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Disturbing Signals From The Army

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Some News Reports In The Tide Newspaper, Friday, November 8, 2019 (Pages 3 and 16); “Ambush: Boko Haram kills 10 soldiers, Injures Nine, 12 Missing in Borno” and “Nigerian Army To Court Martial 70 Soldiers In North-East”, are quite disturbing. But for the suspension of a proposed Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the House of Representatives recently, the Nigerian Army would have placed itself in a position of discomfort with the Nigerian public.
The Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria has been a lingering issue of concern to Nigerians, especially with 35,000 said to have been killed so far. Similarly, the recent inauguration of a General Court Martial to prosecute 70 erring personnel found defaulting in the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, creates additional concern to the Nigerian public will be better assured if the Boko Haram issue ends soon.
“Acts of cowardice, desertion, un-soldierly and other forms of indiscipline” are not tolerated by the military anywhere, but Nigerians would feel quite uncomfortable hearing about “army executing war” in Nigeria. Rather, Nigerians were assured long ago that the Boko Haram insurgency had been effectively neutralised, giving everybody the hope that Nigeria is not at war. It is true that military operations are sensitive issues for any writer to comment on, yet, the public needs to be assured there is no war.
19 years ago, one Professor Omo Omoruyi, in an essay: “Nigeria – US Military Pact: Recipe for Danger”, published in The News magazine, October 2, 2000, raised certain issues. In that essay, Professor Omoruyi stated; “Human rights issues are usually on the back burner and when they are concerning the African countries, the US never commits its nationals to defending them. The US involvement in Nigeria is a part of the US defence of her national interests and not the good of Nigeria…”
Professor Omoruyi went on to say that “what Nigeria has since 1966 is a political army, with a regional political agenda… Nigerian Army was actually a political army whose interest was to guarantee the continued stay in power of the North. The Nigerian public would want to know if Professor Omoruyi was wrong in stating that the Nigerian Army was a political rather than a professional one, and if the situation has changed since that statement was made.
The role of the military in a democratic era since 1999 demands its subordination to democratic principles which requires professionalism. A truly professional army would emerge through some orientation programme which should engage the attention of the military. Such orientation, in the words of Professor Omoruyi, should include “a fundamental restructuring of the Armed Forces to make the so-called Nigerian military representative of the Nigerian ethnic nationalities”.
The “War” against Boko Haram insurgency is seen in some quarters as providing opportunity for Nigeria to become a dumping ground for old military equipment from the US and other developed countries. Whether such military supplies come in the form of support to fight insurgency or for a fee, there are implications. There is a possibility that soldiers using old weapons against insurgents using modern ones, the soldiers would be handicapped. Can “acts of cowardice” by soldiers facing a court martial not be traced to the quality of weapons that they use to fight against better equipped enemies?
The bottom-line is that Nigerian soldiers fighting the Boko Haram “war” deserve to be protected even when engaged in a job exposing them to death. The Boko Haram enemies are engaged in an ideological war in which martyrdom is a heroic death, with a reward in heaven. Whoever their sponsors and financiers may be, it should be obvious to the Nigerian public that there is more to Boko Haram insurgency than what meets the eyes.
To nurture a true democracy demands that the military should be professional rather than political or partisan. Since the Boko Haram “war” is an ideological engagement, what happens when some of the soldiers engaging them share some sympathy with the ideology of the enemy they are fighting? This is an issue which should be of concern to the military, especially the court martial of 70 soldiers. There can be grumbling among people doing things which their conscience does not approve of.
There had been complaints about delays in payments of earned allowances as well as other issues, which may account for the acts of cowardice, desertion, un-soldierly and other forms of indiscipline. A feeling of unfair exploitation and exposure to avoidable dangers can give rise to acts of indiscipline on the part of soldiers.
The Boko Haram insurgency, like other sensitive national issues currently confronting the country, deserve to be addressed without shenanigans or hidden agenda. The question has been asked by several Nigerians regarding what the Boko Haram insurgents really want. Whatever they are asking for can be discussed at a round table rather than battle-field, involving bloodshed. When former President Goodluck Jonathan asked the insurgents to appoint representatives, since he could not discuss with a faceless group, we know what happened.
To say that there is more to Boko Haram and other national issues would require that Professor Omoruyi’s essay published in The News magazine, October 2, 2000, (pages 60-65) should be read. It would also be quite instructive to read what retired Major S. Mukoro said in his interview with the News magazine, July 3, 2000. There’s hardly any change since then.
What democracy demands is open dealing, just as a nation’s armed and security forces must be truly professional to be able to defend democracy.

