The Northern Elders Forum on Saturday said Nigerians have lost faith in the power and will of the government to protect them from incessant bandit attacks after more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped at a school in Zamfara on Friday.
According to a statement signed by the Forum’s spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the life of the average is becoming increasingly endangered by the day.
The Forum advised Governors, especially those from the Northern region, to explore all lawful avenues to improve the security of citizens.
Governors should also ramp up their support to the security services, the Forum added.
They advised citizens to organise and raise their levels of vigilance but not to take laws into their hands.
“Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions,” the Forum’s statement said.
Read the Forum’s full statement below:
27th February, 2021
STATEMENT OF NORTHERN ELEDERS FORUM FOLLOWING KIDNAPPINGS OF STUDENTS IN NORTHERN SCHOOLS
Northern Elders Forum shares the profound shock and outrage of Nigerians at the spate of kidnappings of boarding school children in different parts of the North. The latest reported kidnapping of more than hundreds of female students in Zamfara State follows the abduction of student of GSC, Kagara, Niger State. Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copy cat crimes in a region that is basically unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education.
It has become painfully obvious that the Federal Government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals. Governors have been left to quarrel over causes and strategies. Many are taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the State of Security of the citizen in the country. In spite of assurances from the Federal Government that it will end banditry and kidnappings, the life of the Nigerian is becoming more endangered by the day, and citizens have lost faith that Governments will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens.
The Forum advises particularly Northern Governors to explore all lawful avenues to improve the Security of citizens. While they should improve their support to the Military, the Police and Security Agencies, they should also explore avenues which give them more powers to secure citizens. of the constitution which gives states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
Governors should explore issues which aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels and resolve them. They should also intensify multi-pronged approaches to ending banditry and kidnappings, including measures which prevent the continuation of these criminal activities by those who show a genuine willingness to stop. Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.
Citizens should organize and raise their levels of vigilance. They should resist the temptation to take laws into their hands, and improve the manner they work with Security Agencies. Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
Director, Publicity and Advocacy
Northern Elders Forum
Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on Saturday relieved his Special Adviser on Media, Salihu Tanko Yakasai of his appointment
Mr. Yakasai’s sack was due to his “continued unguarded comments and utterances which are deemed contrary to the stand of the All Progressive Congress (APC) government which he is serving,” the state government said in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information Malam Muhammad Garba.
The sack is with immediate effect.
Mr. Yakasai had called for President Muhammadu Buhari to resign over his inability to prevent the recent abduction of schoolgirls in Zamfara State among other security concerns.
But the Kano State Government’s statement said the aide had failed to differentiate between personal opinion and official stand on matters of public concern and therefore cannot be allowed to continue to serve in a government he does not believe in.
The governor also warned political appointees and public servants to guard against making statements capable of drawing superfluous controversy.
The statement reaffirmed the commitment of Governor Ganduje to the policies and programmes of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The sack is coming hours after Mr. Yakasai, known as ‘Dawisu’ on social media platform Twitter, was reportedly arrested by the Department of State Security in Kano.
Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Thursday, commissioned the Awotan Landfill Project and also unveiled clean and green waste trucks, to improve the environmental and social well-being of residents of the State.
According to a statement by spokesman Taiwo Adisa, Makinde said the environmental project will provide job opportunities for self-reliance to 3,000 residents of the community.
He equally pledged to fix the Awotan Health Centre, adding that the Government had the plan to have one standard health care facility in every ward of Oyo State.
He said: “When we were confronted with the issue of waste in Oyo State, we had two main choices. One, a quick fix, which could have happened sooner, or a more complex and far-reaching solution, which would take some time. As you can see, the video clip we just watched is quite complex.
“The quick fix would have just meant that we are just kicking the ball further down the road. Sometimes in the future, we will, again, be confronted with the issue of waste disposal. Maybe then, it will be another administration that will deal with it but we would have gone away with the tag of ‘Architect of Modern Oyo State.’
“One, those who live near this dumpsite, the nearest settlement is just about 200 meters away from where we are right now, would have had to continue dealing with their groundwater contamination and their water will have remained unsafe for them to drink.
“The Baale of Awotan has asked us to fix the health centre here and I want to assure you that we will do it. We already put a plan in place to have one standard health care facility in every ward in Oyo State and we will have 351 of them.
“Secondly, they would have continued to live with the stench coming from this dumpsite. The multiplier effect is that those who have properties for rent around here would have a hard time letting them out and, of course, I have spoken about the health implications as well.
