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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine has lost 90,000 men since June – Putin

The Ukrainian military has lost more than 90,000 troops since its counteroffensive against Russian forces began in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Thursday. 

Since June 4 alone, Ukrainian units have already lost over 90,000 people,” Putin told a plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, noting that this number includes both deaths and incapacitations. 

Ukraine has also lost 557 tanks and almost 1,900 armored vehicles in the same timeframe, Putin added.

The counteroffensive began on June 4 with a series of Ukrainian advances along the frontline between Kherson and Donetsk. The operation quickly ran into trouble, however, as Ukrainian units advanced headlong through minefields to meet multiple layers of Russian trenches, tank traps, and gun emplacements. With no air support to cover the repeated Ukrainian assaults, Kiev’s troops were exposed to attacks by Russian artillery, helicopters, and drones.

After adjusting their tactics several times, Ukrainian units managed to capture a handful of villages near Zaporozhye in August, although losses remained high. Western-supplied tanks were destroyed from afar by Russian drones and missiles, and Ukraine lost 17,000 men in September alone, according to figures from the Russian Defense Ministry.

Western officials have publicly acknowledged that the counteroffensive did not proceed as they would have hoped, and media reports suggest that the operation is viewed as a failure in the US and Europe. Even though heavy autumn rains will soon make progress on the battlefield extremely difficult, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to keep the offensive going into the winter.

The Ukrainian military does not publish its own casualty figures, although some estimates have leaked out. Back in December, the European Commission published and swiftly deleted a video and its associated transcript in which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Ukrainian military had suffered 100,000 fatalities in the first nine months of the conflict.

“We understand where and what we need to do,” Putin said on Thursday. “We are calmly moving towards achieving our goals, and I am confident that we will achieve them.”

Putin emphasized that Russia’s goal in Ukraine was not to expand the territory of the Russian Federation, but to build a “new world order” in which NATO or other military blocs were no longer able to impose their will on civilizations that resist. Putin also highlighted Kiev’s repression of Russian-speakers in the Donbass region as a key factor behind his decision to launch the military operation in Ukraine last year.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine reports success in the east, intense fighting further north

Ukrainian troops made headway in the eastern theatre of their counteroffensive to oust Russian occupying forces but are under pressure further north, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday.

Russian forces backed by Su-35 attack aircraft had started attacking along the front line in the direction of Makiivka in the Luhansk region, a spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern group of forces said.

"The most difficult area is the Lyman-Kupiansk sector," the spokesperson, Ilia Yevlash, told Ukrainian television, referring to two towns recaptured by Ukrainian troops late last year but still subject to Russian assaults.

"The intensity of assaults there has increased ... The enemy has chosen a new point - Makiivka - and is directing all its main efforts into this direction. Of course, we are also repulsing enemy attacks and inflicting damage on forces and equipment."

Fighting has flared up periodically near Lyman and Kupiansk and Ukraine says Russia has redeployed more than 110,000 troops to the area.

A Russian missile struck a store and an adjacent cafe on Thursday in the village of Hroza, west of Kupiansk, killing 51 people as residents attended a service for a fallen Ukrainian soldier.

Also in the east, Ukrainian forces are battling to regain ground near the devastated city of Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces in May after months of fighting.

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces, in its evening report, said Kyiv's forces had "achieved success" south of Andriivka - a village south of Bakhmut captured by Ukrainian troops last month in Donetsk region.

The report said Russian forces had unsuccessfully tried to regain lost positions in an area further south.

Russian accounts of the fighting said Moscow's forces had repelled two Ukrainian attacks west of the Russian-held city of Donetsk.

Reuters was unable to independently verify reports of battlefield activity from either side.

In the southern theatre, Kyiv's forces are pushing toward the Sea of Azov in an attempt to split Russian-occupied territory in two.

The Ukrainian General Staff said its forces were pressing on with their southward advance in the Zaporizhzhia region and had repelled a Russian attack near the village of Robotyne.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has acknowledged that the counteroffensive is proceeding more slowly than the military would like, but has dismissed Western criticism that Kyiv's strategy.

 

RT/Reuters

In a country of 133 million multidimensional poor, with youth unemployment at 53.40 percent, it would be a pity if anyone looking for an opportunity to earn a living missed the chance to hear the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma recently. 

In a campaign speech for his second term, Uzodimma promised, as my father would have said, what Napoleon in all his extraordinary conquests and ambition could not even have dreamed of. 

In my humble view, it’s Japa 2.0, a giant leap forward for the youth delivered in a moment of creative genius, the last of which was seen when the Supreme Court’s ruling on his election petition sprung His Excellency from number four position on the Imo ballot list of contestants in 2019, all the way to the Government House.

