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State of Education in FCT: Education scribe weeps By Austine ELEMUE


t was a sight to behold as the secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Education Secretariat, Senaor Isa Maina, could not hold

back tears during the just concluded inspection of public schools by the State Education Board, SEB, in the nation’s capital. Members of the board were left stunned at the decay, and deplorable

conditions pupils are subjected to in attending schools. The board members were confronted with pupils taught under trees, some subjected to bare floors, other under caving roofs, and yet

others with different grades sharing one classroom. For instance, at Government Secondary School, Kabusa, described by a member of the board, Mr. Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe as

‘one of the worse seen’ primary and junior secondary schools share the same classroom and receive lectures simultaneously. Speaking at what confronted them, Maina said: “I am very

saddened. I can’t imagine what I am seeing. This is not a learning environment; these are supposed to be our children”. At GSS Kwali, Mr. Continued on page 3

KIDDIES CORNER >>> PAGE 12 First Published March 2004

Vol. 12 No. 29 ISSN: 1597-2895

March 12 - 18, 2018

Price: 100


Uncertainty in Benue lOrtom tasks residents on proper conduct By Scholastica JOSEPH, Makurdi


s the Benue State Government and her people await the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, as herdsmen continue their attacks on communities, The Abuja Inquirer can report that air of uncertainty

pervades the state. Against this background, Governor Samuel Ortom has appealed to the people to conduct themselves in a proper manner. Our correspondent gathered that most indigenes of the state are not enthusiastic about


Continued on page 3

Nigeria’s External Reserves climb to $46 billion


igeria’s External Reserves are steadily heading towards the $50 billion mark, berthing at $46 billion as at the close of business on Friday, March 9, 2018. Figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the

weekend indicate that the reserves grew by about $3.2 billion between February and March 2018. The reserves at the beginning of 2018 stood at $39.3 billion, then rose to $42.8 in February before Continued on page 3

FCTA, UNESCO graduate 400 youths on ICT >>PAGE 5

Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi

Police arrest, arraign 44 herdsmen in Benue >>PAGE 9

UTME 2018: Identical twins arrested for malpractice in Borno >>PAGE 10


March 12 - 18, 2018

March 12 - 18, 2018



Uncertainty in Benue as Buhari visits Continued from page 1 the visit and had hoped the president had visited sooner and made firm efforts to tackle the menace of herdsmen ravaging communities across the state. In view of the visit, Ortom had suspended the planned mass burial for victims of latest attacks by herdsmen last Friday. Ortom speaking to journalists at the Abagena Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camp, in Makurdi, after he received keys to the facility from representatives of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation for temporary use of the camp to accommodate victims of Fulani attacks, expressed the hope that citizens in the state will be law abiding and to be of good conduct when the president arrives. According to him, Buhari has already sent a presidential committee on rehabilitation to the state to assess all damages caused by the invaders. “Mr. President has demonstrated that he is concerned with the plight of the people and he has directed that all those armed mercenaries or herdsmen should be apprehended, arrested and prosecuted.” Asked what he was expecting from the president’s visit, Ortom said he expects security will be strengthened in all Benue communities so that the displaced persons can return to their homes without attacks or harassment. “We are excited about his visit and we are very eager to receive him. We have been expecting him to come to Benue state and his visit will mean that Security will be strenghtened in all the villages that were attacked and I am expecting that there should be more support coming from the Federal Government to rebuild these villages and the IDP to be provided with some minimum help to go back and settle in their land without been harassed again” Speaking in the same vein, chairman of the All Progressives Congress,

APC, Comrade Abba Yaro, had simply said “the president is welcome to Benue state. “He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is free to visit Benue. If he comes, we will receive him”. However, a Benue

indigene, Mr. Dennis Mernyi, was less than hopeful of the visit. “Less than 48 hours to President Buhari’s to Benue, my state, I am jittery and scared. “I think Buhari should not come to Benue. Reasons: He was

in Taraba on Monday, two local governments in that state, Takum and Ussa, came under heavy attack by his kinsmen terrorists. Many were killed. Thursday he traveled to Plateau, the next day (Friday) scores were killed as soon as he

left. “The same Monday he was in Taraba, Fulani terrorists attacked communities in Idumoga in Okpokwu local government of Benue state, about 24 were massacred. “My fear: should this

President Muhammadu Buhari atop a tractor when he launched the Plateau State Tractor Ownership Scheme in Jos last Friday, March 9, 2018 during a two-day state visit to Plateau. Photo: State House.

man come to Benue, ha! These mindless killers will level the state while he is still in town. “I think when he visits, he ask them to go and kill more. I am only expressing my fears as one of the victims of the Fulani terrorists. Enough of bloodshed in Benue,” Mernyi noted. Also, Nat Apir, an elder of the state, was rather angry that the mass burial of those killed in Idumoga and Okpokwu was cancelled. “If true that the mass burial has been cancelled then it will be most unfortunate! The mass burials must hold or we lose the moral high Buhari and his merchants of death. “This is clearly an attempt at covering up crimes of genocide, and ethnic cleansing against the peoples of the Benue Valley. Who are those prominent so-called Benue sons working for Buhari against the people’s interest?” According to Mr. Apir, he does not see any assurances from President Buhari that he will stop and or arrest those behind the killings in the state.”

State of Education in FCT: Education scribe weeps Continued from page 1 Moniedafe could not hold back and kept muttering; this is a very sad story! Very very sad! This is GSS Kwali! We have to do something immediately! And we will!” At the school, the roofs had all caved in, while the boarding facility lacked mattresses with the few ones crawling with bed bugs and filthy. Speaking on their finding, the secretary of the education secretariat pledged that though the task was enormous, the administration would rebuild and equip the most of the schools and make them conducive for learning, stressing that some of the schools in remote communities were abandoned as they had concentrated on the city centre for too long. “I have directed the chairman of UBEC to take a comprehensive audit of schools to enable us take up this challenge

this 2018. My heart bleeds for what I see. It is totally unacceptable, this rot has taken place over the years, on my honour, changes will take place here this year,” Maina stressed. Our correspondent gathered that after visiting LEA Primary school, Zuba where two schools

were combined in one location, he proceeded into a remote community of Tunga Ladan in Gwagwalada Area Council. In Zuba, some children were observed seating on bare floor in the classrooms, just as the head teacher confirmed to our correspondent that,

apart from the squatter school in their premises, the LEA school alone has 4,632 pupils. While in Tunga Ladan, the only school which was established in 2005 by ETF has become inadequate as two classes were observed sharing same space. The roof of the building was completely

blown off with the ceilings either removed or hanging dangerously with the sky clearly visible from the classrooms. The head teacher told the visiting team that whenever it rained they sent the children home as they could not learn in the rains.

Nigeria’s External Reserves climb to $46 billion Continued from page 1 hitting the new high of $46 billion. Confirming the figures, the CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor attributed the continued accretion to the country’s reserves to the Bank’s effort at vigorously discouraging unnecessary importation and reducing the nation’s import Bill; inflow from oil and non-oil exports,

as well as the huge inflows through the investors and exporters window of the foreign exchange market, which he said had attracted over $33 billion since April 2017, when it was created. At the close of commodities trading on Friday, March 9, 2018, Brent Crude, sold at $65.49 a barrel up by 2.54%. According to him, the Bank’s interventions in the foreign exchange

window had also helped to moderate the pressure on the FOREX reserves by sustaining liquidity in the market and boosting production and trade. Okorafor also noted that the CBN policy restricting access to FOREX from Nigeria’s foreign exchange market to importers of some 41 items had made a huge impact on the status of Nigeria’s reserves and boosted the supply of local substitutes for imported goods, created

jobs at home and enhanced the incomes of farmers and local manufacturers. It will be recalled that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the Annual Bankers’ Dinner of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) held in Lagos in November 2017, had projected that Nigeria’s external reserves would hit the $40 billion mark in 2018. That conservative projection has since been surpassed.


March 12 - 18, 2018

FCT REPORT Bello lauds AMMC for ‘salvaging’ abandoned vehicles By Austine ELEMUE


inister of FCT, M a l a m Muhammad Bello, has commended the management of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, AMMC, for refurbishing the agency’s brokendown vehicles and machinery rather than procuring new ones. The minister gave this commendation when he inspected 9 vehicles refurbished by AMMC at N6.3million. The minister urged other secretariats, department and agencies, SDAs, of the FCT administration to emulate the good example of the AMMC which has saved the administration more than N225 million it would have cost it, to embark on the procurement of new ones. “We are going to refund you the money you have spent in undertaking the refurbishment of the vehicles,” Bello assured. According to him, “this is judicious utilization of public funds and I must commend the management of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council for this initiative. This demonstrates that the anti-corruption stand of the Buhari Administration and its commitment to prudent management of public resources is bearing fruits.” The minister also directed the management of the council to use the refund he was going to make to the council as a revolving fund to continue the rehabilitation work on the remaining 25 brokendown vehicles in its yard. He also observed that most of these vehicles and machines still had lives in them but were abandoned on very flimsy repair excuses.

He assured the council that the administration would refund the expenses upon the completion of each segment of the repair process. His words, “There is nothing wrong with auctioning of unserviceable vehicles but it becomes a matter

of great concern when it is done when the affected vehicles are still very serviceable.” Speaking to newsmen on the initiative, the Coordinator AMMC, Comrade Shuaibu Umar disclosed that the council had chosen the option of refurbishment

after conducting a comprehensive assessment of the vehicles and finding them very strong and could still be restored. The refurbished vehicles include 7 Hilux vans, 2 Hiace buses and a Peugeot 405, estimated market value of N232 million including the

agency’s poster cleaning machine. The coordinator said the management has been encouraged by the result achieved as the council now has vehicles to carry out its mandate, disclosing the council still has 25 vehicles and machines waiting to be rehabilitated.

FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello (4rd left), Minister of State, Aviation, Engr. Hadi Sirika (5th left) and others, listening to a staff of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, during a joint inspection of the facilities.

ARDS set to address youth unemployment By Austine ELEMUE


n its bid to address the challenge of youth unemployment in the FCT, the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat has organized an empowerment workshop on agro entrepreneurship for 200 youths drawn from the 6 Area Councils of the FCT The workshop which took place at the Atlas Hotel in Gwagwalada according to the Secretary Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Hon. Stanley Nzekwe is aimed at addressing socioeconomic challenges faced by youths by equipping them with u s e f u l a g r o -

entrepreneurial skills that will enable them become selfemployed and generate incomes for themselves and their families. Nzekwe lamented the situation of overreliance on white collar jobs by youths, urging them to embrace the various opportunities that abound in the Agricultural sector. In his words “This workshop will not have come at a better time most especially now that our dear country is grappling with the challenges of youth restiveness, and high poverty rate which is worsened by the lack of vocational skills that will provide youth to viable

options to earn sustainable livelihood” He informed the gathering that in furtherance of this initiative to improve the socio-economic conditions of youths, the FCT minister, has approved the participation of the FCT in the Accelerated A g r i c u l t u r a l Development Scheme, AADS, which is a federal government agricultural promotion programme under the Central Bank of Nigeria, which targeting a minimum of 10,000 young farmers per state across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. Nzekwe used the opportunity to reassure

farmers of the preparedness of the agric secretariat for the new farming season, assuring them that agric extension workers will be deployed to the rural communities to continue to provide them with services that will enhance good agronomic practice towards not only increasing their yields but meeting up with global acceptable standards. Earlier in his remarks, Alhaji Salihu Usman, the District Head of Gwako, who spoke on behalf of the traditional institutions in the FCT, commended the FCT administration for the initiative.

FCT science, tech dept to hold expo this week


he Department of Science and Technology of the FCT Education Secretariat will hold its 4th FCT Science and Technology Expo tagged FASTECH 2018 from Tuesday, March 13 to Thursday, March 15, 2018 at its office/research complex in Utako District of Abuja. In a statement issued by the Assistant Director in charge of Public Relations, Mr. Anthony Ogunleye, he stressed that FASTECH is a platform designed to identify and bring together all stakeholders including public and private scientists, inventors, artisans and entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services as well as harness the economic and scientific potentials of the science and technology sector. The statement revealed that it is also a gathering aimed at showcasing and promoting the patronage of local inventions that can be applied for everyday living. The theme for FASTECH 2018 which is “Technology and Society in the 21st Century” will be examining the relationship between the ordinary man and the use of technology and will also examine relevant areas of transfer of k n o w l e d g e , entrepreneurship, adaptation of technology, production of scientific and technological goods, herbal products as well as extension services. Speakers will include Prof. Michael Adikwu, Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja who will deliver the Keynote address, Dr Shola Odusanya, CEO, Biocrop Biotechnology Ltd, an agricultural research company who will deliver a paper titled “Science and Technology in Agricultural Value Chain for Economic Development” and Dr. Ndagi Abdulmalik of the National Board for Technological Incubation who will deliver his paper titled “Building Trust in Indigenous Products/ Goods”.

