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Nigeria's Defence Chief, Chris Musa, said on Monday the military was being fed bad intelligence by informants, hampering the fight against armed kidnapping gangs who continue to abduct students and residents in the north of the country.

The military announced on Sunday that it had rescued 137 students abducted by gunmen earlier this month in northwestern Kaduna state. The school children arrived in Kaduna on Monday.

Musa told Reuters that the military was too stretched and often relied on informants to pursue the armed gangs, known locally as bandits, often with little success.

"They (informants) make the troops go elsewhere and when they get there, they meet nothing and allow the bandits to commit acts of criminality," said Musa.

Musa said there had been no confrontation with gunmen during the rescue of the Kaduna students. But he would not say how the students were freed or if any of the gunmen were taken into custody.

There have been at least 68 mass abductions in the first quarter of 2024 mostly in northern Nigeria, according to risk consultancy SBM Intelligence.

Musa said once bandits retreat to Nigeria's vast forests, it becomes difficult to pursue them. That is because gunmen quickly trek through the forest, often for days with their victims.

"Once they go in there, getting them out is difficult. The aircrafts cannot see them quite easily," he said, adding that Nigeria's vast and loosely patrolled northern border made the situation worse.

The kidnappings have prompted some state governments to recruit what they call community guards.

"Now, state governments on their own are going to pick people who have no training and deploy and we are discouraging them from doing that," he said.

 

Reuters

Just a few months ago, the man set to be Senegal's next president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, was sitting in a prison cell, a relatively unknown figure outside his opposition party Pastef.

Everything changed for him when the party's firebrand leader, Ousmane Sonko, who was also detained, was charged with insurrection in July and barred from running in elections to succeed President Macky Sall.

That cleared the way for Faye to emerge from the shadow of his former boss and eventually from prison, take over the race and on Monday - the day of his 44th birthday - emerge as victor after his opponent conceded defeat.

It was an unlikely climb to the top for an unlikely national figurehead. Faye was a tax inspector before he became Sonko's trusted lieutenant and Pastef's secretary general.

Where Sonko is charismatic, with a verve that has attracted thousands of country's jobless youths to his anti-establishment movement, Faye cuts an austere figure.

Sonko's endorsement of his former deputy in the run-up to Sunday's delayed election was crucial, but a little short on rabble-rousing emotion.

"My choice of Diomaye is not a choice from the heart, but from reason. I chose him because he meets the criteria that I have defined. He is competent and has attended the most prestigious school in Senegal," Sonko said in a video message.

'HE IS MORE HONEST THAN ME'

"No one can say he is not honest. I would even say that he is more honest than me. I entrust the project into his hands," Sonko said.

According to Faye's biography on his campaign website, he was often the top of his class growing up. He graduated from high school on Senegal's southern coast in 2000, then studied law and got a master's degree from Dakar's Cheikh Anta Diop University.

In 2004, the devout Muslim passed the competitive entrance exam to Senegal's National School of Administration which trains the former French colony's top civil servants, where he specialised as a tax inspector.

He was arrested in April 2023, a few months before Sonko was also held, and charged with contempt of court and defaming magistrates, charges Faye had denied. Crucially, unlike Sonko, he was not barred from running in elections.

Convinced that Sonko's detention and the banning of Pastef were part of a ploy by Sall's government to eliminate strong rivals from the election - all accusations rejected by the government - several party members including Faye put their names forward.

Faye eventually made the cut while still in prison, despite a late challenge from ruling coalition candidate Amadou Ba to have his candidacy rejected by the Constitutional Council.

A coalition of more than 100 parties, and some political heavyweights including former prime minister Aminata Toure, joined Faye's campaign under the banner "Doimaye mooy Sonko", which in the local wolof language means "Diomaye is Sonko."

'ONLY ONE PERSON IS ELECTED'

Thanks to a general amnesty law passed shortly before the vote to ease political tensions, Sonko and Faye left their prison cells in Dakar earlier this month, accompanied by thousands of supporters who danced and chanted through the night.

Both hit the campaign trail, crisscrossing the country and drawing thousands to their rallies and caravans.

Sidy Lamine Badji, a 36-year-old part-time driver who voted for Faye on Sunday, rejected criticism that the candidate who lost a municipal election in his home town in 2022 was inexperienced in government affairs.

"This is false. He has dignity. I believe in his promise and that he will not betray us," Badji said, his voice choking.

Faye has declined to say what role Sonko might play in any future government, and has insisted he will be his own man.

