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EDITORIAL

2021:A year of Daunting Challenges for Nigeria

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As the year, 2021, winds to a close, Nigerians will  readily reflect on it as one of the worst in the annals of the nation’s history.

It was a year Nigerians faced numerous security problems, with a number of  challenges that were unprecedented in the history of the nation.

The nation also encountered economic challenges, with prices of food skyrocketing beyond the reach of the people, and in the process  increasing  the  poverty level of the country which has been dubbed infamously as the “Poverty Capital of the World” for the past three years .

Prices of staple food like rice, beans, garri, yams, etc increased by more than 100 pr-cent within the year.   On the front burner of the security challenges was the insurgency war in the North East which has been going on for more than eleven  years,  spearheaded by Boko Haram and the  Islamic State for the West African Province(ISWAP).

 

Boko Haram alone  accounted for more than 35,000 deaths  in the North East region alone. But for the heroics of the nation’s military men and women, the story would have been worse.

To their credit, their fire power was so significant in the year that thousands of the insurgents surrendered to the nation’s Military. We therefore salute the gallantry of the men and officers of the nation’s Armed Forces for combating the twin insurgency groups whose  operations have been reduced from states like Yobe, Adamawa, but now consigned  to the Lake Chad Region .

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We are therefore advocating increased budgeting and financing for the Military to enable them finish the war of attrition against the nation, in the New Year.

Closely related to this was the increasing rate and frequency banditry and kidnapping took tolls on the nation, especially the Northern part of the country. States like Kaduna, Zamfara,Katsina,  and Sokoto were the worst affected. Some of these bandits have been linked to fleeing insurgents from the North East, , and the need for the Federal Government to take counter measures to halt their spread becomes inevitable. Sadly school children and their teachers were  targets of these unlawful elements.

The United Nations Children and Education Fund, UNICEF,  disclosed  that about 1,436 school children and 17 teachers were abducted from Nigeria schools between December 2020 and October 2021. It also disclosed that about 16 school children lost their lives in the process of their abduction within the same period.

Speaking in  similar    Save the Children International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), said increasing cases of attacks on schools between 2020 and 2021  led to many schools being shut, thereby putting the education system of the country at “extreme risk.” Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, of the NGO stated this in the event  to mark the world second International Day to Protect Education from Attacks.

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Mercy Gichuchi its director in Nigeria  noted that “When education is under attack, a generation is attacked, and that  girls and women were  more vulnerable at times of attack putting them at a higher risk of trauma, fear, gender-based violence, physical and sexual abuse.Many cases of attacks by gunmen  were on schools in Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger states, during which hundreds of students were abducted for ransom.

She further noted   with concern that  between 2015-2019, there were 100 reported attacks on schools in Nigeria. And that these  attacks have been on the increase between 2020 and 2021, which led to the closedown of many schools by the government due to fear of being attacked,” she said.

She revealed ,  that the  Democratic Republic of Congo, [DRC], Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Mali, and Libya have education systems that were  at “extreme risk” while Syria and Yemen followed  closely behind.

The  South East region of the country was also a boiling point in the year that is coming to an end with security problems traced to the Indigenous People of Biafra[IPOB] and its affiliate, Eastern Security Network(ESN).

Hundreds of civilians and and  security personnel lost their lives in some of the skirmishes in the area, caused mainly as a result of trouble between the people of the area and herders.

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While bidding farewell to 2021 with its numerous challenges, and difficulties witnessed by Nigerians, we are calling on the Federal Government to rise up and work towards making life  meaningful for the citizens. Of greater concern is the issue of security, which has to be addressed with all  seriousness to make the country safer and better place in 2022. 

EDITORIAL

Flood: Where Federal Government Dropped the Ball

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About 31 states of the federation are currently affected by flood. In the list are: Abia, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Adamawa, Anambra, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Ekiti, Enugu, Delta, Benue, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Lagos,  Taraba, Yobe, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In the front row of the devastation are Bayelsa, which is almost totally inundated, given its low lying topography, so also Rivers, Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue.

While it is estimated that over 700 Nigerians, mostly women and children have drowned in the flood, Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, through its Permanent Secretary, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, while announcing federal government’ flood mitigation action plan, mid last month, put the human casualty estimate at more than 500, with 1,500 injured and about 1.4 million displaced.

