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Russia launches overnight drone attack on Kyiv

Russia launched an air attack on Kyiv early on Sunday, with blasts ringing out across the Ukrainian capital and its region for almost two hours and drone debris falling on several of the city's central districts, officials said.

The scale of the attack was not immediately known. Reuters witnesses heard at least five blasts across Kyiv, and Ukrainian media footage showed a number of cars damaged.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that one person was injured in the historic Podil neighbourhood and a fire broke out near one of the city's parks.

Debris from downed drones fell on the Darnytskyi, Solomianskyi, Shevchenkivskyi, Sviatoshynskyi and Podil districts, Klitschko and the city's military administration said.

In the Shevchenkivskyi district, drone debris sparked a fire in an apartment, which was quickly distinguished. There were no immediate reports of injuries, Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

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There was no immediate comment from Russia about the attacks. Moscow has been conducting near-nightly assaults on Ukraine's territory. A Russian attack killed 17 on Wednesday in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka.

** Ukraine's counteroffensive to continue after onset of bad weather, spy chief says

Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russian forces will continue through the onset of cold and wet weather later this year, even though it would become harder to fight, Kyiv's intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on Saturday.

Ukraine launched a much-vaunted counteroffensive this summer that has retaken more than a dozen villages in the south and east over three months, but has been complicated by vast minefields and heavily entrenched Russian forces.

"Combat actions will continue in one way or another. In the cold, wet and mud, it is more difficult to fight. Fighting will continue. The counteroffensive will continue," Budanov said.

The comments, made at a conference in Kyiv hosted by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, offer the strongest indication to date that Ukraine does not plan to halt its push when the weather turns later this year.

The West supplied billions of dollars of military equipment and trained up thousands of Ukrainian fighters for the counteroffensive to help Kyiv try to regain territory.

But the slow progress of the counteroffensive has sparked concerns among Kyiv's supporters that the West could struggle to maintain the scale of military aid to keep Ukraine battling on at the same intensity.

Vadym Skibytskyi, an official from Ukraine's military spy agency, said earlier on Saturday that Russia currently had 420,000 servicemen inside Ukraine.

The push in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, now centred around the villages of Robotyne and Verbove, is seen as a crucial part of an operation that seeks to split Russia's occupying forces in half in the south, but remains far from that goal.

"Our counteroffensive is happening in several directions," Budanov said, acknowledging that progress had been slower than he had wanted and describing the situation as difficult.

Apart from the huge concentration of Russian mines, he identified the large of number of small Russian "kamikadze" drones as a key factor that had slowed Ukraine's progress so far.

Russia, which launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed.



Second Challenger 2 tank destroyed in Ukraine – media

The Russian forces have successfully hit the second Challenger 2 tank out of 14 heavy equipment pieces that London supplied to Kiev, the Russian media reported on Saturday, citing a local civic movement head from the Zaporozhye Region.

The heavy armor was supposedly rendered inoperable after it took just one hit with a Russian Kornet anti-tank missile, Vladimir Rogov, the leader of the ‘We are together with Russia’ movement told RIA Novosti.

“The British-[made] tanks have seen an open season declared on them,”Rogov said, adding that the second such tank was destroyed by the Russian airborne troops. The weapons supplied by the UK “burn just as well as any other Western equipment,” Rogov pointed out, adding that the fate of such equipment “is not to be envied.” The activist did not name his sources for the information.

Neither Kiev, nor Moscow have officially commented on the reported development so far. London, which confirmed the destruction of the first Challenger 2 tank in Ukraine earlier this week, did not provide any comments either.

The first British-made tank was also reportedly hit by a Russian Kornet missile. The Kornet system is a man-portable anti-tank guided missile, which can also be mounted on a vehicle. Some of its modifications are capable of destroying main battle tanks and other armored vehicles equipped with explosive reactive armor at a distance of up to 10 kilometers.

On Wednesday, a video of the first Challenger 2 tank being supposedly struck by such a missile surfaced on social media. The tank had completely burned out as a result of the hit, the footage showed.

At that time, British Secretary of Defense Grant Shapps said that “there can be material losses” in a conflict zone and London “accepts that.” He also told journalists that the UK does not plan to send additional tanks to Kiev to replace the losses.

The UK sent some 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine earlier this year as part of a massive Western military assistance effort, which mostly included variants of German-made Leopard 2 tanks. The supplies were intended for the much-touted Ukrainian counteroffensive that was eventually launched in early June.

Since then, the Ukrainian troops have barely managed to bring about any changes to the frontlines while suffering heavy losses both in personnel and equipment. As of September 5, 2023, Kiev lost some 66,000 troops and 7,600 pieces of heavy weaponry in its summer operation, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

** At least six explosions heard in Ukraine’s capital Kiev — eyewitnesses

At least six explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in the early hours of Sunday, eyewitnesses told TASS.

"At least six blasts came within the period of 40 minutes. Sounds of air defense systems in operation are heard in the northern districts of the city," the sources said.

At present, an air raid warning is in place in Ukraine’s capital Kiev and a number of other regions.