March 12 - 18, 2018


FCT REPORT NAOWA urges parents to teach children local languages

IWD: Helpline foundation advocates zero discrimination



By Austine ELEMUE


s the world marks the International Women’s Day, IWD, last week, Helpline Foundation for the Needy, an Abuja based nong o v e r n m e n t a l organisation, has called for the eradication of all forms of discrimination against women. The group said the call has become necessary in view of the fact that rural women constitute over a quarter of the world population, stressing that majority of the 43 percent of women are in the global agricultural labour force. Addressing a section of the media in Abuja, president of Helpline Foundation, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu, stated that the IWD is an occasion which affords women all over the world the opportunity to address issues bordering on women especially rural women. Ahmadu, while commenting on this year’s theme; “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”, described the theme as apt, stressing that there is no better time to address myriads of issues faced by women in Nigeria. “The Foundation wants to use the day to draw the attention of government at levels to the plight of women in the society. An average Nigeria woman goes through hardship to feed her family because of disparities in the country. “Government should as a matter of urgency pass every bill that is related to the women as well as look into policies that will better the living standard of the Nigeria women. The right and privileges of the women should be made paramount as government makes and execute her policies. “As this year’s theme, there is no better time than now for women to take their rightful place as home makers and administrators because a good mother produces a good leader. As women we have a lot to do in making sure our country have good leaders at all levels,” Ahmadu affirmed.

Some parents of the abducted Dapchi school girls during a protest for the release of their daughters in Abuja...Thursday. Photo: Wale Elekolusi.

FCTA, UNESCO graduate 400 youths on ICT M By Austine ELEMUE

inister of the Federal Capital Te r r i t o r y, Malam Muhammad Bello, has charged graduands of the recently concluded United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO/ FCTA YouthMobile Information and Communication Technology project in the FCT to use the skills they have acquired for nation building. The minister gave this charge in Abuja during the graduation ceremony of 400 participants of the UNESCO/FCTA YouthMobile project in the FCT drawn mainly from Abuja Municipal and Bwari Area Councils. Bello, who was represented at the occasion by the F C TA Pe r m a n e n t Secretary, Mr. Christian Ohaa, said the next phase has been scheduled for Gwagwalada town and will involve 600 participants covering the southern axis of the FCT, namely; Kuje, Kwali, Abaji, and Gwagwalada Area Councils. He said the administration has committed over N96.7 million by way of counterpart funding to match UNESCO’s support of N42 million.

Bello while congratulating the participants, urged them to justify the investment of both the global community and the home government towards the realization of their full potential by starting their own businesses where necessary. According to the minister, “The importance of knowledge, they say, is not in having it, but in using it. Similarly, to whom much is given, much is expected. I therefore urge you all to leverage on the skills you have acquired for self-

actualization and for nation-building. Let this serve as a clarion call for you all to live up to this dream and to brace up to the challenges of starting off your own businesses where necessary as well as being the torchbearers of change. “I am glad to note the engagement of 15 beneficiaries from the first batch by SAP (a global leading software company) who served as facilitators at the 2017 Africa Code Week. Without doubt, the beneficiaries have been given skills required to excel and we expect it to translate to increased

youth productivity and employment. Similarly, we hope it will also help in the promotion of peaceful co-existence amongst themselves and in our various communities,” he stated. In his remarks, the director and representative of UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja, Yao Ydo, said the spirit of the education and cultural arm of the world body is to engage and partner with young women and men, in promoting peace, preventing violent extremism and engaging them meaningfully.

We are ready to move to Shere Galuwyi -Jabi monarch By Austine ELEMUE


he Esu of Jabi 1, Alhaji Yakubu Auta, has reiterated the willingness and readiness of his people to relocate to Shere Galuwyi resettlement site, in Bwari area council. Auta, who spoke through his Assistant Secretary, Mu’azu Ahmed, explained that majority of the people in Jabi Masallachi are now eager to move into the new site, because they are ‘choking at their present abode.’ This is coming on the heels of reinvigorated

move by the FCT administration to complete renovation works in the settlement, located about 15 kilometres from Mpape, a suburb in Bwari. Recall that the FCT had issued a quit notice to some police personnel, who had taken possession of the uncompleted project without permission few years ago, which expired since February 14, 2018. The traditional ruler however maintained that the government should ensure that essential things like schools, roads, water, markets,

hospitals and police station that are supposed to be in the place, should be there. He said: “my people and I are ready for resettlement, and nobody can change our minds on it. I’m the paramount ruler, and majority of my people have agreed that we want to go, and nobody can change our minds. “All we believe is that the government should uphold its promise of provision of essential social services and amenities, which will stop us from wanting to return to the city centre.”

he National President, Nigerian Army Officers’ Wives Association, NAOWA, Mrs Umma-Kalsum Buratai, has urged parents to ensure that they teach their local languages to their children at home. Buratai stated this last week during the maiden NAOWA Model Nursery and Primary School Cultural Day, in Kurudu, Abuja. According to her “this ceremony is apt especially now that we are at jet age of technological innovations which often times comes with its attendant implications on child’s upbringing in terms of moral discipline and decadence in our cultural values. I urge all at all times engage your children and ward morally by teaching them the basic religious tenets, inculcating in them the fear of God and our good cultural values”. She also added that,” The moral decadence in our society is because we don’t have time to inculcate these cultural values into our children; and they prefer the western cultures, which has brought about a great menace in our behaviour and the way we showcase ourselves”. Earlier, the Head teacher, Mrs. Oshakuade Abimbola, stated that the brave do not abandon their culture, describing culture is the total way of life that people in the society are blessed with. “Culture is characteristics of a particular group of people defined by everything from their language, food, social habits, music, dance, dressing style and arts. Through culture, we are governed by norms and customs, which are the pillars of any society. If these pillars are not properly followed, our culture will resemble a perfume with no smell,” she stated. She added that, “Via culture, we learn how to be better people in the society, such as, living together as brothers and sisters therefore creating friendly environment for learning to take place.


March 12 - 18, 2018


Making Abuja A Modern City



ore than 30 years after Abuja was first mooted, it has remained a city on construction so much so that most parts of the various areas and zones are yet to be implemented. The rush of successive administrations not to complete projects from previous ones have not helped matters in Abuja realizing its full potential as Africa’s primary model city. However, that seeming elusive quest to make Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory a modern city seems to be on the back foot as Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, minister of the FCT Administration, is committed to completing all abandoned projects rather than embark on new ones. On assumption of office on November 11, 2015, he stated that the main trust of his administration will be the completion of on-going or abandoned critical infrastructural projects. He succinctly observed that Abuja was fast acquiring the image of a huge camp of abandoned projects and the gridlocks at strategic nodes of FCT highways and byways as a result of uncompleted road projects, or absence of finishing touches to major roads and utility projects. Many connecting arterials were not completed, including ramps, pedestrian bridges, tangent roads, loops, interchanges and critical arterials. These often made navigating the city a

Not oblivious of the economic importance of good road network, the administration has shown commitment to speedily complete the ongoing16.5Km Kuje-Gwagwalada road, traversing major agricultural firms and farmlands. On the other hand, the administration is revving up a subsisting urban renewal partnership project for selected rural settlements. This is with a view to opening up the grassroots of the Territory to make them places where people could live, work and play.

nightmare. True to his avowal that fateful day, Bello has kept the faith as most of the roads, bridges and interchanges under construction or long abandoned have been completed. Pedestrian bridges have been serviced with walkways making them usable by members of the public. The number of projects completed is gradually unfolding the aesthetics and magnificence of the city. For example, the Inner Southern Express Way Bridge has been opened for public use. The completed portion begins from AYA interchange and cuts off extended distances between AYA and Apo Roundabout, the Murtala Muhammed way and Aso drive making it easy for motorists to drive straight on to most part of Abuja’s main business district. And having achieved enormous success in these areas, the administration is shifting focus to the satellite towns and area councils. Many rural infrastructure

development as well as urban renewal projects are on the drawing board. After a long wait, it is a matter of excitement as in a few weeks hence, Abuja residents will be getting ready for their train rides as work on the project has reached 98 percent completion. The hope is that the train services will bring relief to the challenge of public transportation in the city. Airport travelers would now have a choice, either to board cabs on arrival or departure; or ride on trains from the airport train station to the Central Business District Central Station or vice versa. Not oblivious of the economic importance of good road network, the administration has shown commitment to speedily complete the ongoing16.5Km Kuje-Gwagwalada road, traversing major agricultural firms and farmlands. On the other hand, the administration is revving up a subsisting urban renewal

partnership project for selected rural settlements. This is with a view to opening up the grassroots of the Territory to make them places where people could live, work and play. However, for Bello’s vision to make Abuja a smart city achievable, he must strive to address the dearth in both Local Education Authority and the primary healthcare in the territory. It is pathetic and disturbing to note that out of the 215 PHC facilities, only 202 are staffed with skeletal healthcare services, while the remaining 13 are without staff. It is even more disturbing that out of the 202 PHC facilities that are running minimum services, only 27 have facilities to provide minimum Ward Health Care Package. In spite of the huge expenditures on PHC infrastructure and personnel, the subsector still appeared moribund. It is equally unacceptable that a modern city like Abuja with all the facilities mentioned above, over 100 pupils take lessons in one classroom as revealed during inspection of public schools by the education secretariat board with some pupils either learning under leaking roofs or under trees. To neglect these critical areas to the benefit of mere city aesthetics will amount to being pounds foolish, penny wise in the long run. It is therefore imperative that these issues are addressed to have even development in the FCT.

Published by: GAZETTA COMMUNICATIONS LTD Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Dan Akpovwa Editor Emmanuel Ogbeche Associate Editor Jacob Edi Assistant Editor Austine Elemue Ovie Akpovwa Editor, Lagos Bureau Godwin Uzoma Okoro

Snr. Correspondents Sarah Negedu; Onoriode E. Atavwigho;; Mfon Udo-Ema Correspondents Ambrose Imobhio (Asaba) Scholastica Joseph (Makurdi) Ayinde Olarewaju (Ilorin) Akon Godfrey Chukwuma Nzeh Ateed Yusuf Ere-ebi Agedah Ijeoma Ukazu Ismaila Jimoh Williams Abah

London Correspondent Peculia Medinus Online Editor Lucky Akpovwa Advert/Marketing Executive Laraba P. Murey

Photo Editor Wale Elekolusi

Admin Assistant Alex Ukershio Company Secretary Bassey E. Offiong Esq. Legal Adviser Gogo Karibi-Whyte Production Consultant Daniel Soetan

March 12 - 18, 2018


Sowore: Ambition or delusion? W

hen I read Omoyele Sowore declaring his ambition to run for Nigeria’s presidency in 2019, my mind went straight to the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí, 1st Marquis of Púbol. It was Dalí who said, “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” Now it is obvious that Sowore because of the popularity, some say notoriety, he has gained as the publisher of popular news website, Sahara Reporters, has seen his ambition growing steadily. One simply wonders what Sowore is bringing to the table. Is it because he is an activist or publisher that makes him feel entitled to become Africa’s most populous president in 2019? Has Nigeria’s Presidency become so cheap that anybody without any record of public service or something more credible other than ‘bursting’ the bubble of some thieving officials and their accomplices now the yardstick? Some have snidely remarked that if President Muhammadu Buhari without any

verifiable school certificate could become president, why not people like Sowore who allegedly used foul means to seek asylum abroad? It is interesting hearing him say: “I’ve always been in the forefront of the agitation and struggle to move NIGERIA forward – first as a student and youth activist during military regimes. Since 1999, my focus has been on improving and sanitising the democratic space. This is a natural progression of my commitment to moving Nigeria forward. This will not be politics as usual. I have always been a part of the movement to move Nigeria forward. I have always played a leading role in that movement. “This is a movement. It will be the largest mobilisation of Nigeria’s ignored and dispossessed people. It will be the most direct engagement of a people in their own political future. I’ve always offered Nigerians a platform for amplifying their concerns and dreams for Nigeria.” But for now, is it ambition or delusion when one takes into cognisance his lack of a viable party and grassroots base to want to run for president?