“As a matter of fact, when I met some people here, they said they abandoned their houses here and relocated to the city but, the good news is, they are coming back now.
“I want to acknowledge the immense contribution of our late compatriot and former Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Kehinde Ayoola. He did all the planning and groundwork to make sure that this project turns out as it is today.
“May the good Lord continually be with his family. Let me also thank the current Commissioner for Environment, Barrister Idowu Oyeleke, for seeing the project to a logical conclusion.
“So, as I said earlier, we decided on the second option. Yes, it took more time, which meant that people complained about refuse disposal for a little longer but we knew that when we accomplish what we set out to accomplish here, the result will be glaring to all.”
Governor Makinde maintained that the success of the landfill project has led to the creation of massive job opportunities, as, according to him, 500 private companies have been registered for refuse collection, with each of them expected to recruit at least six people including drivers and refuse packers.
“We are standing on the ground now and we can see everywhere. So, apart from this environment, the total rehabilitation of this landfill resulted in engaging over 500 registered private companies in refuse collection. Each of those companies will employ at least a driver, a number of packers and others. If you multiply six by five hundred it will give you 3,000 direct jobs.
“Also, about 50 people worked here as scavengers and I don’t think they will continue to scavenge again, because there will be a rise in their take-home. They will be staying here now and those who need whatever they separate will have to come down and buy from them here.
“So, these individuals who worked on this project; contractors and others, we appreciate their efforts and the resultant effect is that we have more funds into Oyo State’s economy. Now that the site is completed, what is next? The benefit of upgrading this dumpsite is immense. We are all breathing easily right now.
“The last time we came here, we discovered that access will be a challenge. We had to look for an alternative route. The Apete-Awotan road is less than 1,500 metres and once you pass this place further down to Akufo junction, the traffic will be less.
“So, in less than six to eight weeks, the problem of access to this place will have been completely solved. And another added sweetener is there is methane gas under here, which will be converted to electricity that will in turn be used to install street lights around here. We will provide the street light and this place will provide the gas that will be used to generate electricity for that purpose,” the Governor added.
The Governor further said that with the success of the project, the newly launched waste management architecture in the State has begun on a sound footing, adding that there will be less refuse on the streets of Ibadan, the State capital.
He said: “Finally, we will have less refuse on our streets because the contractors will be paid per kilogram of debris they bring here. It means anyone that did not collect waste will not get paid.
“Of course, knowing how much each of the registered companies spend acquiring the trucks and other equipment to work with, they will want to recoup their investment. So, they will keep going out to pick up the waste. Suddenly, the waste is now like Gold. This, of course, will translate to economic benefit to Oyo State.
“The more refuse we get here also the better for our waste to wealth initiative. Apart from the gas, some came and said they can convert the waste to fertilizer. So, we will encourage them. If there is an access road to get here to come and do what they have proposed, it is also for the benefit of the residents here.
“So, you can see that the Clean and Green is a total municipal waste system solution.”
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Dr. Abdulateef Oyeleke, said that the landfill project was a crucial part of the broad plan to reposition Oyo State, especially the State capital, Ibadan, as a sustainable and ideal metropolitan city free from dirt and filth.
He maintained that the desire of Governor Makinde‘s administration is to modernise its solid waste management and that the project would create a clean, green, and environmentally friendly State.
He equally stated that the landfill would not only open doors of opportunities to residents of the State, but that it would also serve as an excellent renewable energy source and generate hundreds of direct and indirect employment opportunities.
“This project has bridged the sad gap of 21st century urban waste transportation, by introducing the clean and green trucks through PPP arrangement. The trucks are well-equipped to evacuate refuse from the various collection points and safely transport the same to the landfill.
“We appreciate commitment, support, supervision and prompt release of funds to this project. We also thank the Awotan community for the support to the State Government, PSP Waste Contractors throughout the execution period of this project and other stakeholders who have formidably partnered with the Government in contributing their own quota to the development of the State,” the commissioner said.
He appealed to all house owners and facility owners, either private, commercial or industrial in Oyo State to complement the effort of the State Government by promptly paying waste bills in order to achieve a safe, clean and healthy environment.
He added that with the successful completion and commissioning of the Awotan landfill, the contractor will mobilize to Ajakanga dump site for its rehabilitation and upgrading to landfill status, stating that the contractor has promised to complete the project in record time.
