, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi, allegedly punched the Agbowu of Ogbaagba, Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, during a peace meeting in the state.
In sports, D’Tigers, the men’s senior basketball team, booked qualification for the Olympics through the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, while D’Tigress qualified for the games via the FIBA Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
March: Emir Sanusi II deposed
Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll of Kano was dethroned over disrespect to the Office of the Governor of the state and other government agencies.
The 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan was banished to Awe, a remote area in Nasarawa State.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje appointed Aminu Ado Bayero as the 15th Emir of Kano.
Suleiman Achimugu, a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), became Nigeria’s first fatality from COVID-19 as confirmed cases hit 139 in 11 states and the FCT.
Some states announced partial lockdown.
An explosion at Abule-Ado, Lagos State, killed at least 15 people and destroyed around 50 buildings.
Boko Haram insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weaponry ambushed an army lorry and incinerated it, killing about 70 Nigerian soldiers in Gorgi, a village in Borno State.
The attack came hours after Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Chadian army base on an island in Lake Chad, killing 92 soldiers.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced indefinite strike following the inability of the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the union.
April: Adieu, Abba Kyari
Malam Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, died in a private hospital in Lagos after battling COVID-19.
Gravediggers in Kano reported a mysterious increase in deaths. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kano tripled from 77 to 219 as health authorities ramped up “verbal autopsies”.
State officials insisted that most of the fatalities were due to other diseases rather than COVID-19.
Twenty one employees of ExxonMobil from Akwa Ibom State were arrested for violating state quarantine standards in Rivers State, but were released when the union threatened industrial action.
Nigeria protested the maltreatment of citizens as scores of Nigerians and other Africans in Guangzhou, China, were evicted from their apartments and hotel rooms by Chinese authorities.
Katsina witnessed more banditry attacks, with over 40 deaths reported.
May: Curbing COVID-19
Governors across Northern states agreed to ban the almajiri system as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Sixty-five boys tested positive in Kaduna, 91 in Jigawa, eight in Gombe and seven in Bauchi.
Vera Uwaila Omosuwa (22), a microbiology student at the University of Benin, Edo State, was raped and brutally assaulted in a church where she went to study.
She died two days later. #JusticeForUwa trended for days as Nigerians called on the authorities to apprehend her killers.
Lagos Judge, Mojisola Dada, sentenced Olalekan Hameed to death by hanging in Nigeria’s first ever virtual ruling during the lockdown.
At least 20 people were killed when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Gajigana, Borno State, as faithful were preparing to break Ramadan fast in the first attack of its kind since the Muslim holy month began.
President Buhari signed Executive Order 10 which grants financial autonomy to two other arms of government – state legislature and judiciary across the 36 states.
Evacuation of Nigerians stranded abroad continued in the wake of the pandemic.
June: Shooting in the villa, APC crisis
The Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, was arrested after shooting at Buhari’s nephew and aide, Sabiu Yusuf, when the latter allegedly refused to go into self-isolation after a trip to Lagos.
President Buhari ordered a probe of the incident while the First Lady urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to release her aide.
Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents reportedly killed 69 persons at Foduma Kolomaiya village, 11 kilometres away from Gazaure town of Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.
Over 300 cows were also killed as the insurgents rustled nearly 1,000. Other attacks were reported in Monguno and Nganzai.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State joined PDP days after he was disqualified from contesting in the primary of the APC for the 2020 governorship election in the state.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of APC.
The party sacked the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oshiomhole and set up a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Buhari sent the name of Monica Dongban-Mensem to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive President of the Court of Appeal.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) accepted the nomination of two-time Nigerian Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as its Director General (DG).
US-based streaming company, Netflix, paired up with filmmaker, Mo Abudu, owner of EbonyLife TV (ELTV), to create two new TV series and several films.
July: Airports reopening, Magu’s probe, suspension
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos re-established domestic flights after a three-month shutdown; other airports were to open soon.
Olumide Akpata emerged President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), defeating his closest rival, Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), and Dele Adesina (SAN). Apata became the first non-SAN President of the NBA.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, as the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel grilled Magu over various allegations levelled against him.
The first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Tolulope Arotile, died in a road accident at the NAF Base, Kaduna, after sustaining head injuries.
The acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, fainted during an investigative hearing at the National Assembly.
Five aid workers abducted in June in Borno State were killed by ISWAP insurgents.
In sports, Kamaru Usman Usman, UFC’s Welterweight Champion, pulled in 1.3 million pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Jorge Masvidal.
August: Blasphemy
Twenty two-year-old musician, Sharif Yahaya Aminu, was sentenced to death by hanging in Kano for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad; 13-year-old Omar Farouq was also sentenced to 10 years for blasphemy.
Security forces and members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clashed in Enugu.
The army regained control of Kukawa, Borno, where ISWAP had taken hundreds captive.
Akinwumi Adesina was re-elected President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a second five-year term.
The Commander, Fagge Command of Kano State Hisbah Board, Ustaz Jamilu Yusuf, was arrested by operatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) over involvement in trafficking of a one-year-old child.
Shinkafi Emirate Council accepted the resignation of the five members who relinquished their chieftaincy titles over the appointment of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, as Sadaukin Shinkafi.
September: Godwin wins
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Godwin Obaseki of the PDP as the winner of the Edo State governorship election. He defeated his closest rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, of the APC.
The 26-year-old fast rising rapper, Olamilekan ‘Laycon’ Agbeleshe, won the 2020 Big Brother Naija Lockdown edition.
The Nigerian Army (NA) confirmed the killing of Mr Terwase Akwaza, alias Gana, the most wanted criminal in Benue State.
Israel Adesanya, the UFC’s Middleweight champion pulled in 700,000 pay-per-view numbers in his title defence against Paulo Costa in September.
October: #EndSARS
Nigeria commemorated the 60th anniversary of its independence.
#EndSARS, a series of mass protests by young Nigerians against police brutality hit major cities in Nigeria.
The protests came to an end on October 20, when armed security personnel dispersed the crowd in Lekki, one of the iconic centres of the protest, leading to casualties and fatalities.
This led to vandalism and destruction of public and private property, including the palace of the Oba of Lagos, NPA headquarters and police stations.
Warehouses housing COVID-19 palliatives were also targeted and looted in many states, including the FCT.
United States Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group rescued a 27-year-old American hostage held captive by gunmen near the border with Niger.
US refused to back Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as WTO DG.
November: Massacre
Zabarmari: Zulum leads funeral prayer of 43 farmers killed by Boko Haram
Boko Haram insurgents killed over 76 rice farmers in Zabarmari village, a rice farming community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation probed a claim by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that he spent N19m on foreign trips during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A federal appeal court in the United Arab Emirates upheld the sentencing of Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu to life in prison for funding Boko Haram.
Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbduRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were given 10 years each.
The Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the remand of Senator Ali Ndume in prison over his inability to produce a former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, who jumped bail, stalling his ongoing N2bn money laundering trial since September.
Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau, came under attack over a picture of her wearing a backless gown she posted on social media.
December: Abduction, Reps summon Buhari
The House of Representatives resolved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari over the killing of farmers and insecurity in the country.
The President refused to honour the invitation on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Gunmen abducted over 300 students of the Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State. The boys were later released.
Governments announced new measures following resurgence of COVID-19 infections.
The police arrested Abdulrasheed Maina in neighbouring Niger Republic and returned him to Nigeria to continue his trial.
FG reopened four land borders with a promise to open others before December 31.
Anthony Joshua defended his IBF, WBA and WBO titles as he brutally knocked out Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round.

 

By: Abiodun Alade

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