Super User

Super User

Sudan ceasefire brings some respite after weeks of heavy battles

Artillery fire could be heard in parts of Khartoum and warplanes flew overhead on Tuesday, residents said, though an internationally monitored ceasefire appeared to have brought some respite from heavy fighting in the Sudanese capital.

Night-time airstrikes were reported in at least one area after the ceasefire started late on Monday, but residents otherwise reported relative calm.

The truce was agreed at talks in Jeddah on Saturday after five weeks of fierce battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It is being tracked by Saudi Arabia and the United States and is meant to allow for the delivery of humanitarian relief.

The two countries said in a joint statement late on Tuesday that preparations had begun for urgently needed humanitarian relief operations.

Sudanese activists wrote to the United Nations envoy to Sudan welcoming the ceasefire agreement but complaining of severe human rights abuses against civilians that they said took place as the fighting raged and should be investigated.

Volunteer groups that have been at the forefront of local aid efforts in the capital were preparing to receive supplies, though much of the aid that has arrived in Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast is yet to be distributed as agencies wait for security clearance, activists and aid workers said.

Medical humanitarian group MSF, which runs projects in 10 states in Sudan, said there had been violence in parts of the country including several cities in the western region of Darfur.

Sudan's health ministry said in a statement that the RSF raided and occupied the Ahmed Qassim hospital in Bahri just before the ceasefire and had stationed itself in another Bahri hospital, Alban Jadeed, on Tuesday morning. The RSF accused the health ministry of publishing "lies".

The ceasefire deal has raised hopes of a pause in a war that has driven nearly 1.1 million people from their homes, including more than 250,000 who have fled to neighbouring countries.

"Our only hope is that the truce succeeds, so that we can return to our normal life, feel safe, and go back to work again," said Khartoum resident Atef Salah El-Din, 42.

Although fighting has continued through previous ceasefires, this was the first to be formally agreed following negotiations and the first to include a monitoring mechanism.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the monitoring mechanism would be "remote", without giving details.

CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS

"The Jeddah talks have had a narrow focus. Ending violence and bringing assistance to the Sudanese people. A permanent resolution of this conflict will require much more," Blinken said in a video message.

The U.S.-Saudi joint statement said the two Sudanese factions had failed to abide by commitments not to seek military advantage in the days before the truce began, and the monitoring committee was seeking to verify reported violations since it went into effect on Monday.

The U.S. will press the combatants to "stop the violence when we see violations of the ceasefire" and will use unspecified "additional tools" if appropriate, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington.

Since the start of the conflict on April 15, Sudanese activists have complained of indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes against residential areas as well as the taking of civilians as human shields, extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual violence.

MSF said violence, looting and administrative and logistical challenges had continually hampered efforts to increase its activities.

"We are experiencing a violation of humanitarian principles and the space for humanitarians to work is shrinking on a scale I've rarely seen before," said Jean-Nicolas Armstrong Dangelser, MSF's emergency coordinator in Sudan.

The crisis is also putting pressure on Sudan's neighbours.

Sudanese refugees are streaming into Chad so quickly that it will be impossible to relocate them all to safer places before the start of the rainy season in late June, a senior Red Cross official said on Tuesday, flagging the risk of a disaster.

Some 60,000-90,000 people have fled into neighbouring Chad, the U.N. refugee agency said this week.

 

Reuters

Africa has witnessed increased mobile internet coverage. The GSMA reports that “by the end of 2021, 22% of the total population in Sub-Saharan Africa was using mobile internet (and 40% of adults over 18 years of age).” The association also states that during the past five years, the proportion of the population covered by a mobile broadband network has more than doubled.

Today 3G, 4G and 5G mobile handsets make up over half of all connections in the region, according to the GSMA. This means greater connectivity across Africa and with the rest of the globe. But this easier access enables connections for fraudsters and scammers, making it easier for corrupt actors to swindle telcos and consumers. 

The bad news is that telecoms fraud occurs in diverse ways, making detection and prevention difficult. 

For the past six months, I have been getting one-ring calls from several international numbers from different nations: The Netherlands, Spain, Mozambique, Great Britain, South Africa and Morocco. 

Caught by the con

Two weeks ago, I woke up to another missed call from an international number. This time, it was Belgium (+32) and seemed legit, much like all the others before it. I didn’t have any friends based in this European nation, though. I took a chance, went with my instinct and dialled the number. Someone answered after the first ring but kept silent.