"Why do we want to focus on just one person in a government when I have a coalition that includes more than 120 people?" he said, brushing off concerns held by some voters that if he won, the country would end up with two men who believe they are president.

"In a presidential election, only one person is elected in the end, and it's he who is the president of the republic," Faye said.

 

Reuters

Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has confirmed that Nadeem Anjarwalla, a suspect in the ongoing criminal probe into the activities of Binance has escaped from custody.

The NSA has now activated its dragnet involving Interpol and other MDA’s to apprehend the fleeing suspect.

Spokesman of ONSA, Zakari Mijinyawa, who confirmed the escape noted that the suspect eloped using a smuggled passport.

“Upon receiving this report, this office took immediate steps, in conjunction with relevant security agencies , MDAs, as well as the international community, to apprehend the suspect. Security agencies are working with Interpol for an international arrest warrant on the suspect.

“Preliminary investigation shows that Anjarwalla fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport.

“The personnel responsible for the custody of the suspect have been arrested, and a thorough investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances that led to his escape from lawful detention.

“Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria, like other governments around the world, has been investigating money laundering and terrorism financing transactions perpetrated on the Binance currency exchange platform.

“Until his escape, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who holds British and Kenyan nationalities and serving as Binance’s Africa regional manager, was being tried by Nigerian courts. The suspect escaped while under a 14-day remand order by a court in Nigeria. He was scheduled to appear before the court again on April 4, 2024.

“We urge the Nigerian public and the international community to provide whatever information they have that can assist law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect.”

 

The Guardian

Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has filed criminal charges against MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd and four others over alleged copyright infringement.

The case with the number FHC/ABJ/CR/111/2024 was filed at the federal high court in Abuja. 

Four other defendants in the case are Karl Toriola, chief executive officer (CEO) of MTN Nigeria; Nkeakam Abhulimen; Fun Mobile Ltd, a telecommunications service provider; and Yahaya Maibe, its CEO.

In the three-count charge, NCC alleged that the defendants, between 2010 and 2017, “offered for sale, sold and traded for business, infringed musical works of Maleke Moye, an artiste, without his consent and authorisation”.

The commission alleged that the defendants used Maleke’s musical works and sound recordings with subsisting copyright, known as “caller ring back tunes” without the authorisation of the artiste.

The musical works and sound recordings of the musician allegedly infringed upon include 911, Minimini-Wana Wana, Stop Racism, Ewole, 911 instrumental, Radio, Low Waist, and No bother.

The defendants were also alleged to have illegally distributed the musical works to their subscribers, without authorisation, thereby infringing on the rights of the artiste.

In the third count, the defendants were alleged of having in their possession, the musical works and sound recordings of the artiste, other than for their personal or domestic use. 

The copyright commission said the alleged offences are punishable under section 20 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the Copyright Act, Cap. C28, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The case is yet to be assigned to any judge and no date has been set for mention. 

 

The Cable

UN demand for Gaza cease-fire provokes strongest clash between US and Israel since war began

The United Nations Security Council on Monday issued its first demand for a cease-fire in Gaza, with the U.S. angering Israel by abstaining from the vote. Israel responded by canceling a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation in the strongest public clash between the allies since the war began.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the U.S. of “retreating” from a “principled position” by allowing the vote to pass without conditioning the cease-fire on the release of hostages held by Hamas.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the administration was “kind of perplexed” by Netanyahu’s decision. He said the Israelis were “choosing to create a perception of daylight here when they don’t need to do that.”

Kirby and the American ambassador to the U.N. said the U.S. abstained because the resolution did not condemn Hamas. U.S. officials chose to abstain rather than veto the proposal “because it does fairly reflect our view that a cease-fire and the release of hostages come together,” Kirby said.

The 15-member council voted 14-0 to approve the resolution, which also demanded the release of all hostages taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack in southern Israel. The chamber broke into loud applause after the vote.

The U.S. vetoed past Security Council cease-fire resolutions in large part because of the failure to tie them directly to the release of hostages, the failure to condemn Hamas’ attacks and the delicacy of ongoing negotiations. American officials have argued that the cease-fire and hostage releases are linked, while Russia, China and many other council members favored unconditional calls for a cease-fire.

The resolution approved Monday demands the release of hostages but does not make it a condition for the cease-fire for the month of Ramadan, which ends in April.

Hamas said it welcomed the U.N.‘s move but said the cease-fire needs to be permanent.

“We confirm our readiness to engage in an immediate prisoner exchange process that leads to the release of prisoners on both sides,” the group said. For months, the militants have sought a deal that includes a complete end to the conflict.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: “This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable.”