I must dispense with any further rigmarole and get to the point, while the governor’s generous offer lasts. The governor told a crowd of excited, cheering youths who came to visit him at the Government House on September 26, that he had finally come up with a plan to put at least 4,000 of them out of unemployment, as part of his “Skill Up Imo” programme. He said he had spoken with representatives of some Canadian and European firms in Nigeria. The companies would not only train these youths, but also send them to different choice destinations in North America and Europe to work. 

As if that was not enough, he then added that his government was prepared to pay the flight tickets of all 4,000 eligible persons once their employment has been processed, with the possibility, I might add, that a few lucky ones may even fly first class!

Upon hearing this bonanza, the crowd roared and roared in raptures of ecstasy. Of course, the governor didn’t have to say this too-good-to-believe offer was tied to the potential beneficiaries voting for him at the November 11 governorship election in the state. Quid pro quo was implied.

Campaign in lullaby

Mario Cuomo’s dictum that politicians campaign in poetry doesn’t really do justice to politicians of the Nigerian variety. They do much better – they campaign in lullaby. 

In 1999, for example, a fellow called Ahmed Yerima campaigned for governorship, promising to make Zamfara the believer’s paradise. He vowed to end corruption and enthrone justice and prosperity through political sharia. The seed of his green-eyed fanaticism has bred a deadly variety of bandits that haunt that state today. 

Another fellow, Saminu Turaki, promised that if he was elected governor, Jigawa would become Africa’s Silicon Valley, with a tablet for every voter. It turned out, however, that the only time there was Internet service in the state for most of his tenure was immediately after he received billions of naira in monthly allocation from Abuja. Once the money entered the state’s treasury all lines to the Government House were unreachable until the next allocation.

There’s even a more recent example of campaign by lullabies, the sort that is now ensuing from Imo State. A gentleman governor called Ben Ayade promised among a litany of things during his campaign that he would build a 260km superhighway from Calabar to Katsina-Ala in Benue State. He also promised a deep-sea port in Bakassi and a cargo airport in Obudu.

Voters bought his snake oil and repurchased it by giving him a second term. After eight years, they woke up to the harsh reality of the empty musical notes of Ayade’s broken promises.

Uzodimma-nistan 

Perhaps Uzodimma would be different? What is the price of a vote, anyway, compared with the prospects of a new life, so bright and beautiful that the vistas only compare with a terrestrial realm which, permit my limited imagination, I can only describe as Uzodimma-nistanat this time? 

As I watched the excitement and anticipation in the mostly young crowd, I felt sorry for Uzodimma’s opponents who have so far been thoroughly unimaginative. All they have been doing when they’re not pressing for the Charter of Equity that they say should disqualify the governor from re-contesting, is to talk about some plan to make Imo safe and secure again, and how to end graft and corruption in government. 

After listening to Uzodimma’s extraordinary redemption plan for Imo youths, his opponents should humble themselves and take remedial classes from this man who has been a consummate snake oil salesman long before Imo River. 

The governor’s announcement on September 26 may appear ordinary to the undiscerning, but a friend of mine and obviously a closet Uzodimma admirer expanded the grand dimensions of the governor’s Japa 2.0 programme, totally hidden from my simple heart. 

When I criticised the scheme as a cheap and foolish campaign gimmick, my friend admonished me promptly. How could I compare Uzodimma with Yerima or Turaki or Ayade? Couldn’t I see the governor’s ingenuity, he asked? 

New industry 

First, he said, all the talk about insecurity and corruption would vanish once the 4,000 ambassadors started working and remitting foreign exchange back home. And second, how could I not also see that the announcement by the governor, an accomplished salesman, had unleashed a cottage industry of sorts in the state already? 

According to my friend, as soon as the governor promised to provide jobs for 4,000 youths in Canada and Europe and also to pay their airfares, some smart folks in and around government would take the matter to greater imaginative heights.

In the next few days or weeks, for example, expect some people who might start hawking forms for Cohort One of either the Canadian or European editions of “Skill Up Imo.” If these retailers of snake oil charge only N5,000 per form, for example, they would have made N20m, if only 4,000 bought forms – a very conservative estimate in a state with an estimated population of 5.2 million, mostly youths! 

Imagine what that means for both the personal and government internally generated revenue. Between the sale of forms to the multiple rounds of screening, tests and final selection, my friend said, surely the good times would be back again. 

Think of the hundreds, if not thousands, of young people who instead of risking their lives in the desert of North Africa and the perilous Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe now have the opportunity of not only being trained by some of the best companies in the world but also being employed by them. And all of this on Uzodimma’s ticket, just for the price of a vote to return His Excellency to office! 

Reverse migration never looked so potentially profitable and America and Europe should have no difficulty seeing the win-win in this grand scheme. I therefore urge all busybodies trying to fact-check the governor to think about the implication of their action on this laudable and patriotic project and to desist forthwith.