The contractor of the project and C.E.O, Messers Macpresse West African Limited, Alhaji Idowu Salawu, said that the Awotan landfill is characteristic of any landfill in the world, adding that history was made because the 50 scavengers, who have been working at the site could not be sure of Material Recovery Facility (MRF) that will handle 50 tonnes waste material every day and increase their income.
He said: “Another good thing that we have derived from here is, before we completed this project, we had been receiving commendation from the residents of this area. What we did here is purely scientific. The gas component here can power 1megawatt of electricity on 1 hectare of land. So, since we have six hectares here, we can generate 6 megawatts of electricity.
“On renewable energy, we will partner with LAUTECH for them to use this place as the practical aspect of the department the Government recently created.”
In his remarks, the Alawotan of Awotan, Oba Dauda Omotosho, appreciated Governor Makinde for making lives meaningful to all the residents of Awotan community and creating an environment that will be habitable for them.
He added that the Awotan community “has never had it this good,” saying the Makinde-led administration has taken the dividends of democracy to their door step.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace airline, Allen Onyema on Wednesday told the House of Representatives that he never expected to receive a recommendation for a national award.
Onyema was invited to the green chambers and recommended for a national award, after he used his airline to freely evacuate Nigerians from South Africa, following the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the country.
In his remarks, the Air Peace boss thanked the lawmakers for the honour, adding that his actions were spontaneous and he would do anything to evacuate even a single Nigerian.
“I did not do it spontaneously, nor did I do it for publicity, I had to mortgage my landing right in South Africa because I just got the landing right before the crisis.
“I did not give a damn, I never did, because I know that I will not go to heaven with any dime.
“I have never been so honoured in my life. You have brought tears to my eyes. I would not have been able to do this if the federal government did not allow me or assemble those people for me to evacuate,” he said.
Onyema had earlier told Channels Television in an interview that he is using his airline to freely evacuate Nigerians from South Africa because he wants the world to see Nigeria respected as a nation
Speaking further in the interview, he noted that evacuation of foreigners from another country isn’t a good sign for the affected nation involved.
On Wednesday last week, the Air Peace airline evacuated no fewer than 185 Nigerians who indicate interest to return home as a result of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
Another set of about 319 people are expected to return to the country today but the trip earlier suffered a setback as a result of landing permit.
Having resolved the issue and secured the permit for the plane to land in Johannesburg, Onyema said the South African authorities gave the airline an arrival time.
He insisted that it was not the first time he was making a contribution to the nation’s development and highlighted his role in restoring peace to the Niger Delta in the heat of militancy in the region.
Brazil’s incoming right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro will visit Washington early next year as he finds common ground with President Donald Trump, a US official said on Friday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to attend Bolsonaro’s New Year’s Day inauguration in Brasilia and will discuss Trump’s invitation to Washington, the official said.
“We look forward to what will hopefully be his first official visit early in the year ahead,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The Trump administration sees a strong ally in Bolsonaro, who is following the lead of the United States in moving Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and has been critical of international efforts to fight climate change.
The US official noted that both Bolsonaro and Pompeo have warned of risks to Latin America from rising investment by China, whose financing of projects has turned into debt traps.
“It’s not always the case that when China shows up it is with good intention for the people they are showing up to ostensibly support,” the official said.
Bolsonaro, like Trump, has provoked outrage over the years with brash, swaggering statements, including telling a female lawmaker she was “not worth raping” and voicing nostalgia for the former military dictatorship’s use of torture.
The US official acknowledged “there has been some concern about older statements” but said Bolsonaro since the election has taken a “very strident and very forceful” approach to human rights in the region.
“The president-elect has been very forward-leaning on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in his defence of the human rights and the freedoms and democracy for the people in those countries,” she said.
Pompeo heads after Brazil to Colombia, where he will speak with President Ivan Duque about taking a firm line against Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery believes Mohamed Salah is now among the world’s top five players, despite failing to sign him when he was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.
The Gunners boss will be in opposition to the Liverpool forward when his Arsenal side faces the unbeaten Premier League leaders at Anfield on Saturday.
Egypt international Salah, 26, has scored 59 goals in 78 matches since arriving at Anfield from Italian club Roma before the start of the 2017/18 season.
Emery was coach of Ligue 1 champions PSG at the time and on Friday he admitted to being uncertain as to how Salah would cope with the pressure of playing for a major club.
