Friday, 03 December 2021

Items filtered by date: February 2021

By Justina Asishana, Minna/ THE NATION

Some of the abducted passengers of a bus, who regained freedom at the weekend, on Monday relived their ordeal in the hands of the bandits.

Fifty three passengers of a Niger State Mass Transit bus, who were kidnapped on the highway on February 14, were released one week after.

They were taken to the Government House in Minna, the Niger State capital, about 11pm on Sunday.

Among them were 19 members of a family, children and the aged.

One of them, Hajiya Jumai Isa, said: “It was a terrible experience but we thank God that we are safe now. They threatened us, they beat the men, they really beat the hell out of them. They told us they didn’t want anything from us but money. They said they wanted money, that we should give them money, that our people should bring money so that they would free us and that if not, they would kill us.”

She added that the bandits brandished sophisticated weapons that she had only seen in movies. “Their weapons, I have never seen the type before in real life. They have rockets, guns, AK 47, and other weapons. The bandits were more than 1,000 in that bush.’

Some of the 53 passengers recently kidnapped on the Kontagora-Minna road on board of the state-owned Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) bus, arriving the Government House, Minna, after they were released by their abductors on Sunday (21/2/21).
00717/22/2/2021/BJO/NAN

She expressed appreciation to God and the government for bringing her back safely, “I feel happy being reunited with my family. I thank God I am still alive because I lost hope, I didn’t think I would come back again.”

Mohammed Ndagi, who was returning from his friend’s wedding in Rijau at the time he was abducted, said bandits were shooting sporadically and a bullet almost took off his head.

‘One of the bullets brushed my head. When I saw blood, I thought I wouldn’t survive. But even with the wound, they forced me to move with them into the bush. We walked for about 24 hours. We walked all through the night. They gave us simple food, served on our palm. We drank the water that cows drink.”

He added: “We slept on bare floor. They did not tie our hands or tie us at all. They kept guns to our heads and beat us all the time. They beat us with stick. As they beat us, they kept saying, we need money or you will die here”.

He said they were moved from one place to the other adding that on the day they were released, the bandits escorted them to where those who picked them were waiting to prevent their being re-kidnapped.

“On the day they released us, they asked us to forgive them for what they did to us and we said we had forgiven them.

“They escorted us because they said if they left us to go on our own, some of their partners might re-kidnap us.”

Hamza Buhari described his experience as “hectic that I don’t wish for my enemy. They took us inside the bush. We walked for 24 hours. They moved us from one point to another. They conveyed the elderly on motorcycles. They beat us every day. They gave us rice on our hands. The experience was very bad”.

Alhaji Isah Abdukadir, who had 19 members of his family expressed gratitude to God and the government for ensuring their release.

Abdukadir who was close to tears, said the past week was traumatic for his family.

One of the family members who gave her name as Ameer said her mother, grandmother, uncle and sister were among those released.

Majority of the freed abductees had difficulty walking having been made to trek long distance in the bush.

Some of them were supported into the conference hall of the Government House.

Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello, who received them, said the released victims were malnourished and unwell adding that the medical team would attend to them.

He said no ransom was paid adding that the government employees used dialogue to secure their release.

Governor Sani-Bello said pupils of Government Science College Kagara, abducted by bandits on Wednesday, were still in captivity.

“We still have the students of Kagara in the hands of the bandits and everything is being done to secure their release soonest,” the governor explained.

Bello said the state went through one week of negotiation and dialogue to ensure the release of the passengers.

Published in News & Stories

By Tony Akowe and Sanni Onogu, Abuja/ THE NATION

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed on Monday briefed the National Assembly about Federal Government’s efforts that helped the country exit recession in the fourth quarter of this year.

Ahmed, who spoke at a meeting between the Leadership of the National Assembly and ministry, however, said the challenges brought about by COVID-19 made government’s revenue to drop by 65 per cent in 2020.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had attributed the country’s exit from recession to the harmony and cooperation between the Executive and Legislative arms of government.