Kiev city authorities said on Telegram that the capital’s air defenses were working.

"Kiev Region! Targets have been detected in the airspace, and air defenses are engaging them," the report says.

Earlier on Sunday, explosions were reported in the regions of Sumy and Chernigov.

Currently, the country’s regions of Zhitomir, Kiev, Poltava, Cherkassy, Sumy, Chernigov, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Kirovograd, as well as Kiev-controlled territories of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Zaporozhye Region are in the red zone, according to the country's offiical air raid alert portal.



Sunday, 10 September 2023 04:40

Of Shettima, cows and goats - Festus Adedayo

Yoruba have a solemn way of expressing disgust with vacuity. Wherever elders look forward, in huge expectation, that a respected person would utter words of knowledge - ogbon but its antonym – ago comes from that otherwise venerated mouth, they are downcast. Conversely, wherever ago is expected and ogbon is manifested, it elicits respect and high acclamation. Recently, American president, Joe Biden, was picturesque ogbon. Recall that, arising from his attempt to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump faced trial on a litany of felony charges. His trial was considered turning point in American legal history. In the process, a historic mug shot of him was released by a Georgia courthouse. It instantly became a global talk issue and a veritable muse for various artistic creations and merchandise. T-shirts, posters, mugs, shot glasses and even bobblehead dolls got creatively embossed with the Trump mug shot. In the shot, the American president was captured donning a red tie, gleaming hair, and wearing on his face like a visor his traditional scowl, like one who stepped on excrement. As he stepped out of an exercise at Lake Tahoe, accosted by reporters for his impression of Trump’s mug shot, Biden had smiled and, as reported by Bloomberg, said, “Handsome guy, wonderful guy."

A “handsome and wonderful guy” remark on an indictee’s mug shot, one probably on his way to jail, was every inch an unkindest cut. In literature, Biden’s remarks share same texture with an irony, euphemism or litotes. You could even be pardoned if you call it an antiphrasis, a rhetorical device where one who utters it means the opposite of what he says, in such a way that it is obvious to anyone who hears it what the speaker’s intention is. Western leaders use expressions like this a lot. They are called ice cream words, as opposed to the infelicity of hot, burning reactions that end up promoting hatred, animosity and division. The recipient of the word is hurt as they had been hit right in the middle of their hearts, yet the words appear harmless and gentlemanly. The words say very little yet have sent innumerous arrows piercing the heart of the matter and the soul of their victims.

The Biden path doesn’t excite most Nigerian leaders. They find wisdom in ago. Like last week. Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima, against the run of play, had stormed the Appeal Court in Abuja, venue of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, (PEPT) to witness the delivery of judgment. Forget many insinuations thrown at his attendance. Some mischief makers said his presence was meant to make personal eye contacts with the judges. Some said it was to intimidate them. Others said it was a reflection of the certainty of the presidency’s suasion that the result would go its way. Anyway, Shettima sat through the tiresome rigour of waiting to hear the last of the justices’ pronouncements which lasted for almost a whole day. He was flanked by Umaru Ganduje, party chairman, ministers and the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) in the last February 25 elections, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, had appealed against the declaration of the APC candidate in the said election as winner and president of Nigeria. After their Lord Justices had declared the APC candidate winner of the election, Shettima then spoke to the press, haughtiness, conceit and his obsession for bombast crowding his face. “We are not going to retire Atiku to Dubai or Morocco. I’d retire him to Fombina. I’d buy him goats, broilers and layers, so that he can spend his days rearing cows and broilers,” he had said of the man who had just been declared loser of the election by the court.

So, was Shettima trying to cast aspersion on Fulani rule, Kanuris’ historic clash with Uthman Fodio’s Fulani nomads and all they represent? Was it a referencing of today’s “conquest” by Kanuris, manifest in his vice presidency, of the progenies of Fodio, almost two hundred years after Fodio’s hijra and jihad on the animist Kanuris of Bornu? Or was Shettima simply referencing Fombina, the southlands, an earliest name for the emirate south of Bornu and Sokoto? Or, the place of the Kanuris who, even in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, led the famous Kanem Bornu Empire, with a Kanuri leadership of the empire?

Apparently immediately realizing the indecency of such outburst, Shettima attempted to apply some soothing balm. He then went into a paraphrased history of what he called the socio-cultural interaction between the Fulanis and Kanuris of northern Nigeria, which he incongruously flaunted as justification for the liberty he took to dress the former vice president in such infelicity. That interaction, Shettima said, was reason why Abubakar could not complain that a far younger but brusque holder of a temporary political power took liberty to dress him in such a despicable robe. “He’d stoically bear,” Shettima said in a re-rendition of Shakespearean lingo.

Since appearing on the dais of political leadership in Nigeria, Shettima has struggled to present himself as a polished, urbane and gentlemanly northern politician. A few weeks ago, he was in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, for the wedding of Ibukun, daughter of Folusho Okunmadewa, who the VP called “my beloved teacher.” Cosseted on both sides by the state’s Deputy Governor, Adebayo Lawal; Bornu governor, Babagana Zulum and former Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, Shettima lauded the ancient city as “a home” and where he learned to turn everything that comes his way into an opportunity. Waxing and walzing in poetics, the VP dazzled the audience with the ancient lines of John Pepper Clark’s Ibadan.