Ogbeh counting the cost of lying


udu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture should know with his age that elders do not lie. But there is something about politics that makes even the wise indulge in this expensive folly. Last week, Ogbeh in magisterial arrogance looked Nigerians in the face and lied like the father of all lies, Satan. “Just like two weeks ago, the Ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really dealt with them. “But I asked what did we do wrong and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone.” But Fact Check by TheCable showed that the minister was less than honest. The

newspaper reported that instead, Thailand’s export has continued to grow citing a report by The Nation Thailand, overall exports in January this year alone rose to 17.6 percent with an income of $20.101 billion. Significantly, rice exports grew to 37.2 percent year-on-year — an indication that rice mills are not collapsing in Thailand. Instead, rice producers in the country may be needing more mills! One would have imagined that with his hands caught in the till, Ogbeh would eat humble pie and apologise to Nigerians for absolute falsehood. But in what seems to have become a character trait in this administration of appropriating what is not theirs, expecting the minister to say he got it wrong would amount to waiting for Godot, and like we know in Samuel Beckett’s play, Godot will never come.

Becoming Adekunle Gold: A story of belief


ong before he became famous, Adekunle Gold had found a way to dream big, and he sure knew how to dream. His story, like those of millions of others need to be told and retold to give hope, inspire confidence and make impact for those who dare to dream. The music crooner whose real name is Adekunle Kosoko had always wanted to be something and knowing that it was a way off, he choose to photo shop himself into photographs of many celebrities. His photo shopping skills was to earn him the sobriquet, ‘King of Photoshop’.

But Adekunle Gold also had his fears as he narrated: “One Saturday morning, I was in my house and I saw a particular photo of Tiwa Savage, which I loved. So I told my friend to take my picture and I did my thing (photo shopping). I was struggling to get people to listen to my music at the time. “So I thought, if I can be popular for this one, I might as well just do it. It might find its way to the people I really want to work with as a musician. I went on to do pictures with Toolz and Tonto Dikeh and it became a sensation. So, when I released a song, people didn’t take me seriously at first. They were like, “This Photoshop guy, what can he sing?” But, here I am today.”


March 12 - 18, 2018


Obasanjo visits Benue, describes killings as shocking, senseless By Scholastica JOSEPH, Makurdi


ormer President O l u s e g u n Obasanjo has expressed sadness over the gruesome murder of people in Benue state in their homes by Fulani herdsmen, describing the development as shocking and senseless. Obasanjo, who was received at the Makurdi Airport by Governor Samuel Ortom and members of his cabinet on Saturday, was led straight to the graveside of the Benue 73’ who were massacred by herdsmen on New Year’s Day in Logo and Guma local government areas of the state. Obasanjo who stated that a Nigerian life lost is a loss to all Nigerians, said he was in the state to pay his condolences and to express his sorrow over the killings. “It is sad beyond description and that is why I have come straight from Maiduguri where I had attended a meeting of Zero Hunger Forum. If circumstances were normal, the Benue governor would have been with us. So, I am here to pay a condolence visit and share the sadness of Benue people with them. “I felt coming to the graveside and laying a wreath will express my sorrow and my sympathy and empathy with the family, the governor, all the people of the state and indeed, all Nigerians without any exception. A Nigerian life lost is loss to all of us. “Hearing that aside the 73 buried here, more than 80 others have been killed in different parts of Benue is even more shocking to me. I believe it will be more shocking to all Nigerians who will be hearing that. There is no doubts that we haven’t got it right. We haven’t got it right because whatever is behind this, normally in any civilized society we must get to the root of it.” “And until we get to the root of this, we will

be burying victims. We will be assuming what is not assumable, because we must know why this happening and who we must put an end to it. And somebody must accept the responsibility to put an end to this. If it has to be a collective responsibility, then so be it. But there must be an end to it.” Obasanjo who charged the Nigerian government to seek

ways of unraveling the cause of the incessant killings of Nigerians in across the country saying that the call became necessary so that the country can be free and secure enough for investors to come in. “We cannot talk of a free country, a secured country, a country where we will want development to take place, where we will want to invite investors

from outside and from inside and we are suffering this type of senselessness. “This to me goes beyond what is on the surface. And we need to find out what is at the bottom of it. And that is the responsibilities of leaders and of course, they must leave no stone unturned to find what is the root cause of this and put a stop to it. “Nothing can be

worse than what we have seen here; graveside of innocent people who should not have died that have died. The living still have hope but those who have died are gone forever. Those who lost their loved ones, what do we say to them? Since I have taken time to come here, I will try to see anything that is worth seeing but finding solution is paramount,” Obasanjo said.

L-R: Gender and Development Specialist, Mrs. Mufiliat Fijabi, National Chairman, Labour Party, Dr. Mke Omotosho and Women's Rights Advocate, Mrs. Omowumi Asubiaro Dada during the Women Participation in Politics and Governance meeting in Abuja...Thursday.Photo: Wale Elekolusi.

2019 poll: Northern leaders inaugurate committees By Nicholas ACHEDE


n preparations for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming 2019 general polls, the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly, NLSA, has inaugurated five standing committees to strategise on the conduct of the elections, restructuring and security in the north. Among the standing committees inaugurated were those of security, northern unity, elections, restructuring and politics. Chairman of the group, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who performed the inauguration in

Abuja, said that NLSA is a political but nonpartisan organization. “The objective of this assembly is to principally focus on a strategy towards evolving a brighter future, economically viable, politically stable and united northern Nigeria”, he stressed. “The NLSA was worried by the challenges of Boko Haram, ethno religious, communal crises and herdersfarmers conflicts in the north, as well as kidnapping and armed robberies all over the north. “I am, however, glad that one of the sub-

committees inaugurated will be addressing these security challenges.” He expressed the belief that the relevant committees would give insightful recommendations and assessment of the current political reality in the country. “I believe that in addition to other areas of focus, the relevant committees will give i n s i g h t f u l recommendations and assessment of the present day political reality of our country,” he emphasized. Yakasai said that contrary to reports in the media, the body was not created to find a

consensus presidential candidate from the north for the forthcoming presidential election. “The objective of this assembly is to principally focus on a strategy towards evolving a brighter future, economically viable, politically stable and united northern Nigeria,” Yakasai stated. Dr. Umar Ardo, secretary of the group, said that one of the objectives of the assembly was to establish a wide and enduring political network and channel of communication for consultations and dialogue among northern political elite.

NCWS urges FG to address hunger in Nigeria By Edrina EMMANUEL


he National Council for Women Societies, NCWS, has called on the federal government to take adequate steps in addressing the rate of hunger among Nigerians especially women. Mrs Gloria Shoda, president of the NCWS, said this in a statement as part of activities to mark 2018 International Women’s Day celebration. She said the International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8, is an occasion which affords women all over the world the opportunity to address issues bordering on women especially rural women. Shoda, while commenting on this year’s theme; “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”, described the theme as apt, stressing that there is no better time to address the hunger faced by women in this country. According to her, the council wants to use this Day to draw the federal government attention to the suffering that the Nigeria woman goes through as a result of the hardship and disparities in the country. “We are faced with a situation where women go through a lot to be able to feed their families, this is because things are getting harder every day and the prices of good and service are on the increase and out of the reach of the common woman. “Government should as a matter of urgency pass every bill that is related to the women as well as look into policies that will better the living standard of the Nigeria women. The right and privileges of the women should be made paramount as government mmakes and execute her policies”.

March 12 - 18, 2018



Anti-open grazing law: Police arrest, arraign 44 herdsmen By Scholastica JOSEPH, Makurdi


he Benue state police command has said over 44 herdsmen who violated the Anti-Open Grazing Law in the state have been arrested and are facing trials in various courts. State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, revealed this while briefing journalists on the update of fight against herdsmen and criminality in the state. He vowed that no one; herdsmen or residents, would be spared for violating the law as anyone found wanting would be made to face the law. Owoseni said in Katsina-Ala, some herdsmen led their cattle into a block moulding industry during which an altercation ensued and one person was injured while the herdsmen were arrested. The police boss also said 10 out of 14 persons who rustled herdsmen cattle in Guma Local government area were arrested in the process of sharing the meat, adding that as a way of averting

reprisal attack in Omusu, Okpokwu local government area, eight persons were apprehended and are u n d e r g o i n g interrogation. “The police is also involved in confidence building patrol in Chille, Mbalagh,

Makurdi local government area while over 5000 person were recently displaced by herdsmen. “As a preventive measure, we are engaging chairmen of the affected areas, relevant state government agencies and the

herdsmen to find lasting solution to the crisis. We want to urge the residents to alert security operatives of any strange movement and activities”, Owoseni said. The police boss stated that 12 suspects have been arrested for armed robbery and cultism and

weapons including, 1 locally fabricated pistol, 1English pistol, 1 AK47 rifle, 2 AK47 Magazines, 29 rounds of live ammunition, 2 live cartridges, 2 motorbikes and 1 motorcycle with gadget were recovered from them.

L-R: Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, Vice president, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba and Victoria Akai, Director, Business Entrepreneurial Skills and Technology during a business meeting by ACCI and NEPC in Abuja on Friday. Photo: Wale Elekolusi.

Civil society seeks urgent government’s intervention in education By Ere-ebi AGEDAH- IMISI


civil society group, Civil Society Action on Education For All, CSACEFA, has called on the federal government to urgently come up with concrete measures to address the incessant challenges in the sector, saying education should no longer be relegated to the background. CSACEFA, while speaking to journalists in Abuja in collaboration with ONE Campaign and the Malala Fund, noted that it was saddened that education has received low priority and attention both at the national and state levels over the years. According to the group, the country cannot continue to

relegate an important sector of the economy while aspiring to be among the top world economies adding that politics must not be played with education. Mrs Chioma Osugi, Policy Adviser CSACEFA, who lamented on the recent abduction of Dapchi school girls, highlighted some key issues that need urgent attention,

stressing that the federal government must adopt more proactive measures other than setting up committees. “The issue of security and how it affects or educational system especially in the north east of the country is worrisome. The recurrent attack on girls in schools in the North east will cripple the success we have

recorded in championing the cause for the education of the girl child over the years. “Funding and the budgetary allocation to education at the national and state level have been on decline despite the huge challenges in the sector. Also teacher development needs an urgent attention equally not forgetting our teaching and learning

environment which is pitiable,” she said. Also speaking, Crystal Ikanih-Musa, country representative, Malala Fund, said, “Education is the only veritable sustainable investment any government can make to guarantee a secured future, with guns you can kill terrorist, with education you can kill terrorism.”

HAJJ 2018: NAHCON warns pilgrim guarantors against absconding By Muyideen ALIU, Ilorin


he National Hajj Commission of N i g e r i a , NAHCON, has warned those willing to stand as guarantors to 2018 intending pilgrims to be weary of people that

have tendencies to abscond. Toward this end, states’ pilgrim boards and travel agencies involved in the 2018 Hajj operations are to commence early arrangements for biometric data capturing of their intending

pilgrims to avoid late registration. NANCON’S director of personnel, policy management and finance, Dr. Yusuf Ibrahim, said this in Ilorin at a sensitisation programme for stakeholders on Saudi Arabia new policies on

Hajj operations. Ibrahim said currently, three centres have been designated in Abuja, Kano and Lagos for the biometric registration of intending pilgrims even as it announced that plans were on to extend the centres to other parts of the country.

Ojougboh will defeat Okowa in 2019 — Kokori By Nicholas ACHEDE


chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Frank Kokori, has expressed confidence that Dr. Cairo Ojougboh will defeat Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the 2019 elections. “I have known Dr. Cairo Ojougboh for a long time and I have witnessed all his political battles and efforts. Corruption has killed Delta State. I will support any person from Delta State who wins a free and fair congress for the 2019 general election to turn around the dwindling fortunes of the state,” he said. Kokori made this affirmation when Ojougboh paid him a courtesy visit last week in continuation of his consultations ahead of the Delta APC governorship primaries for the 2019 general elections. Ojougboh, who was one of the Delta north APC caucus that supported the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, insisted that the game is set and that they are ready to take over Delta from the PDP so that Deltans could enjoy the dividends of democracy which God has naturally bestowed on the people of the state. According to him: “APC caucus in Delta north noted very seriously that the PDP government in Delta has failed woefully and therefore 2019, the people should be encouraged to vote out the government so that APC can take over power and reposition the state so that the people of Delta state will benefit from tthe dividend of democracy.’ “APC caucus in Delta north has carefully studied the administration of Okowa and has passed a vote of no confidence on him; hence we encouraged the people of Delta State to use their voters’ card to remove his government in 2019’’, he affirmed.