He acknowledged that the disaster had impacted farmlands across the 31 affected states, making the 2012 flood incident pale in weight and significance and the present one worst in annals, at least as far as the memories of the victims can take them.


On her part, Sani-Gwarzo’s supervising minister,  Sadiya Umar Farouq says approximately 2,776 persons have been injured and 612 persons dead across the country due to the devastating effects of the floods. Putting more numbers to havoc, Farouq said that 181,600 houses have been partially damaged and  123,807, damaged totally. In addition, 176,852 hectares of farmlands she disclosed have been partially damaged while 392,399 hectares are damaged totally.

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With the damage, all the crops in the farmlands in the flooded areas of the affected states have all perished, heightening the fear of increased food shortages in the country. In Nasarawa State for instance, the over $15 million worth of Olam Rice Farm, covering 4,500 hectares of land was destroyed alongside some physical farm infrastructure such as dykes, canals and drainage worth $8 million.


In all of these, Sani-Garzo revealed that the interventionist ministry has only been able to reach out to about 300,000 of the victims with food and non-food items. This figure, Farouq clarified, spread across 31 states of the federation.


This is paltry by every measure for a disaster which well-meaning Nigerians have called that it should be designated a national emergency by the federal government or at least that the government sets up a presidential relief committee for the victims’ support.


While no such far-reaching drastic measures was considered, it became rather agonizing seeing that the responses of the national government to the widespread disaster, lacked life and spirit. While federal government’s palliatives are manifestly sparring and slow in coming, the three months period within which President Buhari wants the Minister of Water Resources and his Transportation counterpart alongside state governments to afford him a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disaster in Nigeria could be anything but urgent in the face of the deaths and devastation.

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Some states at the moment have   as many as 12 temporary displaced peoples camps, spread in school premises and worship centres, all crawling with people whose bedrooms can now only be accessed with canoe.


Even a visit to any of the worst-hit states by President Muhammadu Buhari could have sent a signal of empathy to the affected being the leader of the nation. But we saw none of it. Not even to Nasarawa and Kogi-states which are contiguous to the federal seat of power-much less the far-flung Bayelsa, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Kano, Adamawa, Rivers and Benue. This is even as nearby Lokoja, the Kogi State capital,  was cut off from the rest of the country by the flood for two long weeks, triggering fuel scarcity and cost additions to the runaway food price inflation in the FCT.


Buhari’s disinterest to empathize with the citizens with a visit ran counter to calls by different groups and tendencies in the country on him to go and fraternize with the broken and bereaved citizens. The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) which wanted him to come to any of the states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, to see for himself the level of damage and destruction caused by the flood noted that such aligned with the practice of other national leaders when natural disasters strike their countries and citizens.

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DAILY ASSET strongly feels that the federal government underestimated the carnage caused by the flood or perhaps initially felt unconcerned about it, given that Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) gave early warning about the flood, by pointing to increased rainfall this year and release of water by Cameroonian authorities in its Lagdo Dam which usually inundates River Benue and its tributaries and communities along its flood plains. It needs to be pointed out, however, that no circumstance or reason can excuse a government for leaving its citizens in the lurch or to stew in their own juice.


Apart from the early warning, what was the next proactive measure the federal government took in trying to protect the lives and properties of the citizens in flood endangered communities? The answer is none!

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EDITORIAL

National Defence College Graduates 2,549 Participants in 30 Years – Commandant

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The Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, said the college has graduated no fewer than 2,549 participants from within and outside Nigeria in its 30 years of existence.

Bashir stated this while briefing newsmen on the college 30th Anniversary and Graduation of Course 30 Participants of NDC on Monday in Abuja.

The commandant was represented by the Deputy Commandant and Director of Studies, NDC, Maj.-Gen. Emeka Anumajuru.

He said that 216 of the participants were drawn from strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); 92 from Nigerian Police and 254 international participants from allied nations.

According to him, among the participants were people who had reached the pinnacle of their career in the various services and MDAs.

The commandant said the college deemed it necessary to mark its 30th anniversary, having been able to record landmark success stories, especially in the remit of its mandate.