Ahmed however, attributed the development to several efforts by the fiscal, monetary, and trade authorities. She said that the government spent more than was budgeted for on debt servicing for both local and foreign debts in 2020 by about two percent.

The minister said the challenges in 2020, which significantly disrupted the micro-economic development of the country with crude oil prices crashing to as low as $20 from $72 per barrel, made government’s revenue to crash.

Her words: “Another key development for Nigeria was the massive output cut by OPEC in the international market, which was designed to stabilise the crude oil market prices. This meant that the 2020 budget had to be revised.

“The impact of this development is that revenue went down by about 65 percent.”

Ahmed said in response to the development and with the support of the National Assembly, a number of measures were taken, such as the review of the exchange rate.

The minister added: “The effect was that our country went into recession in the third quarter. However, due to the significant stimulus as well as other interventions by the fiscal, monetary and trade authorities, a mild recovery has been recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a positive growth of 0.11 percent. This means that the country has technically exited recession as we had projected.

“Oil price was fixed at $28 per barrel; oil production was 1.8 million barrel per day, but the performance was 1.7 million barrel per day. Exchange rate was set at N360, but we closed the year at N375.”

She said inflation was targeted at 14.13 percent, but “we closed the year at 14.89 per cent.”

According to her, “GDP growth rate was targeted at 4.2 per cent negative growth, but we were able to improve on that and at the end of 2020, it was -1.9 per cent.”

She added that as at the end of 2020, Federal Government’s retained revenue was N3.94 trillion, representing 73 percent of targeted revenue.

The federal government share of the revenue, Ahmed explained, was N1.5 trillion which represents 157 per cent performance over and above the target.

This, she explained, was because crude oil prices performed better than the projection.

She said: “Non-oil revenue collection stood at 79 per cent, Company Income tax and VAT performed at 82 per cent and 68 per cent respectively. Customs revenue collection was 79 per cent. Considering the challenges of the year, this is a good performance; in fact, this performance is higher than previous years.”

On government’s expenditure during the year, Ahmed said: “The N9.97 trillion amended estimate (excluding government funded enterprises) performed at 102 per cent. This means that there was two per cent spending above what was appropriated. This spending arose specifically because of a higher debt service repayment for both local and external debt.

“As at the end of the year, we had N1.7 trillion that has been released as capital expenditure, representing 89 per cent of the capital expenditure. The extension granted by the National Assembly enabled the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to implement the capital budget up to 100 per cent of the amount that has already been released to them.

“The extension meant that agencies could continue to spend the money that has been released to them. Wed have made an assessment and as at the end of the first week of February, I am afraid to report that the performance report of the extended amount was averaging about 30 per cent. We are going to make another assessment by the end of February.”

She also disclosed that as of December 2020, the government had released about N115 billion for COVID 19 expenditure, adding “after that, there have been more releases and we will provide details on that.”

Senate President Lawan said that the meeting was specifically for the principal officers of the National Assembly to interact with the minister on the continued implementation of the 2020 capital budget.

Published in Business and Economy

By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

Critic, Femi Fani-Kayode has replied Nigerians who said he is broke and wanted to seek refuge in the All Progressives Congress, APC, saying that he has 55 domestic staff in his house alone and pays them regularly.

He said he is not broke as being championed by his haters.

Fani-Kayode, in an article on his blog said: “You insult me and say I am broke because I had talks with two APC Governors.

“Do you know that I spend more on my monthly salary bill in one month than some of these people that are claiming I am broke earn in 5 or 10 years?

“I have 55 domestic staff in my house alone. Not one of them gets below 70,000 naira per month which is higher than the national minimum wage.

“I do not owe salaries and I feed each of them three square meals every day. I do all this just to help them and to ensure they can look after and feed their families. Does that sound like a broke man to you?

“That is my little contribution to the welfare of our people because I certainly do not need so many staff. I employ them just to keep them off the unemployment line,” he said.

He asked further: “Apart from that do you know how many people I give scholarships to and how many people’s children I feed and educate? Do you know how many other families I am responsible for in terms of day to day living?