My regret 

My only regret perhaps is that non-indigenes registered to vote in Imo may not benefit from this programme, although it is likely that given the wild excitement that greeted the announcement and the likely political harvest, the governor may extend this scheme to non-indigenous voters as well, as long as they vote for him and retain a certified true copy of their ballot paper.

There’s a saying in my neck of the woods that if a fashion designer is offering to make you a special wear you must first look at what he is wearing. Surely, anyone like His Excellency, who registered a company in 2012 with a share capital of N5m and won a dredging contract of N26 billion five years later which was diligently not executed, should be trusted to send only 4,000 Imo voters to the moon and back, without much difficulty.

As they say in the South East, “Ya kpo tu ba!”

** Ishiekwene is Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP

Shades? SPF50 suncream? Wide-brimmed hat? For decades, it has been drilled into us that if the sun is out, we’d better slip on protective clothing, slop on suncream and slap on a hat to stay safe. There’s little doubt that too much sun exposure – and particularly sunburn – increases our risk of developing skin cancer. It also prematurely ages the skin. But scientists are increasingly questioning the mantra that sunlight is an evil to be avoided at all costs, and investigating the brighter side of sun exposure.

It’s not just about vitamin D. Though important for strong bones and teeth this sun-induced vitamin is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the physiological processes that are influenced by sunlight falling on the skin. Sunseekers may even have a longer lifespan. So, can we capitalise on the benefits of sunshine, without risking skin cancer?

As daytime creatures living on a sunny planet, we shouldn’t be surprised that our bodies may have evolved ways of turning the sun’s energy to our advantage. The skin is our largest organ and it is packed with sun-responsive chemicals and machinery, the most obvious being melanin – the pigment that gives skin its colour.

People with darker skin start out with more melanin, but its production is also triggered by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. Melanin absorbs some of these UV rays, helping to protect skin cells from DNA damage – although this protection is limited, and even dark skin tones can get sunburn and other forms of sun damage such as hyperpigmentation and skin ageing.

One way in which sunlight switches on melanin production is through the release of a substance called beta-endorphin, which also plays a role in stress relief and pain management. This could be one reason why many people find sitting in the sun so relaxing.

Of course, sunbathing is a double-edged sword. The first clues that sunlight might be associated with an increased risk of skin cancer came in the late 1920s, when a British researcher called George Findlay observed that mice that were regularly irradiated with UV light developed tumours on their skin. Numerous studies have since shown that UV light triggers DNA mutations in skin cells which, left unchecked, could lead to skin cancer.

Puzzlingly though, despite facing an increased risk of skin cancer, people who are exposed to lots of sun appear to have longer life expectancies, on average, than sun avoiders.

This counterintuitive connection first came to light in 2014, when a Swedish researcher called Pelle Lindqvist published the results of a large study that followed the health of around 30,000 women over 20 years. It found that, on average, women who spent more time in the sun lived for one to two years longer than those who avoided the sun, even after taking into account factors such as wealth, education and exercise. This increased life expectancy appeared to stem from lower rates of cardiovascular disease and other non-cancer-related illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease and chronic lung disease.

Other studies have since identified a similar pattern, including among pale-skinned Britons. In July, Richard Weller at the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues published a preprint analysis which drew on data from 376,729 people with white ancestry who were enrolled in the UK Biobank Study – an enormous online database of medical and lifestyle records – whose health was followed for an average of 13 years.

It found that those with more active sun-seeking behaviour were 14% less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared to sun avoiders, and their risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 19% lower.

Overall, more active sunseekers had around 50 extra days of survival, on average, while participants living in southern parts of the UK lived an 16 extra days, compared to those living 300 km farther north – even after adjusting for factors such as socioeconomic status.

You might think that 50 days’ extra lifespan isn’t much, but at a population level, that’s huge

“You might think that 50 days’ extra lifespan isn’t much, but at a population level, that’s huge,” Weller says. “Basically, after correcting for all the confounders, in Britain – just like in Sweden – the more sunlight people have, the longer they live.”

Curiously, active sunseekers’ risk of dying from cancer, including skin cancers, was also 14% lower. Weller says a similar pattern has been seen in other studies too. “We know that when melanoma is diagnosed, people with higher measured vitamin D levels have a better prognosis,” he says.

Vitamin D is manufactured in our bodies when the UVB rays in sunlight react with a chemical in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol. Bone and muscle cells use it to regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus, which are needed to keep them strong and healthy, while immune cells also use it to help fend off harmful microbes and promote wound repair. Vitamin D receptors are also found on other body tissues including the heart and brain, and in recent years the list of illnesses associated with vitamin D deficiency has grown to include cardiovascular disease, infections and cancer.

Surprisingly though, large long-term trials assessing the impact of taking daily vitamin D supplements to prevent these conditions have produced mixed results, prompting some researchers to question whether they may have been looking at this from the wrong perspective. “Your vitamin D level is a biomarker that you have been in the sun, but it is not necessarily the active agent involved in human disease pathogenesis,” says Prof Prue Hart at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Australia.

