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Enslaved, tortured Nigerians and Ghanaians begin journey back home; UN Sec-General reacts

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Enslaved, tortured Nigerians and Ghanaians begin journey back home; UN Sec-General António Guterres reacts.

Special to USAfrica (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com

“I am horrified at news reports and video footage showing African migrants in Libya reportedly being sold as slaves.

I abhor these appalling acts and call upon all competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay and to bring the perpetrators to justice. I have asked the relevant United Nations actors to actively pursue this matter.

Slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.

I urge every nation to adopt and apply the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in persons and I urge the international community to unite in fighting this scourge.

This also reminds us of the need to address migration flows in a comprehensive and humane manner: through development cooperation aiming at addressing its root causes, through a meaningful increase of all the opportunities for legal migration and through an enhanced international cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers and protecting the rights of their victims.”

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USAfrica: Nollywood actor Kenneth Okonkwo’s misguided hustle for Buhari

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By Attorney Jane Ikezi
Special & Exclusive commentary for USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com
A controversial political video by Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo has been making rounds in the social media.

In the video, he endorsed the non-performing and overwhelmed President of Nigeria, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 election. Okonkwo said, “I am an ambassador of good governance…he (President Buhari) is committed to good governance. You can’t get a better person than President Muhammadu Buhari….”

Really!?
Ordinarily, I would have simply said to myself that “Silence is the best answer to a fool”; but a lot of fools rule the world because people kept silent.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Mr. Okonkwo has a platform, which he has been blessed with through acting, with support from the Igbo for many years throughout his acting career. This is particularly true given that he is known primarily for his Igbo language films, which brought him to fame in Nigeria. Especially, the movie called Living in Bondage.
Lest anyone be deceived or suffer from amnesia, let me enumerate some of President Buhari’s failures and atrocities:
– Brutal attack of unarmed civilians
– Outright refusal to recognise the right of self-determination of the Indegenous People of Biafra. This is an internationally recognised right.
– Increase of economic hardship throughout the country. People are starving.
– Increase in mortality (particularly with young children).
– Mortuaries are filled to the brim and families lack money to claim bodies of the deceased.
– Increase in joblessness due to lack of opportunity. Yet, Mr. Buhari refers to Nigerian youths as “lazy.”
-Citizens are brutally dealt with for simply expressing their political views, as Mr. Okonkwo is doing).
– Medical and Academic institutions are in disarray and squalid conditions. Is that not the reason President Buhari travels to Britain for medical care and his children are educated abroad?
– Increase of Internally Displaced People in Nigeria, due to Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen activities.
– Nigeria has not met its Millennium Development Goals, whereas other least developed countries that were on the same point, have surpassed their target.

The list goes on and on… Why must people lack in the land of plenty?

Moreover, let us remember that President Buhari’s order of Operation Python Dance, a brutal military operation, left many dead and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB and his parents remain missing.

Additionally, let us not forget the brutal Civil War fought against Biafra from 1966 to 1970, resulting in the horrific and calculated death of millions of Biafran civilians, especially Igbos. That was a genocide. The same President, who Kenneth Okonkwo praises, played a role in that war.

It is a shame that Kenneth Okonkwo, an Igbo man, would choose a path in direct contradiction with his heritage and existence.

A while back, I read an article or a letter in which Mr. Okonkwo expressed his disagreement with the latest Biafran struggle. I disagreed with him (and still do) but like the French say, “chacun à son goût” (to each, his own). Nevertheless, I too have my “Red Line.”

I do not believe that Mr. Okonkwo should be condemned for exercising his freedom of speech in support and praise of President Buhari. On the contrary, the condemnation or criticism must be focused on the content thereof.

Earlier this year on TMZ, the U.S. television show, Kanye West (a musician) made derogatory statements about fellow African Americans regarding their history of slavery. Kanye West received a lot of backlash and repudiation after his statements, and rightfully so. He has a responsibility stemming from his ‘stardom’.

