• Outrage as Nigeria changes national anthem

    Some Nigerians have expressed outrage after the country’s national anthem was changed with little consultation.

    President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday signed into law the bill to revert to Nigeria’s old national anthem which was dropped by a military government in 1978.

    The newly re-adopted anthem, which begins “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was written by Lillian Jean Williams in 1959 which and composed by Frances Berda.

    Speaking on his first anniversary in office, President Tinubu said the anthem symbolised Nigeria’s diversity.

    But many have questioned his priorities amid the cost-of-living crisis.

    Reacting online, some Nigerians said the country had more pressing problems such as insecurity, rising inflation and a foreign exchange crisis.

    X user @Gospel_rxx posted: “A new national anthem is the priority for Tinubu & Co at a time like this, When our people can’t eat, insecurity is rife & life is hell? What a sordid joke!!. Lets see how they implement it…”

    Another X user Fola Folayan said it was shameful that parliament had rushed through the bill.

    “Changing the Nigerian national anthem written by a Nigerian, to the song written by colonizers is a stupid decision and it’s shameful that nobody in the National Assembly thought to stand against it.”

    Former Education Minister Oby Ezekwesili posted on X that she would never sing the new-old anthem.

    “Let it be known to all and sundry that I, Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili shall whenever asked to sing the Nigerian National Anthem [will] sing:”

    She then posted the words of “Arise O Compatriots” – the anthem which has been used for the past 46 years.

    Former presidential aide Bashir Ahmad had an interesting take as Nigerians continue to debate the issue on social media.

    “After the change of our national anthem, some people are now calling for the name Nigeria and the national flag to be changed as well. What do you think? Should we keep the name Nigeria?”

    But Tahir Mongunu, chairman of the parliamentary committee which pushed the bill through, dismissed the widespread criticism, saying it was “apt, timely and important”.

    “It will undoubtedly inspire a zeal for patriotism and cooperation. It will promote cultural heritage. Changing the national anthem will chart a path to greater unity,” Tahir said.

    And Kano resident Habu Shamsu agrees, telling the BBC: “I think it more encompassing and I like the way it flows.”

  • Key mining town seized – DR Congo rebels

    A town at the heart of mining coltan, a key ingredient in making mobile phones, has been seized in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by rebel forces, their spokesman has said.

    Rubaya fell into the hands of M23 fighters on Tuesday following heavy clashes with government troops, Willy Ngoma said.

    The government has not yet commented, but a civil society activist confirmed that M23 had captured the strategic town.

    It happened on the day France’s President Emmanuel Macron called on neighbouring Rwanda to “halt its support” for the M23 rebel group.

    Mr Macron made his comments after holding talks with DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi in France’s capital, Paris.

    Rwanda has repeatedly denied backing the rebels, who have captured much territory in the mineral-rich east during fighting over the past 18 months.

    DR Congo is the world’s second-biggest producer of coltan, with most of it coming from the mines around Rubaya in the Masisi district.

    Coltan is used to make batteries for electric vehicles and mobile phones.

    DR Congo’s government accuses Rwanda of backing the rebels to steal its mineral wealth, an allegation the government in Kigali denies.

    Mr Ngoma told the BBC that M23 had seized Rubaya “not because of its richness, but to chase away our enemy”.

    A civil society activist in Masisi, Voltaire Sadiki, said the rebels had “ordered civilians with guns to hand them [in] and continue with their lives”.

    The rebels, initially Congolese army deserters, accuse the government of marginalising the country’s ethnic Tutsi minority and refusing to negotiate with them. They regard the verdant hills around Masisi as their true homeland.

    Mr Tshisekedi says the rebels are a front for what he calls the “expansionist aims” of Rwanda, which it denies.

  • Child malnutrition ‘rises by 160% in parts of Nigeria’

    Cases of severe malnutrition among children aged under five years in north-eastern Nigeria are fast increasing, an non-governmental organisation has warned.

    FHI 360 said that a staggeringly high number of malnourished children – 15,781 – were admitted to its facilities between February and September for treatment, an increase of nearly 160% from last year.

    “The situation in north-east Nigeria is grave, and increased support is needed to address the critical health and nutritional needs of communities, especially women and children,” the organisation added.

    The UN children’s organisation (Unicef) has previously said that Nigeria has the second-highest rate of child stunting globally, which is caused by widespread malnutrition, particularly in the northern part of the country.

    Unicef estimates that two million children in Nigeria suffer from malnutrition, but only 20% of these receive treatment.

    Its data also shows that malnutrition contributes to 45% of the deaths of children aged under five years in Nigeria.

  • Oltre 800 morti in Nigeria a giugno

    Più di 800 persone sono state uccise in attacchi nel solo mese di giugno 2023 in tutta la Nigeria secondo un nuovo rapporto sulla sicurezza. Il rapporto, pubblicato da Beacon Consulting, un’organizzazione di intelligence e gestione dei rischi per la sicurezza, ha indicato che sono stati registrati 460 incidenti, inclusi 239 rapimenti. Gli attacchi, secondo il rapporto, sono avvenuti in 234 aree del governo locale nei 36 stati della Nigeria e nella capitale, Abuja.