 

Bright Amirize

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Coronavirus Case In Lagos As Italian Tests Positive

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A CORONAVIRUS case has been reported in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city.
An Italian who travelled into Lagos tested positive, Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi said in a statement early this morning.
The statement by the commissioner said: “The case is an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit.
“He fell ill on the 26th February and was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing.  COVID-19 infection was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
“The Government of Lagos State under the Governor as the COVID-19 Incident Commander, through the Lagos State Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure that any outbreak in Lagos is controlled and contained quickly in collaboration with the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“We have immediately activated the State Emergency Operations Centre to respond to this case and implement firm control measures.”
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Coronavirus: Senate Panics, Says FG Doing Nothing To Prevent Disease …11 Suspected Cases Turned Negative In Nigeria -FG …As NASS Proposes Stiffer Sanctions Against Gas Flaring From 2021

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The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, indicted the Federal Ministry of Health for not putting serious measures in place to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care to further liaise with the ministry to intensify screening of passengers at the nation’s airports and seaports.
Lawan stated this following a point of order by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
Boroffice drew the attention of the Senate to the failure of health personnel at the airports and seaports to thoroughly screen passengers coming into the country.
He explained that he was subjected to screening for Coronavirus on arrival at a South African airport, recently.
He said the screening at the South African airport usually takes up to 30 minutes before passengers would be allowed to disembark the aircraft.
He said the situation was different on his arrival at the Nigerian airport when the health officials in the nation’s airports merely issued a form for passengers to indicate if they were sick or not.
He said, “There is no form of any screening of passengers for Coronavirus by Nigerian officials at the airport.
“It is worrisome, situations where travellers coming into the country were not dully screened for the dreaded virus.”
Boroffice said he brought the attention of the Senate to his experience for the Federal Ministry of Health and other concerned agencies to take note.
Lawan commended Boroffice for raising the issue.
He said every country in the world was making efforts to ensure that the virus did not cross their borders.
He said although the Federal Ministry of Health and other associated agencies were doing their best, their best was not good enough.
“We must take all the necessary measures at our ports, airports, seaports, to protect our people.
“If anybody is coming from China, he or she should be quarantined not even isolation for two weeks or four weeks, we have to protect the lives of Nigerians,” he added.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, condemned the high lending rates in the country, accusing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not encouraging investors with the monetary policy.
The Senate insisted that the CBN has not done enough in balancing the deposit interest rate and lending with the goal of encouraging savings.
The chamber expressed concern that with higher interest rates, interest payments on credit cards and loans are more expensive.
It said the development was thereby discouraging people from borrowing and spending.
The red chamber, therefore, mandated two of his committees to probe the CBN and the commercial banks involved in the monetary policy.
The committees are Finance and that of Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.
The decision was taken sequel to a motion by Senator Solomon Adeola, representing Lagos West and chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
The motion titled, “Urgent need to bridge the gap between the lending interest rate and deposit Interest rate among commercial banks and other financial institutions”.
He said, “The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the inflation rate further rose from 11.98 per cent in December, 2019 to 12.13 per cent in 2020.
“This development negatively affects the deposits of commercial bank customers in addition to the low-interest rates on deposits.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria still has no confirmed case of the raging Coronavirus infection, according to the National Economic Council.
However, 11 suspected cases in the country turned negative so far.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, had given an update on the infection to the NEC meeting chaired in Abuja Abuja by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said Coronavirus, otherwise known as Corvid-19, had yet to reach Nigeria.