“As I look around this room, I’m not only reminded of a city that has woven its culture, values and aspirations deep into my being, but also of how fate has played a part in expanding relationships and families. I’m privileged to not only draw from this intellectual oasis of the University of Ibadan, but also to identify as a member of the family and as a qualified son of the soil,” he said.

Shettima manifests this image of a man obsessed with books and knowledge. On a February 21, 2017 trip to Oslo as governor of Borno State, he had reportedly gone shopping. The Paleet shopping center, a famous mall at Karl Johans gate, opposite the royal palace of the Norwegian monarchy in the city of Oslo and in particular, a store called Tanum, was where he headed. He had told the store keeper that he needed books and his areas of interest were non-fiction, leadership, biographies, politics, history, economies, education and culture of different societies and nations. A few weeks ago, representing President Bola Tinubu at the 2023 BRICS summit in South Africa, his media aide reported how Shettima took a detour from the conference to a bookstore. He searched the city of Pretoria for books which the aide said was manifestation of “his unquenchable thirst for books, intellectual curiosity, and insightful perspectives on writers and subjects… topics spanned domains ranging from economics and philosophy to the intricate realm of politics… a personal philosophy regarding acquiring books in the cities he journeyed through.”

While the run-up to the 2023 elections was acquiring feverish pitch, Shettima suddenly epitomized the culture shock that Ugandan poet, Okot p'Bitek, attempted to convey in his famous poem, Song of Lawino. Standing in for Tinubu at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference of 2022, also graced by then presidential candidates, Abubakar and Obi, Shettima was outfitted in attire that poignantly spoke to his attempts at going off the handle in his acquired self-sureness of western book knowledge. This was in palpable juxtaposition to the saber-rattling of his war-mongering Kanuri roots. Outfitted in black suit and red tie on top of a pair of gym shoes, Shettima stirred uncomplimentary reactions that froze social media. On his Twitter page, an ex-presidential aide, Reno Omokri had asked, “Who in his right mind wears a suit and tie and then puts on a pair of gym shoes to a conference?”

First published in 1966 in Luo and translated into English, Song of Lawino contributed to debates on the place and future of Africa in a world where there is a growing gravitation towards the knowledge of books and abandonment of the values, mores and bequeathals from our African forebears. With pungent graphic metaphor and a grammatical intensity that catches attention of the reader, p'Bitek demonstrates the imminent conflict between modern civilization and tradition. It was narrated as dialogue between Lawino and her husband, Ocol. Ocol abandons his wife and in the name of Europeanization, marries a woman who answers to archetypal Europe. p'Bitek asks such germane questions about the nature of Africa’s liberation like, should Africans defer to pre-colonial acquired tradition or adapt to European values? Such conflict must have hit Shettima at the NBA conference.

Anyway, what exactly was Shettima trying to convey by that queer “We are not going to retire Atiku to Dubai or Morocco. I’d retire him to Fombina. I’d buy him goats, broilers and layers, so that he can spend his days rearing cows and broilers”? Was he in a way making reference to Derek Walcott’s Goats and Monkeys, one of the poems in the collection, The Castaway and Other Poems? Derek Alton Walcott, a Saint Lucian, West Indies poet and playwright, was a Nobel Prize winner. The poem under reference is a commentary on master-slave relationship and symbolically themed to reflect rulers and the ruled. Reference to goats and monkeys in the poem was an obvious allusion to Shakespeare’s Othello.

The reference to cow is even curiouser. Fulani have a historic dalliance with cows. The most notorious of the examples was Muhammadu Buhari who, even as Nigeria’s president, maintained an almost romantic and incestuous relationship with his herd of cattle, at the expense of the wellbeing of the people he was sworn in to protect. In that threat to buy Atiku cows, so that he could return to the traditional profession of his kith and kin, was Shettima making tribal denigration or affirming ethnic ascendancy or supremacy?

All in all, Shettima’s walk down the aisle of inappropriate imageries and anecdotes does not portray him as the cultured book-reading northern leader that he has struggled all this while to convey. On the reverse, it casts him in the mould of the disappointment encountered by Yoruba elders from men who were expected to mirror sterner stuff of wisdom and civilization in utterances. If the vice president was seized – seize again! – by the usual Aso Rock spirit of incalculable excitement at the APC win in court, books, tomes of which he is reputed to have stockpiled in his brain, should have taught him the need for précis and culture. None of these did he exhibit outside the Appeal Court on Wednesday.

While Shettima and the APC are celebrating APC’s electoral victory in the court, traditional rukus on alleged impartiality of the judiciary reigns. The fear of judicial corruption has always surrounded Nigeria’s electoral firmament. It didn’t begin today. The 1979, 1983, 1999 elections, even down to the present time, quaked under quests for electoral justice. Rather than mourn the turn of the face of justice today, we all must opt for an activist fight for a total reform of our electoral laws. For instance, a president who reserves the power to appoint the INEC chairman and its commissioners cannot but retain a rope to manipulate the swings of electoral geography. Let us sever every twine that links electoral umpire to the presidency. It is key to impartiality.

