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Suspension Of WAEC Puts Nigeria At More Risk, Says Atiku

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Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the suspension of the 2020 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) by the Federal Government.

Atiku’s reaction comes two days after the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu announced that no Unity Schools will participate in the scheduled WAEC exams.

Speaking after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the Minister asked the examination body and the state governments to reconsider their decision to open for exams.

In a statement he personally signed on Friday, Atiku said the cancellation will put the country at more risks.

He pointed out that 1.5 million Nigerian youths write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination annually, adding that the abrupt cancellation of “this examination is to set back our nation’s youth, and place them behind their contemporaries in other West African nations.”

“I urge this administration to take into account that the lives they are trying to save will be further put at risk, because if this policy is not reversed, tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, will breach social distancing rules to cross over to neighbouring West African nations to write their WASSCE, rather than miss a year,” the statement partly read.

The former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections noted that the move by the Nigerian government to curb the COVID-19 pandemic is not in the nation’s best interest.

This, he noted, is because the Federal Government unilaterally took the decision “without consultation, and thoughtful action,” arguing that it “may be counterproductive.”

“This is perilous because Foreign Direct Investments and other economic indicators are tied to the educational indexes of nations.

“Already, Nigeria lags behind other African nations in crucial indices, like school enrolment, pass rates, and out of school children. This action will further create chaos in the public education system and exacerbate an already bad situation,” he said.

On the way forward, Atiku wants the Federal and state governments to mobilise all available public and private infrastructures including primary schools, stadia, and cinemas, for the examinations.

In doing this, he also called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “prevail on WAEC to have a staggering examination with a different set of questions for each shift.”

In doing this, the PDP chieftain believes that the government’s directives on social distancing will be achieved while candidates sit for their examination, thus describing the move as “a win-win scenario.”

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Centre To UK House Of Lords: Attaching Religion To Insecurity Crisis In Nigeria For Any Sanction Will Harm Humanity

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The Centre for International and Strategic Studies (CISS) has warned the House of Lords in the United Kingdom against attaching religion to Nigeria’s security challenges, as any sanction would do the country more harm than good.

The centre, which gave the warning in a press conference on Wednesday, in Abuja, also advised the British parliamentarians to be properly guided in their assessment, noting that any wrong move could lead to a crisis of unimaginable proportion.

In his address, special rapporteur, Professor Peter Maidoki rubbished the call by some lawmakers for sanction on Nigeria over an “erroneous report of the rising number of killings of Christians by terrorists and state actors”.

According to Prof Maidoki, it is wrong to reduce security threats in Nigeria to the fault lines of religion.

The special rapporteur noted that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his service chiefs have made the most impact in addressing the country’s security challenges and it is unfair to even mutter the idea of sanction.

Prof Maidoki added that both Christians and Muslims have been at the receiving end of the crisis in northern Nigeria.

The CISS, however, advised the House of Lords not to play into the hands of the terrorists based on the ignorance expressed in its report.

The centre further demanded that the lower chamber of the UK’s parliament treats the letter calling for sanctions on Nigeria in a similar manner the world rejected the invasion of the US Capitol.

Instead of such sanction, the CISS urged the parliamentarians and the entire world to join hands with Nigeria to stamp out terrorism.

Read the full statement below:

You are aware that some members of United Kingdom House of Lords have called on the UK Government to apply sanctions on Nigeria based on an erroneous report of the rising number of killings of Christians by terrorists and state actors in Nigeria.

The call, which was contained in a letter to Dominic Raab, MP, UK’s Foreign Secretary, House of Commons, London, was signed by David Patrick Paul Alton, the Lord Alton of Liverpool, a Liberal Democratic member of UK Parliament; Caroline Annex Cox, a  cross-bench member of the UK House of Lords; and others but most remarkably, the former Nigeria President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

We had thought that since one of our own is involved in writing the letter, that at least the UK parliamentarians would be properly guided in their assessment of the security situation in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case as we have seen traces of partisanship and deliberate attempts to twist facts to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.

THE ISSUES

The petitioners, rather than be objective in their analysis, reduced the entire Boko Haram terrorism and other criminal activities by armed groups to a religious conflict.

They also alleged cases of human rights abuses against a particular faith by the armed groups and state actors.

