Connect with us

Headline

OPINION: Tinubu, ECOWAS And Its Rebellious Boys

Published

on

I danced on Sunday when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was re-elected as Chairman of ECOWAS. I rejoiced because his re-election will give him an opportunity to correct one of his errors that has made life miserable for Nigerians. And that was the way he handled the Niger Republic crisis of last year. In his acceptance speech, Tinubu asked President Bassirou Faye of Senegal and President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, to go and appeal to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic to return to ECOWAS. I give it to Tinubu on this. This is what we say in our street lingo as one’s brain “return to factory setting!” This move, a departure from his last year’s initial gragra of threatening to fight those three countries, especially, the Niger Republic, over the coups that took place there, shows that someone is thinking in this government for the first time. The security of those three countries, known as members of the G5-Sahel region, to the peace of Nigeria, cannot be overemphasised.

When, Niger Republic, for instance, staged its coup against the government of President Mohammed Bazoum, and Tinubu was calling the meeting of ECOWAS Command Chiefs almost daily, many Nigerians warned him of the futility of those efforts. The North made it abundantly clear to the president then that a war with Niger Republic would amount to a war with the North. They explained that northerners share the same ancestry with Nigeriens. A friend who travelled to Gaidam in Yobe State told me that the CFA of Niger Republic was a legal tender in those parts of Nigeria. He said that when he bought some balls of akara from a seller and offered her a N1,000 note, the seller, in giving him back his balance, added some Niger Republic currency to the money she gave to him. Another colleague on that trip, who happens to know that that is normal up North, quickly intervened by exchanging the CFA with Naira notes! That is the affinity that Tinubu was trying to unsettle with his threat of war with the Niger Republic.

That empty grandstanding had its implications. One of them is the influx of bandits and other felons to Northern Nigeria. The least intelligent student of International Diplomacy knows that the collapse of Libya led to an increase in the number of armed men to other African countries. The Liptako-Gourma region – where the Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet – is believed to be the most ravaged by armed rebellion in recent years. Forcing Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic to leave ECOWAS further compounded the problem. The simple implication is that with their Saturday, September 16, 2023, mutual defence pact, the three countries divorced themselves from ECOWAS. The pact, known as Alliance of Sahel States, was designed to defend one another against any external attack. That broke the bone of ECOWAS.

Advertisement

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Let Kenyans Enjoy Their Kenya

Many who postulated that the treaty would not stand have come to realise that it was a huge mistake. The lesson there is that never threaten today’s kids with expulsion; they will leave home permanently. Now ECOWAS wants those guys back, but they are not ready to come back. Now we are in trouble because those three countries provide a shield for us from the ravages of the Sahel. From their geography, they cover us from Libya. Nigeria now must worry about the security implications of not having friendly countries as a buffer against small and big arms from North Africa, particularly Libya. That is what indiscretion can cause! President Faye of Senegal told Tinubu this much when he visited Abuja on May 15, 2024. Faye, at the meeting with Tinubu, said ECOWAS must reopen talks with the guys in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic with a view to bringing them back to the ECOWAS fold. Omar Touray, President of ECOWAS Commission, amplified the importance of the return of the three countries to the regional fold when he said that Faye’s position “is in the spirit of engagement that our leaders believe should continue. Because we don’t only share borders, we share families, we share communities, and the leaders are determined to do everything possible to keep our community together. ECOWAS is not about heads of state. It’s a community of people that must stay together.”

The new ECOWAS position towards the ‘Three Rebels’ runs contrary to the argument by Folahanmi Aina, an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, London, United Kingdom, who on October 24, 2023, barely a month after the Sahel countries signed their military pact, posited that the pact was bound to fail. His thesis is that the Alliance of Sahel States “is focused more on stoking anti-French sentiment than fighting violent extremism.” He states further that: “Collectively, these states do not have what it takes militarily and economically to fight off the threat of violent extremism, let alone guarantee the sustenance of a defense pact, given the logistical technicalities involved. Even more important is that they lack the state capacity to address the underlying root causes of violent extremism, some of which include deteriorating socio-economic conditions such as poverty, youth unemployment, inequality, illiteracy, poor governance, and environmental degradation. Their institutions are simply too weak…. The new Alliance of Sahel States is bound to fail given that it is built on a faulty foundation—a reaction to a perceived threat from France rather than a proactive posture toward the real threat of violent extremism. However, its potential to embolden would-be putschists across West Africa should not be ignored.”