“We spoke about the possibility to sign Salah to Paris St Germain when he was playing at Roma,” Emery said.
“We had some doubts — and then he signed for Liverpool and these doubts he has broken at Liverpool. Now, if you are speaking about the five top players in the world, one is Salah.”
Emery, asked about the nature of his reservations regarding Salah, added: “Can he take the performance into one big team?
“For example like PSG in Paris. And today I can say to you…if we signed him, we signed one player in the top five in the world.”
Emery said the signings of Salah and centre-back Virgil van Dijk had been central to Liverpool’s progress under Jurgen Klopp.
“I remember three years ago they had a problem in their defensive moments and bought some people — for example van Dijk — with good investment and the result is we are looking at them today and their progress,” he said.
“They are very strong in defence and also they are improving a lot when they bought Salah and now offensively they are a very big team.”
The Spaniard added: “I think the Premier League is now the best and most important competition in the world for the teams, with Spain, maybe Italy and Germany.
“But I think here are the best teams and players and now the leader in the table is Liverpool — and it is because they are doing things very well.”
Former Kenyan Olympic chief and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Charles Mukora, who was forced to resign from the IOC after the Salt Lake Winter Olympic bribery scandal has died aged 83, the Kenyan Olympic Committee (NOCK) said on Friday.
Mukora, who also served as head coach of the Kenyan team at the 1968 Olympic summer games in Mexico, was one of the six members forced to resign or expelled from the IOC in 1999 following the bribes-for-votes affair.
Salt Lake records showed that Mukora received direct payments of $34,650 but he strongly denied the accusations levelled against him.
“It is my considered opinion that I am an innocent victim of circumstances,” he said at the time.
A former athlete and footballer Mukora also worked in national politics and was elected member of parliament representing Laikipia East in 1992 in the first Kenyan multi-party elections since independence.
As the head coach in Mexico in 1968, he oversaw Kenya’s first-ever gold medals when Naftali Temu and Kipchoge Keino won the 10,000 and 1,500 metres respectively.
Kenyan sports officials paid tribute to Mukora who died after a long illness on Thursday.
“Charles Mukora was one the founding pillars of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, and his tenure saw Kenya firmly established in the global Olympic movement,” said current NOCK chairperson Paul Tergat.
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei highlighted the many different facets of Mukora’s contribution.
“This is one individual who served Kenya in different capacities internationally and in a very diligent manner. Kenya has lost a dedicated sports leader and servant,” he said.
If Emmanuel Macron is hoping for some holiday respite from the anti-government protests which have rocked France, he might want to avoid the presidential retreat on the Mediterranean coast.
Around 40 “yellow vest” demonstrators on Thursday tried to storm the medieval fort of Bregancon that serves as Macron’s summer retreat before being turned back by police, the mayor of nearby Bormes-les-Mimosas, Francois Arizzi, told AFP on Friday.
“It’s madness. For people who want more democracy, they should start by respecting other people’s property,” Arizzi said, saying many of the protesters had tried to infiltrate the fort by crossing private land.
The yellow vest movement has morphed from anger over fuel taxes to a broad rebuke of Macron, accused by critics of neglecting the rising costs of living for many in rural and small-town France.
Bregancon generated some unwanted headlines last summer when it emerged Macron was installing a 34,000 euro ($39,000) swimming pool at the fort, which already has its own private beach.
In theory, the site is currently unoccupied, though the president has refused to disclose where Macron and his wife Brigitte are spending the holidays.
Press reports have said the president cancelled a planned Christmas skiing trip, possibly at his long-time destination of La Mongie in the Pyrenees, not far from where his grandmother lived while he was growing up.
In Paris, where yellow vest protests have repeatedly descended into clashes with police in recent weeks, further demonstrations are planned on Saturday and New Year’s Eve.
Paris officials have decided to go ahead with the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the Champs-Elysees avenue — which usually attracts tens of thousands of people — despite the planned protest.
Paris police said in a statement Friday that strict security measures would be in place on the night, including bag and vehicle checks. Alcohol will be banned from the area.
Jeanne d’Hauteserre, mayor of the 8th district of Paris which includes the Champs-Elysees, told BFM television that at least 4,000 police and security forces would be on duty.
Yellow vest protesters “are welcome” to join the celebrations, she said.
Nearly 8,000 people are listed on Facebook as planning to attend the yellow vest New Year’s Eve demonstration, insisting it will be “festive and non-violent”.