Network Africa: Soyinka On Nigerian Unity, Latest On Pistorius, Ebola Virus

Network Africa MAPNigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, believes Nigeria is suffering greater carnage at the hands of Islamist group, Boko Haram, than it did during the civil war, yet this does not mean the country’s break up is imminent.

It’s been agreed, that Oscar Pistorius was very much in his right mind, when he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Health ministers from 11 African countries are in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, seeking practical ways to curb the spread of the Ebola virus.

We bring you our conversation with Dr. Femi Akodu, on Nigeria’s response to preventing the virus.


Benue Teachers’ Strike: Public Primary Schools Shut For 8 Months

Benue schoolChildren attending public primary schools in Benue State have been stuck at home for over eight months following a prolonged strike by their teachers.

The State Government and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), in the state have been engaged in a deadlocked dispute over teachers’ salaries since the implementation of the national minimum wage.

Channels Television was in Makurdi, the Benue State capital to examine the situation and the consequences of the strike for the pupils, the teachers and primary education in Benue State.

Life appeared normal on the streets of Makurdi, until visits to the public primary schools, where the classrooms were completely empty, with school grounds deserted and some overgrown with weeds showed the real situation.

In some cases, the buildings were already falling into ruin and the situation was the same all over the state as the prolonged strike by public school teachers had taken a heavy toll.

According to the Benue State NUT Chairman, Godwin Anyam, the problem started with the implementation of a minimum wage for public servants in the state, including schoolteachers.

“When the minimum wage was approved in the state and before its approval, I was part of the negotiation on behalf of the teachers. So when this was approved, that means the teachers also must also be part of the wage.

“What we were collecting before the coming of the minimum wage was what other workers were collecting. The only difference we had was the 27.5% enhanced allowances with the teachers, which we also fought for and was also approved by the Governor’s Forum.”

However, the State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, explained that what he decided to do was to appeal to the core civil servants whose salaries were mistakenly increased out of proportion to at least let the Government “take a small percentage” of what they had increased for them so that they would be able to accommodate teachers.

“There’s no way, even if the teachers are on strike for 20 years, I can’t raise 4billion (Naira) to pay all these salaries; that is practically out of place”, he said.

While the private schools have been cashing in on the situation and children of the privileged are receiving standard education; other children have been on the receiving end of the crisis as some have been in the streets, struggling to make ends meet.

A parent, John Awuru, expressed worries over the future of the children whose parents could not afford the cost of private schools and challenged the Government to find a lasting solution to the situation rather than condemn the pupils to a life in which they would not be able to fulfill their potentials.

All hope is not lost for those who cannot afford the cost of attending private schools, however, as few makeshift education centres had sprung up to keep the children busy for fees as low as 500 Naira per child.

As the battle over the implementation of wages continues to rage between the State Government and the Teachers’ Union, both sides appeared unwilling to concede,

The Chair, Benue NGO Network, Justin Gbagir, spoke to Channels TV, he said, “If we know the importance of education, particularly primary education which is the foundation of education, then we feel that the relevant stakeholders would have done all that is needful to ensure that the primary school teachers did not go on strike in the first instance. If at all they went on strike, they would have done everything to ensure that the strike is not prolonged.”

The Benue State Head of Service, Terna Ahua, however, explained that the State Government was approaching the problem in two directions; to cut down on the cost of governance and to increase the components of the state’s internally generated revenue.

Many public primary school children and perhaps teachers in Benue State continue to suffer the endless holiday and their deserted schools have become accommodation for the internally displaced persons fleeing herdsmen’s attacks in neighbouring Nasarawa and Taraba states.

One lesson the out-of-school children may have learnt is the meaning of the adage, “when two elephants clash, it is the grass that suffers”.

APC Is The Party For Change – Ngige

Chris-Ngige2View From The Top, on this edition, plays host to former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chris Ngige.

Senator Ngige took on several issues surrounding Nigeria’s democracy, his time as Governor, being in the opposition party and losing the Anambra State governorship election to All Progressive Grand Alliance’s Willie Obiano.

Recalling the irregularities witnessed in past elections and how this has affected the Nigerian democracy, he said that Nigeria had taken steps backwards rather than moving forward.

Although he admitted that the 2011 elections were fair, he insisted that Nigeria should be aiming to do better rather than getting worse, as seen in the Anambra governorship where he claimed to have lost due to disenfranchising of his supporters.

Ngige said that he had learnt a lot of lessons as he was beaten by the tactics of their opponents.

He, however, stated that these rigging as done in Anambra cannot be tried in Ekiti State as the APC was well aware of the opposition’s tactics.

Metrofile: Delta Children Pray For Abducted Chibok Girls

Delta kids prayBring Back Our Girls, these words have been on the lips of almost every Nigerian and people across the world.

The children of Delta State in Nigeria have also lent their voices to this worthy cause, as they chose to celebrate the 2014 Children’s Day saying prayers for the missing Chibok girls.

In Nigeria, it’s the norm for students to commemorate Children’s Day with a match past usually held in the stadium, but the Unity Hall at the Government House in Asaba, the state capital, was packed full with representatives of children drawn from different schools across the state.


Vendors, Distributors Decry Military’s Clampdown On Newspapers

NewspapersNewspaper vendors and distributors in the Federal Capital Territory have cried out over the confiscation of their papers and detention of their drivers by the officers and men of the Nigerian Army.

They claim that soldiers swooped down on them on Saturday morning and carted away copies of newspapers meant for distribution.

This is coming a day after the military also confiscated copies of the Leadership, Nation and Punch newspapers in different parts of the country; an action the military explained was for security reasons.

Some of the distribution centres visited by our correspondent were in Area 1 in the Garki district of the Federal Capital Territory; some of the vendor stands were indeed empty with a few bundles of newspapers on the floor.