Egypt and Algeria are the only African countries with confirmed cases.
He spoke more, “In Nigeria, the good news is, yes there have been a total of 11 suspected cases, but all the 11 have turned out to be negative.
“In fact, there was a scare in Lagos yesterday (Wednesday), about two cases, but all have been confirmed negative as we speak.
“But Nigeria still places itself on high risk, as also advised by the World Health Organisation. So, what are the federal and all the states are doing? We are looking at all the international airports that we have as major entry points.
“They are Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Enugu and Port Harcourt. The alertness in each of these airports is very high.”
He added that the country had testing facilities in Lagos, Abuja and Edo State to respond to any emergencies.
On Lassa Fever, the governor said there were 690 reported cases in the country from January to date, out which 118 of the patients died.
He added that Edo, Ebonyi and Ondo states had 72% of all reported cases out of the 18 states with incidents.
The states include Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Enugu, Gombe, Katsina, Kogi, Sokoto, Taraba, Delta, Rivers, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Lagos.
“Of all these confirmed cases, about 72 per cent of them are prevalent in Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi states.
“So, the Ministry of Health and the federal government are concentrating on these three major states”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, considered a bill which proposes stiffer sanctions for any person or corporate entity involved in gas flaring in Nigeria from January 1, 2021.
The Gas Flaring (Prohibition and Punishment) Bill, 2020, which scaled second reading during plenary, was sponsored by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa-Ibom North East).
Clause 11(a) of the bill provides that, “Any person who flares gas after December 31, 2020 contrary to section 4 of this Act, commits an offence under this Act, and shall be liable on conviction to pay a fine which shall not be less than the cost of gas at the international market.”
Leading the debate on the floor, Akpan recalled that though the Bill was passed by the 8th Senate in 2018, it failed to receive concurrence by the House of Representatives due to time constraints as it was close to the end of the legislative session.
He said that the bill’s introduction by the 9th Assembly, which promises guaranteed rapid infrastructural development of the oil and gas sector, will enhance revenue accruable to government and ensure environmental improvement for the people of the Niger Delta.
“The flaring of natural gas produce in association with crude oil is one of the most dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the Nigerian petroleum industry.
“Gas flaring affects the environment and human health, results in economic loss, deprives the government of associated tax revenues and trade opportunities, and deprives consumers of a clean and cheaper energy source and environment,” Akpan added.
The lawmaker stated that available data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) showed that in 2018, Nigeria lost over N217billion in revenue as oil and gas companies flared a total of 244.84 billion standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas within the same period.
He added that with the average price of natural gas put at $2.90 per 1,000 scf as of February 16, 2017, the 244.84 billion scf flared translates to a loss of $710m or N217billion – using the official exchange rate of N305.25/ dollar.
According to the lawmaker, “The volume of flared gas according to analysis, is sufficient to feed 3 LNG trains or generate 3.5GW of electricity.”
Bassey explained that the bill when passed into law, will address the inadequacies and shortcomings of the 1979 Act; bring gas flare penalty in line with current economic realities; and ensure the achievement of the National Flares-out target of January 1, 2030.
“The current gas flare penalty of N10 per 1,000 scf is too low, and not in line with current economic realities and encourages continuous gas flaring by operators with its attendant negative effect on our environment instead of encouraging investment in infrastructure by the operators to make gas available for our domestic use,” Akpan lamented.
The Gas Flaring Prohibition and Punishment Bill 2020, according to the lawmaker, “seeks to increase the gas flaring penalty to an appropriate and commensurate level sufficient to de-incentivize the practice of gas flaring, whilst introducing other market measures to encourage efficient gas utilization.
“The Bill equally makes it mandatory for operators to submit gas utilization plan within 90 days of the commencement of the Act for effective monitoring and makes provision for a two year periodic: review of the Minister’s powers granted under the Act,” he added.
Citing the United States of America, he said that the piece of legislation also makes specific provisions for the installation of requisite gas flare meters equipped with facilities that enable real time, online data retrieval for independent reporting and monitoring by the industry regulator.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Gas for further legislative inputs.