Previous calls lasted about 10 seconds before I ended it. But with the Belgium call, I held on for a full minute. After hanging up, I realised for the first time that my network provider charged me a higher-than-usual amount for this call. 

It was then that I realised I had fallen victim to the Wangiri scam. A common telecoms fraud tactic, careful inspection of my billing showed that the con artists had been running the scam for half a year before I noticed.

In 2020, Kenya experienced a surge of Wangiri calls. Essentially, the trick is to ring someone using an international number and hope their curiosity to return this foreign call kicks in. But calling back means unsuspecting victims may get billed a high charge instantly that the scammers cash in on because they claim this fee.

Reporting Wangiri calls in Africa rarely yields a positive outcome. The premium rate numbers scammers use are typically obtained from the dark web. But if the African-based telcos offered a call-block service, consumers would have a fighting chance against the con artists. 

Technology is a double-edged sword 

Africa is no stranger to technological advancements. We live in an age of mobile money payments, digital healthcare and emerging digital innovations that increase collaboration and connections. 

Africa’s burgeoning telecoms industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar sector, changing and opening up infrastructure. But this also makes this continent a prime target for telecoms fraud. This is because criminal minds now leverage the self-same technology propelling this continent’s growth.

Gavin Stewart, Vice President of Sales at telecoms software technology company Oculeus, explains technological growth helps scammers bypass existing defence systems more quickly than usual. “Advances in technology allow fraudsters to access the required tools to commit abuses. Bad actors now employ artificial intelligence (AI) innovations to outwit the traditional countermeasures telcos rely on.”

With AI-led tech, how can telcos possibly keep up with these scammers? 

Stewart offers insight: “As a society, the mechanics of daily life become more digitised, criminals also switch to the online world. Telecoms infrastructure provides a perfect access channel to the identities and riches in this digital world.”

Account Takeovers and Smishing/SMS Phishing are two other methods criminals use to acquire subscriber information and target potential victims.

Africa’s telecoms fraud threats 

Although telecoms fraud manifests in many ways, a few have standard features in Africa. According to Stewart, “Africa has special conditions which leave it even more exposed to the growing telecoms scam.” 

Below are three rising telecoms fraud issues on the continent today that businesses and consumers would be wise to familiarise themselves with:

  1. International bypass fraud. Otherwise known as SIM Box Fraud, this happens when swindlers mask international calls as local calls to enjoy lower termination rates. “This is achieved by either pushing the traffic down illegitimate routings or impersonating a local caller ID, or both,” explains Stewart.
  2. Exploiting Africa’s vast mobile money ecosystem. Based on the GSMA’s 2022 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, the continent has the highest number of registered users. 
    It’s understandable, given how many Africans were previously unbanked. As it is a viable market for telcos to extend coverage, scammers can exploit this to defraud users. 
    Stewart believes the mobile money system is easy to hack because it lacks the many security layers and controls in more formal banking sectors. “A mobile money fraudster needs only access to a mobile network to appropriate funds,” he says.
  3. Africa’s overreliance on prepaid subscriptions. This model invites specific petty-fraud schemes that seek to empty a subscriber’s credit. 

Stewart shares a typical instance where the fraudster provides premium services like sports updates or romantic tips without consent from the customer. The victim is usually oblivious until they later realise they have a low or even empty account balance.

How to fight off fraud attacks

We must admit that telecoms fraud can’t be entirely eradicated, especially because fraudsters will always find loopholes to exploit and evolve new tactics. However, we can stop them dead in their tracks by being one step ahead. 

Telcos should invest in innovative technologies and lean into AI-led tools that mitigate risk. Although such commitments may require new investments, the gains can’t be overemphasised. 

Stewart reveals that telcos’ biggest mistake is “failing to continually review and refresh their anti-fraud solutions.” Fraudsters constantly reinvent their strategies to defraud the victims and escape without leaving a trace. He stresses that subscribers must play their part by exercising caution at all times and protecting their personal information.

Kolawole Samuel Adebayo is a content strategist and technology writer specialising in the software-as-a-service space. Adebayo explores emerging technologies and investigates the digital trends that drive business today and in the future.

 

Inc

The creators of ChatGPT say AI could surpass humanity in most domains within the next 10 years as "superintelligence" becomes more powerful than any technology the world has seen.