March 12 - 18, 2018

NEWS UTME 2018: Identical twins arrested for malpractice

Africa’s population explosion ticking time bomb — AfDB

By Godfrey AKON


By Emmanuel OGBECHE


he African Development Bank, AfDB, and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.” The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world. “The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the bank. At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap. To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa. Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent. “The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.” Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 79, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa.

Some university workers during a protest on the non-payment of their salaries and arrears at the National Assembly in Abuja...Thursday. Photo: Wale Elekolusi.

IWD 2018: Ali Charges female journalists on medical checkup By Sarah NEGEDU


s part of activities for the 2018 International Women’s Day celebration, wife of former National chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Marian Ogoh-Ali, chairman, Kpakpando Foundation, has called on female journalists to take their health seriously. Speaking at the monthly congress of the National Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ FCT chapter, Mrs. Ogoh-Ali said for them to be effective

voices for the vulnerable in society they have to stay healthy by knowing their health status. “As female professionals that speak for society, you have to take your own health seriously. Cancer, especially cervical and breast cancer, are real threats to women. I therefore urge you to take regular medical checkup seriously as well as the issue of hygiene,” she said. In a communique signed by Mrs Grace Njoku, secretary of the NAWOJ FCT chapter, congress decried the

decline in women participation in politics in both elective and appointive positions. She said congress noted that during the last dispensation, there was more women participation, meeting the required 35% affirmative action and therefore tasked government at all levels to make conscious effort to empower women politically and financially. According to the communique, congress charged women in positions of authority on mentoring and empowerment of

women, to ensure increased participation of women, preparatory to the 2019 elections. Congress in the same vein, called on relevant stakeholders and international partners to support women participation in Nigerian politics. Finally, Congress reiterated the importance of women who make up the larger part of the population, to get registered and obtain their permanent Voters Card, PVC, and vote, with a view to influencing the outcome of election in favour of women.

uck ran out for identical twins who were arrested for alleged examination malpractice in Maiduguri, Borno state. They were arrested after one of them tried to sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, at the University of Maiduguri. Speaking with NAN, Babagana Gutti, chief examiner in the state, said the brothers tricked invigilators and security personnel to gain entrance to the centre. Gutti explained that H u s s a i n Andulhammeed, one of the twin, was captured in the biometric registration for the Compute Base Test, CBT, but Hassan took advantage of their semblance and sat for the examination in place of his brother. “The invigilator became curious and asked him few questions; but not satisfied with answers he put them together for verification,” he said. “It is unfortunate our findings showed that he was in the examination hall in place of his brother.” Gutti added said the candidates have been handed over to security personnel. About 1,700 candidates registered for the examination in the state.

Ezimakor: NUJ demands apology from DSS By Emmanuel OGBECHE


he Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, is to demand apology from the Department of State Services, DSS, over the alleged illegal detention of one of its member, Mr Tony Ezimakor. Ezimakor, who is the Abuja, Bureau Chief of the Daily Independent Newspapers, was detained for over one week by the service, following his invitation to the DSS headquarters in Abuja, over

yet to be ascertained reasons. NUJ, National President, Comrade Waheed Odusile, made this known when the detained journalist paid a thank you visit on the union. He said the union would write a strongly worded letter to the DSS demanding an apology over the unlawful detention of its member, noting that no reason has been given for the oneweek detention of Mr. Ezimakor. The national president disclosed that the union

may resort to legal redress in event the service refuses to apologise to the aggrieved journalist and the union to serve as a deterrent to the service and the other security agencies. Odusile, who commended members for their advocacy towards the release of Mr. Ezikamor, said efforts by the union, which had scheduled to hold a press briefing on the continued detention of its member paid off with his release on eve of the scheduled briefing. Earlier, Chairman, NUJ, FCT Council, Mr Paul Ella,

commended all those who made efforts to ensure the release of the bureau chief, and cautioned media practitioners to be cautious and security conscious while discharging their duties. On his part, Ezimakor appreciated union leadership and members for their intervention on his behalf, noting that there was no end to the tale of his experience in the service custody. He said God worked, through the people, by raising a global tempest of action that led to his release,

noting that it is illegal once freedom is abridged and it could happen to anybody. Ezimakor, who said the solidarity and unity towards his release was unprecedented, decried the fact that journalists have become an endangered species, even as he raised concern over his personal safety. Speaking further, he said though the media has overwhelming power, it does not reflect in their lives and his detention has brought this to the fore, just as he made case for media welfare to be addressed.

March 12 - 18, 2018



March 12 - 18, 2018


Health is wealth


Take away my first letter, and I still sound the same. Take away my last letter, I still sound the same. Even take away my letter in the middle; I will still sound the same. I am a five letter word. What am I?


What on earth does the poor have, the rich need it, and if you eat it you’ll die?


There’s something I have that I can’t share it, if I share it, I can’t have it, what is it?


What is as light as a feather, but even the world’s strongest man couldn’t hold it for more than a minute?


Why did a man put the clock in the safe? Empty 2. Nothing 3. Secret 4. Breath 5. He wanted to save time


day of visit. Also the holy man told the king that he would treat the king only if he came on foot to his place. The King was unable to walk even a few steps on the road, but accompanied by his followers, he reached the holy man’s place. Unfortunately, the holy man was not available there and his devotee requested the king to come and meet him the next day for treatment. This was repeated for two weeks and the king never met the holy man, never had any treatment. Suddenly, the king realized that he felt a lot lighter, lost considerable amount of weight and felt more active than before. He realized the reason why the holy man asked him to reach his place by walking. Very soon, the king regained his health, and the people were very happy in his kingdom. The King had a lot of wealth, but no amount of wealth could make him healthy. From


spent enormously but everything went in vain. One fine morning, a holy man, (Rishi) visited the region of the King. He heard about the ill-health of the king and told the minister to meet him at his place. When the minister met him, he informed the minister that he could easily cure the king. Hearing these promising words, the minister became very happy. He requested the king to meet the holy man to get rid of the ill health. The holy man resided at a distant place. Since the king could not move his body, the fatty king asked the minister to bring the holy man to the palace, but the holy man refused and ordered to come to meet him. After strenuous efforts, the king met the holy man. The holy man encouraged him and said he was good and very soon the king would gain his health. He asked the king to come for treatment every day from the next


Live a healthy life D

octors say kids your age should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Here are some tips to keep in mind during physical activity: 1. Physical activity is fun! Being physically active doesn’t have to be a hard or scary thing. Did you know that riding bikes with your friends, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and running around the park with your friends are all types of physical activity? Any game

where you are up and moving are great ways to stay physically active and make your heart, bones, and muscles strong. 2. Keep it exciting: Ask your friends what their favourite types of physical activity are and make a list of all of them. Make a deal with your friends to try a new activity off the list each week. Who knows, you may learn a new game! Culled from

Did You Know? l Did you know a group of tigers is known as an ambush or streak?


The side of a river, canal, stream or lake is called what?


What is the full meaning of the acronym WAEC?


Pupils are to primary school as who are to secondary schools?


A test designed to assess somebody’s ability or knowledge in a particular subject or field at the end of each term is called?

l Did you know the force of gravity 100 kilometres above earth is just 3 per cent less than at earth’s surface?


Who wrote the book “things fall apart?”

l Did you know banana plants are not trees; they are a type of herb?

l Did you know all pilots on international flights identify themselves in English regardless of their country of origin?

l Did you know the average housefly only lives for 2 or 3 weeks?



nce upon a time, there lived a generous and kind-hearted king. But, the people weren’t happy with their king because he was too lazy and would not do anything other than eating and sleeping. He spent days and weeks and months in his bed either eating something or sleeping. He almost became inactive. The king became a potato couch and the people started to worry about the king. One day he realized that he couldn’t even move his body, unable to move his foot. He became very fat and his enemies made fun of him ‘fatty king’, ‘bulky king’ etc. He invited specialized doctors from various parts of his country and offered them generous rewards to make him fit. Unfortunately, none could help the king gain his health and fitness. Since the king was very cordial to his fellow people, many suggested renowned doctors to help him. He

Pupils and teachers of NAOWA Model Nursery and Primary school, Kurudu, making a special unity presentation during the school's maiden Cultural Day in Abuja, last Thursday.

1. A bank 2. West African Examination Council 3. Students 4. Examination 5. Chinue Achibe


March 12 - 18, 2018


Adichie’s ‘Americanah’ named among Nigeria’s books shaping fiction in 21st century ‘Lion’s


himamanda Adichie’s novel, Americanah, has been listed in the New York Times’ list of 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century. Adichie is no stranger to accolades as her first novel Purple Hibiscus was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize. Adichie was profiled by Dwight

Garner, an American journalist and literary critic. Garner wrote: “It’s a resonant and fiercely intellectual novel about a Nigerian woman named Ifemelu who leaves Africa for America and suffers here before starting a blog called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a NonAmerican Black” and winning a fellowship at Princeton. “Adichie works both

Den’ TV reality show underway

high and low; she’s as adept at dissecting internet and hair salon culture as she is at parsing the overlapping and ever-changing meanings of class and race in the United States. “Americanah” brings news, on many fronts, about how a new generation of immigrants is making its way in the world. It has lessons for every human about how to live.” Adichie’s recent effort, ‘Dear Ijeawele’, was named among the best books of 2017.


Why I hardly attend other comedians’ shows –Gbenga Adeyinka


or a while, there have been rumours that ace comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka shuns his colleagues’ events because he hardly headlines any despite the fact that Nigerian comedians are seen as one big happy family. The rumour mongers stated that instead of him featuring in his colleagues’ shows, he opted to organise his own shows which are staged in South-Western states in Nigeria. Speaking to Punch Newspapers, the rib cracker admitted that he hardly attended his colleagues’ shows but

stated his reasons. “I hardly attend other comedians’ event because we stage our shows around the same time. For instance, AY stages his show on Easter Sunday as well as mine. I do not have an issue with any comedian in Nigeria. I would be at Okey Bakassi’s show. I appear for shows when I am not working because my loyalty is to my family and what makes a family happy is the money the breadwinner is able to bring to the table. It would be foolhardy for me to headline a free show when I have a gig. It is the same way I would

not want someone to ignore a paid show just to do a free gig for me. In the past, people who had been billed to perform at my show for free had called to inform me that they had a paid show to attend and cancelled mine. But I did not hold any grudge against them because I totally understood. For me, it is all about work and this is what I use to send my children to school. Once I have an opportunity to get paid for my services, why do I want to leave it for a non-paying gig? However, I am friends with everybody,” he said.

Usher par partt wwaays with wif wifee Miguel


sher Raymond, American singer, and his wife Grace Miguel has called it quit after two years of marriage and nearly 10 years together. The couple made the disclosure in a statement to US weekly last Tuesday, about their already concluded mutual separation, after several considerations. ‘’We remain deeply connected, loving friends who will

continue supporting each other through the next phases of our lives. The enormous amount of love and respect that we have for each other will only increase as we move forward,’’ the statement read. Recall that a woman named Quantasia Sharpton had accused Usher of exposing her to genital herpes, saying the singer failed to disclose his condition before having sex with

her. The 38-year-old Grammy winner was reportedly diagnosed with herpes, although he never confirmed having the incurable disease. Usher and Grace began dating in 2009 after Usher split from his first wife, Tameka Foster, with whom he shares 10-year-old son Usher Raymond V and 9-year-old son Naviyd Ely.

he Nigerian version of the globally acclaimed business reality television show, ‘Lions’ Den’ is currently in the works. The producer of the show, Ultima Studios, revealed this last Wednesday during a media interview in Lagos. The show, the first of its kind in Nigeria, is a variation of the original show that was first aired in Japan and has now been produced in over 30 countries. The show targets entrepreneurs who have good business ideas but need to raise funds to advance their business. In his address, the CEO of Ultima Studios, Femi Ayeni, said an agreement has been reached with UK-based Sony Pictures Television to produce the reality show in Nigeria. He said, “Ultima’s choice of Lions’ Den as its next venture is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians. The programme will not only provide exciting viewing for viewers at home; but will also provide an opportunity for serious entrepreneurs to attract muchneeded investments. “Furthermore, as has been the case in all other countries where the show is running, it is not just the entrepreneurs but also the viewers at home that will benefit from the comments made by the Lions.”