Whether he accepts it or not, his statements, albeit unfortunate, are heard by many people. Like Kanye West, Kenneth Okonkwo has a social responsibility to his people and that includes all Nigerians. In exercising his freedom of speech and civic duty, he should not loose sight of his social responsibility.

Kenneth Okonkwo, as the Igbo adage states, “use your tongue to count your teeth.” Is this the legacy for which you want to be remembered?

•Jane O. Ikezi is the New York-based contributing analyst for USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston.
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SOYINKA accuses OBASANJO of awarding OIL blocks in return for SEX

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

 

Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, calling former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a degenerate, liar, predator and sadist, has challenged him to swear whether he never awarded oil blocks in return for sexual gratification while he presided over the affairs of Nigeria.

Soyinka spoke in his Interventions VIII series, titled: ‘Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?’ also sub-titled ‘Gani’s Unfinished Business,” launched recently in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

He said Obasanjo knows him so well that he does not make accusations lightly and that he despises snide insinuations. “I now challenge you (Obasanjo) to search your soul, very deeply, and swear to this nation that you never awarded oil blocks in return for sexual gratification. I do not make accusations lightly and I despise snide insinuations. I believe you know me well enough. And I am no prude, I am not a hypocrite of sexual desire, nor am I interested in the seamy side of Power. Take your time, think deeply and remember that each day brings you closer and closer to your Maker and the Day of Judgment-going by your own

Chief Olusegun_Obasanjo355_via_USAfricaonline.com

professions.”

Soyinka said sex-for-grades as a solution to that burdensome energy seemed to have become the practice, saying that even when Donald Trump and Bill Clinton were accused of sexual misconduct, no one ever accused Trump of using his nation’s assets for a romp on the presidential desk of the oval office and that not even Clinton who nearly lost his office through Monica Lewinsky, was ever accused of passing off any of the White House heirlooms, or influenced contracts in return for sexual favour. “If I denounce you (Obasanjo) as a degenerate in need of help, remember that I do not require fiction. Verifiable truth is solemnly at my disposal. I do not concoct a thousand snipers for a thousand listed enemies of governance-one of the most impudent egregious fantasies ever manufactured by a former ruler, simply to destroy a successor and persuade oneself that one is a maker and breaker of governments,” he said. Soyinka also said that during Obasanjo’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of his Presidential library, the former president accused him of blocking his ambitions to become the Secretary General of the United Nations.

According to Soyinka, “could someone please stop crediting me with that level of international clout? Of course, I feel totally content and fulfilled with my contribution to that operation to ‘save our world’ from the clutches of a predator, sadist and liar-convincing evidence of which we provided in our successful diplomatic offensive-but the umbrage should also go to that very Femi Falana and the late Beko Ransome-Kuti, with whom I worked in close collaboration.”

Soyinka also said that under Obasanjo’s watch, and with proven collaboration, an elected governor was kidnapped, locked in a toilet and held there under duress to force him to sign cheques on the state treasury, saying that “he escaped confinement, thanks to a sympathetic policeman , but the state went up in flames. The state radio and television houses were torched. The House of Assembly and the law courts—my own special preserve-were vandalized. Who did you say was President at that time?” Soyinka made reference to a letter written to Obasanjo by Col. Abubakar Umar, in which the former military governor accused Obasanjo of awarding oil block indiscriminately and illegally. (News Agency of Nigeria and PMNews)

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USAfrica BrkNEWS: Invasion of Nigeria’s National Assembly, Trump’s adviser says Daura is Buhari’s enforcer

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The latest disgrace brought upon Nigeria by a mix of masked and armed operatives of the Department of State Security [DSS], acting at the orders of the Director General of the DSS, Lawal Musa Daura, on Tuesday morning of August 8, 2018, prevented  lawmakers and staff from gaining access into the NASS building until voices were raised against the intrusion continues to draw local and international reactions.

One of U.S President Donald Trump’s security advisers on Africa has told Houston-based USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com that “the White House has held cautious reservation about the genuineness of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to democracy and diversity in Nigeria.”

He made the point that Mr. Daura is an enforcer of the Buhari agenda, spoken and unspoken; “they’re very close….”