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Police Take Over APC Secretariat, As Pro, Anti-Oshiomhole Protesters Clash

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No fewer than four Hilux patrol vehicles, loaded with battle-ready, mobile and regular policemen on Thursday stormed the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to forestall the deteriorating security situation at the area.
The policemen, who strategically positioned themselves outside the complex were mobilised to the headquarters around 11am, to fortify and complement the internal regular security details almost subdued by the anti-Oshiomhole protesters that grounded activities at the complex, yesterday morning.
The arrival of the detachment of the regular and mobile policemen had forestalled a bloody clash of the pro and anti-protesters against the National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The situation almost degenerated into a bloody clash when stern-looking bouncers numbering over eight men dressed in black jeans and t-shirts, arrived at the secretariat and chased out the anti-Oshiomhole protesters.
The protesters, who arrived at Blantyre Street, housing the party secretariat, at different times, had engaged themselves over who has the right to display placards.
Obvious to the anti protesters, comprising young men, women and the aged, that the regular security details manning the secretariat could not guarantee their safety, they hurriedly dispersed, scampering for safety to avoid the anger of the pro and furious-looking bouncers.
To arrest the situation, the regular security detail at the APC secretariat had to send signals to the divisional police headquarters in charge of the area which wasted no time in deploying personnel to beef up security at the complex.
Although neither the security agents nor the protesters was able to address newsmen, a police officer who spoke in confidence said that they saw the pro and anti-protesters hauling weapons at each other, noting that they tried to calm down the situation.
Lamentably, the protests for the removal of the embattled party’s national chairman had continued since last week, resulting in members of the National Working Committee (NWC) avoiding the secretariat for fear of their lives.
The anti-Oshiomhole protesters that have consistently disrupted activities at the secretariat insisted on his removal, accusing him of demarketing their party.
The group that gave its name as APC Members Coalition Movement, threatened to continue the protest until Oshiomhole was removed.
One of its leaders, Umar Mohammed Musa said: “We are here to express our feelings, to show or tell the whole world that we are not happy with what is happening in our party.
“The leadership of this party is getting out of hand and that is why we are here to tell our leaders that Oshiomhole must go; we insist that Oshiomhole must leave.
“When you look at the situation of our party and what has happened at the last primaries in 2019 general elections, you will agree with me that we have no leader.
“Since Oshiomhole came on board, there has been no progress in the party; there is no development, no achievement or tangible thing to show you that there is a good example of leadership in the party. So, that is why we say Oshiomhole must go.
“Even in FCT, his leadership led to loss of lives. It was also same in Zamfara, Bayelsa, etc. Look at what happened recently in Bayelsa State; so we are asking what is going on? We have noticed that Adams Oshiomhole is an agent who has come to destabilise our party. He is an agent that wants to see how this party would collapse and would not win election in 2023,” the group alleged.
Dismissing the claim that Oshiomhole won the presidential election for APC, the group’s spokesperson said, “This party won the presidential election because of the helping hands of Nigerians and not because of the leadership of Oshiomhole.
“The party members and the citizens of this country have the love for President Buhari. When you look at it very well many of our members who could have won election for us lost the primaries because of the selfish interest of Oshiomhole.”
While also condemning Oshiomhole’s leadership style, another speaker, Comrade Zata Nehemaih said: “l want to tell you that since he came in, there have been factions in all the states.
“I want to tell you that Oshiomhole has no interest of the party. He is here to destroy APC; he is like a PDP mole. If you look at the last election, APC lost Zamfara, Bauchi, Imo, Adamawa, Taraba, Bayelsa and so many other states because of Oshiomhole.
“Instead of him to add more states, we lost states. If they allow Oshiomhole to continue till 2023, l want to assure you that APC will lose the presidency,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy youth leader APC FCT, Idris Umar Faruk, has while defending Oshiomhole, claimed that those protesting against him were not members of APC.

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