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Posts tagged ‘United Land of Nigeria’

Nigeria: Buhari Sworn-in For Second Term as President

29 May 2019

By Ayodeji Adegboyega

President Muhammadu Buhari has been inaugurated for a second term in office.

The inauguration was done at the Eagle Square in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Wednesday’s inauguration was low-key with many foreign leaders and former Nigerian presidents absent.

The government had earlier announced that the event would be low-key as major parts of the event had been rescheduled for June 12, which has been declared Democracy Day.

Mr Buhari won the February presidential election, defeating dozens of other candidates, including his main challenger Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

According to the electoral commission, Mr Buhari polled 55.6 per cent of the votes (15,191,847) to defeat Mr Abubakar who polled 41.2 per cent (11,262,978).

Mr Abubakar is challenging the result of the election in court.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: https://allafrica.com/stories/201905290434.html.

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School building collapses in Nigeria with scores said inside

March 13, 2019

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A three-story building collapsed in Nigeria on Wednesday with scores of school children thought to be inside, setting off frantic rescue efforts in the country’s crowded commercial capital. An emergency management official said more than 40 people had been found but it was not yet clear how many died.

Associated Press video showed rescuers carrying several dust-covered, stunned-looking children from the rubble, to cheers from hundreds of people who rushed to the scene. But the crowd quieted as others were pulled out and slung over people’s shoulders, unmoving.

The children were hurried through the crowd to ambulances. One man pressed his hands to a passing survivor’s head in blessing. Rescue efforts unfolded in the densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and a city of some 20 million people. More equipment was brought in as nightfall approached.

As many as 100 children had been in the primary school on the building’s top floor, some witnesses said. More than 40 people had been found “but for now I am not in a position to give the number of dead,” Shina Tiamiyu, general manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press.

It was not immediately clear why the building collapsed. Such disasters are all too common in Nigeria, where new construction often goes up without regulatory oversight and floors are added to already unstable buildings.

Lagos state Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode said buildings in the neighborhood, Ita Faji, should have undergone integrity tests but landlords resisted. Hundreds of people stood in narrow streets and on rooftops of rusted, corrugated metal, watching rescue efforts. A yellow excavator scooped at the ruins of rebar and dust. Later it nosed at concrete slabs.

With emotions high, a number of shirtless men jumped in to offer assistance, hacksaws and mallets in hand. Some were barefoot. Some were bare-handed. One held a water bottle in his teeth. The collapse came as President Muhammadu Buhari, newly elected to a second term, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation.

“Nigeria’s infrastructure is generally less than half the size than in the average sub-Saharan Africa country and only a fraction of that in emerging market economies,” the International Monetary Fund has noted.

“The perceived quality of the infrastructure is low.” There was no immediate comment from Buhari’s office. Instead, as the rescue work continued, the president’s personal assistant posted on Twitter a photo of a gleaming new terminal at the airport in the capital, Abuja.

Nigerian president’s lead widens as vote results continue

February 26, 2019

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s election lead grew on Tuesday during a second day of announcing state-by-state election results in Africa’s largest democracy. The death toll in vote-related violence rose to 53 as an extremist attack was found to be worse than first reported.

Buhari led by more 1 million votes as he seeks a second term, urging Nigerians to give him time to build on the foundation of his first term hurt by a rare recession and widespread insecurity. Buhari had won 10 of Nigeria’s 36 states by mid-afternoon while top challenger Atiku Abubakar, a billionaire former vice president, won seven states, most in the largely Christian south, and the capital’s territory.

The process could continue into Wednesday in a race once described as too close to call. Abubakar’s party has alleged manipulation of results after Saturday’s vote. The ruling party rejects the claim, calling it an attempt to discredit the election, which some observers have called a step back from the widely praised 2015 vote.

In Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest state and the heart of the country’s Muslim north, the local results were declared at 4 a.m., with Buhari winning. “Well, we thank God that at least we finished this safely, without any hitches,” the state electoral commissioner, Riskuwa Shehu, told The Associated Press.

