358 IDPs Evacuated To Bama Camp

Returning Yobe IDPs Get Safety And Awareness Training The Internally Displaced Peoples Camp in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state on Tuesday recorded 358 new arrivals.

The new set of IDPS were collected by the Army during operations from remote villages around Bama.

The group consists of 21 men, a young boy while the others are women and children.

Officials of the UNICEF controlling the health care centre at the Bama camp say so far two leprosy cases and measles among children have been diagnosed among the new arrivals.

Also 20 children are suffering from malnutrition at the “yellow” level while 10 others are at the critical stage known as “red.”

Some of the women said they had trekked for two days without food after their rescue from where they were held captive.

Also, some of the young women and children among those rescued are believed to be spouses of fleeing militants, as suggested by 17 year old Falmata’s comments whose three months old child is among the malnourished.

“We have been staying in Kokoshe, when our husbands go to work and bring some money we buy grains to eat, it is 200 Naira per measure.

“They came and took him to prison, I don’t know what he did. But he is not a Boko Haram member.” She said as she broke down in tears.

More displaced persons are expected to surface as military operations progress.

Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill Passes Second Reading In The Senate

senateThe Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has passed second reading in the Senate.

Part of the document which scaled second reading on Wednesday provides for the governance and institutional framework for the Oil and Gas Industry.

The PIB was broken down into five parts to allow for an in depth analysis of the bill.

One of the cardinal objectives of the PIB is to create a single regulatory agency for the petroleum sector.

The bill splits the NNPC into two separate entities namely the Nigeria Petroleum Assets Management Company (NPAMC) and a National Oil Company (NOC).

The NOC will be an integrated oil and gas company operating as a fully commercial entity and will run like a private company.

The bill began its journey of passage in the National Assembly in 2008, when the late President Umaru Yar’adua forwarded it as an executive bill for consideration.

Although, it scaled second reading in both chambers of parliament, but in the sixth and seventh National Assemblies it was not passed into law.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had promised on his assumption of office in the eighth Senate that the PIB bill would be given due consideration under his leadership.

Civil Society Question Status Of PIB

PIBOn September 14, 2016, some civil society groups in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory questioned the status of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which they said had been pending for 12 years.

They said the modification of the bill into five sections appeared different from the original bill presented to the National Assembly.

The groups are building a common alliance to engage the Federal Government and the National Assembly on the reforms in the oil and gas sector.

Members are also questioning the oil swap status of the country and the level of implementation of the findings and recommendations of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Led by the Executive Director of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, Mr David Ugolor, the civil groups called for more public disclosure by the executive and the legislative arms of government for enhanced public involvement in these issues which affect the livelihood of the masses.

Dr. Saraki Speaks On PIBSaraki, CCT

But Dr. Saraki while speaking at the opening session of the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital noted that the National Assembly was determined to pass necessary legislations that would give private investors, the confidence to invest in the Nigerian economy.

After the investors at the discussion gave their view on the PIB, he said the next step for the federal lawmakers was to start passing the bill into law.

“The message here across to the private sector is that the National Assembly, the House of Representatives and the Senate are working very closely together in this 8th National Assembly and as such, you have our commitment that some of these processes will not be bugged down and not be passed because one chamber is doing something differently.

“As part of this commitment, you will all see next week (when we lay down the Petroleum Industry governance bill) that the bill that we are going to lay in the House is the same bill we are going to lay in the Senate,” Senator Saraki assured the investors.

FG Saves Six Billion Naira Monthly, Finance Minister Tells Senate

Finance MinisterFinance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has revealed that federal government saves six billion Naira monthly through a cut down in recurrent expenditure.

Mrs Adeosun, said this at the Senate while briefing lawmakers on the state of the Nigerian economy.

She told the lawmakers at plenary that the move is part of federal government’s effort towards ensuring fiscal discipline in the face of dwindling oil revenues.

According to the Minister, the government now spends 159 billion naira instead of 165 billion previously spent monthly as recurrent expenditure.