Second, let us tinker with the constitutional provision which requires a candidate for the office of the Nigerian president to receive just a mere plurality of national votes and over 25% of the votes in at least 24 of the 36 states. Tinubu’s 8,794,726 total votes, representing 36.61%, Atiku’s 6,984,520, 29.07% and Obi’s 6,101,533 which represents 25.40% of total votes are too unrepresentative of Nigerians, so much that winners who claim to have been given legitimacy of office actually have none. Between the three of them, they represent a tiny percentage of votes cast and the general population of Nigeria. Anyone who wants to be Nigeria’s president should not score less than 51% of votes cast, the constitutional requirement in many African countries. Those are the issues I think we should address, moving forward.

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord .….  when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard ~ Luke 1:11-13a.


Without any doubt, the modern day Christian needs divine direction, strong interventions and supernatural assistance now more than ever! Why? Troubling end time signs and prophecies as foretold by Jesus are being fulfilled daily (Luke 21:16-28; Mark 13:5-23).

However, no matter the circumstances, fulfilling our destiny is top on God's priority list. He expects us to forget the failures of the past and seize today's incredible opportunities (James 1:17). He’s calling us, therefore, to a deeper relationship with Him, so we can walk in His light and experience His power afresh.

Basically, God created two distinct but closely interwoven worlds: the spiritual and the natural worlds. Both are real, and they have beings, things, processes, etcetera.

The spiritual world was designed to operate, directly and indirectly, as an invisible power in the natural world. In fact, though the natural world exists and behaves based on observable natural laws, it is powered indirectly by the invisible spiritual power (Hebrews 1:3).

Occasionally, the spiritual essence operates directly in the natural world, causing visible manifestations beyond natural laws. Whenever a “spirit being” directly interrupts natural principles and laws to create tangible states and phenomena, we call it “supernatural intervention” (Luke 5:4-9).

Actually, all genuine Christians, recreated in Christ Jesus, are supernatural beings (Hebrews 12:9). God made the supernatural life possible and accessible for us through that Eternal Door, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:16). However, we were made to live, both in the natural and the supernatural dimensions.

We must, therefore, open our eyes and see the world for what it is, and understand the hidden operations of darkness in plain sight. Being careful not to allow unbelief, carnality or unwillingness to block our supernatural manifestations, we must re-orientate our minds and release our faith to make our environments supernatural-friendly.

Particularly we must keenly familiarize ourselves with the agents that God typically deploys to assist us, and become more conversant with their operational details and modes of engagement.

Sudden and Glorious Supernatural Events!

We human beings generally tend to be set in our ways, relapsing easily into our old traditions and natural lifestyles (Acts 11:1-16). But, we must rather recognize God’s readiness to visit us and return our exiles (Psalms 126:1-6).

Whenever God visits us, He brings heaven to earth, and bestows heaven-on-earth experiences upon us in all ramifications of life: homes, health, finances, careers and callings. How? Wherever the “Head” is, defines the functional headquarters!

Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, once experienced a sudden and remarkable supernatural intervention (Luke 1:5-7). They both came from the priestly lines with amazing godly heritage, walking in righteousness and serving the Lord faithfully.

Now, Elisabeth was barren. They prayed, but it seemed like answers wouldn’t come soon. However, they never gave up on God, but remained very faithful. In fact, whenever Zacharias served the Lord on the altar, he did so without any hint of bitterness, grumbling or complaining.

Then, suddenly, a supernatural being, an angel, appeared to him, saying: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John” (Luke 1:13).

Angels are messengers from the Lord, and mighty warriors with prodigious strength (Daniel 10:6). They’re holy agents that God typically deploys on supernatural assignments, to minister to His children in diverse ways, and to craft the wonders that they see and experience (Hebrews 1:14).

There is a high note of great significance in this temple encounter! Prior to the event, there hadn’t been any heavenly experience amongst the people of Israel for about four hundred years: no prophecies, angels or miracles. Those were the “silent years” in-between the Old and the New Testaments. Yet, Zacharias and Elisabeth   believed God!

Mary the mother of Jesus also experienced an out-of-this-world dimension of supernatural operations at the conception and birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:30-45).

Unarguably, this was the noblest miracle and the most dizzying wonder that ever happened. Of course, there’s no human explanation for how Mary became pregnant. The angel only hinted, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee”. And Mary believed (v35-38)!

We too must readily give all it takes to ensure that supernatural encounters become our commonplace experiences via a deep, passionate and growing hunger for the things of God.

Charging the Angels for Supernatural Performance!

We now know that God gave His angelic hosts charge over us, to run errands for us (Psalms 91:9-12). But what remains to be learnt is the fact that God also gave us charge over them, to release them on assignments.

In Psalm 103:20-22, we see how David instructed angels to praise God, and how he also commanded his environment to bless the Lord. Admirably, he was able to do these because his habitation was so rich in praise and the fear of God, as a regular lifestyle.