Hart is one of those investigating whether the sun’s UV rays are affecting our health in additional ways. Besides triggering DNA damage in our skin cells, another reason why excessive sun exposure may increase the risk of skin cancer is because because it dampens the activity of immune cells that would usually detect damaged cells and destroy them.

Yet some immune dampening may be beneficial, helping to temper overactive immune responses. Possibly, our immune systems even have evolved with this mildly immune-suppressive input from sunlight wired in. Now that we spend the majority of our lives indoors, this system may have fallen out of balance, increasing the risk of autoimmune disease.

Take multiple sclerosis, which is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking the brain and nerves. Numerous epidemiological studies have associated higher lifetime exposures to sunlight with a lower risk of developing the condition.

Hart is now investigating whether exposing people with the earliest form of MS to UVB rays could halt or delay its progression. A pilot study in 20 individuals suggested that a year after undergoing such phototherapy, seven out of 10 people had developed MS, compared to all 10 of those who did not receive the treatment. Further experiments also revealed significant differences in their blood immune cell profiles – particularly their antibody-producing B cells.

Other mechanisms may also be at play. Like many dermatologists, Weller started his career believing sunlight was inherently damaging. But about 15 years ago, he discovered large stockpiles of nitric oxide – a potent dilator of blood vessels – in human skin. Further research revealed that these stockpiles were activated by UVA rays, and that exposing individuals to a dose of UVA equivalent to spending about 20 minutes outdoors at noon during British summer time, resulted in a temporary, but significant drop in blood pressure.

Meanwhile, recent research by Prof Carmit Levy, at Tel Aviv University in Israel, found that sun exposure prompted the release of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin in men’s skin. Here, the trigger appeared to be DNA damage. Besides regulating appetite, ghrelin also helps to reduce inflammation and blood pressure, so this could be another mechanism through which sun exposure exposure influences cardiovascular disease risk.

As evidence mounts for these potentially beneficial effects of sunlight, so do calls for a rethink of public health advice on how best to stay safe in the sun. In 2020, Weller, Hart, Lindqvist and 12 other researchers published a review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, alerting doctors and policymakers to the “significant public health problem of insufficient sun exposure”.

While they don’t dispute that UV exposure is a major cause of skin cancer, they believe the “Slip, Slap, Slop” approach to sun avoidance – originally advocated by Cancer Council Australia, but now broadly adopted in other countries – may be damaging the health of people living in high-latitude countries such as the UK.

“The ‘Slip, Slap, Slop’ guidance is appropriate for the descendents of white-skinned north Europeans living in high-UV environments such as Australia, where they have a lot of skin cancer. But it is not appropriate for white-skinned Brits here in Scotland, and it is absolutely inappropriate for dark-skinned Brits, who have made the reverse migration from Africa or India,” says Weller.

So, what to do? What almost everyone agrees on is that the amount of sun exposure needed to stay healthy is far lower than the amount that causes sunburn.

The problem with advocating even limited sun exposure is that many people find it difficult to moderate

The problem with advocating even limited sun exposure is that many people find it difficult to moderate, and it is almost impossible to recommend specific amounts of “safe” sun exposure because everyone’s skin is different, says Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund, a charity which raises awareness of sun protection in sport and outdoor recreation. The sun’s intensity also varies hour to hour, day to day, and latitude to latitude.

One approach is to check the UV index, which tells us how strong the sun’s UV rays are and when we’re most at risk of burning. If it is 3 or above, you need to think about protecting your skin – particularly if you have light skin or lots of moles or freckles, or a personal or family history of skin cancer.

Dr Walayat Hussain of the British Association of Dermatologists said: ‘[We] recommend that people avoid sunburn and heavy tanning, as these increase your chance of skin cancer. You don’t have to avoid the sun all year, but a few steps when out in the sunshine – whether this be in the UK or abroad on holiday – will help protect you. These steps include: protecting your skin with clothing, spending time in the shade when the UV index is high – typically between 11am and 3pm in the UK – and using sunscreen.” Baker stresses that using sunscreen will not make you vitamin D-deficient: “No matter how much you use or how high the SPF, some of the sun’s UV rays will reach your skin,” she says.

Weller also agrees that sunscreen is a sensible precaution. “Sunscreen is important because of the way we live our lives now, which is we get short, intense periods of sunlight on holiday, which is very unnatural,” he says. “Sunscreen definitely prevents skin ageing, and it prevents burning. It should be used for that – because that’s what matters.”

Even so, it may be time to move on from the idea that sun exposure is inherently bad. We still don’t know precisely what the optimal amount is – and it almost certainly varies from person to person – but what is becoming clear is that the effects of sun exposure are far greater than skin deep.

