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Posts tagged ‘United Land of Nigeria’

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.

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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.

Britain, Nigeria sign defense pact to counter Boko Haram

August 29, 2018

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Britain and Nigeria signed a security and defense agreement during a one-day visit by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday as Africa’s most populous country struggles to defeat Boko Haram extremists and others linked to the Islamic State organization.

The British prime minister is on a three-country Africa visit with a large business delegation as Britain seeks to boost economic ties ahead of a bumpy exit from the European Union in March. This is the first visit by a British prime minister to Africa in five years. May also stopped in South Africa, another of the continent’s top economies, and she goes next to Kenya.

After meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, May said the countries will work together on “shared security threats like Boko Haram and human trafficking.” The defense aid includes more training and equipment for Nigeria’s military, which has been criticized by human rights groups over alleged abuses that it denies.

Last week, Buhari attracted headlines when he told troops in northwestern Zamfara state that “as your commander-in-chief, I want you to be as ruthless as humanly possible” against bandits in the region: “Nigerians deserve some peace.”

As elections approach next year Buhari is under pressure to deliver on promises to improve the country’s security, in particular to defeat Boko Haram’s years-long insurgency in the northeast. The extremists, known both for mass abductions and for using young women as suicide bombers, continue to carry out attacks on military bases and in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the insurgency’s birthplace.

Buhari and his government more than once have declared that Boko Haram had been crushed. As Europe worries about migration and human trafficking from West Africa, May also announced a new project with France to help Nigeria, the region’s powerhouse, and neighboring Niger improve border cooperation along one of the main migration routes north. Nigeria and other West African countries in recent months have brought hundreds of migrants stranded in Libya home after reports of abuses, but the dream of employment remains a draw for some in the region where poverty and climate change can bite hard.

As it tries to assert itself more across Africa, Britain also is opening new embassies in Niger and Chad and expanding its embassy in Mali, calling it support to countries “on the front line of instability” as West Africa’s vast, arid Sahel is threatened by a number of extremist groups with shifting allegiances.

Britain and Nigeria, Britain’s second-largest trading partner on the continent, also signed an agreement on economic cooperation. May welcomed the commitment from two major Nigeria companies, Dangote Cement and Seplat Petroleum to make listings on the London Stock Exchange.

FG okays establishment of new schools, hospitals by Turkey – Presidency

OCTOBER 22, 2017

Government has accepted offers by the Turkish authorities to set up new schools and hospitals in Nigeria.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a special feature tagged; Key Takeaways from President Muhammadu Buhari’s 4-day engagement in Turkey.

The Government of Turkey, on July 28, 2016, had alerted the Federal Government on the existence of schools and hospitals owned by suspected “terrorists” in Nigeria and demanded that the facilities be shut down.

The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Hakan Cakil, who gave the alert when he received the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, said the owners of the schools allegedly sponsored the July 15, 2016 failed coup in Turkey.

Cakil said the institutions, which ranged from schools to hospitals, were allegedly owned by the Fethullah Gulen Foundation, adding that similar schools established in Turkey had been shut down.

The presidential aide, however, stated that a new investor, the Maarif Foundation for education was introduced to the Nigerian delegation to take up the establishment of schools and hospitals in Nigeria.

He disclosed that a delegation from the foundation would visit Nigeria to commence the process of registration as well as following the procedures of establishing the new schools.

“The two countries agreed to expand cooperation in exchange of scholars, exchange of students and exchange/sharing of ideas, skills and education technology and to improve scholarships for Nigerians to study in Turkey,’’ he added.

Shehu revealed that Nigeria and Turkey also agreed to resolve the issues relating to Nigerian students in Turkish universities that were facing exclusion due to visa challenges.

He said: “Nigeria and Turkey have equally agreed to strengthen and promote investments in health institutions and this, as promised by the President will proceed quickly.

“That is as soon as the details of the various agreements reached in the bilateral discussions are laid on his table.”

On defense, the presidential spokesman said the two countries agreed to strengthen defense and military cooperation initiated a few years ago.

“This had already led to the establishment of the Defense section in the Turkish Embassy, Abuja in 2013 and Nigeria’s Defense section in Ankara in 2016.

“In the latest rounds of discussions, Nigeria and Turkey penned an agreement on military training,’’ he said.

Shehu said the two countries also agreed to collaborate towards the upgrading of the Defense Industries Corporation (DIC) in Kaduna into a Military Industrial Complex of Nigeria.

He said that two Turkish companies were already collaborating with the DIC in the production of arms and ammunition.

“Of the two companies, one is establishing a rifles production line and the supply of raw materials, technical assistance and training.

“The second one is partnering the DIC in the conceptualization, designing, consulting, invention, manufacturing, marketing, sale, exportation and sale of military industrial products.”