Within minutes, he would join security agents in carrying the results to the capital, Abuja, where they would get in line to announce them for a national audience. Turnout appeared to be lower, Shehu said. He pointed to a number of factors, including the fear of possible violence after heated campaigning. The “disappointment” of a weeklong postponement likely played a role, he said.

Election observers say the vote was hurt by the surprise postponement and significant delays in the opening of polling stations. While they called the process generally peaceful, at least 53 people were killed, analysis unit SBM Intelligence said Tuesday.

The toll rose because an attack claimed by the Islamic State West Africa Province extremist group in the northeast was deadlier than first thought, with at least 17 people killed, head of research Cheta Nwanze told AP.

Nigerians now wonder whether Buhari or Abubakar will follow through on pledges to accept a loss, or challenge the results. A former United States ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, says the troubled election has given them grounds to go to the courts. That route could take months.

“Alhamdulillah,” said 36-year-old Umar Ibrahim, who bantered with clients about politics at his tiny shop in Kano. “Up to now they say Buhari is leading, far. He is a good elder.” Grace Eje, a 25-year-old domestic worker, held out hope for Abubakar, saying Nigeria needed someone new after Buhari. “No money, no work, no help from him,” she said of the president, grimacing.

Nigeria’s some 190 million people say they pray for peace. They were surprised in 2015 when President Goodluck Jonathan conceded before official results were announced giving victory to Buhari, a former military dictator who pulled off the first defeat of an incumbent by the opposition in the country’s history.

Many worry that such a concession appears unlikely this time. “Jonathan set the benchmark on how electoral outcomes should be handled,” Chris Kwaja, a senior adviser to the United States Institute of Peace, told The Associated Press. “Accept defeat in the spirit of sportsmanship. This is a critical vehicle for democratic consolidation. So far, it is unclear what the candidates will do.”

For the presidency, a candidate must win a majority of overall votes as well as at least 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states. If that isn’t achieved, the election moves to a runoff.

The YIAGA Africa project, which deployed more than 3,900 observers, projected that no runoff election will be needed and that a “clear winner” would emerge. It was not yet clear how many of Nigeria’s estimated 73 million eligible voters turned out. YIAGA estimated turnout at between 36 percent and 40 percent, down from 44 percent in 2015. That would continue the trend of recent elections.

Some polling units still open in Nigeria, day after voting

February 24, 2019

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Some polling stations remained open across Nigeria Sunday as votes were being counted in most of the country following Saturday’s presidential election that is widely seen as a tight race between the president and a former vice president.

Although voting was peaceful in most areas of Nigeria Saturday, there were a few outbreaks of violence in the vast West African country and many reports of delays that compelled electoral officials to reopen polling stations Sunday.

Many polling stations remained open after dark to allow people waiting in line to vote. Because of the delays voting was still taking place Sunday “in several places” across Nigeria, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, a spokesman for the electoral commission, told The Associated Press. He gave no more details, but local media reports cited voting lines in the states of Plateau, Jigawa and Nasarawa.

More than 72 million people were eligible to vote. President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who won election in 2015, is seeking his second term against more than 70 candidates. His main rival is Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and billionaire businessman.

Many Nigerians, appalled that their country recently became the world leader in the number of people living in extreme poverty, said the election will be decided by economic issues. Nigeria suffered a rare, months-long recession under Buhari when global oil prices crashed, with unemployment growing significantly to 23 percent and inflation in the double digits.

Abubakar’s party is alleging “deliberate” voter suppression in areas where Buhari’s party is known to be unpopular. One of the largest domestic observer groups, Watching the Vote, told reporters on Sunday that Nigeria had missed its chance to improve on the 2015 election. Logistical problems caused 59 percent of the polling stations it monitored to open late, and misconduct at some stations hurt people’s ability to vote. The issues, however, didn’t necessarily undermine the election’s credibility, spokesman Hussaini Abdu said.