Linda Geddes is the author of Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How it Shapes Our Bodies and Minds

 

The Guardian, UK

A widening gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates of the Naira indicates the government’s lack of capacity to stabilize the currency and the likelihood it may depreciate further, according to Fitch Ratings Inc.

The naira was quoted at 1002 per dollar at the parallel market on Wednesday, according to Umar Salisu, a foreign-exchange operator who compiles the data in Lagos, the nation’s commercial hub. But it was 26% stronger at 745.19 naira/dollar in the official window, according to FMDQ, a Lagos-based platform where the currency is traded.

The naira has weakened sharply in street trading in the last two weeks as the central bank abstained from increasing supply of the greenback at the official window, where the currency rate has been very volatile. Naira non-deliverable contracts for three months time traded at a record 821.38 per dollar on Wednesday.

Newly appointed Nigerian central bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso, who lawmakers confirmed to the position last week, is yet to signal his policy preference.

The gap between the official and parallel market rates “highlights the challenges in sustaining exchange-rate liberalisation and raises the possibility of a further devaluation,” Fitch Ratings said in emailed statement.

Africa’s most populous nation allowed its currency to weaken 40% against the dollar in June as part of reforms aimed at attracting foreign investment to help revive the struggling economy.

The devaluation and currency reforms briefly merged the official and parallel market rates before the spread started widening again in August, pressured by inadequate official dollar supply, according to Fitch Ratings.

 

Bloomberg

The presidency has dismissed claims that the certificate President Bola Tinubu presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 elections was forged.

Chicago State University (CSU) had released the academic records of Tinubu to his political opponent, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, following the order of a court.

Atiku, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 election, had requested the documents to back his allegation of forgery of CSU certificate against Tinubu.

The allegation of forgery was one of those dismissed by the presidential election court in the suit Atiku filed to challenge the election of Tinubu. Despite the court’s ruling, Atiku continued his case at the US court, hoping to get official documents to back his claim and possibly include them in his appeal at the Supreme Court.

Through his lawyers, Atiku sought these key things – an example of a CSU diploma issued in 1979; Tinubu’s diploma issued in 1979; example of a CSU diploma that “contains the same font, seal, signatures and wording” as Tinubu’s diploma issued in June 1979 and CSU documents certified and produced by Jamar Orr, an associate general counsel at CSU at the time.

The university registrar had made an oral deposition of the documents, but there were different interpretations.

Reacting on Wednesday, 

Tinubu’s media aide, Temitope Ajayi, argued that CSU affirmed under oath that Tinubu attended and graduated from the institution and that the school does not handle replacements for lost certificates.

He said there was no truth in the forgery claim, adding that no person can forge a certificate he already has.

Taking to his account on the X formerly known as Twitter, the presidential media aide wrote: “We should be clear.

“In the deposition made by the Chicago State University, there was nowhere the University said the certificate presented to INEC by Tinubu is fake. The University insisted under oath that Tinubu graduated with honours and even at that, replacements for lost certificates are done by vendors not the University.

“The claim that Tinubu submitted fake certificate to INEC does not make sense. A man can not forge the academic records he possesses. You can only forge what you don’t have.”

 

Daily Trust

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has fixed a World Press Conference for Thursday (today).

Dele Momodu, one of the campaign spokespersons of Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 election, announced this on Wednesday night.

The agenda is not yet clear but it might not be unconnected with the newly released certificates of President Bola Tinubu by Chicago State University (CSU).

Atiku had requested the documents to back his allegation of forgery of CSU certificate against Tinubu.

The allegation of forgery was one of those dismissed by the presidential election court in the suit Atiku filed to challenge the election of Tinubu.

Despite the court’s ruling, Atiku continued his case at the US court, hoping to get official documents to back his claim and possibly include them in his appeal at the Supreme Court.

Through his lawyers, Atiku sought these key things – an example of a CSU diploma issued in 1979; Tinubu’s diploma issued in 1979; example of a CSU diploma that “contains the same font, seal, signatures and wording” as Tinubu’s diploma issued in June 1979 and CSU documents certified and produced by Jamar Orr, an associate general counsel at CSU at the time.

Although the certificate issue has dominated the headlines in the last 48 hours, Atiku has been silent about it.

Meanwhile, some organisations and individuals, especially critics have called for the resignation of the president over the saga.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) called on the Supreme Court to disqualify Tinubu or compel him to resign over alleged identity theft and certificate forgery.

National coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the apex court has a duty to uphold justice and protect integrity of the electoral process and democratic values of Nigeria.

 

Daily Trust

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped five female students from a university in the northwestern Katsina state on Wednesday, the police said, the second such abduction involving students in the region within a month.

Kidnapping for ransom by armed gangs is rife in northwest Nigeria due to high levels of poverty, unemployment and the proliferation of illegal firearms.

Katsina police spokesperson Abubakar Sadiq, in a statement, said the incident occurred early on Wednesday at the Federal University in Dutsin-Ma town.

