05 Feb

The week ahead – The vulnerability of refugees will be highlighted

Dalori, located 12km from Maiduguri, is a town that welcomed and accommodated internally displaced persons across Borno state. This weekend past, it fell victim to the terrorist group, Boko Haram. One of the most brutal attacks in recent times occurred there. The insurgents arrived at dawn, set fire to the village, murdered women and children, and unleashed suicide bombers on the fleeing population. The army arrived to quell the carnage, albeit too late.

The chairman of the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative, Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), has estimated that over N2 trillion will be required in the short-term to rebuild the zone. According to Danjuma, rebuilding the North-East will demand maximum cooperation and resources, especially in the most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

On Tuesday, a group hijacked a merchant ship and threatened to blow it up with its foreign crew if Nigeria’s government refused to release Nnamdi Kanu, the Director of Radio Biafra and the so called leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, who is facing charges of treason against the Nigerian state. Defence spokesman, Brigadier-General Rabe Abubarka, confirmed the incident, calling it an “act of sabotage”. The hijackers have given the government a 31-day ultimatum to release Kanu.

Residents of Ojo and Badagry local governments in Lagos have been living under a reign of terror unleashed by a criminal gang, the One Million Boys. Thus group has been in existence for over a decade, and they move in large numbers, robbing, and maiming and raping in the process. The areas they often attack are Ojo, Iba, Okokomaiko, Afromedia, Ijanikin, Agabara, Shibri and other areas in the two local government areas.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has affirmed that the elections in Abia and Akwa Ibom states were validly conducted and has returned the governors, Okezie Ikpeazu and Emmanuel Udom. The judgements set aside earlier judgements by the Court of Appeal which had declared Alex Otti as winner in the Abia election, and on the other hand called for elections to be held in some local governments in Akwa Ibom state. The APC chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun was reported by multiple sources to have called for the investigation of Supreme Court Judges.

Nigeria may have to prepare for another round of scarcity of petrol. Petroleum marketers have said that sourcing for American dollars to import petroleum products was becoming increasingly difficult, with most them turning to the parallel market for foreign exchange. The Central Bank of Nigeria, had earlier in January stopped the sale of forex to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators, one of the reasons being the activities of dubious BDC dealers who buy from the CBN at the official rate only to sell at a higher rate.

The monthly oil and gas operational report of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for 2015 has shown that the corporation posted a cumulative operational loss of N267.138 billion last year.The NNPC earned over N2.046 trillion in revenue but spent over N2.313 trillion in its operations, leaving it with a deficit of N267.138 billion. While four of its subsidiaries — the NNPC Retail, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL) and the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) — made profits of N5 billion, N16 billion, N2 billion and N34 billion respectively, its seven other subsidiaries made losses with the Corporate Headquarters recording the highest loss of N162.736 billion.

COUNSEL

  • The absence of a comprehensive strategy is hindering the war on Boko Haram. We, once again, call for a thorough review of the current strategy. We also call on the military to ensure the incorporation of “rear guard security” in order to protect and defend isolated villages. We believe that the situation of attacks on isolated villages in Borno will continue for a while since Boko Haram currently occupies two local governments where they plan and operate from, and still have the freedom to move outside of Nigeria’s borders.
  • We condemn in the strongest possible terms, the hijack of a merchant ship by elements claiming to be acting on behalf of IPOB. Nigeria’s economic interests should be paramount, and we urge the Navy to use all means necessary to flush out these terrorists, and increase patrols on our territorial waters to prevent future occurrences.
  • That the One Million Boys group operates in parts of Lagos with such impunity is an indication of failure of policing by the State, and highlights the privations faced by innocent citizens on daily basis. This particular group has a structure, command and control, and is headquartered in the Ojo area of Lagos. We call on authorities to dismantle this group and saves lives and properties in those localities, otherwise the reign of terror will continue. We also call on the Federal Government to immediately begin work on fulfilling its campaign promise of community policing as this is the most effective form of policing.
  • The statement credited to Mr. Odigie-Oyegun, the APC chairman, regarding the judgements of the Supreme Court is unfortunate. We believe that many members of the APC have wittingly or unwittingly undermined the judiciary with various misplaced statements. We advise the ruling party not to interfere or impugn on the integrity of the Judiciary, but instead work on judicial reforms that would see the judiciary better positioned to serve the country.
  • While taking into cognisance the efforts of the government to clean up Nigeria’s petroleum industry, we have to advice that they work faster, and harder. We never could afford to be held hostage by the demands of petroleum marketers, and given the dire straits that the economy finds itself in, another round of petroleum scarcity will deal a major body blow to long-suffering Nigerians.
  • Finally, and in the vein of working faster and harder, we urge the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to hasten the process of breaking the NNPC up. The organisation is riddled with too many inefficiencies and we do not see how it can ever be made effective except by breaking it up into smaller, more manageable bits.