March 12 - 18, 2018


Dapchi abductions: ‘no excuses, just secure their release’ Several weeks after 110 school girls were abducted from their dormitories in Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi, Yobe State, by Boko Haram terrorists, affected families and concerned Nigerians have been eagerly awaiting their release, hoping that their abduction would not be like that of the Chibok girls who have been in captivity since April 2014. In this issue, some Nigerians told Williams ABAH and Edrina EMMANUEL that government needs to act fast as it has no excuse than to secure the release of the girls. Excerpts: OGWU JOHN: I don’t know why this keeps occurring and government fails to take proactive steps to forestall such incidents! The school management and the government of Yobe State have no excuse to give for not protecting these students. Yobe State is a volatile area for Boko Haram terrorists. The Chibok girls’ abduction would have been a lesson for government to be proactive in all ramifications. Like you rightly pointed out, this is the third week the girls have been in captivity. Who knows what they are going through? I tell people that in Nigeria, security of life is only provided for the high and mighty. If one of the high profile person’s child was in that school, the security would be tight to a certain extent. I do not see reason why the over 115 students will be abducted from school in a crisis-prone area like Yobe and up till now government has not even given the parents hope of securing them back. The insensitivity of government to the plight of ordinary people in this country has really played out in this scenario. Security agencies must be up in their game to ensure the release of these children to be reunited with their families. JUDE EDU: My take is that the government of Nigeria has failed every other Nigerian girl. If I was a little girl in Nigeria today, I would be afraid of what will be the next thing to happen. Not all Chibok girls have returned from captivity and now the Dapchi girls. So far, government’s response has been very sluggish. First, they told us they have deployed jets to locate the girls and arrest their captors, but up to this moment, the Nigerian Air Force has not given us any report. It’s already getting to a month and nobody has heard any report about the Dapchi girls. I still believe government has not told us the truth about those girls.

Jude Edu

Stanley Sunday

Steven Dare

Government has to tell us where those girls are because this thing has become like a business. People are negotiating on behalf of government and government paying money for the release of those girls. So I think this has become another business venture to some people who eventually trade on girls who they kidnap making sure that government pay money for their release. So they have not yet told us weather those girls will be found or they are going to spend another 3 to 4 years just like the Chibok girls.

Dapchi girls. It has become a continuous thing from herdsmen killings to kidnapping of girls. Baba was performing well until now. But with the look of things, the security situation is worsening especially with these abductions. That means even the Chibok girls will soon be forgotten. We don’t know what government is doing but I hope they are doing enough to rescue them on time. It shouldn’t be the case of the Chibok girls.

learnt that a few days before the incident, soldiers attached to guide the school were withdrawn from the location. What led to such action? Whether I suspect a conspiracy, my answer is yes! Look at how this things happened. If the leader of the army wants to withdraw the troops attached to the school, why can’t they do proper handover to other security personnel? For me, the leader of the troops must answer this salient question. This is a recurring decimal and we cannot continue to condone illegality for the interest of those who think they can do anything and go scot free. Terrorist attacks have affected all facets of social and economic life of the North-East and people should stop playing politics with the future of the younger generation. If you take assessment of all the destructions that occurred in the North East, women and children are the most affected. My worry is about the health condition of the abducted girls. I just imagine what they are going through in the hands of their abductors. We want to see practical solutions that can lead to the quick release of these girls.

STEVEN DARE: Why does the whole thing look to me like a planned attack? There were security personnel in the school but before the incident happened they were withdrawn. After the withdrawal, the school was attacked. How can that number of students be taken in a coaster bus without any interference from anyone around? So when you look at the whole thing, it looks like a planned attack. It’s not possible for three or four buses to follow each other and no one noticed. The children must have been shouting. It’s a national disgrace to us, after Chibok abduction now the

STANLEY SUNDAY: in my opinion, government didn’t react on time. It took them awhile before they reacted and so far there has not been much of reactions. So I will urge the government to step up action in their search for this girls. We need to know where they are and they must bring them back. Unlike what happened in Jonathan’s time when the school authorities were called and asked a few questions, this government has not done that. So they need to carry people along and do the right thing. KUDSON ANI: There is an urgent need to conduct a thorough investigation into this abduction. I

March 12 - 18, 2018



JAMB: 1,662,762 candidates sit for 2018 UTME Stories by Godfrey AKON


s the 2018 Unified T e r t i a r y Matriculation Examination, UTME, kicked-off last Friday, no fewer than 1,662,762 are participating in the exercise. Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said Imo State leads with the highest number of registered candidates, ahead of Oyo and Osun states in second and 3rd places respectively. Oloyede said no fewer than 92,890 candidates of Imo origin registered for the exercise while Oyo registered 86,695 and Osun enlisted 86,044 candidates, adding that Abuja was lowest with just 6,418 applications from candidates of FCT origin. He said JAMB was ready to conduct the 2018 UTME in 605 CBT centres across the country, adding that a total of 1,662,762 candidates were registered for the Friday exercise, representing a decrease of 55,642 candidates or 3.2 per cent from the number of candidates in 2017. According to him, the drop in the number of candidates was largely due to measures put in place by the board to forestall multiple registrations and other u n w h o l e s o m e registration practices. He further disclosed that a total of 367 visually impaired candidates registered for the 2018 examination as against 201 in 2017. Speaking on multiple registration, the JAMB boss noted that the act was fraudulent and JAMB will not relent in its efforts to tackle and halt any act that may likely aid examination irregularity. “The new system of capturing live pictures through USB cameras instead of scanning of pictures; biometric capturing of ten fingers

and the order of arrangement of names has curtailed incidences of multiple registrations,” he said. He warned that there shall be no rescheduling of any examination, adding that candidates are to adhere strictly to the date and time allocated to them for the examination as any candidate who fails to turn up on schedule will automatically miss the exams. “Candidates are advised to shun all forms of infractions. Let them prepare well by studying as there is no easy way to success. Lateness, rudeness, and all kinds of disruptive behaviours

would not be tolerated. He said items such as watches, cameras, recorders, calculators, microphones, spy glasses, cell phones, ear-pieces, ink/ pen readers, smart lenses, smart rings/ jewelleries, smart buttons, Bluetooth devices and storage devices among others were banned from exam centres. “Consequently, all officials, CBT owners and candidates are hereby warned not to bring any of the above banned items into the examination venues as ignorance would not be taken as a defence. “About 6500 permanent and adhoc

staff are deployed for this e x a m i n a t i o n . Examination Officials are reminded that the rules guiding the conduct of the examination have been included in the Training Manual given to them and also on the Board’s website. “We appeal to them to follow the steps as indicated in the manual for a hitch-free examination,” he said. Oloyede noted that JAMB would no longer release results immediately as the practice has been over the years, stating that the results would be delayed to ensure that all issues surrounding them have

been resolved before they are released. He alleged that some cyber café operators were mounting pressure on the board to share proceeds of their application fees with them. He explained that the operators came up with the demand having noted that the Board remitted over N7billion to the federation account in 2017. The JAMB boss said the board would not fall for such cheap blackmail, adding that the agency would not also be in a haste to make public the examination results so as to forestall instances of withheld results.

A cross section of Civil society Action Coalition on Education for All, Malala Fund and One Campaign.

FG confident of ICT breakthrough in colleges


he Federal Government is seizing every available opportunity in Information, Communication Technology, ICT, to produce a new crop of college students who will proffer solutions to the nation’s peculiar needs. Permanent Secretary, Federal ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, said in a statement by the Director of Press, Mrs Priscila Ihouma, that the government was

targeting CISCO programmes in the colleges to realise the noble objective. The statement said Echono spoke at a Workshop organized by the Department of ICT, Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja to create awareness for Principals and Heads of ICT Department of the Federal Unity Colleges where Cisco Networking Academy Programmes are to be established.

The perm sec further stated that the programme was put in place by the Ministry to create career opportunities and entrepreneurial skills for students, and targeting the teeming unemployed youths and skills gap syndromes in the country. Represented by Mr. Ifegwu Oji, Director ICT, the Permanent Secretary recognized education as the bedrock of any developed nation which requires the inclusion of ICT in its

educational system, emphasizing that the Ministry will leverage modern technologies to optimize teaching, learning and administration. Earlier, the Manager of Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Mr. Imoh Akpan in his presentation identified the education sector as a key area his company can use to make immense impact in the country and solicited collaboration and team work from the government.

FG approves CISCO IoT in six colleges


he Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has disclosed that government has approved Cisco Network Academy to establish the Internet of Things IoT, innovative centers in six Federal Unity Colleges across the six geopolitical zones. Adamu stated this at the official commissioning of the Cisco established Internet of Things, IoT, Innovative Centre in Federal Government Girls’ College Bwari, Abuja. A statement from the Education Ministry said the minister disclosed that the centres are to connect people, processes, devices and data, announcing that FSTC Yaba centre has already been established as the pilot project followed by Federal Government Girls’ College Bwari. Represented by the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, the minister noted that there was hardly any aspect of live that was not aligned with Information Communication Technologies. He enjoined all to key into the trend lest mistakes of the past where we missed out in economic advancement will make us continue to lag behind even in this Internet age. Adamu said ICT has transformed education delivery from being the transmission of information by the teacher as the custodian of knowledge to the learner as the receiver of the knowledge transmitted, and the school from being teacher-centered to student-centered. The first set of students who had completed the Cisco Network Academy Programme of the project, were recognized as the Cisco IoT Students’ Ambassadors and would be on hand to oversee the daily use of the centre. Adamu cautioned the students not to only be on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter but to also think of other productive things they could derive from the enormous wealth of resources internet provides.


March 12 - 18, 2018


We Must Sensitize Niger Delta Youths to Dangers of Militancy – NDDC MD T

he Managing Director of the Niger Delta D e v e l o p m e n t Commission, NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has urged major stakeholders to sensitize youths in the Niger Delta on the dangers of militancy and other social vices. Ekere, who spoke when leaders of the Port Harcourt Club 1928 paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, stressed the need for peace and security to attract investments to the region. He charged members of the Port Harcourt Club, whom he described as strong opinion leaders, to join in the effort to sanitize the Niger Delta, lamenting that most of the businesses that used to operate out of Port Harcourt have closed or re-located. The NDDC Chief Executive Officer remarked that investors need maximum security. He charged the leaders of Port Harcourt Club to advise the youths of the Niger Delta and make them understand that security would allow more businesses to operate from the region and thus create more jobs for them. Ekere regretted that the world biggest refinery is being built in Lagos by a private investor. He said: “Millions of dollars will be used to construct pipelines to take the crude from the Niger Delta to Lagos. You can imagine the number of jobs that will be created if that facility were to be built in the Niger Delta. Imagine the multiplier effect in the economy.” The NDDC boss declared that the current board of the Commission had been working very hard to change the story of the interventionist agency since it took over 15 months ago. He said: “When we came on board we came with a very ambitious plan to restructure the NDDC. We articulated what we called the 4-R

strategy. To restructure our balance sheet because it was overbloated. A lot of projects were abandoned and there was over-trading. We identified the fact that for us to progress, we must of necessity restructure our balance sheet. “We decided that we cannot continue to add to the liabilities. So, in our

budget for 2017, we decided to dedicate 70 per cent of the budget to ongoing projects to enable us concentrate on those projects and complete them. Only 30 per cent is dedicated to salaries, overheads and new projects. We also took measures restore the Commission to its core mandate.” Ekere said that the

NDDC was now concentrating on big ticket projects that would lead to economic integration of the Niger Delta, noting that it made sense to focus on doing those things that would change the economy of the region by providing sustainable and m e a n i n g f u l infrastructure. He also said that the

NDDC had decided to reorder its governance protocol, adding that the Commission must be run as an international best practice organization. Ekere assured: “We should respect laws and policies. We must follow due process in awarding contracts. So, we have decided to strengthen the governance system of NDDC. We re-dedicated

R-L: The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Executive Director, Finance & Administration, NIMASA, Mr. Bashir Jamoh, Executive Director, Operations, NIMASA, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, FNSE, and Mr. Okey Ajero during a novelty football match organized by the Agency to commence an awareness campaign against Prostate Cancer at the Astro Turf Arena of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos in Celebration of the World Cancer Day.

ourselves to doing what is right and proper at all times.” Ekere expressed delight that the changes at NDDC was already getting positive feedbacks from the international community, the business community and the Federal Government. According to him, “they recognize that NDDC is now doing things differently.” He commended the NDDC staff for being instrumental to the change that was taking place in the Commission. Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Port Harcourt Club 1928, Dr Diamond Tobin-West, commended the NDDC for rendering numerous forms of assistance to the club, especially in the area of sponsoring sporting competitions. He said that the Port Harcourt Club had never had it so good in its relationship with NDDC, appealing for more assistance as it prepares to celebrate the 90 th anniversary of the club this year. Dr Tobin-West also appealed for the completion of the sports complex being built by NDDC for the club.