Meanwhile, retired General Buhari’s deputy who is currently Nigeria’s acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law, has sacked Daura.

Also, the USAfrica News Index show that “U.S President Donald J. Trump, this afternoon Monday April 30, 2018 at the White House, told visiting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that his government is not only monitoring but outraged by  “very serious problems with christians who are being murdered, killed in Nigeria.”

The transcription of Trump’s statement by USAfricaonline.com reads:

“We’ve had very serious problems with christians who are being murdered, killed in Nigeria. We’re going to be working on that problem; and working on that problem very, very hard… because we can’t allow that to happen.”

Buhari, a retired army General and dictator/ruler (1984-1986), attempted to minimize those issues when he claimed, contrary to video evidence and eyewitness accounts, that the “farmers and herdsmen” only carry stick and machete; not AK-47s and other deadly weapons. Across the social media, Nigerians share pictures/videos of them brandishing weapons.

Obama administration and Buhari’s started a deal for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for almost $600 million.

By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston], USAfricaonline.com and author of the soon-to-be-released 2018 book titled MLK, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Power, Leadership & Identity

 

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U.S says it will investigate Zimbabwe presidential election violence; MDC disputes result; winner acknowledges there were “challenges”

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

The MDC Alliance led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa is disputing the outcome of the polls alleging that they were rigged to the point of having more votes than registered voters.

While the winner, ZANU PF leader and incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, acknowledged that there were “challenges” he insisted the polls were free and fair.

The US Department of State said Zimbabwe’s 30 July elections presented the country with a historic chance to move beyond the political and economic crises of the past and toward profound democratic change.

“Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s success in delivering an election day that was peaceful, and open to international observers, was subsequently marred by violence and a disproportionate use of deadly force against protestors by the security forces,” the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Six people were shot dead on Wednesday by soldiers and many others were injured. A seventh person is reported to have succumbed to gunshot wounds on Friday at a hospital in Chitungwiza.

The US said it welcomes the commitment by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release comprehensive election results in a form that provides full transparency. ZEC maintains that the election results were an accurate reflection of the voters’ will.

Former colonial master, Britain, also remained concerned about the developments.

“The UK remains deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces,” said UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin.

She, however, urged electoral stakeholders to work together to ensure calm.

“While polling day passed off peacefully, a number of concerns have been raised by observer missions, particularly about the pre-election environment, the role of State media, and the use of State resources. There is much to be done to build confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.”

Baldwin urged that any appeals against the results or the process be handled swiftly and impartially.– African News Agency (ANA)

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Saraki: Flagrant persecution by Buhari’s government forced me to quit APC

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By Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate of Nigeria

Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.

Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.

While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.

They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.

The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.

I have had the privilege to lead the Nigerian legislature in the past three years as the President of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly. The framers of our constitution envisage a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy. In my role as the head of the legislature, and a leader of the party, I have ensured that this necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber Executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature. Over the years, I have made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and in spite of my personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this.

However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the Constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.

Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all. But I have no doubt in my mind, that to surrender this way is to be complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy. I am a democrat. And I believe that anyone who lays even the most basic claim to being a democrat will not accept peace on those terms; which seeks to compromise the very basis of our existence as the parliament of the people.

The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempts to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable

The emergence of a new national party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the Governors of APC and His Excellency, the Vice President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.

However, as I have realized all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different.

For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.

In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.

I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.

What we have all agreed is that a deep commitment to these ideals were not only a demonstration of our patriotism but also a matter of enlightened self-interest, believing that our very survival as political elites of this country will depend on our ability to earn the trust of our people and in making them believe that, more than anything else, we are committed to serving the people.

What the experience of the last three years have taught us is that the most important task that we face as a country is how to reunite our people. Never before had so many people in so many parts of our country felt so alienated from their Nigerianness. Therefore, we understand that the greatest task before us is to reunite the county and give everyone a sense of belonging regardless of region or religion.

Every Nigerian must have an instinctive confidence that he or she will be treated with justice and equity in any part of the country regardless of the language they speak or how they worship God. This is the great task that trumps all. Unless we are able to achieve this, all other claim to progress no matter how defined, would remain unsustainable.