Now, if David who was not “born again”, so to say, could have a fair rule in the realm of the spirit via the use of the Word, how much more we who have been redeemed by the blood and are now seated in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

We must faithfully cherish our privileged position in Christ, and be ever thankful for it. Indeed, we can still daze our world and enjoy the fullness of the heavenly resources if we dutifully compel the earth to align with God’s Will, always (Matthew 6:10).

The Cost of Supernatural Release

As we aspire to soar higher supernaturally and relish the glories of God’s presence, we must keep in mind that there’s a cost they attract. In its generic sense, it's called repentance and dying to our selfish natural inclinations.

We must relinquish ownership of our lives and let God have His way, embracing the go-big attitude and soaring with all manner of prayer and fasting, to set the stage for the supernatural through the accomplished works of Christ.

When our natural senses fail, then our spiritual senses become quickened, as it’s commonly experienced during prolonged fasting, and we’re thus enabled to witness things that ordinary mortals cannot.

In addition, your bold declaration of God’s Word on issues will further demonstrate how you value the release of the supernatural (Psalms 18:44-45). Nothing happens in the kingdom without a declaration (Genesis 18:17-18).

Moreover, a lifestyle of sharp sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, obedience and positive actions based on firm confidence in the integrity of God’s Word are very crucial to provoking the supernatural.

Friends, let’s come boldly into the heavenly realms, putting our faith to task. The Holy Spirit will then lift us up on eagle's wings, and cause us to ascend into God’s Presence to encounter things beyond earthly words.

Nonetheless, we must always allow God’s wisdom to prevail in all circumstances (Psalms 46:10). And, please, be patient: a person who never gives up cannot be defeated (Isaiah 40:31).

As you develop your supernatural foresight with this truth and act accordingly, be aware that you’re creating the atmosphere for supernatural performances, which could grant you a meteoric rise in your faith and dominion.

Beloved brethren, it’s time now to pant after supernatural Christianity, taking hold of what belongs to us. Thereafter, men, angels and nature will cooperate to minister to us and assist us in our assignments. You won’t miss this, in Jesus Name. Amen. Happy Sunday!


Bishop Taiwo Akinola,

Rhema Christian Church,

Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Connect with Bishop Akinola via these channels:


SMS/WhatsApp: +234 802 318 4987

God schedules each day of our lives before we even begin to breathe. Every day is pre-recorded in His book. (Psalm 139:16). Each man is created for a specific purpose in the counsel of God, to play a specific role in life.

The righteous are:

“A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, (God’s) own special people, that (they) may proclaim the praises of Him who called (them) out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

But the wicked are made for the day of doom. (Proverbs 16:4).

“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3).

God is sovereign

God does not give man the latitude to do what he wants. It is God who determines all human actions:

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).  

When Israel went astray, God was behind it. Isaiah asks God why He made that happen, when He could have prevented it:

“O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways, and hardened our heart from Your fear?” (Isaiah 63:17).

When the Israelites sin, it is because God’s judgment affects their will:

“You make us turn back from the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.” (Psalm 44:10).

God withheld Abimelech from committing adultery with Sarah, Abraham’s wife.” (Genesis 20:6). But He did not prevent David from committing adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. In fact, it was God who moved David to sin by numbering Israel. (2 Samuel 24:1).

We only do what God permits or allows. The Bible shows conclusively that:

“God frustrates the devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot carry out their plans.” (Job 5:12). 

Hearts and minds 

God fully controls the hearts of men. Solomon says:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; he turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1).

When the Israelites were in Egypt, God turned the Egyptians against them:

“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.” (Psalm 105:25).

But when He sent them into captivity, He made their captors treat them with compassion:

“He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive.” (Psalm 106:46).

While in captivity, He made a promise to Israel that now also applies to all humanity:

“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7).

Human disposition

God controls how we feel. He determines our dispositions. He caused the Egyptians to give their articles of silver and gold to the Israelites on their departure from Egypt:

“The LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 11:3).

If we are sad, God is the cause. If we are happy, God is behind it:

“A distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14).

David acknowledges this to God. He says:

“You have put gladness in my heart.” (Psalm 4:7).

When it serves His purposes, God makes us like some people, and He makes us dislike others:

“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem, and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.” (Judges 9:23).

God even controls our speech. He assures Moses, a stammerer:

“I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:12).  

We only pray to God because God enables it. Accordingly, the psalmist asks for God’s enablement:

“Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.” (Psalm 80:18).

Knowledge and understanding

It is God who gives knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6). Elihu says:

“There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” (Job 32:8).

If God wants us to know something, He will make us know it. Thus, Luke says of Lydia:

“The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14).

But if God does not want us to know something, He will ensure that we will not know it. This was the predicament of biblical Israel:

 “God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.” (Romans 11:7).

Once God determines to destroy a people, He hardens their hearts against His counsel. This was also the case with the evil sons of Samuel:

“They did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.” (1 Samuel 2:25).

 If a man’s ways please the Lord:

 “He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

 But if we offend God, He ensures that our enemies prevail against us. The psalmist says to God:

“You make us turn back from the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.” (Psalm 44:10). 