“The Bible says be your brothers keeper and I do these things unto the Lord. I do them and I will never stop even when my good is repaid with evil.

“The Lord has always provided for me and given me the fat of the land. He has always caused me to be a blessing to others though I do not make noise about it.”

Fani-Kayode said for the last 60 years of his life, God has been good to him as He caused him to excel, prosper and flourish and that from beginning to end, He has always been with him.

“You say I make money through politics, meanwhile I left public office in 2007 which is 13 years ago! Does that make sense to you? In any case is politics my only source of income in the world?

“Am I your conventional politician who craves for elective office? Do I even attend their meetings? I have been in this game since 1990! Do you know that? I have been making my contributions to current affairs, political discourse and politics for the last 31 years which is long before most of today’s Governors or Ministers even knew the meaning of the word.

“And it was always a struggle which involved sacrifice. Where were my detractors when I was in NADECO and fought against military rule? The records are there and so are the essays and some of the people I worked with.

“Where were they when we set up September Club in 1989 and some of the nations greatest leaders and elder statesmen and top politicians over the last 30 years, including Presidents, Governors, Ministers and legislators across party lines, were members.

“Where were they in the days of NRC, SDP and Choice ’92 when politics was real, when the greats held sway and when men honored their word. Where were they when we risked all for MKO Abiola’s stolen mandate and June 12th and even had to go into exile for years because of it?

Where were they when we stood against the annulment of June 12th and fought against the Government of General Sani Abacha?” He asked.

Published in Headliners

The popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi on Thursday met with Kidnappers of Students, Staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.

According to TVC News, The meeting took place at Tagina forest in Niger State.

The bandits were led by their leader, Dogo Gide and Gumi appealed to them to give peace a chance.

See photos from the meeting below:

After the meeting, Gumi assured that Niger abductees will be released soon.

A source disclosed that government also sent a strong delegation to meet with the bandits and dialogue with them

Published in Business and Economy

BY MICHAEL BAMIDLE/ GUARDIAN.NG

Three influential #EndSARS campaigners Feyikemi ‘FK’ Abudu, Odunayo Eweniyi and Damilola Odufuwa have been included in TIME magazine’s Next 100 list as emerging leaders who are shaping the future.

The Time100 Next list which was released today is an annual list that serves as an extension to the Time100 list. The Time100 Next aims to highlight “the 100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership in business, entertainment, health and science, sports, activism, and more.”

TIME wrote that the individuals on this year’s list provide “clear-eyed hope” amid a global pandemic, deepening inequality, systemic injustice and existential questions about truth, democracy and the planet itself. According to Dan Macsai, editorial director of the TIME100, “Everyone on this list is poised to make history. And in fact, many already have.”

The trio raised nearly N150 million during the #EndSARS protests to facilitate medical assistance, legal aid, food for protesters. Their entry was written by Suyin Haynes, a TIME’s senior reporter covering gender and culture.

“When protests calling for an end to police brutality and the disbandment of Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted across the country in fall 2020, Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi, founders of the Feminist Coalition, sprang into action. Drawing on their expertise in tech, they raised donations in Bitcoin to offer protesters medical assistance, legal aid and mental-health support,” Haynes wrote.

Haynes continued: “Simultaneously, Feyikemi “FK” Abudu acted quickly, raising funds from both Nigeria and the diaspora to organize food and security arrangements for protesters on the ground. Abudu later joined forces with the Feminist Coalition, and the organization, comprising 13 founding members, raised more than $387,000 in two weeks. As their fight continues—in mid-October, the government pledged to implement police reform, but efforts to suppress dissent, including by arresting demonstrators, are ongoing—the coalition’s leaders hope their crucial role in the protests demonstrates the importance of having women in leadership.”

Published in Headliners

BY MICHAEL BAMIDELE/ GUARDIAN.NG

Nigerian Afrobeats superstar Davido has been named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future.

The Time100 Next list which was released today is an annual list that serves as an extension to the Time100 list. The Time100 Next aims to highlight “the 100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership in business, entertainment, health and science, sports, activism, and more.”