Cofounders of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, including CEO Sam Altman, said in a blogpost on Monday that it was conceivable AI could exceed the "expert skill level" of humans in most areas, and "carry out as much productive activity as one of today's largest corporations."

"Superintelligence will be more powerful than other technologies humanity has had to contend with in the past," the OpenAI executives said. "We can have a dramatically more prosperous future; but we have to manage risk to get there."

Since the release of ChatGPT, industry leaders have issued increasingly serious warnings about the potential for powerful AI to disrupt society by displacing jobsand helping fuel a wave of misinformation and criminal activity. 

In particular, concerns have grown as the release of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has fueled an AI arms race that has put companies such as Microsoft and Google in direct competition with each other. 

The concerns have prompted calls for AI to be regulated. OpenAI's leaders said in the blog post that "given the possibility of existential risk," there needed to be a proactive approach to managing the technology's potential harms.

"Nuclear energy is a commonly used historical example of a technology with this property; synthetic biology is another example," they said. "We must mitigate the risks of today's AI technology too, but superintelligence will require special treatment and coordination."

Last week, Altman made his first appearance before Congress to address concerns from lawmakers about the lack of rules in place to govern the development of AI. 

In the post, Altman and his colleagues suggested that there would eventually need to be an organization like the International Atomic Energy Agency to oversee the advancement of AI "above a certain capability," through measures such as audits and safety compliance tests. 

OpenAI did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

 

Business Insider

When it comes to leading yourself and others, emotional intelligence – the ability to understand and manage our own emotions and understand and influence the emotions of others – is just as important as IQ, if not more.

Here's why: When you get good at being aware of your emotions and the emotions of others, you can connect with others much more effectively to reach solutions faster. A person's IQ, while certainly required in the role of a leader, cannot travel the same road as fast. It needs to partner with EQ.

Interviewing and Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Organizations looking for an edge in hiring top performers should put more emphasis on EQ during the hiring process. Previous research conducted with more than 600 HR managers and over 800 office workers adds proof that emotional intelligence is critically important in work settings where professionals interact with a wide range of people. 

For example: 

  • Nearly all of the more than 600 human resources managers (95 percent) and 800 workers (99 percent) surveyed said they think it's important for employees to have emotional intelligence.
  • More than one in five employees (21 percent) believe EQ is more valuable in the workplace than IQ. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said the two are equally important.
  • Most workers (92 percent) think they have strong emotional intelligence; slightly fewer (74 percent) believe their bosses do.
  • Three in 10 HR managers (30 percent) feel most employers put too little emphasis on emotional intelligence during the hiring process.
  • HR managers identified increased motivation and morale (43 percent) as the greatest benefit of having emotionally intelligent staff.
  • Eighty-six percent of workers said when a colleague doesn't control his or her emotions, it affects their perception of that person's level of professionalism.

3 Questions to Ask

If you're in a management or HR role, and you'd like to evaluate whether your potential new hires have the EQ you need for top performance, scrutinizing candidates' answers to specific questions can reveal more than you think. Asking the following questions can help assess a potential hire's EQ: 

  • How did you handle a day when everything went wrong for you?
  • How comfortable are you asking for help at work?
  • How well do you handle stress and pressure?

Candidates with high emotional intelligence will demonstrate how they've implemented the best solutions to their problems while keeping the dialogue positive and not blaming other people.

They also have extreme comfort in asking for help and are excellent at handling stress and pressure.

On the other hand, the following answers to the same questions above are clear signs that a job candidate may lack emotional intelligence:

  • After a bad day, they couldn't stop thinking about how terrible things were and/or lashed out and blamed others for the things that were happening.
  • They are not at all or are only slightly comfortable asking for help at work.
  • They handle stress and pressure only fairly or worse and could not come up with concise examples of how they managed stress or conflict effectively at work .

When it comes to asking more open-ended questions about your job candidates' strengths and weaknesses, pay close attention: Those who demonstrate personal attributes like positivity, confidence and diligence in their abilities will typically have higher than average emotional intelligence than those who speak to different attributes.

Finally, a substantial shift (and learning curve) is needed for organizations to be introduced to the idea of an emotionally intelligent-driven work culture.

As more organizations adopt and embed the approach to hiring and growing employees with EQ, the upside over the long term will ultimately result in better team members, better leaders and better performance.