The police have "deployed all its tactical and operational assets with a view to rescuing the victims unhurt", he said, adding one suspect is already in custody.

On Sept. 22, at least 24 female students were abducted from their hostel at the Federal University Gusau, in Zamfara state. Sixteen of them were freed three days later following a rescue operation by security forces.

 

Reuters

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

US sends seized Iranian ammunition to Ukraine

The U.S. has sent Ukraine more than 1 million rounds of Iranian ammunition that had been seized last year, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.

U.S. naval forces for years have been seizing weapons believed to be from Iran bound for Iran-backed fighters in Yemen, usually transported by fishing vessels.

U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East, said about 1.1 million 7.62 mm rounds were sent to Ukraine.

They were originally seized by U.S. naval forces in December 2022 and being transferred from Iran's Revolutionary Guards to Houthi forces in Yemen.

"The U.S. is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal aid in the region by all lawful means including U.S. and U.N. sanctions and through interdictions," the Central Command statement said.

The ammunition is unlikely to make a major difference on the battlefield at a time when long-range weapons and air defense systems are on top of Ukraine's wish list.

The seized ammunition being transferred are also unlikely to ease concerns about the continued flow of western weapons to Kyiv.

Congress included no new money for Ukraine in the stopgap U.S. spending bill it passed on Saturday to keep the federal government open, highlighting the increasing reluctance of some Republicans to provide funds for Kyiv.

Last year, Britain's Royal Navy said one of its warships had seized Iranian weapons, including surface-to-air-missiles and engines for cruise missiles, from smugglers in international waters south of Iran.

Yemen's Houthi movement has battled a Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80% of the population dependent on aid.

The United States has put pressure on its ally Saudi Arabia to end the war and linked some U.S. military support to the kingdom to ending its involvement in Yemen.

** Ukraine says its forces make headway in south, hold gains in east

Ukrainian forces made some headway in their drive southward as part of a gruelling counteroffensive to recapture areas seized by Russia in its 19-month-old invasion of its neighbour, military officials said.

Ukrainian officials also said Kyiv's forces were resisting Russian attempts to reverse gains on the eastern front made by Kyiv since it launched the counteroffensive in June.

Russia's Defence Ministry reported a measure of success by its troops on the eastern front. Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

Ukraine's southern group of forces outlined advances as Kyiv presses on with a drive towards the Sea of Azov to split Russian-occupied territory in the south and east.

"We have had partial success to the west of Robotyne," a spokesperson for the southern group, Oleksandr Shtupun, told national television, noting that Ukrainian troops are "continuing to reinforce the positions they hold".

"In certain areas, we are advancing from 100 to 600 metres."

The drive southward has been slower than lightning gains a year ago in the northeast. But Ukrainian troops have captured a string of villages and officials say they are readying themselves around Robotyne and other villages for new advances.

The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces, in its evening report, said its forces had repelled Russian attacks near Robotyne and nearby Verbove.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismisses criticism that the counteroffensive is not producing expected results and rejects any notion that it is hampered by strategic errors.

The General Staff report also said Russian forces had been unsuccessful in attempts to recapture ground near Andriivka - a village in the east recaptured by Ukrainian forces last month.

Ukraine's campaign in the east has focused on taking villages to facilitate the recapture of the devastated city of Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces in May after months of battles.

Russia's defence ministry said Moscow's forces had struck Ukrainian positions close to Andriivka and a nearby village.

It also said it had downed 31 drones launched by Kyiv overnight over three southern Russian regions, but reported no casualties or damage.

A Ukrainian security source earlier said Kyiv's forces had carried out a drone attack on the western Russian region of Belgorod and hit an S-400 air defence complex and its radar.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine ‘very cheap way’ to fight Russia – NATO state minister

Arming Kiev is a cost-effective way of preventing Moscow from threatening NATO, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren argued on Wednesday at the Warsaw Security Forum.

Ollongren was asked whether the US and its allies can continue supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” given the political in-fighting in Washington. 

“We cannot pretend that we’ll just wait and see how the American elections are going,” she said. “Because they have the same interest, in a way. Of course, supporting Ukraine is a very cheap way to make sure that Russia with this regime is not a threat to the NATO alliance. And it’s vital to continue that support.”

“It is very much in our interest to support Ukraine, because they are fighting this war, we are not fighting it,” Ollongren noted, while admitting that NATO had “skin in the game.”

Ollongren explained that she had recently visited the US and that political developments there are cause for concern, but that Western Europeans need to talk with their American colleagues and persuade them to stay the course.

“I think that we are capable of a lot, and we have proven that in the past year and a half, and the only thing we have to do is keep it up,” the minister said, adding that the scale of military assistance to Kiev has surprised Ukraine, Russia and even NATO itself.