While it is true that more needs to be done about the security situation in Nigeria, it is definitely misleading to reduce the challenges to the fault lines of religion and to accuse the Nigerian military of either collusion or inaction or perpetrating human rights abuses.

The most uncharitable is to use such baseless allegations as a basis to call for sanctions against Nigeria.

This is most unfair because if there is an administration that has given the issue of security a deserved attention, it is the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since May 2015 when the Buhari administration was inaugurated, it has taken bold steps to curb terrorism, insurgency and other crimes in the country hence cannot at all, be accused of sleeping on the matter.

Within the last year, the Nigerian military has neutralised over 2,000  terrorists across the northern part of the country, arrested over a hundred of their members and informants and destroyed their weapons and operational facilities.

This is in addition to major feats it recorded in the previous years which have restored normalcy to most parts of the region.

Nigerian troops, for instance, have entered the base of the terrorists at Sambisa Forest and captured their centre, called Camp Zero.

The troops have also recaptured territories seized  y terrorists including 20 local governments spread across the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe and brought them back to Nigeria.

They have retaken captured military bases in  Bama, Monguno and Gwoza as well as recapturing territories captured by the terrorists while the efforts of the military have made it impossible for the insurgents to launch further attacks on communities.

Added to that, Nigeria’s annual military expenditure has grown from $1.8bn in 2016 to $2.1bn by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate of 3.73%, according to a report by Strategic Defence Intelligence.

To boost its preparedness and resolve to flush out the terrorists, the Nigerian Army last year purchased more equipment including the Chinese Rotary Wing AVIC AV500 drone to carry out ISR missions at medium altitude, carry out strikes and stay airborne for nine hours while fighting terrorists.

The Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai at a time, even relocated to the centres of the conflict and stayed in the trenches with troops until substantial damages were inflicted on the ranks of the terrorists.

The battle was so fierce against the terrorists that the leader of the Boko Haram terrorists, Abubakar Shekau was heard weeping in an audiotape about how his men have been subdued by Nigerian forces and had even considered surrendering.

For a government that has taken these steps and has made it a priority to defeat terrorism, it is most unfair for anyone to contemplate taking sanctions against them.

We recall that it was similar gestures based probably on such misleading reports that led the US government and other nations to stop selling weapons to Nigeria during the past administration which gave the insurgents an upper hand in the fight and enhanced their recruitment drive.

But the impression given by this letter is that the Nigerian Government is not doing anything about exterminating the problem.

We do not want the UK to be misled by the current report into believing that the Nigerian government is either lax about the situation or supporting the insurgents.

This is far from the truth.

THE RELIGIOUS CARD

The most misleading aspect of the letter is the claim that the attacks are purely religious and targeted at only Christians.

The letter reads in part: ‘’We write following the publication of a new report by Nigerian human rights group`, Intersociety (December 14, 2020,  Intersociety, an estimated 34,400 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2009 – including 17,000 by Boko Haram (and its splinter groups) and 15,500 by Fulani militia.”

We ask, what is the total number of people that have died as a result of terrorism in Nigeria since 2009 that only Christians would be up to 34,400.

We, therefore, a state without fear of contradiction that the report is not only misleading but is an attempt to incite the people against religious lines.

While some terrorists have tried to use primordial fault lines to instigate a large scale crisis in the country, it is wrong to conclude that the victims of the crises have been only Christians.

Attacks in the northern states and the Middle Belt have been visited on all persons in those areas irrespective of religious beliefs or ethnicity.

In fact, the demographics of the affected areas, indicate that non-Christians have been more at the receiving end of such atrocities like killings, rape, abductions, arson etc by the terrorists.

The areas worse affected by the attacks in the Northeast include the Northern and central parts of Borno State which are populated mainly by Muslims.

Same with the other parts of the Northeast like Yobe and Adamawa States.

In the Northwest, all the areas affected like Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina with the probable exception of Kaduna State are almost hundred per cent Muslims.

Even in the Middle Belt states, the crisis cannot be termed religious as people of different faith in states like Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue have suffered similar fates.

It is also not true that Nigerian security forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Nigerian Army has conducted itself most professionally by always observing the rules on engagement.