In the northern city of Kano tempers flared at one collation center where unaccredited Abubakar supporters alleged that ballots from a couple of polling units hadn’t been counted. Amid shouting, security personnel pushed them out of the courtyard’s metal door.

A ruling party supervisor, Joy Bako, watched in exasperation before they engaged her in a heated argument. “It was free and fair,” she said. “Nobody was arguing. I’m surprised at all this noise.” Observers and workers at the collation center, and others who had visited multiple centers, reported a peaceful process in an area where voters were expected to largely support Buhari.

Even an opposition supporter, Abubakar Ali, paused from the ruckus to acknowledge that “everything was going clear.” But a lot of people did not come out to vote as compared to the last time, he said.

Godwin Ugbala, who spent the election as an agent for one of the country’s dozens of small political parties, reported a smooth voting day and added his voice to the frustration with Buhari. “This one failed us in so many ways,” Ugbala said. “No business. Everything is tired.”

He voted for Buhari in 2015 but said the president had “betrayed” the people by not following up on his promises. Nigeria’s presidential election was held a week late, after the electoral commission said it needed more time to organize the logistics of holding a credible election

Observers said the postponement, blamed on logistical challenges, could favor Buhari, with some Nigerians saying they didn’t have the resources to travel a second time to their place of registration. It’s unclear when a winner will be announced, but some observers say it could be Tuesday or Wednesday.

Muhumuza reported from Yola, Nigeria.

Counting starts in Nigeria’s delayed poll marked by violence

February 23, 2019

DAURA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria began counting votes in a presidential election on Saturday marked by an extremist attack and other killings, late-opening polling stations and a surprise loss for top challenger Atiku Abubakar in his hometown.

Voting in Africa’s largest democracy took place a week after a painful election delay. Final results are expected on Tuesday. Observers and security forces gave scattered reports of torched ballot boxes, soldiers firing on suspected vote-snatchers and people illegally selling their votes for as little as 500 naira ($1.38).

President Muhammadu Buhari, who seeks a second term after largely failing to deliver on fighting insecurity and corruption, was first in line at his polling station in his northern hometown of Daura. After cheekily peering at his wife’s ballot, he told reporters he was ready to congratulate himself on victory. He refused to say whether he would accept a loss.

Billionaire former vice president Abubakar, who had told reporters that “I look forward to a successful transition,” was embarrassed by his 186-167 loss to the president at his polling station under a tree in Yola. A large crowd of Buhari supporters exploded in cheers at the news.

Observers had said the election was too close to call. Election day began with multiple blasts in Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state. Security forces at first denied an attack but eventually acknowledged that extremists had “attempted to infiltrate” the city by launching artillery fire. One soldier was killed and four were wounded, a security official said, insisting on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The attacks, claimed by the Islamic State West Africa Province, frightened some voters away from the polls. “I feared for my life,” resident Haruna Isa said. He stayed home and wished the candidates luck.

Asmau Hassan said she lost her voting card in the chaos after one explosion struck her displacement camp. She wanted to vote for Buhari but said “I have just turned into an onlooker now.” Authorities confirmed another attack on a military base in Geidam in northeastern Yobe state, saying it prevented the governor from voting.

In Rivers state in Nigeria’s restive south, the army said it killed six people it described as “political hoodlums” after troops were ambushed at a road barricade in Abonnema. Spokesman Sagir Musa said a lieutenant also was killed in the shootout.

Several other election-related deaths were reported. Police in Rivers state said a former aide to the governor was shot dead along with his brother. The Nation newspaper reported three people killed in Lagos, Africa’s largest city, when thugs attacked a polling booth and burned ballot boxes.

A coalition of civic groups said multiple polling units had not opened more than four hours after the official start. Delays were reported in parts of the south and in the north-central state of Nasarawa as well as in Lagos.