The U.S. decision to abstain comes at a time of growing tensions between President Joe Biden’s administration and Netanyahu over Israel’s prosecution of the war, the high number of civilian casualties and the limited amounts of humanitarian assistance reaching Gaza. The two countries have also clashed over Netanyahu’s rejection of a Palestinian state, Jewish settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the expansion of settlements there.

In addition, the well-known antagonism between Netanyahu and Biden — which dates from Biden’s tenure as vice president — deepened after Biden questioned Israel’s strategy in combating Hamas.

Then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Biden ally, suggested that Netanyahu was not operating in Israel’s best interests and called for Israel to hold new elections. Biden signaled his approval of Schumer’s remarks, prompting a rebuke from Netanyahu.

During its U.S. visit, the Israeli delegation was to present White House officials with its plans for a possible ground invasion of Rafah, a city on the Egyptian border in southern Gaza where over 1 million Palestinian civilians have sought shelter from the war.

Last week, Netanyahu rebuffed a U.S. request to halt the planned Rafah invasion – vowing during a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to act alone if necessary. Blinken warned that Israel could soon face growing international isolation, while Vice President Kamala Harris said Israel could soon face unspecified consequences if it launches the ground assault.

The Security Council vote came after Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution Friday that would have supported “an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in the Israeli-Hamas conflict. That resolution featured a weakened link between a cease-fire and the release of hostages, leaving it open to interpretation, and no time limit.

The United States warned that the resolution approved Monday could hurt negotiations to halt the hostilities, raising the possibility of another veto, this time by the Americans. The talks involve the U.S., Egypt and Qatar.

Because Ramadan ends April 9, the cease-fire demand would last for just two weeks, though the draft says the pause in fighting should lead to “a lasting sustainable cease-fire.”

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the resolution “spoke out in support of the ongoing diplomatic efforts,” adding that negotiators were “getting closer” to a deal for a cease-fire with the release of all hostages, “but we’re not there yet.”

She urged the council and U.N. members across the world to “speak out and demand unequivocally that Hamas accepts the deal on the table.”

Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. abstained because “certain edits” the U.S. requested were ignored, including a condemnation of Hamas.

The resolution, put forward by the 10 elected council members, was backed by Russia and China and the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations.

Under the United Nations Charter, Security Council resolutions are legally binding on its 193 member nations, though they are often flouted.

Algeria’s U.N. ambassador, Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council, thanked the council for “finally” demanding a cease-fire.

“We look forward to the commitment and the compliance of the Israeli occupying power with this resolution, for them to put an end to the bloodbath without any conditions, to end the suffering of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told the council that the vote “must be a turning point” that leads to saving lives in Gaza and ending the “assault of atrocities against our people.”

Shortly before Monday’s vote, the elected members changed the final draft resolution to drop the word “permanent” from its demand that a Ramadan cease-fire should lead to a “sustainable” halt in fighting apparently at the request of the United States.

Russia complained that dropping the word could allow Israel “to resume its military operation in the Gaza Strip at any moment” after Ramadan and proposed an amendment to restore it. That amendment was defeated because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes — with three council members voting in favor, the United States voting against, and 11 countries abstaining.

Since the start of the war, the Security Council has adopted two resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, but none has called for a cease-fire.

More than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed during the fighting, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The agency does not differentiatebetween civilians and combatants in its count, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

Gaza also faces a dire humanitarian emergency. A report from an international authority on hunger warned last week that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza and that escalation of the war could push half of the territory’s 2.3 million people to the brink of starvation.

The United States has vetoed three resolutions demanding a cease-fire in Gaza, the most recent an Arab-backed measure on Feb. 20. That resolution was supported by 13 council members with one abstention, reflecting the overwhelming support for a cease-fire.

Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution in late October calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting to deliver aid, the protection of civilians and a halt to arming Hamas. They said it did not reflect global calls for a cease-fire.

They again vetoed a U.S. resolution Friday, calling it ambiguous and saying it was not the direct demand to end the fighting that much of the world seeks.

That vote became another showdown involving world powers that are locked in tense disputes elsewhere, with the United States taking criticism for not being tough enough against its ally Israel, even as tensions between the two countries rise.

Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia and China on Monday of using the Gaza conflict “as a political cudgel, to try to divide this council at a time when we need to come together.”

 

AP

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Moscow terror attack could be linked to Ukraine – Putin

The deadly terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall was a clear attempt to intimidate Russia and serves the interests of the Ukrainian government, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. 