This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part. It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another.

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Zimbabwe’s presidential election offers opportunity for post-Mugabe progress. By Wilf Mbanga

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Today, Monday July 30, 2018, Zimbabweans [went] to the polls to elect Robert Mugabe’s successor. For pretty much the average life expectancy of many Zimbabweans, one man has ruled the country with an iron fist. Eight elections were held during his rule – and every time, that fist ensured victory for Mugabe.

The current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the man who finally ousted Mugabe in a bloodless coup last November, has also crushed his enemies ruthlessly in the past – but his iron fist lies within a well-padded velvet glove.
Mnangagwa goes head to head at the polls with Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after Morgan Tsvangirai died earlier this year.

Whoever wins, this election heralds a new dawn for Zimbabwe. Mugabe has gone. Things will never be the same again. Certainly, Mnangagwa brings a lot of baggage from the Mugabe era – having been the former president’s righthand man.

But he is different in many significant ways – today, Mugabe even urged voters to turn their backs on his leadership, and went so far as to wish Chamisa well. Most importantly, Mnangagwa understands business and is determined to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and give the people what they so desperately want and need – jobs.

He is primarily a soldier, having left Zimbabwe as a teenager in the early 1960s for military training in China. He has fashioned himself after the former communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who modernised China and laid the foundations for the economic powerhouse it has become, while maintaining a strictly authoritarian regime.

Deng abandoned many orthodox communist doctrines to incorporate elements of the free-enterprise system. Mnangagwa seems determined to do the same for Zimbabwe. He is a wealthy man in his own right, having run Zanu-PF’s and his own businesses since the early 1980s. He has been mentioned in a UN report on the plundering of mining and logging resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo together with General Sibusiso Moyo, who is now the foreign affairs minister.

Over the eight months since he took the reins from Mugabe, Mnangagwa has given clear signals of a clean break with the past – actively courting the west, preaching and practising peace instead of violence, eschewing corruption, meeting business leaders and white farmers, and generally projecting himself as a reformist. He has met personally the many business missions that have visited the country this year, and has promised to get rid of the cumbersome bureaucracy that currently stifles new investment. He has suspended Mugabe’s populist indigenisation act, which required foreigners to cede 51% of their shares to locals (ZANU-PF, of course) in all sectors except gold and diamond mining. He has even made it his election slogan – with party supporters everywhere sporting T-shirts proclaiming “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

While Mugabe was a consummate manipulator, skilfully playing people off against each other and weaving a complex web of patronage, Mnangagwa is a much more of a strategist. He will be prepared to make tough decisions that could ultimately benefit the economy. He has certainly been more successful in attracting foreign investment in the short time he has been in power than Mugabe was in decades of berating the west.

 

The MDC’s Chamisa is just as pro-business as Mnangagwa, and to his credit has surrounded himself with several capable technocrats. There is no whiff of corruption about him and he has been drawing massive crowds in many rural areas which, under Mugabe, were no-go areas for his party. And of course the MDC’s democratic and human rights credentials are well established – while those of Zanu-PF are a constant cause for concern.

Should Chamisa win the election, there is no doubt that the world would welcome Zimbabwe back into the fold with open arms. But Mnangagwa is smart enough to realise that international recognition of his government can only come if this election is acknowledged as free and fair by the global community. While Britain has been unswervingly supportive of the post-Mugabe regime, the US has reserved judgment – recently renewing its sanctions on Zanu-PF leaders and companies, but promising to lift them once credible elections have taken place.

And there’s the rub.

Many believe it is impossible for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to run a free and fair poll. It is accused of rigging every election since it was established in 2004; it is still staffed largely by the military and Zanu-PF loyalists; and it has shown shameful bias towards the ruling party in recent months. For example, the law says the ballot paper should be in alphabetical order, which places Chamisa second on the 23-person list. The commission cleverly formatted the paper into two lop-sided columns, in order to place Mnangagwa at the very top of column two.