Many of Nigeria’s more than 72 million people eligible to vote pressed on, some walking for hours along roads deserted by traffic restrictions. Raphael Dele in Yola said he walked over 10 kilometers (6 miles) to his polling station “because there is no room for excuses.”

Many Nigerians, appalled that their country recently became the world leader in the number of people living in extreme poverty, said the election will be decided by economic issues. Nigeria suffered a rare, months-long recession under Buhari when global oil prices crashed, with unemployment growing significantly to 23 percent and inflation in the double digits.

Some on Saturday noted a lower turnout than four years ago, when many Nigerians hoped that Buhari, a former military dictator, would tame multiple security crises. “Really this time, there were not many people from what I observed,” said Habiba Bello, a political party agent who attended vote-counting in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city. A nearby station showed just 102 voters out of the nearly 400 expected.

In the dusty schoolyard, party agents recited aloud in unison as polling officials held ballot papers aloft one by one. “I’m feeling fine now!” declared Nura Abba, there for the ruling party. An electoral commission presiding officer, Kabiru al-Haji Musa, showed another station’s presidential results, scrawled in ballpoint pen. Buhari received 88 votes. Abubakar had eight.

Elsewhere, votes were counted by the light of mobile phones after sundown. The ruling party warned of possible violence “in the wee hours” as ballots were compiled in poorly defended locations such as schools.

Observers said the delay of the election from last week, blamed on logistical challenges, could favor Buhari, with some Nigerians saying they didn’t have the resources to travel a second time to their place of registration.

Some also warned the delay could hurt the election’s credibility. “Unless Atiku is declared the winner, many will still believe that (the electoral commission) colluded with the government to rig him out,” said Jideofor Adibe, associate professor of political science at Nasarawa State University.

Some voters, however, dismissed concerns about having to wait. “This election means so much to me. It means the future of Nigeria. The future of my children unborn. And the future of my entire family,” voter Blessing Chemfas said.

Muhumuza reported from Yola, Nigeria. Abdulrahim reported from Maiduguri, Nigeria. Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Kano, Nigeria, Sam Olukoya in Lagos, Nigeria, Hilary Uguru in Oleh, Nigeria, and photographer Jerome Delay in Kaduna, Nigeria contributed.

In Nigeria’s tight election, Christian vote is seen as key

February 17, 2019

YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s presidential campaign has been largely free of the religious pressures that marked the 2015 vote when Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner, defeated a Christian president from the south who had grown unpopular over his failure to control Boko Haram.

Now, with the leading candidates both northern Muslims, the Christian vote in the upcoming election on Saturday may be decisive in sweeping the incumbent from power for the second time in as many elections in Africa’s most populous country.

Nigeria’s 190 million people are divided almost equally between Christians mainly in the south and Muslims, like Buhari and his opponent, Atiku Abubakar, who dominate in the north. Yet religious tensions remain even in an election that offers no clear sectarian choice, underscoring the pervasive influence of faith in Nigerian politics.

In Nigeria, election spectacle at odds with rampant poverty

February 15, 2019

RUGA SETTLEMENT, Nigeria (AP) — It’s hard to find a campaign poster in this threadbare settlement on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, where thousands live in makeshift structures of tarpaulin and sticks of timber.

From his little grocery shop, 65-year-old Jafar Ali awaits the moment a presidential contender will visit Ruga. He isn’t hopeful. “Of all the funds that have been spent, not even one naira has come into my hands,” Ali said, referring to the Nigerian currency that is equal to about a quarter of one U.S. cent.

“We have been hearing that a lot of money is being shared,” he added, referring to the cash the top candidates hand out to draw crowds to their rallies and the no-interest loans the government has been distributing before the vote.

“All we ask God is to give us a leader who will remember us one day and come here,” Ali said. On the eve of Nigeria’s election on Saturday, the spectacle of campaign expenditure is at odds with the rampant poverty afflicting many. The lack of campaigning in this impoverished area contrasts with the election-time bustle of downtown Abuja, where the capital’s tree-lined streets are adorned with colorful posters of presidential candidates and where their followers are ferried in buses to boisterous events.

