A batch of 373 Edo indigenes who returned from Libya at the weekend protested against the non-payment of their in-state transportation stipends. The protesters, 73 of whom are females and some of whom are pregnant, were among 481 Nigerians flown from Libya on Sunday by a federal government constituted repatriation committee. According to a New Telegraph report, the protests were prompted when returnees, upon completion of medicals and biometric capturing, were told that the government had made no money gifts available for them. Some of the women complained that they were asked to vacate their hotel rooms for other Libya returnees expected to arrive on Wednesday. The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Anti-Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, Solomon Okoduwa blamed the situation on the federal government’s inability to provide money for the returnees. According to him, it is the United Nations that had provided funds for previous returnees, and the FG only makes fund available to bring home the stranded Nigerian citizens from Libya. Previous sets of returnees had been given as much as ₦45,000 each on their arrival in Lagos even though some returnees claim that they were promised as much as ₦150,000 in Libya, prior to departing for Nigeria.
Seven Cameroonian English-speaking separatists are said to have been abducted from a meeting at an Abuja hotel on the evening of 5 January. While the separatists and a number of local media outlets have claimed that the Department of State Services is behind the disappearance of Mr. Sikiku Tabe, Prof. Che Awasum, Mr. Nalowa Bih, Dr. Fidelis Che, Dr. Nfor Nfor, Dr. Henri Kumeng and Dr. Cornelius Kwanga, both Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities have refused to comment on the matter. “There is no arrest of their people in Abuja,” an unnamed Nigerian intelligence official told the AFP news agency. The official admitted that Nigeria had arrested Cameroonians in late December, in Taraba state, which borders Cameroon.
Nigeria’s political parties must select their candidates for next year’s presidential election between 18 August and 7 October this year, the electoral commission said on Tuesday in a timetable of the polling process. Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on 16 February 2019, marking the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term. Buhari has not said he will seek re-election. In addition to outlining the deadline to select candidates, the timetable published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stated that official campaigns for the presidential and parliamentary elections would begin on 18 November. “The Commission wishes to assure Nigerians that we are determined to strictly adhere to the timetable and schedule of activities,” INEC said in a statement.
The FG’s liabilities on road projects across the country has hit ₦2.792 trillion, the Power, Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola told the House of Representatives Committee on Works inquiring into the performance assessment of the 2017 budget. The minister said the mounting debts covered completed projects, inherited claims of past years and ongoing projects across the country. The total allocations to works in the 2017 budget was ₦305 billion, while the 2018 budget estimates currently before the National Assembly contains a combined allocations to works, power and housing of ₦555.8 billion.
- The number of Nigerians looking to leave the country for Europe at great personal risk is indicative of a near-hopeless economic situation. This means that it is vital to stimulate the non-oil economy and create paths for upward mobility for the majority of Nigerians. But that is a short term solution. The longer term problem will be tackling the belief, particularly in the Edo state region, that the streets of Europe are paved with gold, and that any way of getting there will result in material success. This mindshift can only be achieved through educating the people.
- The genesis of the current security situation in Cameroon began in November 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the Northwest and Southwest regions, frustrated with the dominance of French in official matters and what they see as the marginalisation of the country’s Anglophone population, organised protests calling for reforms and greater autonomy. The protests have been followed by a harsh government crackdown, as well as internet shut-downs and arrests, about 500, according to Amnesty International. By October 2017, secessionist groups declared the independence of the Anglophone “state” of Ambazonia. As is always the case with strife, a budding humanitarian crisis has seen about 7,204 Cameroonian asylum seekers registered in Cross River alone by the Nigeria Immigration Service and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Despite a history of cross-border animosity, last month, Cameroonian troops crossed the border in pursuit of separatists without seeking prior permission from Nigerian authorities, further straining diplomatic ties between the two neighbours. These arrests may however be construed as an attempt by Abuja to reassure a nervous Yaounde. The wider crisis, rooted in ethnic and cultural contradictions that date to the formation of both countries in the colonial period, will be trickier to resolve and will prove a recurring theme through the rest of the year.
- With INEC’s announcement, the season for electoral jostling has been formally launched in Nigeria. INEC has opted for a sequence where the governorship elections occur after the presidential elections. Many believe this is designed to ensure governors support the presidential candidates before assurances of reciprocal support in their own or anointed successors’ election. As the months unfold, we expect to see various movements and alignments across the political landscape, including high profile cross carpeting as politicians who lose out look for other platforms to pursue their ambition. While there have been agitations on social media for a third force to rise, we believe that the 2019 elections with be a straight battle between the candidate of the incumbent APC and a PDP-led coalition.
- The total provision for capital projects across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in the 2018 budget is ₦2.4 trillion, implying that if the 2018 allocations were utilised to settle liabilities on road projects alone, the government will still have a ₦400 billion deficit. Using the current budgetary allocation of ₦305 billion to Works it will take the country 9 years to clear existing deficits, assuming no further expenditure. It is therefore clear to all that Nigeria’s biggest problem is one of revenue generation.