One of the eyewitnesses who spoke to Channels TV said, “We just came this morning and found out that everywhere was locked up, military men were all around and they told us that it’s because of security, that we should go home. We had to go.”

The Chairman of the Newspaper Vendors Association, Samuel Jimoh, corroborated the report, as he said that the leader of the military team that carried out the confiscation told him that the Army had received security reports about the vendors.

He added that they alleged that based on “their search at Jos, some vendors were caught with arms.”

The Chairman Board of Trustees of the Newspapers Distributors Association, Moses Oladipo, also added that the military men alleged that some of the newspaper distributors did not have ID cards to show that they were vendors or distributors.

A Director at one of the newspaper companies, however, referred to the incident as regrettable.

“We lost several millions of Naira yesterday and the same thing is happening today without any justification from the military. It is quite strange that we will be subjected to this kind of assault from the Nigerian Army specifically.

“Really we wouldn’t know what the issues are; what I know is that on Wednesday we did publish a story that has to do with the sharing of some plots of land meant for barracks to some Army officials and possibly the military was not quite happy with that.

“So we think what is happening now is just a kind of revenge on that story. If there are other issues, we are yet to be told”, he said.

On what the issues are, the Defence Spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade, in a statement said that materials with grave security implications use the channel of newspaper related consignment.

According to him, the clampdown had nothing to do with content or operation of media organisations or personnel.


Insurgency: No Holds Barred With Borno Govt. On Chibok Girls Abduction

VFTT Borno SSGNigeria has been going through turbulent times with the state of insecurity in the country, heightened by the abduction of over 200 girls by terrorists in Chibok, Borno State.

The controversies surrounding the incident has put the Borno State Government, led by Governor Kashim Shetima, in the eye of the storm, with several accusations, claims and conspiracy theories.

Secretary to the Borno State Government, Ambassador Baba Ahmad Jidda, is the guest on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.

He speaks on the situation in the North-Eastern state, from the perspective of the State Government.

Enjoy this revealing interview.

Ezekwesili Defends Chibok Girls Campaign

Oby EzekwesiliA prominent member of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign and former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, has dismissed claims in some quarters that she took to protest for lack of what to do.

At a youth conference in Port Harcourt, where she was the guest speaker, Dr. Ezekwesili explained that great societies are built on strong values, adding that her passion for the young people of Nigeria explains why she is in the campaign to free the Chibok girls.

“If you’ve never thought about the state of those girls, you need to ask yourself question, because its so easy to carry on as if all is well because it has not come close to you.

“Just imagine that it was anything close to your family that more than 200 children of poor families went to school and the next story is that they’ve been taken away. Then everybody in our society just goes around like everything is normal. Well, if it’s normal for you, it’s not normal for me.

“That’s why I have decided along with all the women that come every day and we stand out and we say we need intensification of search and rescue for those girls.

“We will stay resolute in demanding, bring back our girls”, she said.

Ukraine Crisis: Russia ‘Open To Dialogue’ With New Leader

Petro-PoroshenkoAs initial results tipped Petro Poroshenko to win Ukraine’s election, Russia said that it was “open to dialogue” with the new president of the crisis-torn country.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that military action must end against separatists in the east.

Mr Poroshenko said that he would meet Russian leaders soon but vowed to take a tough line on any armed separatists.

Unrest continues in the east, with pro-Russia militiamen halting flights at Donetsk airport.

Meanwhile election observers said Sunday’s vote was a genuine one that largely met international standards.

The mission from the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) also said it gave the new President “legitimacy” to open a dialogue with separatists in the East.

Petro Poroshenko is a confectionery tycoon who backed the pro-European street protests that ousted Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich from Presidency.

He was the only Ukrainian strongman to swiftly throw his weight behind the popular uprising that started late 2013, devoting his ‘5th Channel’ TV station to the coverage of the protests.

A seasoned politician who served as Foreign Minister and Economy Minister in previous administrations, Poroshenko’s chain of confectionery shops has put the billionaire on Ukraine’s top 10 rich list, earning him the nick-name “Chocolate King”.

Poroshenko, whose chocolate manufacturer, Roshen is one of the world’s top 20 confectionery firms, backs Ukraine’s integration with the west and his firm has been targeted in Russia.

Ekiti Election; Labour Party Chairman Says APC Is A Violent Party

chief_dan_nwanyanwuThe National Chairman of Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu, has accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, of being a violent party that could be blamed for the violence in the country.

The mega rally of the Labour Party in Ikere Ekiti, towards the June governorship election in the state, ended in violence with both parties involved pointing accusing fingers.

Nwanyanwu, who was present mega rally in Ikere Ekiti, said that the event went on very smoothly but while he was addressing the crowd, the APC thugs broke into the venue of their mega rally and started fomenting trouble.

He alleged that after the rally the men came back to attack the party supporters and in the process destroyed three cameras belonging to a television station – African Independent Television – whose crew was there to transmit the event.

He alleged that the said hoodlums attacked the TV crew, stabbed Labour Party supporters, and thereafter ran to one of APC’s offices in a location not related to the rally venue and broke windows to create the impression that it was the Labour Party that did it.

Contrary to allegations, Nwanyanwu maintained that his party supporters went to the rally without weapons and could not have been responsible for the violence.

Nwanyanwu accused the party of being a violent party adding that they were suspects in the state of insecurity in the country; “APC is known to be lying, they can lie, they are known as liars and they will continue to lie.”

He said that APC was causing trouble because they had seen the signs that they would lose the Ekiti governorship election.

Dan Nwanyanwu spoke via the telephone on Channels Television’s Sunday evening programme, Politics Today.