The US and its allies have channeled a large amount of money, weapons, ammunition and supplies to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell revealedearlier this week that the bloc has sent Ukraine €85 billion ($89.8 billion) so far, of which more than €25 billion ($26.4 billion) was military aid. The most recent estimates of US spending were from the end of July, and amounted to $46.6 billion in military aid, $3.9 billion in humanitarian aid, and about $26.4 billion in loans and cash payments to keep the government in Kiev going.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that the deliveries of heavy weapons and other aid are tantamount to direct involvement in the hostilities. Washington and Brussels, however, insist they were not actually a party to the conflict. Russia said foreign arms would not change the course of the fighting and would not deter Moscow from achieving its goals in Ukraine. 

Russian officials also repeatedly cited NATO’s expansion eastward as one of the root causes of its current conflict with Ukraine and the standoff with the West. 

** Russian forces wipe out Ukrainian missile/artillery depots in Kupyansk area in past day

Russian forces destroyed Ukrainian missile/artillery depots in the Kupyansk area over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.

"Near the settlements of Kupyansk and Liptsy in the Kharkov Region, depots storing missile and artillery armament of the Ukrainian army’s 41st mechanized brigade and ammunition of the 113th territorial defense brigade were eliminated," the ministry said in a statement.

Russian forces destroy 30 Ukrainian troops in Kupyansk area over past day

Russian forces destroyed roughly 30 Ukrainian troops, a tank and a US-made radar station in the Kupyansk area over the past day, the ministry reported.

"In the Kupyansk direction, aircraft, artillery and heavy flamethrower systems of the Western Battlegroup struck manpower and military hardware of the Ukrainian army’s 25th air assault, 32nd and 115th mechanized brigades and 103rd territorial defense brigade in areas near the settlements of Sinkovka and Berestovoye in the Kharkov Region, Stelmakhovka and Artyomovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic," the ministry said.

Russian forces destroyed as many as 30 Ukrainian personnel, a tank and two motor vehicles in the Kupyansk area over the past day. Near the settlement of Shiykovka in the Kharkov Region, they eliminated a US-made AN/TPQ-37 counter-battery radar station, the ministry specified.

 

Reuters/RT/Tass

With the United States court mandating that Chicago State University release some of President Bola Tinubu’s records, Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate and Tinubu’s rival in the last general elections, won a moral victory bigly. While this might not translate to legal gains in the upcoming Supreme Court, many Nigerians seem thrilled by the turn of events. I understand that feeling. This is one of the rare instances where a court judgment repudiates the almighty power that the Nigerian presidency embodies. For a nation where it is near impossible to compel its leaders to answerability, watching a higher form of power shake their supposed invincibility is gratifying.

This certificate scandal has been long in coming. The inconsistencies in his claimed trajectory began to appear when he became Lagos governor. From his family background to educational path, the numbers did not line up.

The late lawyer and activist Gani Fawehinmi memorably fought at the courts to unravel the façade but never quite succeeded. The court case could not proceed then because he had political power on his side and constitutional immunity. Tokunbo Afikuyomi also took the fall (for a crime he likely never committed), a deflection that left a bitter taste in the mouth. Who seeks public office but would not take the time to fill out a personal form.

While the legal aspect got caught in a constitutional quandary, the questionable credentials stuck with his public profile. If Tinubu had remained where he was in Lagos, his certificate issues would have remained a niggly problem and might even have been wrapped up in his enigma. By aspiring towards and actively pursuing the presidency, the issue was recuperated to disqualify him. It did not help that his lawyers filed serial appeals to stop the impending judgment to the point their frenzied attempts raised some red flags. In one instance, his lawyer even argued that “severe and irreparable harm will be done to Bola Tinubu if the records are released.” What kind of harm could possibly come to a man already president?

Atiku’s role in all these is most interesting. He pursued the case of Tinubu’s certificates like a man who knew something could be found. You do not pay the expense of hiring lawyers and fighting serial appeals by the defendants without some certainty that something worthwhile would be revealed. TheCable publisher Simon Kolawole’s narration of his professional experience in the certificate scandal suggests how Atiku might have had foreknowledge. According to Kolawole, while he was the editor of a weekly news magazine owned by Atiku, TheWeek, they produced an edition on the allegations of certificate forgery against Tinubu where they raised some vital questions. The management had the printed copies redacted. It was 2002, and even though they were in different political parties, Atiku and Tinubu were close friends and associates.

Ironically, the same Atiku that shielded his friend from scrutiny is also the one who went all the way to wrest his academic records from his university. You can call him amoniseni—the people who use their intimate knowledge about you to harm you—but high-stakes politics can be that amoral when you want what your opponent has.