Prostate cancer awareness: Early detection a mitigating factor to avert threat - NIMASA DG


r. Dakuku Peterside, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has urged Nigerian men to ensure frequent screening for Prostate Cancer, stressing that early detection is key in tackling fatalities from this blight. The Director General made this known at a novelty football match organized by the Agency to commence an awareness campaign against Prostate Cancer at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos in Celebration of the World Cancer Day. Speaking shortly

before the event started, the NIMASA DG noted that the Agency has decided to key into the goal of modern medicine to defeat the fear of seeing cancer as death sentence and encourage male staff and Nigerian men in general to take the advice of early detection seriously considering the fact that prostate cancer is a silent killer in men. “The aim of this exercise is to arm ourselves with the weapon to guarantee us a better chance of fighting cancer. He further said that, it is for this reason that on the occasion of the World Cancer Day, the management of the

agency had approved the collaboration of our Health Services unit to partner with Clinics, Laboratories to screen interested staff for prostate cancer to protect us from such fatalities through early detection and therefore the hope that all staff will use this opportunity to examine their status” Dr. Dakuku said. While noting that the Agency’s health advocacy is part of its corporate social responsibility actions, Dr Dakuku announced free examination for prostate cancer for volunteers who are willing to be screened even if they aren’t at risk. The agency also offered to give out

referral papers to interested volunteers. “Our mission is to ensure NIMASA staff and Nigerians in general are aware that with adequate education and early detection, this generation can conquer prostate cancer. NIMASA is on a mission to make sure it fight the menace of prostate cancer to finish with early detection,” Dr. Peterside said. The Agency has commenced free test for all staff and interested stakeholders as part of effort to encourage early detection. The NIMASA campaign against prostate cancer is part of the Union for

International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the world Cancer Declaration of 2008. It should also be noted that the primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer by 2020. As part of activities to mark the event, the Agency organized a novelty march at the Astro Turf arena of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos; an event, Dr. Peterside and other Executive Management and staff of the Agency attended the occasion, tagged; “Kick against prostate cancer”.

March 12 - 18, 2018


WORLD TIT-BITS Sick Tillerson cancels events in Kenya


S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will resume his normal schedule on Sunday after canceling his Saturday schedule of events due to illness. Tillerson arrived in Nairobi on Friday as part of a five-nation tour of Africa that includes Ethiopia, Chad, Nigeria and Djibouti. “The Secretary is feeling better and will resume his normal schedule tomorrow,” Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein told the pool reporters traveling with the secretary. He had been feeling unwell after long days working on major issues such as North Korea, Goldstein said earlier. Tillerson’s trip coincided with a White House announcement that President Donald Trump has accepted an offer to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after both leaders spent the past few months ridiculing each other. Some of the events planned for Saturday in the capital of Nairobi will go on without Tillerson, but others may be rescheduled for later in the trip. Events that will be rescheduled include a stop at the site of the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Goldstein said, adding that an updated schedule will be released later. Tillerson’s schedule for Saturday also included a site visit to PEPFAR, a US program that works to fight AIDS in the continent. He also planned to meet US Embassy staff, and attend a working lunch with Monica Juma, the nation’s minister for foreign affairs. Tillerson arrived in Nairobi on Friday, and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"Manolo, today you'll do your dinner yourself!!" chanted these women protesters in Barcelona, Spain on the occasion of the celebration of the International Women's Day on March 8, 2018.

Russian spy: 240 witnesses identified over poisoning M

ore than 240 witnesses have been identified as police investigate the Russian ex-spy poisoning “at speed”, the home secretary has said. Amber Rudd praised the professionalism of the police who are now looking at more than 200 pieces of evidence. The investigation into the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is now in its

sixth day. Meanwhile, Det Sergeant Nick Bailey, who fell ill attending the pair, has denied he is a “hero”. Mr Bailey remains seriously ill but is awake and engaging with his family. Ms Rudd said both Col Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, who are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital, remain in a “critical but stable condition” after being

exposed to a nerve agent. The pair were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Sunday 4 March. More than 250 counter terrorism police are now involved in what the home secretary has described as a “major investigation”. Speaking after a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, Cobra, Ms Rudd said the government was using enormous

resources to try and identify those responsible for the attempted murder. “I want to stress that they are proceeding with speed and professionalism,” she said. She added: “This investigation is focused on making sure that we keep people safe and also that we collect all the evidence so that when it comes to attribution [of the attack] we will be

absolutely clear where it should be. “The police have said that if anybody thinks they have any additional information they would welcome them coming forward. “There is also substantial amounts of CCTV they have to go through. This is a painstaking, detailed investigation and the police need to be given the space and time to get on with it.”

DR Congo signs new mining law despite companies’ opposition


he Democratic Republic of Congo has moved to increase taxes on mining firms and increase government royalties from the industry despite fierce opposition from international mining companies. President Joseph Kabila signed a new mining code into law on Friday. The country is Africa’s biggest producer of copper and cobalt, a vital component in mobile phone batteries. Foreign mining firms strongly opposed the law, saying their operations in DR Congo would stop being profitable. Several chief executives flew to the Congolese capital

Kinshasa this week in the hopes of persuading Mr Kabila to change his mind. They argued that the legislation would deter

future investment and violate existing agreements, reported Reuters news agency. The government however has agreed to

consider their concerns on a case by case basis, and work with them in executing the new code. DR Congo has talked for years about changing

Africa’s only female president to resign over financial scandal


auritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, is to quit over a financial row. She has been accused of using a bank card provided by a charity to make personal purchases worth tens of thousands of dollars. She is to step down after ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the island’s independence next week. Denying wrongdoing, she said she had refunded all the money, Reuters news

agency reports. Ms Gurib-Fakim is a renowned scientist and in 2015 became the first woman to be appointed to the ceremonial position of president of Mauritius. “The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters without giving the chosen date. “The interest of the country comes first, and I am proud of Mauritius’s image as a model of living

democracy in the world.” He added it would take place before parliament returned at the end of the month. The Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items. According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.

its 2002 mining code, which it believed put too many profits in the hands of foreign companies, says BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper. Its mining industry which also produces diamond, tantalum, tin and gold - is the country’s largest source of export income. The law, which was passed by parliament in January, will double government royalties on all minerals. The impoverished yet mineral-rich nation provides more than 60% of the world’s cobalt. Prices for it more than doubled last year thanks to an increased demand for electric cars, which require cobalt for batteries.


March 12 - 18, 2018



Customs, NEXIM, others get new boards

FG to set up special tax court to prosecute offenders T Stories by Sarah NEGEDU


he federal government said it would not renege on its promise to prosecute tax offenders who fail to utilise the VAIDS programme, as its plans to set up a special courts to prosecute those who failed to regularise their tax status after the expiration of the nine month amnesty period. Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this recently on a breakfast show on television. Adeosun said the government was aware of the slow nature of the judicial system and would be setting up special courts to fasttrack the adjudication of tax-related offences under the VAIDS initiative. According to the minister, “After March 31, we have plans to establish a special tax courts and accelerated prosecution, because the thing with tax prosecution is that it is a very simple case with no defence to it. It’s a matter of law; the question to ask is, ‘did you pay or not?’ So it’s a very easy case and it’s not like the EFCC cases that we will have to be tracing this or that.” She noted that all incomes, assets and other properties earned and acquired from 2010 to date would be covered under VAIDS, and such properties must be accounted for by individuals and companies under the scheme. Over 130,000 high profile individuals have so far been identified for scrutiny through the data mining programme being implemented under the ‘Project Lighthouse’ initiative. Adeosun said government, through the

use of information technology, had gathered adequate data that would be used to prosecute the offenders. “The focus on tax collection remains after VAIDS. Yesterday, we were analysing data and now we have flagged over 130,000 already, and from March 31, we will start and say these people did not participate in VAIDS and this is the data we have

on them, now pursue them. “There can be no sacred cows and nobody should be too big or too small to be told to do the right thing. People must as they earn money pay a portion of it; and so, the focus on tax will continue.” The finance minister also accused multinational companies of colluding with tax officials to manipulate the

tax system in Nigeria. She said, “On the issue of multinationals, what we’ve found out is that they are not paying the right taxes and they are sometimes the ones colluding with tax officers here to minimise their taxes and we feel that is a corrupt practice. “In the United States, if you offer a bribe, it’s an offence and we feel that going to another country and deliberately

manipulating the tax system so as not to pay from that country where you are earning so much will also be labelled in that category.” The Minister ruled out any plan for extension of the 31 March deadline, saying sufficient period had been given to tax payers to voluntary and truthfully declare their assets and income which had not been declared previously.

L-R: Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Finance, Mrs.Kemi Adeosun, Executive Director, Nigeria World Bank Board, Mrs. Bongi Kunene and Country Director, World Bank, Mr. Rachid Bennessaoud during the launch of World Development Report 2018 in Abuja...Wednesday. Photo: Cityvoix.

PenCom recovers N1.34bn from defaulting employers


total of N1.34 billion accrued interest and pension contributions has been recovered from defaulting employers in the third quarter of 2017, the National Pension Commission, PenCom, has revealed. The commission in its 2017 third quarter report said it used 55 consultants as recovery agents to get back the outstanding pension contributions and penalties from the defaulting employers. The commission stated that the affected employers

were issued with appropriate notice to remit the outstanding pension contributions. “During the quarter, the sum of N1.34 billion was recovered, this brings the total recoveries made since inception of the Recovery Agents’ activities in 2012 to N13.58 billion.” On Pension contributions within the period, it indicates that the total monthly pension contribution by contributors from the public and private sectors into their Retirement Saving Accounts, RSA, was N4.38 trillion.

This, it said showed an increase of N135.22billion representing 3.18percent over the total contributions as at the end of the previous quarter. The aggregate total contribution shows that the public sector contributed 51.34percent, while the private sector contributed the remaining 48.64percent. The report however pointed out that during the quarter under review, the public sector contributed 40.87percent of the total contributions received while the private sector contributed 59.13percent. It further revealed that

the aggregate total pension contribution of the private sector increased from N2.05 trillion as at second quarter of 2017 to N2.13trillion as at third quarter of 2017, re[presenting a growth of 3.89percent. Also, the aggregate total pension contribution by the public sector grew by 2.52percent from N2.20trillion to N2.25trillion over the same period. The statement noted that the commission continued the ongoing Continued on page 19

he federal government has sworn in 31 people into the boards of the four agencies under the ministry of finance with a charge to reposition the agencies to achieve the objectives of the current administration as captured in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan. The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who gave the advice while inaugurating the boards, urged newly-inaugurated board members to reposition the agencies entrusted to them and ensure their mandates are achieved. The reconstituted boards includes that of the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, and the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme, ACGS. Adeosun chairs the Customs Board while Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hamid Ali serves as its deputy chairman. According to the list, CBN deputy governor will chair NEXIM Bank. On the other hand, Mr. Emmanuel Jideofor is the chairman of the board of NAICOM, while ACGSF has Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola of the federal ministry of finance, as chairman of the board. The minister urged the appointees to take pragmatic steps to reposition the respective institutions entrusted to them. “Enhance performance through efficient management of accrued resources for national development. The inauguration of the board is critical to driving our mandate,” Adeosun said. Mrs Adeosun said the mandate of NAICOM, NCS and NEXIM revolves around the five pillars of the federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, and the various executive orders.