 

Inc

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, announced the opening of a mega refinery in Nigeria — seven years late — to a backdrop of skepticism about how fast it will really be able to ramp up.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who leaves office later this month after serving two four-year terms, performed a commissioning ceremony at the refinery, which is near Lagos. The plant is 20% owned by Nigeria National Petroleum Co., the state oil company.

Dangote said the facility is aiming to satisfy the country’s domestic fuel demand by the end of this year. He didn’t immediately specify if he meant all the nation’s consumption. Were that to be the case, it would mean replacing millions of barrels of fuel supply and require a huge ramp-up. The plant will ship its first oil products by July or August, he said.

Despite the bullish comments, traders of West African oil said they’ve seen no commercial activity to suggest a major ramp up is at hand — either in terms of crude procurement or the hiring of traders to handle sales of finished fuels. Researchers, speaking before the ceremony, said they don’t expect any significant boost to fuel supply in the next few months.

“We view the upcoming commissioning as a symbolic gesture marking the end of Buhari’s term in office,” said Ronan Hodgson, an analyst at Facts Global Energy. “We continue to expect the Dangote refinery will not be producing anything meaningful for at least six months post-inauguration and, more likely, in the first quarter of 2024.”

Despite being Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria’s state-owned refineries are in disrepair. That’s put the country at the mercy of local and international traders who deliver products like gasoline and diesel to the country in return for crude. When it fires up fully, Dangote should help to ease or even eliminate that dependence.

So-called commissioning is the first phase of getting a refinery up and running, involving the careful processing of relatively small batches of crude. From there, full ramp-up often takes months.

NNPC said it will fulfill its supply obligations to the refinery without elaborating.

Mega Project

The $20.5 billion refinery and fertilizer mega-project is designed to have a processing capacity of 650,000 barrels a day when it’s fully up and running, far exceeding any other plant in the continent. 

The NNPC has swap arrangements through which it trades at least 330,000 barrels of crude per day for gasoline. In some recent months, that figure has topped 450,000 barrels a day. When up and running, Dangote’s facility could go a long way to curtailing that reliance.

When a $3.3 billion loan for the refinery was agreed in 2013, the aim was to have it completed in 2016. In practice, construction didn’t even begin until 2017.

Petroleum products imports cost Nigeria $26 billion in 2022 and the refinery will help eliminate the cost, Godwin Emefiele, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, said at the ceremony.

At full capacity, Dangote could yield as much as 250,000 barrels a day of gasoline as well as around 100,000 barrels a day off of gasoil and diesel, FGE estimates.

Even so, with domestic gasoline output rising, fiscal savings from lower fuel imports may be limited because crude export revenues will be reduced at the same time, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. The IMF’s report assumed a slow ramp-up from 100,000 barrels a day 2024 and 200,000 in 2025, noting an upside risk in the medium term if this was achieved more rapidly.

Traders said the country’s crude exports may fall once the refinery is working because it will take a substantial proportion of Nigerian supply. The nation’s oil production averaged almost 1.4 million barrels a day so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dangote refinery has a deal with NNPC, which will supply around 300,000 barrels a day of crude when the refinery is up and running. That’s expected to include mostly medium-sweet, distillate-rich crude as well as lighter varieties, according to Energy Aspects Ltd., a consultant.

The plant is expected to conduct a staggered start-up of secondary units through the second half of next year and into 2025, said Randy Hurburun, a senior refining analyst at the firm. Commissioning will continue for the rest of the year, followed by an operational startup in early 2024 at between 50%-70% of capacity, he said.

“We are not seeing any indication that the refinery is securing any oil to get operations underway,” he said.

 

Bloomberg

The supreme court has fixed May 26 to deliver judgment in a suit seeking the disqualification of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima as presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The judgment will be delivered three days before the inauguration of the president-elect and the vice-president-elect.

PDP, in the suit filed on July 28, 2022, claimed that Shettima’s nomination as Tinubu’s running mate was in breach of the provisions of sections 29(1), 33, 35, and 84(1)(2) of the electoral act, 2022.

The party argued that Shettima’s nomination to contest the position of vice-president and Borno central senatorial seat — at the same time — contravened the law.

PDP, which sought an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu, and Shettima from contesting the presidential election, also sought an order nullifying their candidacies.

However, Inyang Ekwo, the trial judge at the court of appeal, dismissed the suit on the grounds that the PDP lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.