Gift of salvation

Salvation is entirely at God’s discretion. God causes people to come to Him. (Psalm 65:4). Jesus says:

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44). 

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. To a nation that did not call on My name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isaiah 65:1).

Even repentance is God’s gift. (Acts 11:18). If God does not want us to repent, we cannot and will not.

Paul also echoes this:

“It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16).

As a result, the elect are God’s workmanship:

“Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).

Fatalistic responses

Because it is well understood that the counsel of God is immutable, many in scripture do not bother to contest His judgments. When Samuel gave Eli the dire verdict of God that his house would be judged severely for the sins of his sons, Samuel simply resigned to his fate. He said:

“It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” (1 Samuel 3:18).

Job also accepted implicitly the providence of God. With the loss of his children, his wealth, and his health, He said:

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21).

Since God is the Judge behind everything, Jeremiah asks:

“Why should a living man complain?” (Lamentation 3:39).

David also reaches the same conclusion. He says to God:

“I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it.” (Psalm 39:9). 

Therefore, Peter counsels us:

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” (1 Peter 5:6).

Only the Lord God Almighty can make this kind of promise:

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14).

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A Kentucky oncologist who studied nearly 5,000 near-death experience cases over the last 37 years, claims that he has come to believe that “there’s certainly an afterlife”.

Jeffrey Long was an oncology resident when he first came across an article describing a near-death experience. He was studying how to best treat cancer using radiation at a library when he came across this fascinating case that ended up changing his life. Up to that point, he had been taught that people were either alive or dead, but here was this cardiologist describing the incredible experience of a patient who had died and then came back to life. Long was eager to learn more about near-death experiences or NDEs, and he became so obsessed with them that after his residency he founded the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, and he has since collected and studied thousands of NDEs. His conclusion – there is definitely life after death.

“I’m a medical doctor. I’ve read brain research and considered every possible explanation for NDEs,” Long wrote in an essay for Insider Magazine. “The bottom line is that none of them hold water. There isn’t even a remotely plausible physical explanation for this phenomenon.”

“These experiences may sound cliché: the bright light, the tunnel, the loved ones. But over twenty-five years of studying NDEs, I’ve come to believe that these descriptions have become cultural tropes because they’re true,” the oncologist said. “I even worked with a group of children under five who had NDEs. They reported the same experiences that adults did—and at that age, you’re unlikely to have heard about bright lights or tunnels after you die.”

Although every one of the over 4,800 near-death experiences he has studied over the last three and a half decades is different, many of them share certain patterns. For example, about 45% of people who have a near-death experience also have an out-of-body experience, which can be described as ‘their consciousness separating from their physical body, usually hovering above’.

Apparently, during one such experience, one woman lost consciousness while riding her horse and while her body remained on the trail, her consciousness traveled with her horse back to the farm they had left. She was later able to accurately describe what had transpired at the farm, even though her body had not been there, and those present confirmed her account.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence, I’ve come to believe there’s certainly an afterlife,” Long said, adding that his work with NDEs has made me a more compassionate and loving doctor.


Oddity Central

The telecommunications sector’s contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased significantly to 16 per cent in the second quarter of 2023, according to the data reported by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) based on the computation by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, stated this in a keynote address delivered at the annual Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) hosted by the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos on Thursday.

According to Danbatta, a professor of engineering, from a 14.13 per cent contribution in the first quarter of 2023, and up from the hitherto 15 per cent all-time-high record contributed in the second quarter of 2022, the telecommunications sector added 16 per cent to the national GDP in the second quarter of 2023 to set a new record.

Danbatta, while speaking on the theme: “Success Factors and Barriers to National Broadband and Digital Economy Aspirations”, took the audience, promising executives of telecom companies and other industry stakeholders, through the giant strides being made by the Commission.

From about eight per cent contribution to GDP in 2015, when Danbatta came on board as the EVC of NCC, he said quarterly GDP has increased significantly to reach its current threshold of 16 per cent and that this has continued to positively impact all aspects of the economy.

“Through sustained regulatory excellence and operational efficiency by the Commission, the industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two decades and this has impacted on all other sectors of the economy. The effective regulatory regime emplaced by the NCC and with the support from all stakeholders has been our major success factor as an industry,” Danbatta said.

The EVC stated that while there are barriers to broadband deployment in the country, ranging from the issue of right of way (RoW), fibre cuts, high capital requirement for deployment, multiple taxations and regulations, among other challenges, the NCC is navigating regulatory complexities, digital divide and literacy, security concerns with firmness and increased collaborations with necessary stakeholders such as ATCON to create measures towards tackling the challenges.

On the RoW challenge, the EVC said there are about 46 different taxes directed at the telecom sector at the moment. Such charges and levies, coming in various names, are imposed on telecom operators by some agencies and tiers of government, especially at the state and local levels. Danbatta said the challenge translates into greater economic burdens on telecom subscribers in the country.

Speaking about connectivity, Danbatta said, “Over the years, we have identified some clusters of access gaps all over the country but we have recorded a significant drop in the number of access gaps, as we continue to drive initiatives that boost access to telecommunications services.”

