Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, says it is critical for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members to be united and secure the trust of Nigerians ahead of 2019 elections. He said this on Saturday in Abuja while addressing delegates and members of the party at its national convention. Atiku returned to the PDP on Nov. 24, few days after announcing his resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC), citing lack of good relationship with the party`s leadership, among other issues for the decision. “It is great to be home and I believe in one Nigeria where all our people have equal opportunities and share a common goal. “This belief stirred me and other compatriots to form the PDP; I am proud to say that I have returned home to our party, a party that gave the country the first successful transition,’’ he said. The former vice president maintained that he had never abandoned the party`s principle, but had stayed through with it even while in the APC. He said that he had always stood for constitutionalism and the enthronement of good governance in the country in the interest of all. According to him, the APC which I was a member until recently, has not delivered on its campaign promises and has failed the country. Atiku maintained that although the PDP had made some mistakes in the past, leading to the loss of the 2015 Presidential election, it remained the best option for Nigerians. “We made mistakes because we are human beings; we did not favour states that voted for us during election. The PDP is the party that will restructure and develop Nigeria,’’ he assured. He said that PDP members and leaders must work to earn the trust of Nigerians again ahead of 2019 election. Atiku also said that if the PDP was stronger together, Nigerians would be stronger, adding that the party must be one that embodied the Nigerian vision. He called on the delegates to elect leaders who understood the urgency of restructuring and devolution of power, among other things. “Let the PDP get winning again so that we can get Nigeria working again,’’ he stressed. In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Eweremadu, assured Nigerians that the PDP would enthrone good governance if elected into power in 2019.
Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the presidential election in 2019 just as he has indicated interest for Ebonyi governorship election. The governor told State House correspondents in Abuja on Thursday, that Buhari was very qualified to seek a second term in office. Umahi, a first term governor, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was at the Presidential Villa ahead of Buhari’s planned visit to Ebonyi, Anambra and Imo states. “Well, any first term governor would want to go for second term and if what you wish yourself, you should be honest enough to wish another person the same. “Since, Mr President is doing his first term and I am doing my first term, it’s my wish to re-contest and I will as well wish the president the same to re-contest,’’ he said. On the President’s planned visit to Ebonyi, Umahi said the state was fully prepared for the visit. He said: “We pleaded with Mr President for the visit and before then we have been preparing, we are fully prepared.’’ The governor revealed that several projects had been lined up for inauguration by the President during the visit. According to the governor, the twin flyovers that is built across the African trans-atlantic road running from Enugu to Cameroun passing through Ebonyi State will be among the projects to be inaugurated by the president. “We have quite a lot of projects that we have executed within the past two and the half years. “We have three twin flyovers that are built across the African trans-atlantic road running from Enugu to Cameroun passing through Ebonyi State. “So we have to build three twin flyover to decongest traffic on that road, each of the twin flyover is 700 metre length. “We have completed two and the third one is 80 per cent done, Mr President will commission the two. “We also have a mall what we call Ebonyi mall that is modelled after the famous Dubai mall.’’ He stated that the president would lay a foundation stone for the mall during the visit. Umahi expressed the hope that Buhari would inaugurate the Mall project when he returned to the state for re-election campaign in the next 12 months. “Also we are building a tunnel that dovetails into a flyover that is parallel to the existing flyover, that particular junction that is called Akanu Ibiam junction. “We want Mr President to lay the foundation stone and that flyover bridge will be named after Mr President and we are sure to finish that project in the next 12 months. “Mr President will also come back, he will be commissioning it when he comes back for his campaigns.’’
A former Governor of Jigawa state Sule Lamido, has written a letter to members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to express his interest on the party’s presidential ticket in the 2019 general elections. Lamido, in the letter dated Oct. 22 and made available to newsmen on Monday, shared some of his thoughts and concerns about PDP and Nigeria. He said the country’s founding fathers shared the dream of a united, strong and prosperous independent Sovereign Federation. “This being the case, what our founding fathers believed firmly was that Nigeria would not be a federation of North, West, East or South. “Not a federation of lslam, Christianity or Atheism or a federation of Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, igbo, Ijaw or any of the more than 300 Nigerian languages; or federation of customs, or traditions. “What was and is and must federate is the human beings in Nigeria. That was what they bequeathed to us, and this we must uphold and defend. “Our human essence must be the object of development where honor, dignity and decency must define our humanity.” He expressed concerns that Nigeria at 57 years with its natural endowment and human capacity was yet to demonstrate its ability and capacity to meet domestic, regional and global challenges. Lamido said that while the clamour now for restructuring rages, addressing the Nigerian economy by creating prosperity would make the debate less emotional and sentimental. He expressed the belief that it is just a question of “PDP taking over power in 2019 and continuing where we stopped”. He added that PDP would and must lead that change and lead the nation into bright, progressive, productive and innovative future. “The PDP must rekindle in Nigeria a new hope, a nation at united people with a common and assured destiny.” He said that to the world, Nigerians must demonstrate their confidence, tenacity in their ability and capacity to address their domestic regional and global challenges that confront us. “We have more than new talents in the PDP to drive the process. “It is against this background that l offer myself to vie for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2019 if my party find me worthy to fly its flag. “I am by no means claiming to be the only capable material, any PDP member given the trust and support can fly our flag.” Lamido added that he expected that many more aspirants would express the desire to run. He expressed hope and prayed all the processes would be open, fair, transparent and credible “to give Nigerians a candidate who would lead the party and the country in 2019. “This is because there is no alternative to PDP in 2019, It will be a defining moment in the Nigerian political evolution.”
The Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Aviation on Thursday expressed worry over the deplorable facilities of some airports in the country and declared the Akanu Ibiam Airport unsafe. Sen. Muhammad Adamu (APC), representing Kebbi Central, expressed displeasure during a tour of facility of the Port Harcourt International Airport. Adamu said that the Senate had between 2015 and 2017 appropriated funds for completion of the remodeling of airports across the country. In a report on the state of the Enugu Airport, Adamu said the situation was worrisome and needed urgent remedial measures to protect the airport users. Discribing the airport as unsafe for airline operations, the lawmaker urged FAAN to summon the contractors to fill the existing potholes on the runway for safety of passengers. “What we saw in Enugu airport was a very serious infrastructure decay, we saw potholes on the runway and this is very unsafe for aircraft to land. “We are surprised that international flights are operating at that airport where there is no running water and the toilets are in bad shapes,’’ he said. Adamu disclosed that some international airlines like the Emirate Airlines had wanted to begin operations in Enugu but couldn’t because after inspection of the facilities, they found there was no water or operational light on the runway. According to him, it was impossible for aircraft to land at night in Enugu airport. The senator also revealed that despite the payment of over 40 per cent of the contract sum for the new terminal that was being funded by a Chinese Bank (Exim bank), the terminal had remained in a state of decay. He said that so far, record had shown that over N9 billion had been spent on the said terminal. He added that as part of their constitutional responsibility on oversight function, the committee had embarked on the tour to ascertain the project so far executed with the appropriated funds. The lawmaker assured that the committee would not hesitate to appropriately bring any organisation found guilty of funds diversion to book. In the same vain, Mr Nkiruka Onyejeocha, (PDP), representing Isuikwato/Umunneochi (Abia State), said that delayed job performance on the ongoing International Wing of the Port Harcourt Airport was equally worrisome. She said that going by the contract schedule, the job would have been delivered in March 2016. On the local wing of the Port Harcourt Airport, she said though the airport was safe for light operations, it was below the standard of an international airport. “It is unfortunate that at this time when other nations are moving forward, Nigeria is rather destroying her national assets.
By Ifeanyi Nwoko The President of the Senate Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has urged all Nigerians to maintain peace and avoid statements or actions that can threaten the peace of the nation. This is even as the leadership of the Senate is set to meet with security chiefs over the tension in the South East as well as the skirmishes in Plateau State. In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki advised Nigerians to remain calm and not do anything that would aggravate the tension in some parts of the country. The Senate’s President who was reacting to the skirmishes in the South East and in Plateau state, said that the crises was not unconnected to the economic challenges of the nation. “The tension in some parts of the country has its roots substantially in the economic situation. “The nation should be assured that some of the legislative and executive actions taken to address the economic problems are beginning to yield fruits. “That is why we recently witnessed the rebound of the economy and the exit of the country from recession.” “I want to appeal to our people to avoid stoking ethnic or religious fires. We should not deepen the fault lines of our nation and place citizens in danger of violence and sustained crises. “The government requires the support of all Nigerians and we should please give peace a chance. No real development or genuine economic activity can take place in the midst of crisis or tension. Investments and development thrive only where there is peace,” he said. Saraki advised Political, Social and Religious leaders to take actions that will douse the tension and reassure the people that the best way is for us to live together in peace, harmony and co-operation. “All leaders at this point must canvass support for government and preach peace, love and harmony. “The Senate leadership will soon meet with security chiefs and we will work for the promotion of dialogue as well as peaceful resolution of all contentious issues. “Once again, I plead with our people to avoid taking laws into their hands or antagonizing our neighbours “, he said.