The chief of Army Staff to check the few reported cases even set up a desk for civilians to report cases of abuse and since then there have been no reports of human rights violations.

OUR CALL

We, therefore, consider the call for sanction against Nigeria based on these inexact and misleading reports as callous and unacceptable.

such calls aim to further polarise the people of the country and set them up against each other on religious lines which is exactly what the insurgents have been praying for.

The UK Government should not be based on the ignorance expressed in this report play into the hands of the terrorists.

We have seen how a young UK parliamentarian goofed when he said a former Nigerian Head of State stole the Central Bank.

This is one of such faux pax that should not be allowed to stand.

We demand that the same manner the world rebuffed the UK parliamentarian for getting his facts twisted should be applied here.

Furthermore, we demand that the manner  the world treated the invasion of US Capitol as despicable, should be the same way it treats this letter as it tends to violate the right of the people of Nigeria to be protected by its government and armed forces.

We call on all to join hands with Nigeria and the rest of the world to stamp out terrorism.

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Sagay: No Restriction Stopping Tinubu From Contesting Presidency In 2023

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Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), renowned professor of law and civil rights ac­tivist, on Monday, said it was the turn of southern­ers to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023 in order to preserve the unity of the country and ensure justice and fairness.

Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent, Sagay, who is the Chair­man of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PA­CAC) and a chieftain of the ruling All Progres­sives Congress (APC), also said there was an informal zoning agreement which the party must honour in selecting the presidential flag bearer for the 2023 gen­eral elections.

According to him, even though the agreement was not written, the founders of the APC agreed that the presidency would move to the South after the North had completed two terms of eight years.

Sagay also said President Buhari shouldn’t be the one to determine his successor or come out openly to de­clare support for any of the aspirants, but only support his favoured aspirant with his vote.

“He (Buhari) shouldn’t be the one to determine who will be his successor. There is a process in the APC such as primaries.

“Also in the APC, there is informal zoning. They did not write the agreement down but everybody agreed that after a northerner has spent two terms in office, a southerner will be nom­inated by the APC as the presidential candidate.

“So, it is the turn of southerners to compete for nomination. The northern­ers would have completed their turn by 2023.This is just to ensure that there is unity, equity, and no zone takes the other for a fool”.

“So, my belief is that the president is going to ensure that the candidate will be a southerner. He may support a can­didate with his vote but I don’t think it will be proper for him to come out to say ‘this is the man I want to succeed me’.The aspirants, who are southerners, should be given a level playing field to contest for votes from people who will vote at the primaries.”

Also speaking on the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s national leader, Sagay said nothing bars the former Lagos State gover­nor from contesting for the highest political office in the land.

“Definitely, he (Tinubu) is free to contest. He is a potential presidential can­didate with quite a number of others. Yes, there is no restric­tion or obstruction stop­ping him from contesting if he wants to,” he said.

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OHANAEZE PRESIDENT-GENERAL: Why We Chose Obiozor —Igbo Leaders

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There were showers of tributes, yesterday, for the new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor as Igbo leaders gave reasons they chose him as Chief John Nnia Nwodo’s successor.

According to them, the Igbo Nation is at the cross roads now and needs an experienced hand to steer her to safety of which Obiozor is eminently qualified and experienced to undertake.

Former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe; and Secretary of Lagos State chapter of Ohanaeze were among Igbo leaders who marshalled reasons Obiozor is the best man for the Ohanaeze job

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Tom Ikimi; and the main opposition Peoples Democratic, PDP, were among those who congratulated Obiozor and urged him to use his new position to deepen Nigeria’s unity.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, had shortly after Obiozor’s victory on Sunday, congratulated him and promised the South-East geo-political zone inclusive politics and to further mainstream the zone in the workings of the party.

Obiozor has track record of integrity, honour, courage intellectual capacity—Abaribe

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) said the emergence of Ambassadors George Obiozor and Okey Emuchay as president-general, and secretary-general of Ohaneze respectively would sustain the progressive trajectory, which the immediate past executive built.“In a statement yesterday in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom in Abuja, Senator Abaribe noted that Professor Obiozor who is widely acknowledged for his track record of excellence, honour, intellectual capacity and courage in public service, qualities that greatly qualify him as the preferred choice to lead the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, will no doubt inject such attributes to further reinvigorate and build an activist-driven Ohanaeze in the face of current realities in Nigeria.