The lawmakers had on May 26 summoned the Minister to brief them on the 2016 budget and other economic issues affecting Nigerians.

Mrs Adeosun, however, failed to appear before the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday, prompting the motion to have her do so unfailingly on Thursday.

The Senate said that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had to appear before it before members proceed on recess.

The Senate before inviting the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in the month of May, noted that unemployment rate rose to 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 from 10.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2015.

The Senate agreed that the declining Gross Domestic Product and high inflation rate clearly showed that the country’s economic policies required an urgent review to avoid a further plunge in the economy.

Senate Orders Finance Minister To Appear Before It On Thursday

Senate-NigeriaThe Senate has ordered Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to appear before it before it goes on recess on Thursday.

This directive is coming after the Minister of Finance failed to appear before the upper legislative chamber to brief them on the 2016 budget and on other economic issues that affects the nation.

It would be recalled that the Senate had on May 26 summoned the Minister and the CBN Governor to brief them on the issues surrounding the economy and its impact on Nigerians.

The Senate before inviting the duo in the month of May noted that unemployment rate rose to 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 from 10.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2015.

“This Senate is further deeply worried that the continued complacency of the current economy, if allowed unchecked, would set the tune for a full blown economic recession by the end of June,” said Sen. Bassey Akpan.

Senator Akpan said the declining Gross Domestic Product and high inflation rate clearly showed that the country’s economic policies required an urgent review to avoid a further plunge in the economy.

He also pointed out that his position was confirmed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in its Monetary Policy Committee meeting of Tuesday, May 24.

Senator Akpan then told the Senate that it was their responsibility to invite the Minister of Finance and the CBN Governor to brief the Senate.

He pointed out that the briefing would enable them agree on the modalities that would be deployed to salvage the economy of the oil rich nation.

After the lawmaker’s statements, the Senate decided to invite the duo to brief them.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday, honoured the invitation and briefed lawmakers on the monetary policies he has adopted to strengthen the naira and revamp the economy.

Joint Health Workers Strike Paralyse Activities In JUTH

Health workersThe continued industrial action by Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), is taking its toll on health services to the public at the Tertiary Health Centre.

Members of the unions maintain that until their demands are met, there is no going back to work, despite pleas from the management that the public should be considered.

Chairman of the Union, Mustapha Kabir, declared the continuation of action against some decisions of the management.

He noted that the management failed to honour the agreement reached on a memorandum of understanding with JOHESU.

The congress mandated the unions to resume the suspended strike until the demands are met leading to activities at the hospital running at slow pace with only medical doctors and consultants attending to patients.

The management of JUTH, however, differed on some of the allegations, explaining that some issues raised by the unions will be solved at the national level, while those for the hospital are receiving attention.

With the industrial action running for more than two weeks, both the unions and management of JUTH need to come to an agreement for work to resume immediately, as patients are the most affected.

NCC Lifts Regulatory Suspension On MTN

NCCThe Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has lifted the suspension of regulatory service on MTN Nigeria which was slammed on the Telecom firm in October last year for failure to deactivate unregistered sim cards.

A statement by the Johannesburg-based Telecoms company, said the move would allow the company to seek approvals for promotions and other plans to grow in Nigeria.

In the meantime, the House of Representatives has summoned the Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Nigeria to appear before the Committee on Communications or face arrest.

The House Committee reached the resolution after considering a letter by the company asking for a referral to the relevant government agencies who are already handling the ‘amicable settlement’.

The committee is yet to decide on the date when the MTN boss should appear.

Trump Wins Christie Backing, Marches Towards Super Tuesday

trump2Republican candidate Donald Trump on Friday won the surprise endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the most prominent mainstream Republican to get behind the former reality TV star’s White House campaign.

Christie said the billionaire front-runner has the best chance of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election – although Clinton has yet to secure her party’s nomination.

The endorsement gives Trump a further lift before next week’s Super Tuesday nominating contests. It comes just a day after he took a battering from his two main rivals at a televised Republican debate.