So this election could bring three possible results: if Mnangagwa wins, the MDC already has enough ammunition against the electoral commission to cry foul.

If Chamisa wins convincingly, it will be a new dawn indeed – but the military might not accept this, as the Generals have already invested a lot in Mnangagwa.

But if there is no clear winner, the most sensible way forward would be for the two protagonists to agree to a marriage of convenience – otherwise known as a government of national unity.
• Wilf Mbanga, once falsely classified by Mugabe’s government as ‘enemy of the people’, is the founder, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean weekly, published in the UK and Johannesburg

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USAfrica: “Resign! Get out of office!” – Bishop Oyedepo tells Nigeria’s President Buhari

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The founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, aka Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has called on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, to resign due to what he considers to be the continuing failure of Buhari to stop  the incessant killings by militant Fulani herdsmen.

Oyedepo who spoke on the theme, “Enough is enough” recalled that “When I was talking in 2015, people were saying my own was too much, now everybody can see what’s happening,” he said. ”What has moved forward in anybody’s life? You don’t know it’s war. Why are they attacking the Christian communities? Why has nobody been arrested? I can tell you this, the authorities and the powers that be are behind them.”

“We must wake up and push this evil back. Not one of those so-called herdsmen – they are jihadists – has been brought to book till date. Herdsmen don’t shoot; they have been here all along. They are just taking cover under the herdsmen to assault innocent citizens. They wake up in the night and slice innocent children to pieces. Yet, you have a government in place. What!

“The most honourable thing for any non-performing leader to do is to resign. The most honourable thing is to resign. That’s my own for Mr President. Resign! Get out of office! Even our Islamic friends in the North are calling on him to resign. Because that’s the noblest thing to do. Or are we going to look at one system destroy a whole nation?”

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Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: U.S groups warn about security threats

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Widespread violence in Nigeria could affect next year’s presidential election, two US pro-democracy groups said on Friday, July 20, 2018.

Voters in Africa’s most populous nation go to the polls in February next year, with President Muhammadu Buhari looking to secure a second, four-year term of office.

The 75-year-old former military ruler in 2015 became the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president at the ballot box in the country’s history.

But despite pledging to defeat Boko Haram, whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead in the last nine years, violence persists and has erupted elsewhere.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which have been on a joint visit to Nigeria, said fears of unrest were commonplace.

“Nigeria faces security challenges from a number of non-state actors that, if unchecked, could disrupt the electoral process,” the NDI and IRI said in a pre-election assessment.

As well as Boko Haram attacks, renewed violence in the long-running resources conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central states has killed 1,000 people this year.

Trading in illegal weapons, the apparent inability of the security forces to stop the violence and the framing of it in political or religious terms were fuelling unrest, they added.

“If not addressed, these security threats could erode confidence in government,” they said.

The high numbers of displaced in the northeast and central states could pose “specific challenges for the conduct of elections in the impacted areas”, they added.

Similar fears about violence and its potential effects on planning, holding and participating in an election in areas wracked by conflict were seen before the last vote.

The vote was pushed back six weeks to allow the military more time to secure areas controlled by Boko Haram, whose leader Abubakar Shekau had threatened to disrupt the election.

Voting eventually took place, with polling stations set up near camps for the displaced, although turn-out was down.

The NDI-IRI praised Nigeria for introducing measures to tackle voter fraud, including biometric identity cards and electronic readers, as well as increased civil society scrutiny.

Efforts to get younger people involved in politics, through new legislation to lower the age of political candidates, were welcomed.

But more needed to be done to increase the number of women involved in politics while “the over-personalisation of politics and of the role of money in elections” were a concern.

The July 14 poll to elect a new governor in the southwestern state of Ekiti, for example, was dogged by claims of vote-buying by the two main parties as well as harsh rhetoric.

“Vote-buying is an electoral offence; it also undermines the legitimacy of elections and weakens representative democracy,” the NDI-IRI said. AFP

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BrkNEWS #BokoHaram overruns army base; hundreds of soldiers missing in northern Nigeria

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AFP: Hundreds of Nigerian troops are missing after Boko Haram jihadists overran a military base in the remote northeast, security sources said Sunday, in the second major assault on the armed forces in two days.