March 12 - 18, 2018



CBN restates commitment to women empowerment By Sarah NEGEDU


igeria’s apex bank has restated its commitment to reducing poverty amongst women by increasing their access to credit facilities so as to enable them participate actively in economic development of the country. Commemorating this year ’s International Women’s Day, the Central Bank of Nigeria said it would improve women’s access to formal financial services, especially credit, through its various i n t e r v e n t i o n programmes. Speaking at a workshop tagged, “Women inspiring change,” CBN’s Director, Development Finance Department, Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, said the bank would promote women’s access to finance to enable them play their expected role in economic development. He said 60percent of the N220billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, allocated to wo m e n - o w n e d enterprises. “Access to finance is often cited as one of the major factors impeding the growth of womenowned businesses in developing countries. In view of the peculiar challenges faced by women in accessing financial services in Nigeria, the CBN has established the N220billion MSMEDF, Agric Credit Guarantee Scheme, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and financial inclusion programmes. “These are innovative ways of improving women’s access to finance at mainly single digit interest rate, which will improve their potential for job creation and inclusive growth in our country.” Meanwhile, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has frowned at the current male-dominated boards of Nigerian banks and advocated for a paradigm

shift to include more women on the boards and management of banks. He said there must be deliberate effort to have more women in management positions in the banks and other private sector positions, adding that the bank was mindful of the importance of women in

society. The Governor noted that the CBN had been championing the cause of women in the society, adding that the number of female directors in the CBN had moved from one in 2001 to six in 2017. Also, he said the percentage of women employees in the CBN

had moved from 24 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2017. Over the years, he said, the CBN had been implementing various programmes and policies aimed at developing the economic potentials and development of women. “In realization of

male domination of senior positions of the financial industry, the Bankers’ Committee adopted the quota system to increase women representation on Boards to 30 percent and that of senior management level to 40 percent by the 2014" he said.

L-R: Loan Officer, European Investment Bank, Inmaculada Soto Riba, MD/CEO, Development Bank of Nigeria, Tony Okpanachi, and Monitoring Officer, EIB, Sanja Blatt, during a working visit of EIB to the DBN in Abuja, recently.

CBN boosts retail SMIs with fresh $335.43m


he Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales, SMIs, of the foreign exchange market has received a boost of 335.43 million from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. This was according to CBN’s Acting Director, C o r p o r a t e Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, who made the disclosure in a statement on Friday. Okarafor revealed that the latest figures released by the apex bank was to cater to Forex requests in the agricultural, airlines,

petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors. The CBN director said the continued intervention were in line with the assurances made by the Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to sustain market liquidity in order to boost production and trade and maintain stability in the forex market. Okorafor explained that, with increasing accretion to the country’s reserve, the Bank is in a much better position to ensure liquidity in the

inter-bank sector of the market and as such would continue to intervene in order to drive growth in the economy and guarantee stability in the market, “particularly now that the economy had gained steam due to an upsurge in the non-oil sector”. He said the CBN will continue to ensure the availability of Forex as part of its determination to maintain the country’s external reserves in order to safeguard the international value of the Naira, noting that naira

as of Friday, March 9, 2018, exchanged against the dollar at N360/$1. It will be recalled that the CBN, in its last SMIS in February 2018, injected the sum of $321.4 million in the interbank market, while also intervening in the inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market to the tune of $210,000,000, comprising of $100million for the wholesale segment and $55 million for both the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and invisibles segment.

PenCom recovers N1.34bn from defaulting employers Continued from page 18

refund of contributions made by military and other security service agencies personnel exempted from the contributory pension scheme. It added that during the

quarter under review, the department responsible for military pensions processed 254 applications for the refund. PenCom said N39.83 million was refunded to the contributors while the

sum of N127.13million, r e p r e s e n t i n g contributions made by the Federal Government on their behalf was returned to the contributory pension account. Meanwhile, 27 state governments were said to

have enacted laws to implement the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, as at the third quarter of 2017, while eight states were currently in the process of implementing the CPS law.

SEC extends edividend registration deadline to March 31


he Securities and E x c h a n g e Commission has, for the third time, extended its free edividend registration deadline to March 31, to allow operators time to clear their e-dividend backlogs. The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the main reason for the extension was to clear the backlogs and to work out details of how the parties involved in the exercise would get their share. A senior management staff in the commission who pleaded anonymity, told NAN the deadline was extended in principle for the third time for the operators to clear their edividend backlogs. NAN reports that edividend refers to online payment of dividends to investors rather than through post. The advantage of e-dividend is that it allows all accrued dividends to be credited to an investor ’s bank account directly. The aim is to stem the rising problem of unclaimed dividends in the capital market. The source said the parties involved in exercise were the registrars and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System, adding the appointed banks were currently working out the sharing formula for the registration fee. He said that the commission would not come publicly to announce another extension, noting that no investor would be charged for delay in the registration until April 1. The source said that low investors’ response to the exercise contributed to the commission’s decision to give room for enrolment of more investors. SEC in June, 2017 extended the underwriting cost of investors’ e-dividend registration to Dec. 31, 2017 against the earlier deadline of June 30, 2017. It also on Jan. 18 extended the deadline to Feb. 28, 2018, to encourage more shareholders’ participation in the scheme.


March 12 - 18, 2018


Magaji Mai Shayi: Lugbe’s go to man for tea By Chuks NZEH


Customers on a typical day at Magaji’s shop

business and go back home. Unlike some of our brothers who are into okada business in Abuja, food businesses like ours require us to be at our duty post at all time. We can’t ask anyone to stand in for us while we travel back to go and farm, because then you stand the chance of losing your customers. The only time I get to travel is during festive period when the town is literarily empty and patronage is low.” Like every business, Magaji said tea business also has some challenges, especially as regards health hazards. He said the constant inhalation of smoke from the wire wood is gradually affecting him. “I always feel this congestion on my chest and when I complained at a Chemist, I was told it has to do with the smoke I inhale on a daily basis. I am however saving up to buy big ‘abacha’ (save) stove so I don’t end up contracting very serious,” he fears. Magaji advise young people to be proactive and initiate small businesses, before seeking assistance from government, stressing that there are very few jobs available in government. He however urged governments to support small businesses, especially young people who are already doing something, so that they would not be vulnerable to influence


trategically located at Lugbe Village, behind the Julius Berger yard in Lugbe, is a tea vendor’s spot noted for its special brew of coffee, tea and beverage. To most residents of Lugbe village, Magaji’s Mai shayi’s tea spot has grown to form a critical part of the community, as is now recognized as a major land mark used in giving description to visitors to the area. Usually a beehive of activity, the stand which is owned by Magaji Mato Gadon Kaya, who can be said to have gained such popularity mostly because of the variety of fast food prepared at the stand at relatively cheap prices. Some patrons who spoke to METRO say they are also drawn to Magaji’s spot mostly because of the neat environment and also the constant availability of tea and noodles at every time of the day. According to them, they like that Magaji’s spots is open deep in to the night, giving opportunity to those who get home late, access to a decent meal. Speaking to METRO, Magaji said he started the business about 7 years ago after his attempt at being a labourer at the first and second gate at Tincan Island Port failed. Magaji came to Abuja to tryout something new, and chose to start the tea business. He said the business, has grown beyond the N5,000 capital he started off with, as he is now able to meet most of his family’s demands, school fees for his children and also care of some basic needs of other relations. “Honestly I cannot complain, because God has blessed my business beyond what it was nine years ago when I started. Before my wife and children had to depend on my father and brother for their feeding, but since I started selling tea in Abuja I am able to send money for their upkeep and even take care of my aging father who had been the one supporting my family. Thank God for that, atleast all my children are now in school and am also sponsoring three of my brother’s children to school, I say thank God for that.” On other investments he is channeling his savings to, the Tea Vendor said he sends bulk of his savings back home to be used on his farm in the village. “With this tea business am able to branch out and build other sources of income for myself. I have been able to get a very big farm back home and pay for labourers who work on the farm for me, since I cannot live my

Like every business, Magaji said tea business also has some challenges, especially as regards health hazards. He said the constant inhalation of smoke from the wire wood is gradually affecting him. “I always feel this congestion on my chest and when I complained at a Chemist, I was told it has to do with the smoke I inhale on a daily basis. I am however saving up to buy big ‘abacha’ (save) stove so I don’t end up contracting very serious,” he fears.

by enemies of the society. Mr. Idris Suleiman, a customer of Magaji, who has patronised the spot for over 3 years now, said he is hooked to Magaji’s tea and fried eggs. He however wants him to source for capital to expand the business to provide variety of food to his customers. Tobechi Nweke, another customer who has patronised Magaji for the past 5 years, thinks Magaji should plough back his profits into the business and expand his shop to accommodate more customers, also engage more hands for more efficiency. “I also think that if they dedicate their time to expanding the business and customers’ satisfaction, the sky will be a spring board for them to

greater heights. Because if you observe very well you will know that the peak of his business is always at night and most times he is overwhelmed with requests from customers and he becomes nervous. Customers end up spending more time than necessary. “I think if he expands and recruit more hands, it would go a long way to stabilize the business by increase in his customer and profit base, which are the major reasons for embarking on such businesses. Unfortunately he might not fully appreciate what privilege he is enjoying now until a serious competitor who understands the broader way of doing the same business arrives, then he would appreciate what opportunities he missed and underutilized.”

March 12 - 18, 2018



When reproductive health advocates met on VAPP Act By Ijeoma UKAZU


he Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, NRHJN, has called on state that are yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, VAPP, to do so, so as to save women and girls from all forms of abuse. In a statement signed by the president of the network, Mr Roland Ogbonnaya, he said as the world celebrates the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, the lukewarm attitude of most state governments to issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights of all persons especially women and girls, was good for the development of their total wellbeing. Since its introduction in 2015, by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, only few states have domesticated the Act which include Anambra, Oyo, Ogun and the FCT while Lagos and Ekiti have each passed laws against violence against women. Ogbonnaya thanked Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State for assenting to the bill into law on February 6 2018 bringing the number of states to

four, adding that the network recognises that though violence knows no gender, it is a global fact that women and girls suffer the most particularly, domestic violence and associated emotional trauma. “Young boys, older citizens and persons with various form of disabilities are also victims of various degrees of Political and social violence in the society. The extent of the effect of the nonpassage of the VAPP Act to Nigerian women will be worsen by the consequences of the reinstated expanded Global Gag Rule of President Donald Trump of the United States in 2017,” he observed. Speaking on the consequences of the Global Gag Rule on the sexual and reproductive health of women, Country Director, Ipas Nigeria, Hauwa Shekarau noted that, “more than 22 million women every year almost all in developing countries will have an unsafe abortion because they lack access to safe, high-quality abortion care. “It’s worse in Nigeria where the law criminalises abortion and women’s access to reproductive health services such as family planning contraception is dependent more on

L-R: Health Specialist, World Bank, Olumide Okunola, Chairman, Thisday Newspapers/ Arise News Network International, Nduka Obaigbena, and Oghogho Olakunri, Director, Business Development, GE Healthcare during the Thisday Healthcare Financing Policy Dialogue in Abuja...Wednesday. Photo: Wale Elekolusi.

donors fund some of which have had their funds cut due to the GAG Rule because of their involvement in providing abortion services in many countries around the world.” Shekarau added that “the fact remains, there are 225 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to modern contraception. Despite these harrowing figures, President

Donald Trump has reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, a harmful U.S. policy that forces countries to choose between receiving U.S. foreign assistance funds and providing comprehensive—often lifesaving—care. “The Global Gag Rule will not only hurt abortion access or access to contraception but other forms of health care as well. “In Nigeria today, women get

reproductive health care at the same health centre they receive all other care. This expanded Global Gag Rule could hinder and possibly end the work of health-care providers who may be the only source for reproductive health care and a woman’s entry point for receiving a wide range of primary health services.” In remarks, chair of the Association of Advanced Family Planning, Nigeria

Holding hands can sync brainwaves, ease pain, study shows R

each for the hand of a loved one in pain and not only will your breathing and heart rate synchronize with theirs, your brain wave patterns will couple up too, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS. The study, by researchers with the University of Colorado Boulder and University of Haifa, also found that the more empathy a comforting partner feels for a partner in pain, the more their brainwaves

fall into sync. And the more those brain waves sync, the more the pain goes away. “We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder. “This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch.” The study is the latest in a growing body

of research exploring a phenomenon known as “interpersonal synchronization,” in which people physiologically mirror the people they are with. It is the first to look at brain wave synchronization in the context of pain, and offers new insight into the role brain-to-brain coupling may play in touch-induced analgesia, or healing touch. Goldstein came up with the experiment after, during the delivery of his daughter, he

discovered that when he held his wife’s hand, it eased her pain. “I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?” He and his colleagues at University of Haifa recruited 22 heterosexual couples, age 23 to 32 who had been together for at least one year and put them through several two-minute scenarios as electroencephalography (EEG) caps measured their brainwave activity. The scenarios included sitting

together not touching; sitting together holding hands; and sitting in separate rooms. Then they repeated the scenarios as the woman was subjected to mild heat pain on her arm. Merely being in each other’s presence, with or without touch, was associated with some brain wave synchronicity in the alpha mu band, a wavelength associated with focused attention. If they held hands while she was in pain, the coupling increased the most.