Not satisfied, the PDP appealed the judgment.

Delivering judgment in the appeal, a three-member panel of the court of appeal led by James Abundaga held that the PDP failed to establish that it had locus standi to institute the case.

Abundaga described the PDP as a “busybody”, who dabbled into issues that were internal affairs of the APC.

“The appellant, having failed to disclose its locus standi, this appeal fails and it is hereby dismissed,” he said.

The judge also awarded N5 million cost against the appellant’s lawyer, J. O. Olotu.

 

The Cable

Presidential Election Petitions Court has rejected the application for live transmission of proceedings as made by the petitioners in the court.

In a unanimous ruling on the interlocutory applications, the five-member panel of justices held that the request hinges on policy decision which can only be made by the judiciary.

Both the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, had separately argued that the live transmission of the proceedings had become necessary due to the public interest and concern generated by the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

In the lead ruling by the chairman of the panel, Haruna Tsammani, held that the applications lacked merit and ought to be dismissed.

The chairman observed that the applications, which were hinged on sections 36(3) and 39 of the Nigerian Constitution and Paragraph 19 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022, which border on fair hearing, were outside the provisions of the concept and outside the claims brought by the petitioners for the determination of the court.

He said fair hearing involved both parties providing equal opportunity to present their cases before the court and not to dramatise the trial through installing cameras in the courtroom.

“The mere sentimental claim that it (live broadcast of proceedings) will benefit the voters has no utilitarian value on the matters before the court,” he said.

He said nobody could predict the implication of live broadcast of the proceedings, adding, “it is better for the avoidance of the trial by ordeal of live cameras in court.”

 

Daily Trust

When he steps down next week President Muhammadu Buhari will be leaving Nigerians less secure, poorer and more in debt than when he came to office in 2015.

The former military ruler became president after winning a momentous election which saw the defeat of underperforming incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.

Riding a wave of optimism that change was possible, he was supported by a powerful coalition and had the reputation of being a hard-man soldier, who would get things done.

After Buhari's brief stint in charge in the 1980s, his second coming was on the back of promises to curtail the rampaging Islamist insurgency in the northeast and tackle widespread corruption.

He is the last of a generation of British-trained military men who went on to govern the country.

But the 80-year-old's two four-year terms have left many disappointed.

There have been gains in tackling Boko Haram and other extremist groups in the northeast, aided by improved military hardware from the US.

While the groups still carry out attacks on communities and military installations in the region, it is a big improvement from the years when they operated freely and controlled a large portion of Nigerian territory.

Buhari also utilised Chinese loans to upgrade the ailing road and rail infrastructure, building a new port in Lagos, completing a crucial bridge in the southeast, and passing important electoral and oil-sector laws.

But whatever gains have been recorded in the northeast against the Islamist militants have been eroded by the emergence of equally violent groups in other parts of the country under his watch.

Clashes between farmers and cattle herders from the Fulani ethnic group, which had simmered for years, were allowed to boil over into deadly armed confrontations with an ethnic element, as the government ran out of ideas to solve the problem of where animals could graze.

Buhari, a Fulani from northern Nigeria, was accused of bias in the conflict and his proposal of grazing reserves for the herders were rebuffed by powerful southern state governors who saw it as a land-grabbing tactic.

Some of the armed groups created by the farmer-herder crisis have since transitioned into violent motorcycle-riding bandits targeting communities in the northwest and central states. These groups have helped turn a lucrative kidnap-for-ransom business into a behemoth that now extends countrywide.

It took hold during the first decade of the century when oil workers were kidnapped in the Niger Delta and blossomed under Buhari's watch as the targets changed.

For instance, thousands of school children were abducted between December 2020 and September 2021, according to the UN's children's organisation, Unicef. That eclipsed the 270 girls seized from a school in Chibok who made global headlines in 2014 - a crime that was a crucial factor in Buhari defeating Jonathan.

"I thought that as a former military ruler he would have the solution to Nigeria's security challenges," Musa Ahmadu a farmer now living in the northwestern state of Kano, told the BBC.

Ahmadu, originally from the president's home state of Katsina, abandoned his land and fled to neighbouring Kano alongside thousands of others because of the activities of armed groups in the region.

Many also believe that Buhari has mishandled the situation thrown up by separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), a group seeking secession in the southeast which is proscribed by the government.