The militants invaded a base holding more than 700 soldiers in Yobe state — where they abducted over 100 girls from a school earlier this year — in an hours-long onslaught Saturday night, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Fewer than 100 soldiers have returned following the attack, which took place just 24 hours after Boko Haram fighters ambushed a military convoy in neighbouring Borno state on Friday.

The two assaults have highlighted the tenuous hold Nigerian forces have on the ravaged region despite claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that the country is in a “post-conflict stabilisation phase”.

“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” said the military source.

“The base had 734 troops. Currently the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.

“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later,” he said, adding that the base was new and the troops had recently arrived from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

A leader of a local anti-jihadist militia said the soldiers sustained casualties, but was unable to give a toll, attributing the attack to the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram, which is known for targeting Nigerian forces.

“We learned that they drove from Lake Chad through Gubio (in nearby Borno state) and attacked the base,” he said.

Geidam resident Fannami Gana said the jihadists “overwhelmed” the troops.

“We don’t know the details of what happened but we learnt they were overwhelmed by hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen,” said Gana.

Nigerian army spokesman Texas Chukwu said he did not know about the attack.

“I am not aware of the attack because (I) have not received information from there,” Chukwu said in a text message to AFP.

On Friday, 23 Nigerian soldiers went missing after Boko Haram ambushed a convoy outside Bama, leading to the loss of several military vehicles.

According to a military officer, “around 100 terrorists” attacked the convoy.

The sophisticated attacks highlight the continued threat — and evolution — of Boko Haram, an Islamic State group ally, said Yan St-Pierre, counter-terrorism advisor and head of the Berlin-based Modern Security Consulting Group.

St-Pierre suggested the attacks could be because Boko Haram fighters are vying for control of the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, the long-time jihadist leader who is reportedly ill.

“When a near-mythical leader is on his way out there’s always a battle to establish who could be next,” said St-Pierre.

The attacks show the persistent threat of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region, he said.

As the jihadists exploit rampant poverty in the region, the Nigerian army, which is overstretched and under-resourced, struggles to keep the insurgency in check.

“The supply of Boko Haram fighters is always there, either through kidnapping or economic reasons, they tap into a wide pool of personnel, they find a way to replenish their strength,” St-Pierre said.

Buhari, a 75-year-old former military ruler, came to power three years ago on a promise to defeat Boko Haram.

But while there have been clear military gains since a counter-insurgency was launched in 2015, suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians.

Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has devastated the region since 2009, leaving at least 20,000 people dead, displacing more than two million others and triggering a humanitarian crisis.

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CHIDO

USAfrica: Alex Otti to announce he’s running, again, for Abia Governor on July 20

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Special to USAfricaonline.com @Chido247

USAfrica has confirmed that the 2019 governorship battle royale will be in the eastern state of Abia as the two major personalities, namely banker/economist Dr. Alex Otti of APGA and incumbent Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP return to the political trenches to compete, again.

Otti is expected to announce his decision to run, again, for Abia Governor next week, on July 20 — at the grounds of Ngwa High School at Osisioma/Aba.

Both men fought a hard fight in 2015 for the top prize which was announced by INEC to have been bagged by Ikpeazu, with ex-Gov. Theodore Orji as his chief sponsor.

Otti and his supporters insist that the former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank of Nigeria “won the election but was rigged out.” Ikpeazu and his supporters, on the other hand, argue that “we won the election, and we’re ready for them.”

USAfricaonline.com can also report that in the 2019 campaign that Dr. Otti will give high priority to the sanctity of all votes. He told USAfrica that “this time, more than in any other election, all votes, every vote must count.”

*By Dr. Chido Nwangwu who appears as an analyst on the CNN and SkyNews, serves as the Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, USAfricaonline.com and author of the 2019 book on Power, Leadership & Identity [MLK, Mandela & Achebe]. He served as an adviser to Houston’s Mayor on Africa business.

 

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