More than 130 people were killed at the concert venue northwest of Moscow on Friday evening, when several armed men began shooting into the crowd and set the hall on fire. Speaking with law enforcement and regional officials Monday evening, Putin argued the atrocity fit the pattern of actions by Kiev.

“This atrocity may be only a link in a whole series of attempts by those who have been fighting our country since 2014, using the neo-Nazi Kievregime as their hand,” Putin said. “And the Nazis, as is well known, never hesitated to use the most dirty and inhumane means to achieve their goals.”

A terrorist group calling itself Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the concert venue massacre. The US and the EU swiftly insisted that Ukraine had nothing to do with the attack and that ISIS-K, a shadowy group allegedly operating in Afghanistan and Central Asia, was the sole culprit.

Russian security services have apprehended a dozen suspects, including seven alleged perpetrators, intercepted as they drove towards the border with Ukraine. They were identified as Tajik nationals. Speaking on Monday evening, Putin described them as “radical Islamists.”

A question that needs answering is why the terrorists headed for Ukraine after carrying out the attack, Putin said.

“Who was waiting for them there? It is clear that those who support the Kiev regime do not want to be accomplices and sponsors of terrorism. But a lot of questions remain,” he added.

While Russia knows who pulled the trigger, the president said, Moscow still needs to find who gave the order. He made it clear that Kiev is his primary suspect, however.

With Ukraine’s military losing on the frontline, Kiev has attempted to breach the Russian border, shelled civilians in Belgorod and launched missiles at Crimea, Putin noted at the meeting. All of these actions “create a logical sequence to a terrorist attack,” seeking both to intimidate Russia and fortify domestic morale, so that Ukrainians would continue “obeying orders” from Washington and keep fighting, he added.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Russian envoy ignores summons over missile that Poland says entered its airspace

The Russian ambassador to Poland ignored a summons to appear at the country's foreign ministry on Monday after Warsaw said a missile launched at targets in western Ukraine violated its airspace.

Poland's military said its defence radar systems recorded the missile entering the country's airspace for 39 seconds on Sunday, encroaching 2 km (1.24 miles) into Polish territory before returning into Ukraine.

"The ambassador of the Russian Federation ... did not attend the foreign ministry today to explain the incident," foreign ministry spokesperson Pawel Wronski told reporters.

Poland will decide on the next steps in coming days as it cannot ignore such "a sign of contempt", Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz told Polsat News television on Monday.

"These must be agreed decisions, because this is the response of the entire Polish state," Kosiniak-Kamysz said.

The Russian embassy in Warsaw confirmed Sergey Andreev had been summoned to the ministry on Monday but did not attend.

"The ambassador asked whether the Polish side was ready to provide evidence for its claims," it said, referencing what

it described as a "similar situation" in December 2023.

"Since the replies of our Polish colleagues did not

indicate that such evidence would be provided this time, the

ambassador decided that a discussion on this topic would be pointless and rejected the invitation to the meeting."

 

RT/Reuters

In 2003, the literary critic Fredric Jameson famously observed that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” For the first time in two centuries, he noted, capitalism was viewed as both destructive and irreversible. Waning faith in the possibility of a post-capitalist future has nurtured deep pessimism.

This prevailing despair evokes John Maynard Keynes’s 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” in which he warned against the “two opposed errors of pessimism.” The first was the pessimism “of the revolutionaries who think that things are so bad that nothing can save us but violent change.” The second was the pessimism of reactionaries who view economic and social structures as “so precarious that we must risk no experiments.”

In response to the pessimisms of his time, Keynes offered an alternative vision, predicting that technology would usher in an era of unprecedented abundance. Within a century, he argued, continuous technological progress would elevate living standards – at least in the “civilized” world – to 4-8 times what they were in the 1920s. This would enable his generation’s grandchildren to work a fraction of the hours their ancestors did.

The short-term employment theory for which Keynes is widely known was part of this larger vision of technological utopia. In his view, running the economy at full capacity was the quickest route from necessity to freedom. Once we achieve this goal, the economic “dentistry” that preoccupied Keynes would become redundant. Our attention could then shift to “our real problems,” those of “life and of human relations, creation, behavior, and religion.”

Although Keynes found Karl Marx’s ideas incomprehensible, his vision of a post-capitalist future resembled that of Marx in The German Ideology. Marx regarded capitalism as a means to address the problem of production, while communism was viewed as a way to manage distribution, thereby eliminating the need for a division of labor.