He is a charismatic figure with a huge appetite for sensationalism which he fed devotees via his internet radio station.

Ipob was largely ignored by many Nigerians until Kanu was first arrested for treason by the Buhari government in 2015. A subsequent state-sanctioned attack on his home marked the beginning of an armed confrontation that has spiralled out of control, claiming hundreds of lives in the process.

After escaping in 2017, he was abducted in unclear circumstances abroad and returned to Nigeria in 2021 to face trial. A judge has ordered his release as the process of his return was illegal but authorities continue to hold him.

These security challenges made many question Buhari's handling of a sector that was supposed to be his area of expertise.

"I am surprised at the level of embarrassment he has brought to his constituency, the military, despite all the promises he made," said retired Colonel Hassan Stan-Labi, a security analyst.

"How can you fail in your own area of specialty?" he asked.

The countrywide insecurity under Buhari has largely been muted in the oil-rich Niger Delta where oil-militants and sea pirates held sway in the past.

But that peace seems to have coincided with a period of large-scale oil theft, with the government accused of looking away while different groups in the region steal crude from the pipelines. This led to Nigeria's production plunging to a 30-year low in 2022.

The shocking discovery last October of a kilometres-long pipeline used to steal oil was described by commentators as "nearly impossible" without help from authorities.

In one location, thieves built their own 4km-long pipeline through the heavily guarded creeks to the Atlantic Ocean. There, barges and vessels blatantly loaded the stolen oil from a seven-metre rig visible for miles on the open waters.

That theft on such a scale happened directly under Buhari, who also doubled as Nigeria's petroleum minister, undermined his claim to be fighting graft, Salaudeen Hashim of anti-corruption NGO Cleen Foundation, told the BBC.

Buhari's integrity was also impugned by his frequent medical trips to the UK despite spending large sums to refurbish a clinic in the presidential villa.

This lack of transparency "drained taxpayers' monies, encouraged illicit financial flows and other corruption-enabling activities the administration preached against", Auwal Rafsanjani, the head of Transparency International in Nigeria, told the BBC.

Rafsanjani scored the administration four out of 10 in fighting corruption, and said Buhari's appointment of people with ongoing corruption cases to his cabinet and his wife's long stays in expensive Dubai homes "contravened best practices by an administration that was fighting corruption and mismanagement".

As he leaves, Buhari's handling of the Nigerian economy will most likely be remembered for his botched attempt earlier this year at redesigning the local currency.

An otherwise rudimentary exercise descended into chaos as scarcity of the new naira notes, which have now almost disappeared, resulted in untold hardship for millions in the country who relied on cash for basic needs.

"The small business we were doing was destroyed by that man," said a university graduate in Abuja who made money by supplying banknotes to her customers before the cash crisis.

Her anger was fuelled by a common problem in Nigeria - a lack of work among educated young people.

Currently one in three Nigerians who want to work are unable to find a job. Before Buhari took over that figure was less than one in 10.

The government has blamed a drastic drop in oil prices in its early days, the Covid pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine.

But some of its policies, such as currency restrictions and closing the land borders to boost local production, have contributed towards record inflation that has made millions poorer and depleted a once burgeoning Nigerian middle-class.

Last week, with the end in sight, Buhari pleaded with lawmakers to hurriedly approve an $800m (£640m) loan from the World Bank. Nigeria's public debt could pass $150bn this year - when he took over it stood at a little over $60bn.

His borrowing spree has drawn warnings from the World Bank that Africa's largest economy was using 96% of its revenue to service debts.

But the huge debt has been defended by the administration who say it is within acceptable limits, pointing to cash payments to poor people as justification for some of the loans.

"These welfarist interventions give a window into the kind soul of the president, a man some people have not bothered to discern, dissect and decipher," presidential spokesman Femi Adesina wrote last week.

Like him, many in the administration insist it has had a good eight-year run. Although both he and his wife have apologised for not delivering on promises made, Buhari has said that he tried his best.

"I want [Nigerians] to analyse how things were when we came in and how they are when we're leaving," he responded when asked about his legacy last year.

The fact is that Nigerians were safer, better off and less in debt before Buhari took over, and many will remember him for presiding over the toughest eight years they might ever face.

 

BBC

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Drone-bombs hit Russian border region – governor

Ukrainian forces targeted several settlements in Russia’s Belgorod region with explosive-carrying drones on Monday night, according to governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. The region was placed under the “anti-terrorism operation” regulations in the wake of a raid by a Ukrainian saboteur group.

