22 Jan

The week ahead – Lassa fever is also a security issue

The Federal Minister of Health, Prof Adewole, has promised that the government is going to stamp out Lassa fever by April this year. This is coming on the heels of over forty deaths and attempt by the National Medical Council to evolve strategy towards eradicating the virus.

The Minister of Defence, Manir Dan-Ali, and Chief of Defence Staff, General Olonoshakin, paid a visit to the scene of the militant attack on the oil and gas platforms in the Niger Delta, and assessed the level of sabotage. The defence chiefs vowed to deal with anyone caught sabotaging the economic assets of Nigeria.

The people of Gbaramatu communities of Delta State from the United Kingdom have secured a land mark victory against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A London Court on Monday, January 18, entered judgement in their favour to register‎ the judgement of a Federal High Court, Asaba which ordered the Federal Government to pay them N99.9 billion damages for gross violation of their rights by the Joint Task Force in the state. In the judgement, Mr Justice of Holroyde of the Queen’s Bench Division of the Royal High Court of Justice England and Wales ordered that the judgement of Justice Ibrahim Buba in December 2013 be registered in England against Major General Sarkin Yarkin Bello (now retired), who was the commander of the Delta Joint Task Force. The task force, on May 5, 2009, descended on the community killing and maiming innocent residents, while property worth billions of naira were equally destroyed.

Two oil giants, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, have unveiled plans to downsize their global workforces. These downsizing exercises will affect those in their employ in Nigeria where at least 10,000 jobs will be under threat this year. Shell revealed its plans to sack 10,000 staff and slash direct contractor positions in the company’s unedited full year 2015 results. The oil giant also added that there are plans, subject to approval by shareholders at a January 27 meeting in the Hague, Netherlands, of a cost cutting strategy by $3 billion in 2016. Chevron would, in the process that began in 2015, complete the sacking of 8,500 staff in its services globally by the end of 2016. The US oil company revealed it would lay off 7,000 staff before 2016 ends in addition to the 1,500 it announced early in 2015.

A wanted Boko Haram member, Jarasu Shira, was arrested in Damboa, Borno State during the week. Shira, who goes by the alias Jarido, was arrested at a motor park at about 8.30 am on Wednesday along with 10 other suspected members of the group who accompanied him to Damboa to board a vehicle to Biu. The arrests were carried out by members of the vigilante group, the Civilian JTF. Shira is top of a new list of wanted men by the Nigerian military. He is believed to be the leader of Boko Haram militants in Damboa, Chibok and Askira Uba local government areas of Borno state, and is, according to Intelligence chatter, a ranking figure in the Boko Haram hierarchy. He is also thought to have knowledge of the whereabouts of the Chibok girls kidnapped in April 2014 from their school.

The committee investigating arms procurement between 2007 and 2015 has extended invitations to the current Minister of Interior, Lt General Dambazzau, former Army chief, Lt Gen Ihejirika, and other former Navy chiefs, in order to provide clarification on the procurement made during their time in office. The Presidency had released a report last Friday, outlining names of former and serving military chiefs that EFCC should invite for questioning and possible prosecution, based on the interim report that was submitted by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Ascension to the throne of Olubadan of Ibadan appears to be under threat as two top Ibadan chiefs have laid claim to the coveted throne. While the Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Saliu Adetunji, as the next in rank to the late Olubadan, anticipates his installation as the next Olubadan, the Otun Seriki of Ibadan, Chief Adebayo Oyediji, says he is the ‘‘next Olubadan’’. Oyediji warned the kingmakers, the Olubadan-in-Council, not to flout what he called a 1989 ruling of the Supreme Court by installing Adetunji as successor to the late Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade, who died on Tuesday at the age of 101 years.

COUNSEL

  • The current attempt to curtail Lassa Fever should be a matter of national emergency. There was no immediate sense of urgency until over 40 had died as a result of an outbreak which started in August. We encourage the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to stop this business of giving deadlines, knuckle down, and evolve a practical strategy towards resolving the outbreak.
  • We recommend a comprehensive security and development plan for the Niger Delta. Cosmetic and photo-ops by service chiefs will not yield any positive development. The region needs a sincere long term plan to lift the area out of worsening poverty and criminality.
  • The victory by the people of Gbaramatu in court, is very significant in view of the current military maneuvers in the same community that was ravaged by military action less than a decade ago. At the very least, we expect the military to calm down and reassess the current situation.
  • The attempt by the two global oil giants to sack workers is worrisome especially in Nigeria where they have most of the contact staff positions. This will add pressure to the already tensed unemployment market in Nigeria.
  • It is worthy of note that the military and other services including the CJTF have been on successful streak of decimating Boko Haram. The relentless onslaught has seen many Boko Haram camps in disarray, except for the occasional suicide bombings. We hope the arrest of this leading suspect might help unravel the whereabouts of the Chibok girls, and we urge the military not to rest on their oars.
  • Our confidence in the manner the Presidency is going about the security and arms procurement probe is diminishing. Such sensitive matters are not meant for the media until there has been a conclusive investigation leading to the prosecution of named suspects.
  • We call on the relevant authorities to move in quickly to address the current impasse over the headship of Ibadan, so as not to have a crisis in Oyo state.