I also want to believe that as an African big man, Atiku is also aware our laws and institutions can hardly make our political elites accountable. A victory in the US courts might not mean much at home. That makes me wonder, what if his end goal is not merely to challenge Tinubu in court but simply to disgrace him? Unless something changes, Atiku still has 2027 presidential ambitions. His doggedness in pursuing Tinubu’s certificates could be to use his (ex-) friend’s perennial thorn in the flesh to cause a moral wound. An internet resident himself, Atiku knows how much the younger digital population—many of whom actively voted against Tinubu in February—are invested in this case. He might also be playing for them. His big victory here is not what the certificates reveal or how they will be received at the Supreme Court but to score a goal before observers with varying interests in how the case unfolds.

The triumphalism they exude is not a matter of certainty that this will go anywhere in a Nigerian court but that the man before whom every institution in the country has bowed met his match in political power. What Judge Nancy Maldonado ordered could not have happened in the Nigerian courts.

Another source of satisfaction is seeing that the saying, “the judiciary is the last hope of the common man” still has meaning elsewhere. Unlike Nigeria where judges will spend a whole day reading prefabricated judgment that sends everyone to sleep and ultimately contributes nil to the course of justice in the country, we saw a court where a judge understood what was at stake and mandated the release of contested records. No hiding behind technicalities, no endless adjournments, and no judge cosying up to political powers. The judge saw—and ruled—on what needed to be done.

In Nigeria, that same case would have crawled through the court for 20 years and barely moved an inch. In fact, for each court appearance, the defendant would have sent 120 SANs to court. All of them, wig and gown in tow, would have lined up there like small children waiting to see Father Christmas. To see a mere judge—a human of like passion, vested with the power of democratic institution—compel an African president to accountability before the people he purportedly serves, is a most rewarding spectacle.

For Nigeria where our leaders are bigger than the courts, seeing them brought down by oyinbo judicial systems is always a joy and the body counts cannot rack up fast enough. We remember former Delta governor, James Ibori, who was exonerated in Nigeria for corruption only for him to be tried and imprisoned in the United Kingdom. We also saw how Ike Ekweremadu was made to pay for his crimes in a London court without anyone giving a bleep about his big man status. Which court in the country would have sentenced a former Deputy Senate President? Big men do not go to prison in Nigeria, and that is not because they do not commit crimes. Our judicial system lacks the autonomy to make judgments against them, and it was never designed to hold powerful people accountable anyway.

Of course, Tinubu’s supporters will try to spin the turn of events in the standard way they frame his defeats. Yínmú! If he were such an astute strategist, the economy under his watch would not be in the doldrums. Anyway, his supporters are welcome to their monomania, but I am pretty sure that Tinubu himself would have preferred not to have the myth of his invincibility punctured. By proving he is not unshakeable, Atiku won this round.

 

Punch

Toxic bosses are far too common: They’re the reason 57% of employees have quit a job, according to one report.

But sometimes, you need the paycheck. Robyn L. Garrett, an author and CEO of leadership coaching firm Beamably, has a “secret trick” for figuring out whether it’s time to abandon ship.

“Defining your personal values can be tremendously powerful at navigating an issue like this. Not only which values are the most important to you, but [also] which ones you actively oppose,” Garrett told the Harvard Business Review’s “New Here” podcast earlier this month. “We don’t always know why we have negative feelings about the workplace, but if you’ve taken the time to define your values, it can make it much, much clearer.”

You should probably consider leaving your job if you are completely opposed to your boss’s approach on a moral level. If the problem isn’t quite as severe, like a communication issue, you might be able to find a way to deal with your frustrating manager, Garrett said.

Her first step: identifying the “variety of factors” that define your relationship with your boss, and using that information to form a plan of action.

“What are their needs? What are their motivations? What are your needs? What are your motivations? How do those things clash? But how can they also work together? And are there ways that the two of you can compromise,” said Garrett.

If your boss is flexible and rooting for your success — their toxicity emerges in other ways — they’ll be willing to come to an agreement, Garrett said. If they’re stuck in their ways, you’ll have to resort to changing your communication style to match theirs.

If you approach them about your feelings, for example, they might not be receptive. If you come equipped with research and data that supports your argument, you might be more successful.

“A lot of bosses are financially motivated. They’re all about their KPIs and their metrics,” Garrett said.

Garrett speaks from experience. Once, while working in an international position, her boss would conduct “2 a.m. conference calls that would go on for two and a half hours,” then pile on assignments for her to complete afterward, she said.

“I tried to communicate with this person, but they were very aggressive and they took advantage of me because I was young and I didn’t know better,” she added.

Indeed, direct confrontation may not be your best bet: 69% of workplace leaders already say they’re uncomfortable communicating with their employees, according to a 2016 survey from Harris Poll and communications firm Interact.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to keep track of your physical and emotional wellbeing: Toxic workplaces can contribute to anxiety, mental fatigue and stress, experts say.

“It’s important to protect yourself at all times,” Garrett said. “Make sure you’re taking care of you because they’re not always going to, unfortunately.”

 

CNBC


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