Late in the evening, several improvised explosive devices were dropped on civilian houses in the town Grayvoron, which is located some 7 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, Gladkov confirmed on Telegram. Two houses caught fire, but there were no casualties, the official added.

Grayvoron is the administrative center of the district that had been targeted in a Ukrainian intrusion earlier in the day. 

A similar attack happened in the settlement of Borisovka, 25 kilometers further away from the border, where at least two bombs were dropped from drones on an “administrative building,” Gladkov said shortly after midnight. Several hours later, yet another drone attacked a civilian house in the same village.

A group of saboteurs crossed from Ukraine into Belgorod region earlier on Monday, forcing the governor to introduce “anti-terrorism operation” regulations and provide additional power to law enforcement to deal with the threat. At least eight civilians were wounded during the intrusion.

** Hungary opposes new EU sanctions, military assistance to Ukraine — top diplomat

Budapest opposes a number of key provisions in the 11th package of sanctions on Russia developed by the European Commission and will not support giving any additional military assistance from the European Peace Facility until its OTP Bank is taken off of Ukraine’s list of international war sponsors, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.

He recalled that EU countries want to increase military assistance to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility to the tune of 500 million euro. "We demand the Ukrainians remove OTP from the list of international war sponsors. Until that happens, we will not give our consent to allocate these 500 million euro to EU countries as compensation for their spending on weapons to Ukraine," he told Hungarian journalists during a break in the meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The top diplomat’s press conference was broadcast live on his Facebook page (Facebook is banned in Russia due to its ownership by Meta, which has been designated as extremist).

On May 4, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention put Hungary’s OTP Bank Group, which continues to operate in Russia, on the list of international sponsors of war. Szijjarto slammed this decision as "scandalous and unacceptable."

As of today, he stressed, Hungary’s largest bank, OTP, "had not violated a single national or international law" and its blacklisting in Ukraine is absolutely illegal.

The top Hungarian diplomat also recalled that his country’s government was against weapons supplies to Ukraine in general and would not budge from this position. "Weapons supplies are fraught with the risk of escalating the war and the longer this war continues, the more people will die," he stressed.

Touching on the 11th package of anti-Russian sanctions, which was also a topic of discussion for the EU foreign ministers, the Hungarian minister noted, "Brussels should have learned a lesson from the consequences of the sanctions."

"Sanctions are more harmful to Europe than they are to Russia and I think that the 10th package of sanctions should not be followed by an 11th, which would turn out to be a true test for Europe in general and the economy of European countries," he said, adding that Hungary opposed additional restrictions for European companies in terms of trading in Russian goods, as well as sanctions on Chinese companies suspected of cooperating with Russia.

He also reiterated that Hungary will oppose any EU sanctions that would restrict cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear energy. "Despite the pressure that’s being exerted on us, we will strongly oppose any kind of sanctions affecting the nuclear industry, because that concerns Hungary's energy security. In no case will we risk the security of Hungary's energy supply," he said.

Apart from that, Szijjarto stressed that Budapest will continue to demand that the Ukrainian authorities restore the rights of the Hungarian minority in the Zakarpattia Region. Until this problem is settled, Hungary will not support Kiev’s aspirations to integrate into the European Union, he pledged.

Summing up the results of the ministerial meeting, the Hungarian minister noted that no decision had been made about using the European Peace Facility to further finance weapons supplies to Ukraine. "No decision on sanctions was made either," he said.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said earlier on Monday that the 11th package of sanctions could be agreed before the next EU ministerial meeting in June. Talks on this topic continue. At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has admitted that not only Hungary but a number of other countries object to the 11th package.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Russia fights cross-border raid that Ukraine says is Russian opposition

Russia said on Monday it was battling a cross-border incursion by saboteurs who burst through the frontier from Ukraine, in what appeared to be one of the biggest attacks of its kind since the war began 15 months ago.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said a Ukrainian "sabotage group" had entered Russian territory in the Graivoron district bordering Ukraine and was being repelled.

But the Ukrainian outlet Hromadske cited Ukrainian military intelligence as saying two armed Russian opposition groups, the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, both consisting of Russian citizens, were responsible for the attack.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Twitter that the Kyiv government was watching the situation with interest but "has nothing to do with it".