According to him, the college has the mandate to train selected senior military officers, their counterparts from strategic MDAs and the police to be able to operate at the strategic level within and outside the country.

“We insist our participants understand how to use the entire gamut of elements of national power to be able to achieve strategic objectives.

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“That, in a nutshell, is the mandate of the college and that is what we strive to achieve since 1992 that the college was established.

Bashir said that NDC was a key arm of National Defence Diplomacy because of its level of interaction between the college and members of the armed forces from foreign countries.

He said the college could pride itself in advancing the nation’s defence diplomacy and ultimately the national foreign policy of Nigeria.

According to him, the college, too, is a centre of excellence in the conduct of peace support operations as a strategic level.

He added that NDC was a key partner in AU and ECOWAS in advancing peace support operations, particularly as regards the theoretical components that advance the missions at the strategic level.

The commandant also said that NDC could pride itself in corporate social responsibility in its host communities such as Ushafa in terms of provision of infrastructures, medical outreach, schools and even scholarship.

He said that series of programmes had been lined up for the 30th anniversary such as sports, humanitarian activities and award night as well as graduation lecture and graduation course 30 participants.

According to him, so many of the participants have been service chiefs in their armed forces.

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“This year will be honouring two of them who are current service chiefs from Burkina Faso and Uganda.

“So, when you graduate participants who rise to the position of service chiefs in their respective countries, of course you have a link to those countries because we will monitor their progresses and they remain part of us. (NAN)

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EDITORIAL

In Support Of The Ban On Open Grazing 

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After years of indecision, procrastination and dilly dallying, the Federal Government last week took a firm decision to ban open grazing of cattle across the country. The implementation of the ban will however take-off on a pilot basis in five states of the Federation-Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Zamfara.

The decision was taken by the National Economic Council (NEC) after its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the decision public on behalf NEC also said the Council equally banned the free movement of cattle and other animals across the Nigerian border from other West African countries, regardless of the relevant protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which guarantees free movement of people and goods within the sub-region.

We welcome the decision of NEC even though it is coming late in the day when the country has witnessed unnecessary spilling of blood from incessant clashes between Herdsmen and farmers nationwide.

The clashes which have become a national security concern, it is hoped will abate since the Herdsmen will by the new decision adopt to ranching which is the global best practice in animal husbandry.

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We are even the more happier that the decision was not based on political or  religious sentiments but a product of the report of the  technical committee earlier set up by Council under the chairmanship of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.

Umahi’s Committee traversed the states where the farmers-Herders clashes have been most prevalent, i.e Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and Zamfara states. During the fact-finding visits, the Committee met with all stakeholders including farmers, security agencies, state governors, leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Miyetti Allah Kautal Horel, among others.

In all the meetings, ranching was canvassed as the most enduring solution to the bloodletting occasioned by the farmers-Herders clashes. The Committee was therefore, left with no better option than recommend the ban on open grazing of cows.

The NEC decision has at long last vindicated the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Taraba state counterpart, Darius Dickson Ishaku, both of who enacted the anti-open grazing law as a panacea to the frequent violent clashes between farmers and the Herdsmen. It can be said therefore, that the two governors understood the issues and the best solution and indeed acted appropriately. It is to their credit that  NEC arrived at the same solution the two governors proffered several months earlier.

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While we commend NEC for the courage to take this decision, the security agencies especially the police and the Department of State Services(DSS) must immediately commence the enforcement of this ban otherwise the Federal Government decision would pass as one of the  rhetorical statements commonly associated with politicians when confronted with difficult situations. 

As has been severally argued by experts, Nigeria with a little over 26million cattle should have no problem operating ranches since countries like India, Brazil, Argentina and the US with upward 100million cattle have long practiced ranching.

What more, animal scientists have since established that the nomadic cows produced less milk and poor quality meat compared to those kept in ranches.

The Federal Government should live up to its words to provide subsidies for animal husbandry as recommended by the Umahi Committee.

In our view, the subsidies should come by way of

If the NEC decision is properly implemented, Nigeria would have just began the journey towards a profitable and healthier cattle rearing business through the ranching model.

Most importantly, the NEC decision banning the free movement of

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