The chickens have come home to roost for ECOWAS and its misadventure of threat of war. Nigeria now is in dire need of a peaceful Sahel Region if it must fight insurgency in its land and get its farmers to go back to till the land. Murtala Ahmed Rufa’i, author of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto’s seminal series, “I am a Bandit: A decade of Research in Zamfara State Bandits’ Den”, notes that the vast forests of Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger States alone have about 60,000, terrorists with 120 commanders. The implication here is that each ‘commander’ controls 500 terrorists. If these figures are distributed to all the 19 states of the north, one can imagine the havoc this has consistently wreaked on the local populace. If Niger Republic, for instance, decides to look the other way, while felons use its borders to flux into Nigeria, your guess is as good as mine.

Advertisement

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Onitiri-Abiola And The Madness In Ibadan

This is why I think Nigerians should mount pressure on President Tinubu to eat the humble pie and personally approach the coupists in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic to get them to come back to ECOWAS. This appeal is as urgent as the errand of the king. This is not the time to delegate responsibility. President Tinubu should know that his pronouncements when the Niger Republic coup happened in 2023 aggravated the ECOWAS crisis. His threat of war and symbolic meetings of ECOWAS Command Chiefs in Abuja sent the wrong signals. He who assists the tortoise to climb a tree should also be available to assist in bringing it down. This is not an assignment to delegate. Nigerians are hungry.

There are food shortages everywhere. Simple Economics says when demand is higher than supply, there will be inflation. If farmers return to their farms without molestation, food will be abundant. Adding hunger to our current litany of woes is a recipe for disaster.

“My people can no longer afford to buy a mudu of rice to eat. You will not believe it. People now prefer to eat leaves like zogale, rama, and drink water. They don’t have money to buy foodstuff!” A traditional title holder in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, was quoted to have uttered these words last week.

Advertisement

If anyone is in doubt that there is hunger in the land, the above quoted sentences should clear your doubt! Nigerians are becoming herbivorous daily. The Nigerian Tribune, in its Monday, July 9, 2024, edition, did a comprehensive report on “How insurgency, banditry worsen food prices.” Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State is one of the biggest LGAs in the state. It is equally, unarguably, the food basket of the state with the production of crops like maize, guinea corn, millet, and rice in commercial quantities. The council area is also described as the “most traumatised” LGA, with terrorists, bandits and kidnappers constantly on the prowl. Commuters have abandoned the Birnin-Gwari Road which hitherto served as the link between the North and the South-West because of the activities of these felons.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Fubara, Wike And Day I Broke Duck’s Eggs

Still speaking on the food crisis in the area, the report states, “Farming activities in the area have gone down as a result of banditry. Bandits have taken over the farms from the locals. The production of crops like maize, guinea corn, millet, and rice, which the area is noted for, has become history.” Sallau Ibrahim, one of the farmers in the locality, volunteered the information. In that same Birnin-Gwari, which used to be the source of food supply to the state and other states of the Federation, last week, “a bag of maize was sold at N90,000, while a bag of local rice sold at N105,000, and beans at N85,000.” Why? Ibrahim, again, explained that many farmers in the area had been killed and scores abducted by bandits who usually stormed their communities to carry out the nefarious activities without challenge. Even in places where the farmers were not killed and allowed “access to their farmlands, they (bandits) imposed taxes or levies on them before they could harvest the crops.” Those who could not afford the imposed tax abandoned their farms. The result is the high cost of food items in the markets.

The hunger has nothing to do with the voodoo economic policies of President Tinubu’s government. The Hallelujah orchestra of the government should at least relax now that they know it is not their tin god that is solely responsible for the hunger we all face. However, the Tinubu government is not totally blameless! The hunger in the land is caused not by scarcity of food items but by their unaffordable prices occasioned by the intractable insecurity across the country as well as the prohibitive costs of transporting the food items to end users! The foreign Exchange rate also has nothing to do with it. The simple issue here is insecurity. Farmers don’t go to their farms any longer. Many have resorted to subsistence farming on their available spaces around their homes. At least Madam Remi Tinubu, the wife of the president, demonstrated that in her new video of how to plant vegetables around our homes and their benefits for our “digestive track”!

Advertisement

Nigeria is a huge joke. The First Lady is encouraging us to farm around our homes. I chuckled at the garrulousness of her new-found love for farming. For instance, how many residents of Aso Rock will that vegetable garden feed, and for how long? So, if we all cultivate vegetable gardens, shall we equally grow our yams, beans and run our own rice farms and mills too? What about those living in face-me-I-face-you apartments? How many Nigerians own their houses, in the first place? How many landlords will allow gardens around their property? But I love the video all the same. It gives an idea of how those guys up there thinking.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: Lagos Gets 13 New Band A Feeders