The Russia Volunteer Corps published video footage late on Monday which showed what it said was a fighter inspecting a captured armoured vehicle. Another video showed what it said were fighters operating an armoured vehicle on a country road.

Other videos posted on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels showed pictures and video of what were described as captured Russian servicemen and their identity documents.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the situation.

GOVERNOR IMPOSES 'COUNTER-TERRORIST' MEASURES

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed and that work was under way to drive out the "saboteurs", the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Belgorod governor Gladkov said on Telegram that at least eight people had been wounded and three houses and an administrative building damaged. In a later briefing streamed on social media, Gladkov said a large part of the local population had left and that he had imposed a "counter-terrorist operation" that restricts movement and communications.

The Telegram channel Baza, which has links to Russia's security services, said there were indications of fighting in three settlements along the main road leading into Russia. The "Open Belgorod" Telegram channel said power and water had been cut off to several villages.

The Liberty of Russia Legion said on Twitter it had "completely liberated" the border town of Kozinka. It said forward units had reached the district centre of Graivoron, further east.

"Moving on. Russia will be free!" it wrote.

Ukrainian social media users made regular reference to what they called the "Belgorod People's Republic" - a nod to events in eastern Ukraine in 2014 when Russia-backed militias purporting to be rebels against the Kyiv government declared "people’s republics" in the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

BAKHMUT BATTLE RAGES ON

The Kremlin said the incursion aimed to distract attention from the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces claim to have captured in its entirety after more than nine months of fighting.

Moscow says capturing Bakhmut opens the way to further advances in the eastern industrial region known as the Donbas bordering Russia. Ukraine says its advance on the Russian forces' flanks is more meaningful than its withdrawal inside Bakhmut itself, and Russia will have to weaken its lines elsewhere to send reinforcements to hold the shattered city.

There were 25 clashes on the main sectors of the frontline with the epicentre of fighting remaining Bakhmut and Maryinka further south, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement on Monday night.

Russian forces continued offensive actions including air strikes on Bakhmut and on the village of Ivanivske on its western fringe, the statement said. At least 12 towns and villages in the area came under shell fire, including Bakhmut and Ivanivske, it said.

Separately on Bakhmut, Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern group of Ukrainian forces, told Ukrainian television: "In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian troops have made steady progress, advancing 250-400 metres on the flanks and establishing a foothold. Even though these advances are gradual, it is better when such advances are well planned."

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Meanwhile, the United Nations expressed concern on Monday that Ukraine's Black Sea port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) has not received any ships since May 2 under a deal allowing the safe wartime export of grain and fertilizer.

 

RT/Tass/Reuters

June 22, 2024

Stanbic-IBTC founder Atedo Peterside announces retirement as a banker

The founder of Stanbic-IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside has announced his retirement as a banker. Peterside…
June 23, 2024

Kano emirate tussle gets messier as parties take ‘convenient’ stands on court orders

The details of the judgement of the Federal High Court of Thursday have confirmed that…
June 23, 2024

A sisterhood of millions: the all-women church groups helping people in Nigeria

On a warm Thursday afternoon in May, the ululation, drumming and singing of a choir…
June 23, 2024

3,300-year-old sunken ship found in Mediterranean at a depth where time has 'frozen,' Israel says

A 3,300-year-old ancient sunken ship dating back to the Bronze Age has been discovered in…
June 23, 2024

Retired army general shot dead in Abuja residential estate

Uwem Udokwere, a retired brigadier general, has been killed in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Udokwere…
June 23, 2024

What to know after Day 850 of Russia-Ukraine war

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE Has Russia just dropped a deadly new 3,000kg glide bomb in Ukraine? The…
June 19, 2024

Chips maker Nvidia rises to world’s most valuable company

Nvidia has become the world’s most valuable company following a staggering rally in its shares,…
June 18, 2024

Amusan secures fourth straight national title in 100m hurdles

Tobi Amusan has claimed her fourth consecutive national title in the women’s 100 metres hurdles…

NEWSSCROLL TEAM: 'Sina Kawonise: Publisher/Editor-in-Chief; Prof Wale Are Olaitan: Editorial Consultant; Femi Kawonise: Head, Production & Administration; Afolabi Ajibola: IT Manager;
Contact Us: [email protected] Tel/WhatsApp: +234 811 395 4049

Copyright © 2015 - 2024 NewsScroll. All rights reserved.