Trump’s unorthodox candidacy has stirred controversy and shaken the Republican Party at its roots, but an increasing number of senior Republicans are becoming resigned to the idea he will be their candidate in November.

Trump is “rewriting the playbook,” said Christie, 53, who until two weeks ago was himself a rival for the Republican nomination. Christie dropped out after failing to muster much support for his candidacy.

Trump, 69, who has never held public office, has campaigned as a political outsider. He is riding a wave of voter anger at the slow economic recovery, illegal immigration and what he says is America’s diminishing role in the world.

“The best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump,” Christie told a news conference on Friday, a day after the last Republican candidates’ debate before Super Tuesday.

The debate marked a new, more aggressive approach for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, 44, who has emerged as the Republican establishment’s challenger to Trump. The other main challenger at the debate was U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Trump has unsettled mainstream Republicans by winning three straight nominating contests – in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Polls show he is likely to win big in key primaries on Tuesday.

“Since I started this whole thing I’ve been practically Number 1,” Trump said on Friday at a rally in Texas.

The 11 Republican nominating contests on Tuesday have a total of almost 600 delegates at stake, and could set Trump up to clinch the presidential nomination.

Reuters/Ipsos polling data on Friday showed Trump ahead nationally in the Republican race with support at 44.2 percent, followed by Cruz at 20.7 percent and Rubio in third place at 14 percent.

INEC Declares APC Winner Of Adamawa Rerun Election

AdamawaThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Adamawa State has declared APC candidate, Talatu Yohanna winner of the rerun election in Lamurde, Numan and Demsa Federal Constituency.

According to INEC, Yohanna polled 24,126 votes to emerge winner, defeating the PDP’s Michael Zidon who trailed in second position with a total votes of 11,513 votes.

Of the 178, 471 registered voters, only 44,577 turned out for accreditation. 44,028 votes were cast but 1,293 were rejected.

Although there were reports of low turnout, the election has been adjudged peaceful as there is no record of violence during the exercise.

U.S. Commander Sees Al Qaeda Africa Group Strengthening

al-qeedaTwo high-profile strikes in West Africa since November by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could further strengthen the Islamist militant group, a U.S. commander for North and West Africa said.

AQIM, a militant group that emerged from the Algerian civil war in the 1990s and is now mostly north Mali-based, is emerging from a period of near dormancy marked by factional infighting.

The group, linked to veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed two hotel sieges in the Mali and Burkina Faso capitals in November and January that killed dozens, including many Westerners, proving its ability to strike further south.

Some experts say the urban attacks, and a slew of recent propaganda, may be a bid to compete with ultra-hardline group Islamic State, which now has a base in Libya.

“(The hotel attacks) raised the profile of the group and will help the group do a (few) things,” said Colonel Bob Wilson, Third Special Forces Group Commander, in an interview with Reuters and The New York Times in Dakar this week.

“One, show that it’s still relevant. Two, help it to recruit personnel and commit resources. And three, create the impetus to do more attacks like that,” he said on a visit to Senegal during the annual U.S.-led ‘Flintlock’ counter-terror training program in the Sahel region.

The United States has its own Africa Command with between 1,000-1,200 forces on the continent at any given time, mostly in training and support roles. Wilson’s North and West Africa command is the largest of three regional groups, with around 500 deployed across a dozen countries.

U.S. officials say this year’s event is marked by a growing threat of Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and AQIM in the Sahel which, while deeply concerning, is also boosting African security cooperation.

Wilson said he expects ISIS to spread beyond Libya to other African countries in the next year, echoing fears expressed by Niger and Chad to the south.

The Islamic State has thousands of fighters in the former Italian colony and controls parts of Libya’s northern coastal strip, including the city of Sirte.

“I think it (ISIS) is going to expand beyond Libya where it can find subordinate elements to cooperate with,” he said, adding that he was worried about “increased collusion and cooperation” between militant groups.