“I am confident that the new executive, known for their consummate love for the Igbo race, particularly the President-General who has been at the front line in articulating interest of Ndi-Igbo, would continue to exhibit courage and forthrightness in not only pursuing our collective interest in Nigeria, but also weave Ndigbo as a nation bonded in love, peace and unity,” he said.

Obiozor has what it takes to lead Ndigbo —Ekweremadu

Speaking in like manner, Senator Ekweremadu said Obiozor was elected because the new Ohanaeze leader has what it takes to lead Ndigbo.

Ekweremadu, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Uche Anichukwu, described Obiozor as a man of “uncommon pedigree, unimpeachable integrity as well as a bridge-builder with national and international clout and appeal.

“I believe the former university don and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States of America, the former Nigeria’s Consul-General to South Africa and newly elected Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, Okechukwu Emuchay, and others constitute a formidable and dependable team for harnessing and advancing Igbo interest worldwide at this crucial time in our history.

“They have proved their mettle over the years and we trust them to bring their antecedents of quality leadership, national and international reach, and diplomatic finesse to bear in advancing the Igbo course in Nigeria and globally.”

We’re presenting our best team —Ozonweke

On his part, Ozonweke, who is also special assistant Special Duties to the Ohanaeze President-General, said: ”Obiozor is eminently qualified and has all it takes to lead Ndigbo. The Igbo nation is at cross roads like Nigeria.

We need a seasoned statesman. The Igbo are not going to war but dialogue with other ethnic nationalities. We need somebody who can improve on what Nwodo did. When other ethnic nationalities leaders such as Professor Ango Abdullahi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Edwin Clark meet, the Igbo leader should not be a house boy to them but some one with clout, who can hold his own.”

Use your new position to forge greater unity of Nigeria —Buhari

President Buhari felicitated with Obiozor and urged him to deploy his immense experience within and outside government to forge greater unity of the country and be a “unifying force beyond his immediate constituency.”

President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the eminent diplomat and scholar, who was Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Israel and Cyprus, has a lot to offer Ndigbo and Nigeria

“Given Prof. Obiozor’s rich background, especially in international affairs and pan-Nigerian commitment, I have little doubt that his election is well-deserved and will serve not only the interest of Ndigbo but also that of his fatherland. We need all hands to be on deck for this country to move forward in peace and unity.”

Obiozor should lead crusade to rescue Nigeria —PDP

The PDP in a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, also extolled the leaders and the people of the South-East for their democratic credentials “evinced in the successful election of a new leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization.”

“Prof. Obiozor is a seasoned administrator, excellent diplomat, courageous nationalist and a firm voice in the fight for the entrenchment of democratic tenets of the rule of law, social justice, equity, fairness, mutual respect, true federalism and a credible electoral process in our country.

“The PDP notes the choice of Prof. Obiozor to lead the Ohanaeze Ndigbo at this critical time in the history of our nation, particularly given his doggedness in fighting for constitutional all-inclusiveness as well as elimination of all forms of social injustice, divisiveness, nepotism, sectional marginalization, constitutional violations and disregard for the sensibilities of the Nigerian people.

“Our party therefore urges Prof. Obiozor to use his new assignment to further rally compatriots in our collective determination to rescue our nation from misrule and return her to the path of peace, national cohesion, mutual respect, adherence to the rule of law, social justice credible elections, economic prosperity and political stability.

Igbo have made better choice —Tom Ikimi

Hailing Obiozor on his victory, Ikimi said the Igbo nation has made a better choice with Obiozor’s election in this crucial period of the nation’s history.

According to Ikimi, the Igbo’s quest to play significant role in Nigeria will find appropriate leadership in Obiozor, who has over the years established very robust contacts across the country.

Ikimi also congratulated the outgoing President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo on completion of an exciting and eventful tenure.

He said: “I have received with utmost pleasure the news of the election of Ambassador George Obiozor as the new President General of the Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The Igbo nation could never have made a better choice, particularly at this time of our nation’s evolution other than this erudite scholar and exquisite diplomat, who has earned my respect over the past three to four decades of our association.”

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