President Donald Trump's recent decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has ignited Arabs fury over Jerusalem,who have denounced it as a slap in the face, The move has been described as a tectonic shift in US policy for the past decades. In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years. The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. “I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark” and urged other countries also to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem. In the Arab world, the decision was roundly condemned. Trump had phoned allies in the Middle East late on Tuesday to tell them the United States would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and prepare to move its embassy there. “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace,” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, one of Islam’s most important institutions. “The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added, warning of the possible reaction. Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which it seized in the 1967 war, is not recognized internationally, and under the U.S.-brokered Oslo accords of 1993 the city’s status was to be decided in negotiations with Palestinians. Arab governments issued statements of concern or condemnation and emergency meetings of both the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have been called. But the U.S. decision has been taken. In a bitterly divided region, backing for Palestinians is often seen as a unifying position, but it is also often a source of internal recriminations over the extent of that support. A cartoon in al-Arabi al-Jadeed, a London-based Arabic news website, showed Trump raising a hand against an Arab as if to slap him, wearing a large glove marked with the Israeli flag. In Lebanon, the Daily Star newspaper ran a full page photograph of Jerusalem on its cover with the headline “No offense Mr. President, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine”. Around the Arab world – including Egypt and Jordan, its only two countries to recognize Israel – and across the bitter divide between allies of regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, people denounced the move. “Neither I nor my children nor my children’s children will give up our right to Palestine and Jerusalem,” said Hilmi Aqel, a Palestinian refugee born in Jordan’s al-Baqaa camp after his family fled the fighting that accompanied Israel’s creation. “America does what it wants because it’s powerful and thinks it won’t feel the consequences … Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, not of Israel. It never can be,” said Nada Saeed, 24, a property broker in Cairo. “This is a provocation for the Arabs,” said Mahdi Msheikh, 43, a taxi driver in Beirut’s Hamra district. However, few people Reuters interviewed on Wednesday expected their governments to take any real action. “What saddens me most about this is that Palestine in the past was an ultimate rights cause for us as Syrians and Arabs … Palestine has retreated from our priorities,” said a lecturer at Damascus university, who asked not to be named. Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, pushed a plan in 2002 offering Israel peace with all Arab countries in return for a Palestinian state including east Jerusalem. But a recent newspaper report suggested it was willing to compromise on several areas that are regarded by Palestinians and some other Arab countries as red lines. Riyadh has denied that and called on Trump not to move the embassy. “The current events on the world stage and especially in the Gulf help Trump take this step because the most important thing is that Saudi Arabia is not against it,” said Adnan, a 52-year-old trader in Beirut. The kingdom’s top clergy issued a mild statement saying Saudi Arabia supported Jerusalem, but did not explicitly denounce Trump’s move. Many Saudi Twitter users posting under the hashtag “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine”, shared a film clip of the late King Faisal, who launched the 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West, pledging never to accept Israel. But one Twitter user posting with a common Saudi family name said that while Muslims and Arabs would be provoked by the move, its top royals would not be. Instead, they would “suppress any move or call to jihad against the Zionist enemy”, he wrote. REFUGEES In Cairo, Khaled Abdelkhalik, a lawyer, said: “We paraded Trump as an ally of the Arabs, but he turned out dirtier than his predecessors.” Jordan, which agreed peace with Israel in 1994 while the peace process with the Palestinians still seemed on track, held a special session of parliament. “I call on my colleagues to tear up the treaty of humiliation and shame,” said MP Yahya Saoud, referring to the peace deal. Jordan, like Lebanon, is home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. “This is a conspiracy that is denying us our rights, the first of which is to return. They think we are a branch of thorns that they can step on and break,” said Fadia, a social worker with two daughters in Lebanon’s Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp. “But we are a bomb. If they step on it, it explodes,” she said. In Israel, analysts said that despite such warnings, they expected little violence or opposition. “The moderate camp in the Arab world needs the United States as well as Israel in order to face their main threat, which is Iran,” said Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. “We may see some public announcements maybe denouncing the American decision, but in substantive terms I don’t think much will change.” *Reuters