Nigeria is experiencing acute food shortage at the moment because of insecurity. This should be of ultimate concern to those in authority instead of the promotion of gardens around our homes. If we don’t tackle those bandits, terrorists, herders and kidnappers who make farming almost impossible in the bushes, they will soon hit our towns and those Madam Tinubu’s vegetable gardens around our homes will pale into insignificance. The news report under reference here is comprehensive enough. It shows that food insecurity is not a problem of the North alone. Down South too, people can no longer farm. I stumbled on a video of herders who reared their cows into a maize farm in Ikere Ekiti the other time. Someone also sent another video of a deliberate grazing on a cassava and maize farm in Egbe town of Kogi State. The farmers in the two videos could not do anything. Millions of naira invested in those ventures got wasted. Who will persuade those victims to go back to the farm? Little wonder that in Ado Ekiti, a friend told me on Saturday that a set of five tubers of yam was sold at N25,000!

The South-East has the best of vegetable cuisines. Someone once said that vegetables were introduced to the South-East gastronomy during the civil war. Faced with acute shortage of food supply, the people resorted to eating all manners of shrubs. Some died, and many survived. The people studied the leaves that had no toxic properties while the war lasted and added them to their list of ingredients. Nigeria is not at war at the moment; but people in Birnin-Gwari are already eating leaves and drinking water because they can no longer afford the prices of the food items. These are people who used to be the producers of those items before terrorists, bandits and kidnappers took over their land. How soon will that spread to the south, if not already there? This is why our leaders should move away from the banausic issue of planting gardens to tackling the issue of insecurity that has made real farming almost impossible. Enough of egbelekokmiyo vegetable gardens in Aso Rock Villa. Let’s get our real farmers back to the land!

Advertisement

Headline

BREAKING: Tinubu Renames National Theatre Lagos

Published

on

President Bola Tinubu has renamed the National Threatre in Lagos after Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a birthday message to the Nobel laureate who turns 90 on July 13.

See the full tribute below:

Advertisement

PRESIDENT TINUBU SALUTES PROFESSOR WOLE SOYINKA AT 90, RENAMES NATIONAL THEATRE IN HIS HONOUR

President Bola Tinubu heartily congratulates Nigeria’s literary colossus and global icon, Professor Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, famously known as Wole Soyinka, on his 90th birthday, July 13, 2024.

Professor Soyinka is a globally celebrated playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, actor, singer, composer, and documentarian.

He is also a foremost advocate of good governance and of a fair and just society.

Advertisement

He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986 – the first African to win the Prize in that category.

READ ALSO: Hardship: Tinubu Has Shut His Doors, Even Some Ministers Can’t See Him – Ndume Laments

The Nobel Prize Laureate is a recipient of many other reputable awards, such as the Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature; Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award; Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, (Lifetime Achievement); and the Europe Theatre Prize – (Special Prize).

President Tinubu describes Professor Soyinka as one of the finest minds of his generation; conforming to the highest standards of human enlightenment, but unyielding to injustice, oppression, and base impulses.

Advertisement

The President salutes one of Nigeria’s living repositories of history, knowledge, and courage, and commends him for his valiant efforts in the trenches for the nation’s future both as a pro-democracy champion and as a trenchant voice against corruption and maladministration over several decades.

READ ALSO: Why Tinubu Created Ministry Of Livestock Development

“Our paths crossed during our just struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. When faced with a trial in absentia and death sentence by the military regime at home, he galvanized opposition in exile through NALICON and NADECO. His global stature made him the face of our struggle to validate June 12 and restore democracy in Nigeria.

“Today, I join the world to celebrate his profound influence on generations of writers, scholars, and activists who have been inspired by his work. I celebrate him for giving us the spark to fight and confront military dictators in our country.

Advertisement

“I am, accordingly, delighted to have the honour to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts,” the President states.

President Tinubu wishes Professor Soyinka many more years in good health and creative fulfilment as a global force for change.

Chief Ajuri Ngelale

Special Adviser to the President

Advertisement

(Media & Publicity)

July 12, 2024

IN THIS ARTICLE:

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Headline

Drama As Women Fight Dirty Over Man In The Street Of Malia While On Vacation

Published

on

A Brit tourist who was seen in a vicious fight with another in an apparent row over a man’s attention in a notorious Greek party town has been identified as a River Island sales manager.

Lexi Ryder, 20, is understood to be one of the two women who fought in the middle of Malia, around 20 miles east of the Greek island’s capital city, Heraklion.

Video footage taken by bystanders showed Lexi, dressed in a black top and shorts, fighting an as-yet-unnamed other woman, dressed in a white top and grey shorts, punching and kicking each other repeatedly.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Drama As UK-based Nigerian Ladies Fight Dirty, Strip Each Other On The Street Over Man

Lexi, a sales team leader at River Island according to her Facebook, posted several photos and videos to her social media accounts in the days after her alleged fight, including a since-deleted TikTok showing off her battle scars.