Much like Keynes, Marx’s vision of the future championed the cultivated amateur, a role traditionally reserved for the aristocracy. Marx envisioned a society where one could “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening,” and “criticize after dinner” without being confined to the role of hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic. Like Keynes, he saw capitalism as an ordeal humanity had to endure so that the good life could be democratized.

Although Keynes and Marx viewed capitalism as a necessary evil, both opposed hasty efforts to abolish it or meddle too forcefully in its workings. Keynes warned against prematurely dismantling the capitalist system through wealth and income redistribution, while Marx believed that reformist attempts to humanize capitalism would merely delay the revolution. These rigid stances ultimately proved too extreme for the Keynesians and socialists who sought to establish Keynesian social democracies in the mid-twentieth century.

But despite their utopian visions of a post-capitalist world, Keynes and Marx had fundamentally different views on how to overcome the capitalist “monster,” stemming from their distinct interpretations of the system. For Keynes, capitalism was a spiritual deformation that had spread through Western civilization on the vector of Puritanism and would naturally perish once it was no longer needed. In an era of abundance, “the love of money as a possession – as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life – will be recognized for what it is,” a “somewhat disgusting morbidity” that one “hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.”

By contrast, Marx did not view capitalism as a psychological affliction; instead, he saw it as a political and social system wherein the capitalist class monopolized ownership and control of land and capital. This dominance enabled capitalists to extract surplus value from workers, whose only saleable commodity was their labor power. Capitalism, Marx argued, would not simply wither away; it had to be overthrown, but not before its creative potential had been fully realized.

Marx’s portrayal of capitalism as a creative force was rooted in Hegel’s dialectic and significantly influenced by Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Another source of inspiration was Goethe’s Faust, where Mephistopheles is depicted as a diligent executor of God’s plan for human redemption.

In many respects, today’s pessimism is more profound than the one Keynes identified in 1930. Leftist revolutionaries still long for capitalism’s downfall, yet they have failed to provide a viable political alternative since the collapse of Soviet communism. Meanwhile, conservatism has evolved into the “radical right,” characterized by resentment and chauvinism but lacking a coherent vision for a harmonious future. Neither side seems to offer a light at the end of the tunnel.

It is the absence of a redemptive vision that sustains, and partly defines, today’s prevailing pessimism. While Keynes and Marx believed in the emancipatory power of machines, technology is now widely viewed as a menace, even as our future remains deeply intertwined with it. Similarly, Keynes and Marx assumed that capitalism would collapse long before nature rebelled against its exploitation; we now face the existential threat of climate change, with little hope of a successful global effort to combat it. Most alarmingly, public trust in the ability of democratic systems to deliver meaningful progress is rapidly eroding.

Faced with a choice between parasitic capitalism and emerging neo-fascism, pessimism is reasonable. But given that neither the end of the world nor the end of capitalism seems imminent, the question remains: Where do we go from here?

 

Project Syndicate

I've long believed the only person who thinks a particular meeting is important is the person who called the meeting. 

Science backs me up. A meta-analysis of more than a decade of research shows 90 percent of employees feel meetings are "costly" and "unproductive" and that they're right: Employee productivity increased by over 70 percent when the number of meetings was reduced by 40 percent. 

Still, sometimes meetings are necessary. Maybe that's why smart leaders – and, as you'll see in a moment, leaders who look out for the best interest of their employees – prefer walking meetings.

Like Richard Branson, who likes to walk and talk because he feels walking meetings improve focus and lead to quicker decisions. Or like former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who says walking meetings eliminate distractionsand make meetings more productive.

Or like Steve Jobs, who loved walking meetings, especially for brainstorming. (Legend has it he and Jony Ive finalized the design of the groundbreaking iMac G4 while walking around a flower garden.)

Research backs Jobs up. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that over 80 percent of the time, people come up with more (and, more important, better) creative ideas and solutions when they walk as opposed to when they sit.

But that's not the only reason to take your meeting for a stroll. A study published in Nature Medicine found that walking approximately 8,200 steps per day makes you less likely to become obese or suffer from sleep apnea, acid reflux and major depressive disorder; weight loss tends to reduce the severity of sleep apnea and acid reflux, while exercise has long been known to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and stress. (More on that in a moment.)

The impact is even greater for people who have a BMI of between 25 and 29, or "overweight." While participants didn't necessarily lose weight, walking 11,000 steps per day cut their risk of someday having a BMI of 30 or higher – or "obese" – in half. 