(AAFPN), Ejike Oji, commended Governor Amosu and Ogun State for “the giant strides”, and noted that the law, if well enforced, will promote the good health of the people of Ogun State especially women and girls who are often at the receiving end of domestic violence and harmful practices. According to the executive director of the Women Advocacy Research and Development Centre, Dr. Abiola AkinyodeAfolabi, “arguably, the tenets of VAPP Act, will indeed bring relief and effective remedies to millions of victims who have suffered in silence without recourse to justice.” The Network urges the immediate domestication of the VAPP Act in all the other states which are yet to do so to give women and girls some sense of social justice and security from violent and abusive tendencies. The VAPP provides for comprehensive medical, psychological and sociological as well as legal assistance by accredited service providers and state agencies with the protection of identities of the victims during court trials.


March 12 - 18, 2018


How we are repositioning NECO -Uwakwe Prof. Charles Uwakwe is the Registrar of the National Examination Council, NECO. In this interview with some journalists in Abuja, he spoke on the numerous achievements recorded under his leadership and the target set by the council to remit N1.2 billion to the federation account by December 2018. He also spoke on other sundry issues. Our correspondent, Austine ELEMUE, was there. Excerpts:

On N15 billion fraud allegation. Just like you said, these are rumors that are baseless and I’m wondering where the allegations are coming from. To set the record straight, we are not running independently in terms of our

budgeting. We are under strict guidance by the ministry and National Assembly. Every year we provide information as to what we generate and what our expenditure is. We go to defend all those and therefore if somebody says fifty naira is missing as a Chief Executive laying emphasis on prudent management and zero tolerance for impunity, there is no way that anybody can associate me with such frivolous expenditure. It is practically impossible and totally fallacious. The number of candidates who sat for our exams and how much we make is in the public domain. In conducting our exams, we pay apprentice, people in the community to conduct the exams. We have four exams that we conduct. It is professionally and unacceptable for someone to insinuate that there is embezzlement of funds without facts. As the chief executive I have been given an important responsibility to run our indigenous assessment organization and I’m well guided by this ethics, of prudent management of resources. The books are there, the records are there. We just returned from the defense of our budget in the National Assembly and they have said there is need for us to increase our remittance to the federation account which we have been working on. We have improved from N320 million to more than N500 million. We estimate that by next exam we should be able to remit to the federation account about N1.2 billion. And it is appropriate for us to do that. People should come to the council for clarification when they have doubts. It is unacceptable because they peddle rumors to the detriment of the council. On illegal recruitment in NECO. They have never been illegal recruitment by the council. All that we have done by way of replacement



n his achievements since assuming duty in NECO. We have done a lot of selfassessment and searching as we provide this services. I’m in touch with all my state officers and zonal coordinators regularly and consistently. I do a lot of frequent travels but the best is on the spot assessment of the situation to the best of our ability. So, essentially, it has been very rewarding if you consider the number of examinations we take within the limit of our resources because it is on us. We have a mandate to do this therefore, we should be managing the resources that we have very prudently and there is also a bit of pressure on us to be remitting to federation account which we are very cognizant of. We are making efforts to ensure that we continue to improve in that respect and therefore prudent management of resources that we have must be our guiding principle. Before I came to NECO the issue of ethics weren’t there. That of professionalism, punctuality, zero tolerance for impunity, integrity and so on. These are ethics that I brought on board when I assumed office. Like I said, I travel frequently to see my staff. I don’t just stay in the headquarters I go out to see them so that I have on the spot assessment of what the challenges are and deal with issues as they come. And ensure that they are able to provide the best quality of service. So, essentially these ethics are what we brought on board to be able to run the system better and by my assessment it is really better.

Just like you said, these are rumors that are baseless and I’m wondering where the allegations are coming from. To set the record straight, we are not running independently in terms of our budgeting. We are under strict guidance by the ministry and National Assembly. Every year we provide information as to what we generate and what our expenditure is.

we have followed due process with clearance from both the Ministry of Education, Federal Character Commission and Head of Service. We have documented evidence of waivers and approval. On internal crisis in the council. The issues are with some union members. I have an open door policy and I relate well with unions. But for some strange reasons a few of them have overstepped their bounds making communication directly to the ministry without consulting with the council. Rather than settling union issues internally they have written all kinds of petitions that can be addressed internally. All those are not necessary. What we are saying is that they should not run a parallel government because they belong to a union. I have privileged information on my staff that guides my decisions on posting. The best

approach is to work with the council. Illegal sale of guest house. The issue started in 2007 long before I came to NECO and it came to my attention when I assumed duty as CEO of NECO and I set up an administrative panel to look into the issue and the officer directly involved is on interdiction as we speak. And the EFCC got involved and I sent a report of the panel which I set up to the EFCC which was impossible before I took up the matter. So the issue is with the relevant authority and we are awaiting feedback from the EFCC. On allegation of private university set up by NECO’s Director of Finance and Account. He is no longer in the service of the council. He has been disengaged since April 2017. The matter can be addressed to him.

March 12 - 18, 2018


March 12 - 18, 2018

Hate speech bill as a national embarrassment guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

By Jideofor ADIBE


he Bill on Hate speech before the National Assembly is an embarrassment. We seem to revel in taking decisions in moments of emotional flourishes and consequently often fail to soberly reflect on possible unintended consequences of our actions. Last year we saw how the country made itself a laughing stock when IPOB, as despicable and unacceptable as its activities were, was hastily labelled a terrorist organization when it hardly met any of the four key criteria used by terrorism researchers in classifying an organization as a terrorist group. No country or credible researcher on terrorism was willing to support the government’s position. So how exactly did that hasty pronouncement help the country – except to trigger competitive calls for troublesome organisations and rural bandits to be similarly pronounced as terrorist groups? We must not lose sight of the lesson from that mistake. The first challenge the Hate Speech Bill will face is determining what constitutes hate speech. One definition of hate speech is that it is any speech that employs discriminatory epithets to insult and stigmatize others on the bases of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or other forms of group membership. The problem here is that offensive speech is also similarly defined. Another definition of hate speech is any speech, gesture, conduct, writing or display which could incite people to violence or prejudicial action. Here the key word is ‘Incite’. However defining hate speech in this manner creates its own problem because even the opinions we hold could be construed as an incitement. As Justice Holmes put it in a landmark case in the USA, (Gitlow v New York [1925]), “Every idea is an incitement… The only difference between the expression of an opinion and an incitement in the narrower sense is the speaker’s enthusiasm for the result.” Several scholars have tried to more precisely delineate when offensive speech crosses that fine line and becomes hate speech. Susan Benesch, Director of the Dangerous Speech Project and a Faculty Associate of the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University identified five key variables for determining the ‘dangerousness’ of speech or when speech transmutes from offensive to hate speech: (1)The level of a speaker’s influence (2)the grievances or fears of the audience (3) whether or not the speech act is understood as a call to violence, (4) the social and historical context, and (5) the way in which the speech is disseminated. Even Professor Benesch’s

delineations are fraught with relativities. The point is that delineating hate speech from offensive speech is extremely difficult. The definition of ‘hate speech’ adopted by the Hate Speech Bill is not rigorous enough. And any plea of ‘Nigerian exceptionalism’ is unlikely to persuade the international community when the country tries to implement its provisions and runs into inevitable difficulties. Some people believe that the term ‘hate speech’ should only be used for extreme cases such as speeches that explicitly call for the physical injury or extermination of certain people. The second challenge which the Hate Speech Bill faces is the effectiveness of using the law to curb hate speech. Hate speech is prohibited by law in several jurisdictions such as Canada, France, the United Kingdom and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, among the panoply of the country’s hate speech laws, is Section 5 of the Public Order Act (POA), which makes it a crime to use or display threatening, abusive, or insulting words “within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm, or distress thereby.” Under this section of the POA, Harry Taylor, an atheist who placed drawings satirizing Christianity and Islam in an airport prayer room, was convicted in April 2010 and given a six-month prison sentence. In Nigeria under the Hate Speech Bill he would be condemned to death! In The Netherlands, which is long considered a bastion for the freedom of thought and expression, Articles 137(c) and 137(d) of the country’s Criminal Code prohibits making public intentional insults, as well as engaging in verbal, written, or illustrated incitement to hatred, on account of one’s

race, religion, sexual orientation, or personal convictions. In France, Section 24 of the country’s Press Law of 1881 criminalizes incitement to racial discrimination, hatred, or violence on the basis of one’s origin or membership (or non-membership) in an ethic, national, racial, or religious group. In 2005, politician Jean Marie Le Pen, runner-up in the 2002 presidential election, was convicted of inciting racial hatred for comments made to Le Monde in 2003 about the consequences of Muslim immigration in France. In South Africa, Julius Malema, the former ANC’s Youth League leader was in 2011 convicted of hate speech for promoting the song, “Kill the Boer”. In contrast to the above countries, laws prohibiting hate speech are unconstitutional in the United States as most often fail legal challenges based on the First Amendment of the Country’s Constitution which prohibits the restriction of free speech. In the US law courts, even ‘fighting words’ (those that pass the ‘clear and imminent danger’ test which are categorically excluded from the protection of the First Amendment) are not that easy to separate from hate speech, which is a protected speech. An insight into how the American jurisprudence protects hate speech is in the way the law treats the Ku Klux Klan – one of the worst purveyors of racial hatred in that country. In a landmark case, Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the arrest of an Ohio Klansman named Clarence Brandenburg on criminal syndicalism charges, based on a KKK speech that recommended overthrowing the government, was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court. In a unanimous judgment, Justice William Brennan argued that “the constitutional

Is hate speech less in countries that use the law to fight it? This is debatable. What is clear is that laws can sometimes exacerbate the problem. A good example of this is what happened in the Australian state of Victoria where a law banning incitement to religious hatred led to Christians and Muslims accusing each other of inciting hatred and bringing legal actions against each other which only served to further inflame community relations. Besides, even if the law is effective in curbing hate speech in countries where the basis of statehood has long been settled, we cannot assume that the same will apply here where the country is extremely polarized and the basis of statehood remains contested. It is in fact tempting to speculate on what will happen if Junaid Mohammed, Edwin Clark, Prof Ben Nwabueze, Gani Adams, Prof Ango Abdullahi, Asari Dokubo and others who hold strong views that are sometimes unacceptable to sections of the country are condemned to death for speeches they uttered? Will that promote amity or widen the social distance among the different sections of the country? How do we fight hate and offensive speeches? A starting point is to recognize that the line between offensive and hate speech could be blurred. While proper hate speeches – those that pass the ‘clear and imminent danger’ test should be criminalized (certainly not with death penalty), my opinion is that we should use non-legal instruments to deal with offensive speeches. There may for instance be a need to develop, in conjunction with critical organs of the society such as media owners and practitioners, the taxonomy of what constitutes hate speech and offensive speeches. Media houses through their unions should incorporate these as part of good journalism practice and impose sanctions on erring members who publish or broadcast hate speech speeches. Nigerians should also learn to laugh at themselves. This is already happening in some ways with our comedians who dish out jokes based on ethnic and regional profiling. In fact, it could be argued that since every region and ethnic group in the country is both a victim and a victimizer when it comes to hate speech, they countervail and cancel out one another.

The Abuja Inquirer is published by Gazetta Communications Limited. HEAD OFFICE: Plot 207, Jumai Kwanashie Crescent (Formerly 44 Crescent) CITEC Villas, Gwarimpa II, ABUJA, NIGERIA. Tel: 08033027995 E-mail: Website: Publisher-Editor-in-Chief: DAN AKPOVWA