On the just concluded ninth summit of the D-8 member countries, Shehu said the members also used the event to mark the 20th Anniversary of the organization.

He said the event witnessed the handover of the baton of its leadership from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Sahid Khaqan Abbasi to President Recep Tayyep Erdogan of Turkey.

“At the end of the Summit, the Heads of State and Government adopted a communique which spelt out the direction of the organization for the coming two years under Turkey.’’

Source: Vanguard.

Link: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/gov-tambuwal-appoints-committee-sale-govt-quarters/.

Erdogan, Buhari to ramp up Nigeria-Turkey cooperation

OCTOBER 19, 2017

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday vowed to ramp up security and and economic cooperation between Ankara and Africa’s most populous nation.

Speaking after talks at Erdogan’s palace, Buhari and the Turkish leader vowed to increase investment and cooperate in the fight against extremist groups including Boko Haram jihadists.

“There are a lot of potentialities in terms of investment. Already a lot is being done in the education and the health sectors,” said Buhari.

“This will be strengthened and Nigeria is prepared to receive Turkish business people to come and explore more of Nigeria’s potentialities,” he added.

Erdogan said he believed both sides would push trade volumes above $1.245 billion. “Turkish business people are ready to take on the development of Nigeria,” he said.

At a time of tense relations with the European Union and the United States, Turkey has been moving to broaden its influence in Africa, opening new diplomatic missions and air links.

Erdogan has himself been a frequent visitor to the continent, most recently travelling to Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar in January.

Erdogan said Turkey saw no difference between Boko Haram and Islamic State (IS) and the group of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 failed coup.

“These organizations are the killers who feed off the blood of the innocent,” he said. Asked how Turkey could help Nigeria defeat Boko Haram, Erdogan replied that intelligence cooperation was of the utmost importance.

Boko Haram’s quest to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead and threatened regional security.

Buhari will on Friday travel to Istanbul to attend a summit of the Developing-8 (D-8), a grouping of growing mainly-Muslim countries first envisaged by Erdogan’s late political mentor and former Turkish premier Necmettin Erbakan.

It comprises Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

Source: Vanguard.

Link: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/erdogan-buhari-ramp-nigeria-turkey-cooperation/.

Nigerian govt denies bias towards the north in Buhari’s World Bank request

October 13, 2017

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s office on Friday denied that he favored the north of the country over other regions, after he was criticized for asking the World Bank to focus on the region.

The northeast in particular has been wracked by an eight-year Islamist militant insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2 million to flee their homes, spawning what the United Nations says is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told journalists on Thursday in Washington that Buhari, himself a Muslim from the north, had asked the bank to focus on that region of Africa’s most populous country when they first met.

That led to criticism in the domestic press and social media from those who say Buhari has an anti-south agenda, highlighting the deep ethno-religious tensions in the country.

Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina said there had been a “deliberate twisting” of the president’s words to make it sound like he wanted to give the north an unfair advantage over other regions.

“President Buhari has a pan-Nigerian mandate, and he will discharge his duties and responsibilities in like manner,” Adesina said in an emailed statement.

“Any part of the country that requires special attention would receive it,” said Adesina.

The presidency said Buhari had made the comments to the World Bank president in July 2015 when the lender pledged financial support for Nigeria.

Opposition party member Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister who served under former president Goodluck Jonathan, whom Buhari defeated in a 2015 election, expressed outrage at the comments.

“Why am I not surprised? After all as far as @MBuhari is concerned southern Nigerians and Middle Belters are nothing but low-lifes, vassals and slaves,” he posted on his Twitter feed.

Buhari has in the last few weeks criticized secessionists in the country of 180 million, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims and around 250 ethnic groups who mostly live peacefully side by side.

Some separatist critics of his administration, including those calling for the secession in the southeast, have also accused the president of focusing on his own part of the country.

Reuters

Source: Africa News.

Link: http://www.africanews.com/2017/10/14/nigerian-govt-denies-bias-towards-the-north-in-buhari-s-world-bank-request/.

Nigerians ‘attack’ Buhari over directive to World bank to concentrate on North

October 13, 2017

By Fikayo Olowolagba

Some Nigerians have taken on President Muhammadu Buhari over the alleged instruction he gave to World Bank to concentrate on the Northern part of Nigeria with regards to its assistance.

President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, on Thursday disclosed that Buhari ordered the body to concentrate on North to enhance Nigeria’s economy.

While some Nigerians have expressed surprise at such revelation others have insisted that Nigeria should be divided since Buhari is sidelining other regions…

Source: Daily Post.

Link: http://dailypost.ng/2017/10/13/nigerians-attack-buhari-directive-world-bank-concentrate-north/.

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