And then there's this. A decadelong study published in JAMA Network Openfound exercising 45 minutes per week – with "exercise" including walking – makes you less likely to experience depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder. (The more you exercise the better, up to around 300 minutes per week; after that, the mental health impact doesn't necessarily increase.)

Add it all up, and yeah: Walking meetings make you – and whomever you walk with – more creative and a little healthier, both mentally and physically.

And may help you live longer: A 2019 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that participants who increased their daily activity by 2,000 steps, regardless of where they started in terms of step count, faced a lower risk of earlier mortality and a host of positive health outcomes, especially where heart disease and diabetes were concerned.

The next time you need to meet – especially with one or two people – make that meeting a walk and talk. You'll be more focused. More creative. More decisive. 

And you and they, will enjoy mental and physical health benefits in the process.

Which makes a walking meeting a great double-dip. 

 

Inc

Northern Elders Forum on Sunday came hard on President Bola Tinubu, saying the growing insecurity across the country indicated that the present goverment has failed to protect Nigerians just few months in office.

While declaring that enough is enough, the elders said Kuriga school children abduction is another tragic incident that highlights the growing need for improved security measures.

Spokesperson of the forum, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in a statement on Sunday, said though the forum welcomed the abducted children back with open arms, there is need ro emphasize the urgent need for proper medical and shock checks as they reintegrate into society.

The elders said: “The Northern Elders Forum firmly declares that enough is enough. The safety and security of our children should never be compromised or subject to negotiation. It is unacceptable for Nigerians, particularly those in the northern region, to continue living under such insecure conditions.

“Unfortunately, just months into the Tinubu administration, there have already been clear signs of failure in providing the vital aspects of security of life and property to citizens. This situation is deeply concerning and requires immediate attention from our leaders.

“While we celebrate the return of the abducted Kuriga school children, we must also recognize this event as a wake-up call for all of us.

“We cannot afford to become complacent in the face of such acts of violence and disregard for human life. As elders, it is our duty to protect and nurture the next generation.

The forum urged the government and relevant authorities to work closely with us in ensuring that “our children can go to school without fear.”

It added: “The safety and well-being of our children must always be a top priority. We also call for accountability and swift action from our leaders to address the security challenges our communities are facing.

“The return of the Kuriga school children stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of our community. Let us use this moment to unite and actively work towards safer conditions for our children and our communities.”

 

The Guardian

National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has increased the fare for the 2024 pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia by N1,918,032.91.

In a statement issued on Sunday evening by Farima Usara, NAHCON spokesperson, said intending pilgrims have up to March 28 to make payment for the spiritual exercise.

Usara said the development was due to the forex crisis which Nigeria has been battling for months.

The commission had initially pegged the fare for this year’s hajj at N4.9  million.

With the N1.9 million increment, intending pilgrims who had deposited N4.9 million will now pay N6.8 million in total.

“However, due to late remittances of Hajj fare by those concerned necessitated adjustments, resulting in two date shifts with the final being 12th of February 2024. Recall that as at 31st December 2023, Naira was still at N897:00 to a Dollar at the banks,” the statement reads.

“These shifts unfortunately pushed the Hajj fare collection deadline to fall after harmonization of foreign exchange rates, presenting a new and significant challenge.

“What the harmonization meant in the Hajj fare equation was that in the face of global financial challenges, coupled with the new forex policy, Nigerian pilgrims would now be saddled with an unexpected increase in Hajj cost, despite having already paid the fixed fare of about N4.9 million, depending on the departure zone as approved by government..

“Considering the urgency of the situation, NAHCON was forced to explore various options, including encouraging State Governments and affluent individuals to intervene on behalf of their pilgrims. This window still remains open. This will compliment the intervention of the Federal Government that went the extra mile to support the Nigerian Muslim pilgrims in the discharge of their religious obligation. Commendably, government’s policy focus of bringing down the exchange rate has given the Hajj fare reduction a boost.

“The good news now is that with Naira having appreciated to N1,474.00 to a Dollar over the preceding week and after due consultation with stakeholders, coupled with NAHCON’s desire to ensure equitable spread of the Federal Government’s intervention to all the already registered pilgrims whose payments have been received, the Commission resolved that each pilgrim would now have to pay a balance of N1,918,032.91 in accordance with the current foreign exchange rate.

“Intending pilgrims that still wish to participate in the 2024 Hajj are by this release advised to proceed and pay a balance of N1,918,032.91 latest by 11:59 pm of 28th March 2024. The Commission will shut down its system by 29th March and no other payment would be accommodated after.”

 

The Cable


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