The TikTok, captioned ‘Scrapping in Malia streets is not clever’, shows the young woman, who studied at Sir John Dean’s Sixth Form in Northwich, Cheshire, with several injuries, including a black eye, a swollen and bruised nose.

20-year-old Lexi Ryder (pictured) is understood to be one of the two women who fought in the middle of Malia

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Headline

Four Female Niger Delta Teen App Developers For World Tech Summit In USA

Published

on

Between October 15 and 19 this year, the four female students from Nigeria who developed an android application named AgriConnect, meant to deal with hunger issues in the country, will be attending this year’s World Technovation Girls Challenge holding in Silicon Valley, California, in the United States of America.

The JSS2 students-Oghenemaro Tejiri,12, Salome Akhabhau,11, Excel Barile-Nwika,11 and Goodness Nwonanne-Chima,12- are students of a Port- Harcourt based private secondary school, Jacob’s Well High School, who developed an android application called AgriConnect to combat hunger in Nigeria.

The girls were under the tutelage of Code Ambassadors, the consultants engaged to groom students in the school to become shining stars in the evolving tech world

Advertisement

The AgriConnect was among the 3,200 android applications developed by about 11,000 girls from 69 countries, including the USA, UK, Japan, China, Canada, and Spain.

The four girls who call themselves the Smart Elite, fell into the beginners division of the contest, whose age bracket falls between eight and 12 years; the other categories being the junior division (ages 13-17) and Senior Division (ages 18 and above).

READ ALSO: Drama As Biden Calls Ukraine President “President Putin”; Kamala Harris “Vice President Trump” At NATO Event [VIDEO]

After series of assessments by several judges drawn from various disciplines, 15 android applications were selected as finalists (five android applications for each division), while three android applications were selected for special awards, which virtual ceremony took place on July 9.

Advertisement

For their outstanding app, the young Nigerian female developers who were given special recognition, are being invited to the all expenses paid technovation summit where the grand awardees would be selected.

Coordinator and proprietor of the school, Mrs Egondu Jacob, told journalists that it was not surprising that her students were putting Rivers State, the Niger Delta and Nigeria on the list of nations of the world whose students are outstanding in apps developments at a very young age.

She said: “The news of the exceptional performance of our girls and the special award for combating hunger was received with lots of excitements by the board chairman, Engr. Unwana Jacob and the entire school.

READ ALSO: Don Likens Okilo To Socrates, Aristotle, Calls For Study Of His Life, Legacy, Times

Advertisement

“This achievement is a dream fulfilled because having seen our biological children- Miss Ukemeabasi Unwana Jacob (with 8A1s and 1B2 result in the 2023 WASSCE) and Master Uwakmfon Unwana Jacob (a young maths Icon with over 40 national and international medals in mathematics)-receiving national and international accolades in their secondary school education, we had challenged ourselves that under God, children from other families should equally be trained to stand out and be recognized nationally and globally through the facilities and programmes of the Jacob’s Well Schools International.

“We are grateful to God for the enormous support received from our consultant, Mr. Somkenechukwu Mamah, the founder of Code Ambassadors (an organization dedicated to training kids & teens in technology, problems solving and entrepreneurship), amazing staff and also from parents in the school. We are optimistic that greater achievements are on the way and Nigeria and Africa would be made proud through the achievements of our students.

“It is interesting to note that AgriConnect was the only android application from Nigeria that made it to the final round as well as the only android application in Africa that got a special award out of the three mobile applications recognized for a special award, globally.”

She added that in today’s world that was being driven by technology, it was important for Nigerian leaders to invest in and encourage children to grow in their knowledge of technology, adding that it was for that reason that Jacob’s Well Schools decided to introduce coding and robotics and ICT to pupils from primary one.

Advertisement

READ ALSO: 10 Things To Know About The Samoa Agreement

As at date, students and pupils in the school have created over 12 android applications to solve societal problems and some of these apps have received international recognitions. Five android applications created by the five teams of female students in the school were registered for the 2024 Technovation Global Competition, an annual event where girls from various countries in the world register in teams in order to showcase their tech-based solutions to community problems created by their teams in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

The school’s tech consultant expressed the hope that the female quartet app developers would stand out “as the youngest startup co-founders who leverage technology to solve more problems, especially in the agricultural sector.

“In the next five years, they should have gained experience building business models around their solution, gaining more traction, attracting funding, and inspiring more young minds to start their tech journey early enough. I hope the country supports them by providing all the resources and access they need to get their solution into the hands of Nigerians.”

Advertisement

Nation

Continue Reading

Trending