He stated that the Commission does this by enlisting government commitment to a digital economy with robust policy frameworks, promotion of investment and funding, stimulation of infrastructure development, digital inclusion and literacy, promotion of competition and market liberalisation, effective allocation of spectrum, as well as driving the e-government ecosystem.

Danbatta said with various ongoing regulatory efforts, “The NCC is confident that we are going to reach 50 per cent broadband penetration threshold by the end of 2023; and by 2025 we would have met and possibly surpassed the 70 per cent broadband penetration target, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.”

The EVC particularly commended ATCON and its members for being partners in progress and for constantly engaging the Commission in constructive ways towards finding solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the industry. The EVC said a national broadband network and a thriving digital economy are not without their challenges.

“However, these challenges can be overcome through determination, innovation, and strategic planning. By focusing on the success factors and addressing the barriers, we can create a future where every Nigerian have access to the opportunities that the digital world offers,” he added.

Danbatta also stated that the success of the nation’s digital aspirations is beyond technological advancements but also about transforming lives, driving economic growth, and ensuring that a nation remains competitive on the global stage.

“As we work together to navigate this path, I enjoin all our stakeholders in the public and private sectors to remain committed to building a brighter and more connected future for our country,” he said.



Saturday, 09 September 2023 04:52

Akeredolu back to work after 3-month sick leave

Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has notified the state House of Assembly of his resumption of duty after being abroad for three months on medical leave.

Akeredolu returned from Germany on Thursday.

Receiving a letter from the governor, on Friday, Speaker of the House, Olamide Oladiji, said it was in line with Section 190(1)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“According to the letter which was received today during the Parliamentary meeting of the House, the Governor resumed duty today, Friday, 8th September,2023,” a statement signed by Oladiji said.

Oladiji, who expressed appreciation to God for bringing the Governor back home hale and hearty, said the entire people of the state were glad to see him back in office.

The governor, in a letter dated 4th June, had informed the House of his proceeding on medical leave and later extended it on 4th July.

“The Governor in his letter, expressed gratitude to the Lawmakers for their good wishes,” the statement further said.

The governor arrived in the country on Thursday and met with members of his cabinet in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

He has been treating an undisclosed illness in Germany after his health deteriorated shortly after the presidential election.



A rare, powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing hundreds of people and damaging buildings from the historic city of Marrakech to villages in the Atlas Mountains.

Men, women and children stayed out in the streets, fearing aftershocks.

Morocco’s Interior Ministry said early Saturday that at least 296 people had died in the provinces near the quake. Additionally, 153 injured people were sent to hospitals for treatment. The ministry wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns.

The head of the town of Talat N’Yaaqoub, Abderrahim Ait Daoud, told Moroccan news site 2M that several homes in towns in the Al Haouz region had partly or totally collapsed, and electricity and roads were cut off in some places.

He said authorities are working to clear roads in the province to allow passage for ambulances and aid to populations affected, but said large distances between mountain villages mean it will take time to learn the extent of the damage.

Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, damaged. Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and evacuating restaurants in the city as throbbing club music played.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), with shaking that lasted several seconds. The U.S. agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.

The USGS said the epicenter was 18 kilometers (11 miles) below the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency put it at 8 kilometers (5 miles) down. In either case, such shallow quakes are more dangerous.

The epicenter of Friday's tremor was high in the Atlas Mountains, roughly 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Marrakech. It was also near Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa and Oukaimeden, a popular Moroccan ski resort.

Earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa. Lahcen Mhanni, Head of the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, told 2M TV that the earthquake was “exceptional.”

“Mountainous regions in general do not produce earthquakes of this size,” he said. "It is the strongest earthquake recorded in the region.”

In 1960, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near the Moroccan city of Agadir and caused thousands of deaths.

The Agadir quake prompted changes in construction rules in Morocco, but many buildings, especially rural homes, are not built to withstand such tremors.

Friday's quake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria's Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response.



Hundreds of protesters have been camping outside a French military base in Niger's capital Niamey for the past six days to demand the troops' departure, the latest sign of swelling anti-French sentiment among supporters of a military coup in July.

The demonstration started last Saturday, around five weeks after soldiers toppled President Mohamed Bazoum and seized power in a coup that has been widely condemned abroad but celebrated by many at home.

Relations between Niger and its former coloniser France have worsened since Paris declared the junta illegitimate, stoking anti-French sentiment.

There have been calls for around 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger as part of a wider fight against an Islamist insurgency in the Sahel to leave the country. France has so far rejected this.

Rallies in support of the junta have been recurring since the takeover. But the crowd in front of the French military has swelled and is showing no sign of leaving.

On Friday, protesters celebrated Muslim midday prayers that are usually held in a mosque in front of the base.

"France has never stood by its colonies and helped us. On the contrary, they are here to plunder our resources," said Hassane Aissa Seyni, sitting among other women in headscarves after the prayer.



Saturday, 09 September 2023 04:49

What to know after Day 562 of Russia-Ukraine war


Ukraine's Zelenskiy: Our partners have eased up on sanctions on Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that his country's allies had eased sanctions on Russia and called for a renewed drive to impose further punitive measures on Moscow.