TIME wrote that the individuals on this year’s list provide “clear-eyed hope” amid a global pandemic, deepening inequality, systemic injustice and existential questions about truth, democracy and the planet itself. According to Dan Macsai, editorial director of the TIME100, “Everyone on this list is poised to make history. And in fact, many already have.”

For the list, Davido’s entry was penned by Laycon, Nigerian rapper and TV reality star.

“Davido is one of the biggest voices in Afrobeats because his music connects with people, often in ways that transcend his expectations. When he released the song “FEM” in 2020, a title that loosely translates to “shut up” in Yoruba, he didn’t know it would become a major #EndSARS protest anthem, as youth banded together to demand the government take action to end police brutality in Nigeria last October. Officials responded by sending politicians to give speeches. We told the government to keep quiet unless they had something sensible to add—the ethos of “FEM” was directly relatable to that moment,” Laycon wrote.

Davido | Image: Stephen Tayo /The New York Times/Reudx

Laycon continued: “You can tell Davido puts 100% into every song he makes. And the results are clear: his album A Good Time surpassed a billion streams in 2020. Afrobeats is a worldwide phenomenon, and Davido is one of many Nigerian artists who has made that possible; now more and more artists, from Nicki Minaj to Young Thug, want to work with him.

“By bringing Afrobeats to the global stage, he’s paved the way for people like me.”

Published in News & Stories

By Aminu Garko/ PM NEWS

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello has confirmed the abduction 27 school students, three staff and 12 family members at the Government Science College Karaga of Rafi local government areas of the state.

He confirmed this during a press conference shortly after an emergency meeting with heads of security agencies in Minna on Wednesday.

Gunmen had stormed the school on Wednesday at 2am killing one student, kidnapped 27 students, three staff and 12 members of the families at Government Science College in kagara.

Also, 40 passengers from Kontagora to Minna where abducted by suspected gunman on February 14.

Bello directed that all boarding schools in Shiroro, Rafi and Muyan be closed down with immediate effect until the situation improves.

“I call on all Nigerlites to condemn all forms of criminality in the state,” he said.

He called the Federal Government to deploy all resources to secure the state while the state government was doing everything possible to ensure safe return of the students and staff.

The governor, however, disclosed that out of the 40 passengers abducted, 8 have regained freedom while the remaining were still in the hands of their abductors who were demanding for ransom.

He said that the state government would not pay ransom to the suspected bandits in order to secure the release of their victims, but was ready to support any bandit who was ready to surround arms.

“When you negotiate and pay ransom to criminals, they will use the money to purpose more weapons,” he said.

NAN reports that Government Science College Kagara has a total of 650 students of which 27 were abducted and one student Benjamin Doma killed.

Published in Business and Economy
Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:22

Veteran Nollywood actor found dead in apartment

By Samuel Oamen/ THE NATION

Nollywood veteran actor, Victor Decker, was found dead in his apartment on Monday by his neighbours at about 5 pm.

The Nation gathered Decker’s neighbours broke down the door to his apartment before they found his lifeless decomposed body in his sitting room.

He was 72 but the cause remains unknown.

Mayor of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Abuja, Jesse Nazareth, confirmed the incident.

“Yes, Victor Decker is dead. I am in the mortuary where they want to embalm him. I am not aware of the cause of his death. I just got a call that his neighbours did not see him for days so they got concerned.

“They went to his house, knocked on his door but got no response so they had to break down the door. That was when they saw him sitting on his chair lifeless.

“He was already smelling as he was decomposing. I rushed down there to arrange the necessary things.”

She added that several hospitals rejected the body of the late actor because it was already decomposing.

“I had to obtain a police report and cars to convey him to a hospital. I took him to several hospitals but they rejected him because his body was already decomposing. At about 3 am this morning, we were referred to a private hospital in Bwari, Abuja, where they accepted his body. This morning, they are embalming his body but they need to first reduce its size as he has swollen.”

Decker starred in films like Double Strings, If I am President and Lotanna.

Published in Arts & Culture
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