Arab countries have a tradition of slavery dating back to centuries. This has persisted despite the existence of international conventions and legal frameworks classifying slavery as a crime against humanity. The current situation in Libya, involving slavery and human trafficking, has been brought to global attention because we now live in the age of communication where nothing good or bad can be hidden forever. But the situation is far worse than has been depicted. The Nigerians who have been brought back from Libya have told heart-rending stories of woe and misery: how they were sold into slavery by the Arabs and by their own Nigerian brothers and sisters, how they were subjected to all forms of indignity including rape, extortion, and torture, and how living in Libya is now the equivalent of a trip to hell. Quite a number of issues deserve closer interrogation to enable us appreciate the depth of this crisis. The Libyan story today is a sorry advertisement for the abuse of NATO and the failure of the American foreign policy process. The multinational coalition that intervened in the Libyan civil war in 2011 and made the removal of Libyan strongman Muammar Ghadaffi its primary objective must by now be full of regrets. It is instructive that former US President Barack Obama has described the failure to think through the consequences of that intervention as the “worst mistake” of his Presidency. The character of that mistake lies in the fact that NATO and other forces despite the division among the global powers on the question of Libya, saw the internal crisis in Libya as an opportunity to deal with a man who had been labeled at various times as the “mad dog of the Middle East”, and who was gradually expressing “imperialist ambitions” – “the king of kings of Africa” with a pan-African vision. NATO’s intervention was an act of vendetta, an orchestrated punishment for a man who had been declared guilty of dictatorship. It was most convenient for the multinational coalition, with its eyes fixed on Libya’s oil, to support the rebels. The result is the mayhem that has overtaken Libya since the fall of Ghadaffi. Under Ghadaffi’s watch, Libya was a stable, organized society. Following the bloodless coup that led to the flight into exile of King Idris 1 in 1969, the new leader, Muammar Ghadaffi, not only abolished the monarchy, he embarked on a mission of unifying the various clans under the umbrella of Libyan nationalism. He seized control of the country’s oil infrastructure from Western interests and redistributed wealth by creating a welfare system. The average Libyan had access to free housing, free medical care, and free education. The government provided infrastructure, and although Ghadaffi soon became a practical dictator, he managed to grow a sense of Libyan identity and unity. Seeing himself as a pan-Africanist, he encouraged closer relations with other African nations. Many Africans from Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria and other African countries lived and worked in Libya, even if many of them took the menial jobs that an average Libyan would not touch – at that time. The country’s foreign reserve was about $200 billion. Its life expectancy and literacy rates were among the highest in Africa and the Arab world. The average Libyan enjoyed many opportunities except the freedom to be different or query the government and the Constitution. Those who removed and killed Ghadaffi didn’t realize how much of a potentially divided country Libya was, and the extent of Ghadaffi’s efforts in managing the centrifugal tendencies. After Ghadaffi, Libya imploded. Anything is possible in Libya today because there is no responsible government in charge. People are resorting to self-help. Anybody that is armed exercises authority and does anything to make money. The welfare state has collapsed, criminality is widespread: kidnapping, slavery, violence, the economy is in shambles. Clannish and sectarian differences now predominate. The country is drifting. Most of the people are like prisoners, including those who are gainfully employed. In the absence of a government, the international community appears helpless. This is the setting for the chaos and the humanitarian crisis that has overtaken that country. Libya remains nonetheless, a major transit point and exit route for many Africans seeking to escape illegally into Europe. Libya, a country whose land area is almost twice the size of Nigeria, has over 2,000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline from the Egyptian border to the Tunisian border. Frustrated by the objective conditions in their own countries, in the form of crippling poverty, misgovernance, unemployment and the difficulty of getting a visa or being able to buy a ticket to Europe, many Africans, particularly West Africans opt for the cheaper, albeit illegal option of sneaking into Europe through the desert and across the Mediterranean sea, with Libya and Algeria as the most popular exit points. This has always been a risky venture, but the traffic continues to grow. It is also an organized criminal operation involving gangs at home, and along the route. Nigerians constitute the majority of these illegal migrants. Organized by a criminal gang at home, they usually travel through Niger, which is a contiguous, ECOWAS country. In Niger, another gang of human traffickers, mostly Touaregs take over from their Nigerian partners to take the illegal migrants across the desert to Libya. Only about 60-70% eventually make it to Libya. Many die along the way because of the harsh desert conditions and they are buried in the sand. Those who eventually make it to Libya are not necessarily lucky. They may be kidnapped at the border by rampaging Arab militants, turned into slaves, and asked to contact their families back home to pay ransom. The men are beaten; the women are raped. The images that we have seen from Libyan slave camps are sad. Arab racism has been an issue and violence towards foreigners is not necessarily new in Libya, but it is getting worse because now the issue is not strictly racism but the people’s desperation for survival in a state that failed. It is estimated that about 500, 000 – 700, 000 Nigerians are trapped in Libya. The Obasanjo government once had to repatriate over 17, 000 Nigerians from that country. In the light of recent developments, the Buhari government has also repatriated over 1, 000 Nigerians from Libya in 2017 alone, but there is no hope that all of them can be brought back