"At this time, we see too long a pause by our partners in terms of sanctions," he said in his nightly video address. "And very active Russian attempts to evade sanctions."

Zelenskiy said keeping the pressure on Moscow should focus on Russia's energy sector, its access to microelectronics and its financial sector.

"There are three priorities: further sanctions against Russia's energy sector, real restrictions on the supplies going to the terrorists of chips and microelectronics in general and continued blocking of Russia's financial sector," he said.

"The world's sanctions offensive must resume."

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko had earlier said Ukraine rejected any suggestion of easing sanctions against Russia as part of efforts to restore the U.N.-backed agreement to ship grain through the Black Sea.

"Easing part of the sanctions regime against Russia in exchange for the resumption of the grain agreement would be a victory for Russian food blackmail and an invitation to Moscow for new waves of blackmail," Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

** Four killed, scores wounded in Russian air strikes on Ukraine

Four people were killed and scores wounded on Friday in Russian air strikes on Ukraine, including a deadly attack in which a missile slammed into a police building in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's hometown.

In the latest wave of aerial attacks since Russia's invasion last year, two women and a 46-year-old man were killed in the village of Odradakamianka in the southern region of Kherson, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

The fourth death was in a missile strike that reduced a police administration building to rubble in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, where Zelenskiy was born.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko initially said a police officer had been killed but officials later said the victim was a private security guard.

Klymenko said 54 people were also wounded in the attack, which officials said damaged administrative buildings, 17 high-rise blocks, four private houses and a religious building.

"There is a lot of work - the enemy has caused a lot of trouble in the city," regional governor Serhiy Lysak said.

He posted photos on the Telegram messaging app showing rescuers sifting through the rubble, other workers bringing in materials to start repairs and volunteers distributing tea and biscuits to residents. A large fire was extinguished.

Russia also carried out its fifth drone attack of this week on the southern region of Odesa, which is home to Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and Danube River that are used to export grain and other agricultural products.


Russia has carried out regular air strikes on cities and towns across Ukraine since the start of its invasion, including multiple attacks on the national power grid last winter that at times left millions of people without electricity.

Moscow has also intensified attacks on port infrastructure since mid-July, when it quit a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea.

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Ukraine, which is gradually making progress in a three-month-old counteroffensive in the south and east, is a major global grain producer and says the attacks on its ports are intended to stop it exporting its grain.

Officials said air defences shot down 16 of the 20 drones fired by Russia overnight - the Southern military command said 14 drones had been brought down over Odesa region and two more over the southern region of Mykolaiv.

Kiper reported damage to a non-residential building in the Odesa region that was hit by falling debris from a drone, but no casualties.

Regional officials said Russia had also attacked the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia and the northeastern region of Sumy with missiles, wounding several people.

Ukraine's emergency services said three people had been hurt in the Sumy region and posted a video showing rescuers pulling an injured woman out of a large crater caused by the explosion.

Russia did not immediately comment on the latest attacks but denies deliberately attacking civilians.



Ukrainian counteroffensive to fold in 6-7 weeks, US administration thinks

The Biden administration thinks that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will stop in about 6-7 weeks, the Economist said citing its source.

According to the article, "there are private disagreements over how much progress can be made in that time." One viewpoint is that "Ukraine’s army, having thrown in most of its reserves prior to breaking the second line [of Russia’s defenses - TASS], and taking heavy casualties attempting to breach it, is unlikely to get far." "If you look at the battlefield in five years’ time, it could look broadly similar," the article quoted a senior American intelligence official as saying.

That said, the Economist is also citing the opinion of Trent Maul, director of analysis for America’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), who is not as pessimistic. According to his assessment, the Ukrainian army purportedly has a "realistic possibility," about 40-50%, "of breaking the remaining Russian lines by the end of the year." However, he cautions that limited ammunition and worsening weather will make this "very difficult," admitting that "American and Ukrainian officials failed to appreciate the depth of Russia’s defenses and how difficult it would be for Ukraine to ‘smash through’ them with armor."

The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that the Ukrainian armed forces had been making unsuccessful attempts at a counteroffensive since June 4. According to the military agency, over three months, Ukraine has lost more than 66,000 troops and about 7,600 units of various armaments, failing to achieve any success at all in any area. On September 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had failed.

** Russian forces repel five Ukrainian attacks in Zaporozhye area

Russian forces repelled five Ukrainian attacks in the Zaporozhye area over the past day, taking out about 40 enemy troops, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a daily bulletin of the special military operation.

Here are the details of this and other combat actions that happened over the past day, according to the bulletin.

Zaporozhye area

The five Ukrainian attacks that were repulsed in the Zaporozhye area came from Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade near the settlement of Verbovoye. The Ukrainians lost "roughly 40 soldiers, a tank, two infantry fighting vehicles, three motor vehicles, two US-made M777 artillery systems, a UK-made FH-70 howitzer and Msta-B, D-20 and D-30 howitzers, an Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer, a Grad multiple launch rocket system and a Bukovel-AD radar station."



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