He declined to comment on plans for special operations in Libya amid speculation of possible Western air strikes.

Wilson welcomed the creation of a regional task force last year to fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS and is blamed for 15,000 deaths.

But he said the countries involved — Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin — have yet to prove that they can work effectively together in joint operations and that a regional headquarters is still “nascent”.

Vote Counting Underway In Adamawa Re-Run Election

EkitiCounting of votes has started in the rerun election held in Demsa, Lamurde and Numan Federal Constituencies of Adamawa State in north-east Nigeria.

There was low voters’ turnout in the Saturday election following rumours that a Federal High Court in Abuja had issued an order suspending the election.

The voting process has been peaceful so far and counting of votes has commenced in most polling units.

No violence has been reported so far.

The re-run election was held to fill the seats in the Federal Constituencies.

The Resident Electoral Officer in charge of Adamawa State Baba Yusuf told Channels Television in Yola the state capital that it was going ahead with the elections, as the commission did not get any notice not to conduct the poll.

Accreditation and voting held simultaneously in the areas, with security personnel present to ensure that the exercise was peaceful.

Polls in the affected areas were rescheduled following 2015 Appeal Court ruling which nullified the election of Laor Kwamoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)

South Africans Protest Ahead of Zuma’s State Of The Nation Speech

Jacob-ZumaHundreds of protesters marched outside South Africa’s parliament on Thursday hours before an annual state-of-the-nation speech by President Jacob Zuma, whom they accuse of corruption and mismanaging the country’s flagging economy.

Zuma’s speech, scheduled to be televised nationally at 1700 GMT, comes amid growing criticism over a taxpayer-funded 250 million (then $23 million) upgrade to his private home and years of weak economic growth in Africa’s most industrialized country.

Investors also want to know why Zuma fired two finance ministers in one week this December. Minister Nhlanhla Nene was replaced by relatively unknown lawmaker David van Rooyen, sparking a selling frenzy in the markets. Zuma swiftly replaced van Rooyen with the respected Pravin Gordhan.

BNP Paribas Securities SA economist Jeffrey Schultz said the reshuffle “brought into question political stability of this economy and in particular the independence of national treasury in helping set policy in South Africa.”

“The markets will be looking for some level of commitment from government that it remains committed to sustainable fiscal policy and a generally pro-business, pro-investment environment,” he said.

South Africa’s rand currency hit a record low of 17.9950 in January after weakening by more than a quarter to the dollar last year. The central bank has forecast growth to reach only 0.9 percent this year. Unemployment is at 25 percent.

The agricultural sector is reeling under the worst drought in decades, forcing Africa’s top grain producer to import maize. The mining sector, hit hard by slowing demand from China, is shedding jobs and shutting unviable mines.

The opposition are hoping anger over the nation’s economic woes will translate into votes in upcoming local elections.

Julius Malema, the fiery leader of the far-left opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, said last week he would disrupt Zuma’s speech, as he did last year, if Zuma fails to explain why he fired the finance ministers.

Lawyers Disagree Over INEC’s Date For Rivers Rerun Elections

INECQuestions have been raised over the new date (March 19) announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the National and State Assembly elections billed to be conducted in the state.

While some lawyers say INEC has the right to decide the appropriate time to conduct the polls, the Attorney General of Rivers State, Emma Aguma, has insisted that the Commission must follow the rule of law by not exceeding the cut-off date for all elections to be conducted in Rivers State in line with the 60 and 90 day order given by the court.

At a recent meeting with INEC officials and political leaders in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, February 6 was first canvassed as the date for the State Assembly and National Assembly rerun election but some political parties disagreed, claiming they needed more time to prepare for the polls.

Meanwhile, the March 19 new date as announced by the electoral body is raising legal questions over whether INEC is within its rights to extend the time.

Some lawyers believe the time limit is at the discretion of the Commission.

For the State Attorney General, there is no provision in the electoral act that allows INEC to exercise the discretion of time