home. Many will like to return home, but they don’t even have the means to transport themselves to the evacuation points. Those that are not enslaved are still hoping to make enough money to be able to cross to Europe. They wash cars, work as farm hands or as security guards, or prostitutes, and they get exposed to all the dangers imaginable. The few who manage to make the final journey to Europe are not always lucky either: they could perish in the sea like the 26 Nigerian girls who recently drowned while trying to cross into Italy. Libya is indeed now a jungle in the hands of armed militants, the Islamic State, tribal gangs, and an interim leadership authority. The jungle is a dangerous place: which is why it is surprising that more Nigerians would prefer to abandon their own country and go to the jungle. The saddest part of it all is that Nigerians are also involved in the trafficking and dehumanization of their own compatriots. In a shocking account by one Sunday Anyaegbunam, a Libyan returnee, who left Nigeria in April 2017, with his wife, we are told that: “The Nigerians selling people in Libya are more wicked than many of the Arabs. I have never seen people so heartless as the Nigerians who bought and sold me. There are many of them in Agadez and Sabha, who are making so much money from selling their own people. But there are other West Africans doing the business too. When you approach them and say “please, my brother, help me”. They would tell you: “No brother in the jungle”. Libya is indeed now a jungle in the hands of armed militants, the Islamic State, tribal gangs, and an interim leadership authority. The jungle is a dangerous place: which is why it is surprising that more Nigerians would prefer to abandon their own country and go to the jungle. About 70% of the Libyan returnees are reportedly from Edo State, and in general most of them are from Edo, Delta, Imo, Anambra and Rivers states. But this is not enough reason for this problem to be treated as Southern Nigerian or Christian. This should not be about North or South, or Christian vs Muslim. It is unacceptable for every Nigerian issue to be reduced to this kind of division, the same way some Nigerians tend to dismiss Boko Haram as a Northern problem. This is a crisis that affects all of us. It is embarrassing that Nigerians are deserting their own country and flocking to Europe in droves despite the risks of illegal migration. In the 70s, many Nigerians were proud and happy to live at home, but since the introduction of austerity measures in the 80s and the gradual collapse of the Nigerian economy, a new kind of economy has since developed around dangerous choices. The consequences are not limited to the tales from Libya. There are Nigerians in jail or on the death row across the world, in China, Thailand and the Middle East. We need to have a strong policy in place to check illegal migration. Massive enlightenment campaigns should be organized to educate the populace about the associated dangers. There is an assignment here for the National Orientation Agency (NOA), a strategic agency, which has been relatively sleepy since 2015. Our youths should be told that there is no safe route to Europe through the desert or a boat ride. Everybody should wake up – government, civil society, and all the people who have abdicated their responsibilities at the level of the family unit. The human trafficking gangs in the country especially in the identified major centres should be tracked, identified and sanctioned. Government should create a conducive environment for our youths to make a living at home. Government has a constitutional responsibility to empower all Nigerians and to guarantee their security and welfare. Nigeria should also engage the government of Niger. What can we do to prevent illegal migration through Niger? This has to be a joint responsibility between Nigeria and Niger. Although Chad is not in ECOWAS, quite a number of Nigerians also travel through that route. Joint border patrol and exchange of useful intelligence between Nigeria and her neighbors would be advisable. The Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Edo State Government and the International Organization on Migration, CNN, Pastor Temitope Joshua’s The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and every other group or agency that has responded decently and responsibly to the plight of the Nigerians from Libya, and the evil of slavery in Libya, deserve to be commended. In spite of the deviousness of a minority who earn a living by dehumanizing their fellow human beings, it is enheartening to see that warm blood still flows in the heart of mankind. The Edo State government has put in place perhaps the most comprehensive rehabilitation programme for the Libya returnees: counseling, accommodation, vocational training, and take off grants after training. These are worthy steps, but they are at best short-term. The long-term measures for all governments should be good governance, public enlightenment and concerted international action against slavery and all forms of cruelty and inhumanity.
Eight donkeys have spent four days in an Indian jail for eating expensive plants. They did not go for trial. They were summarily incarcerated as the illegal eating took place near a prison. It all happened in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The animals were arrested after eating up “expensive” plants just outside the compound of the main jail in the state’s Jalaun district, over 200 km from capital Lucknow. “Various types of saplings were planted in the jail premises for beautification. Those were damaged by the donkeys. Hence, I rounded them up,” jail chief Sita Ram Sharma told the media. The donkeys were freed on Monday after a local politician of the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intervened in the wake of a plea by the owner of the donkeys. “For two days, I could not find my horses and donkeys. When I came to know that they are in jail, I sought the help from local BJP leaders to secure their release,” owner Kamlesh S. said. *Reported by Xinhua