It also highlights the frustration many of Nigeria’s poor feel amid an election campaign said to be one of the country’s most expensive ever as incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari tries to shake off the challenge of his billionaire rival, Atiku Abubakar.

Although there are legal limits to how much a presidential candidate can spend — one billion naira, or about $2.7 million — the campaigns of Buhari and Abubakar are widely believed to have spent far in excess of that, often with the support of groups that donate huge amounts of cash as well as gifts.

In one notable case, a group in northeastern Adamawa state that’s loyal to Nuhu Ribadu, once revered as an anti-corruption activist until he threw his support behind the ruling party, donated 40 vehicles to the campaign to re-elect Buhari last month. That donation raised eyebrows because it is well over the donation limit of 1 million naira.

Buhari, who ruled briefly as a military dictator in the 1980s, was voted into power in 2015 with promises to fight corruption, boost the economy and end the deadly insurgency of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Many Nigerians say he has failed on all three counts, citing an ineffective war on graft that appears to target opponents, persistent insecurity in the northern part of the country, and an anemic economy that is struggling to attract foreign investment.

In addition to his lackluster performance, the 76-year-old Buhari has spent months out of the country for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment. Unemployment in Africa’s most populous nation of 190 million was over 23 percent in the third quarter of 2018, up from 8.2 percent when Buhari took office, official figures show. Nigeria was in a recession for five months until early 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund, after the price of crude oil plunged to less than $30 a barrel in 2016.

Although Nigeria remains Africa’s top oil producer, more than half of the country’s total revenue goes toward servicing the public debt, according to the Brookings Institution, which reported last year that Nigeria had overtaken India as the country with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty.

Whoever wins Saturday’s election will have to contend with a plethora of economic challenges that have left many Nigerians despairing, and often angry, with the government in Abuja. Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria’s per capita income was $1,968 in 2017, according to the World Bank. There is an unresolved labor dispute over the minimum wage, which currently stands at 18,000 naira (about $50) per month.

Abubakar, a successful businessman and former vice president who is contesting the presidency for the fourth time, has seized on the wave of popular discontent with a vow to “get Nigeria working again.”

For some Nigerians, the idea of their country as weak and uncertain is annoying. “We the masses are suffering in this country. What we are seeing is negative change,” said Emmanuel Chimezie, 29, who said he hasn’t found a job since graduating from college in 2015.

“Nigeria has a lot of potential, but how to harness it is a big problem in this country. We need a good leader who can diversify the economy, not depending on oil, oil, oil.” Inflation rates pushing up the prices of food staples such as rice should convince the government to invest heavily in agriculture, he added.

“Buhari has to go,” said Eze Onyekpere, who runs the Abuja-based Center for Social Justice. “If the masses don’t sack him, then they should stop complaining.” Campaign rallies, he added, have become “places for vulgar abuse” and rarely focus on bread-and-butter issues, mirroring how the candidates would govern.

Critics point out that the high cost of running campaigns fuels official corruption as elected officials bid to recover their costs once in office. “None of their manifestos speak directly to the needs of people,” said Idayat Hassan, director of the Abuja-based civic group Center for Democracy and Development. “Politics is not the same as service to the people. If it were service to the people, they would not invest so much. It would not look like a do-or-die thing.”

Similar concerns were raised last year in a report by the Chatham House think tank, which noted that Nigeria’s two main parties are indistinguishable and both “function as patronage-fueled coalitions of fractious elite networks” whose goal is to get power and the associated financial rewards.

Some locals agree. “In Nigeria, politics has become an investment,” said Wole Adeoye, an unemployed college graduate in the commercial capital, Lagos. “The losers lose all their money and the winners become rich overnight.”

Associated Press writer Sam Olukoya in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

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