    Il presidente Bola Tinubu ha promesso di fare della sicurezza una priorità assoluta nel Paese, ma nel primo mese della sua amministrazione ha già subito un numero elevato di attacchi. Il governo sta lottando per trovare risposte agli attacchi incessanti di gruppi islamisti, banditi e altri gruppi criminali nonostante la nomina di nuovi capi della sicurezza.

    Sabato scorso quasi 40 persone sono state uccise in attacchi separati contro le comunità residenti negli stati centrali di Benue e Plateau. La polizia nello stato di Benue ha detto alla BBC che altri cadaveri sono ancora in fase di recupero.

  • ‘Sex for grades’ outlawed by Nigeria’s parliament

    Nigeria’s outgoing parliament has finally passed a bill that aims to prevent the sexual harassment of university students.

    Once it is signed into law by newly elected President Bola Tinubu it will be illegal for lecturers to make any sexual advances towards students.

    Those who do have sexual relationships with their students could face up to 14 years in jail.

    The anti-sexual harassment bill was originally introduced in 2016 but did not pass both houses of parliament.

    It was reintroduced by the senate in 2019 following a BBC investigation that uncovered alleged sexual misconduct by lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana.

    BBC Africa Eye’s Sex for Grades documentary prompted outrage, but the bill was further delayed as the house of representatives wanted some changes – and two parliamentary committees had to come to an agreement on the final wording.

    Outgoing lawmakers are trying to wrap up business before newly elected MPs are sworn in next week.

    A student told BBC news she was happy about the development and hoped President Tinubu would pass it into law soon.

    Earlier in the month, a group of students had issued a statement to express their displeasure that the National Assembly had failed to pass it in time for his predecessor – President Muhammadu Buhari – to assent to it before leaving office.

  • Nigerian lawyer wins prestigious environmental prize

    Nigerian lawyer Chima Williams is one of the winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

    The seven recipients of the 2022 award come from across the world and are being honoured for taking “extraordinary measures to protect our planet”.

    After two oil spills in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region in 2004 and 2005, Mr Williams worked with two local communities to hold Royal Dutch Shell accountable for the widespread environmental damage caused by its Nigerian subsidiary.

    The Goldman Environmental Foundation says he knew how difficult it would be to hold oil companies accountable in the Nigerian court system, so in 2008 he helped the victims seek justice in The Hague by partnering with Friends of the Earth Netherlands to bring a case.

    The farmers and fishermen wanted payment for lost income due to contaminated land and waterways and demanded that pipeline maintenance be improved.

    It has been a long court battle, but in January this year a court of appeal ruled that Royal Dutch Shell ultimately had oversight and control over its subsidiary’s operations to the point that it had a duty to prevent oil spills.

    The ruling means that Goi and Oruma farmers are owed compensation for the oil spills, with amounts yet to be determined, the Goldman Environmental Foundation says.

    “While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity,” said Jennifer Goldman Wallis, the foundation’s vice-president.

  • Buhari unveils ‘rice pyramids’ to showcase farming

    Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled what one of his media aides has dubbed the “world’s largest rice pyramids” – made with one million bags of rice – in the capital, Abuja.

    The temporary “rice pyramids” were aimed at showcasing the government’s efforts to boost rice production, and to make Nigeria – Africa most populous state – self-sufficient in food.

    It was one of the main electoral pledges that Mr Buhari made when he took office in 2015.

    Mr Buhari’s media aide Bashir Ahmed tweeted that the initiative has led to a sharp reduction of Nigeria’s annual rice import bill – from $1.5bn (£1.1bn) in 2015 to $18.5m.

    The bags of rice for the pyramids were collected from farmers across Nigeria, whose efforts to increase production received financial backing from the central bank in a scheme known as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

    “As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation, which is a major part of our economic plan to uplift the economy, create jobs, reduce reliance on imported food and industrial raw materials, and conserve foreign exchange,” Mr Buhari was quoted by local media as saying at the event.

    While Mr Ahmed said the “world’s largest rice pyramids” had been unveiled, the central bank preferred to call them “mega rice pyramids”:

    Earlier, a senior official of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Shehu Muazu, warned that immediately after the unveiling of the “pyramids”, the bags of rice would be allocated to processors, and sold at a discounted price.

    This will lead to drastic reduction in price once it starts rolling into the market,” he was quoted as saying.

  • Più di 13.000 civili uccisi in Nigeria negli ultimi dieci anni

    Le forze di sicurezza nigeriane hanno ucciso più di 13.000 civili negli ultimi 10 anni, secondo il Centro per la democrazia e lo sviluppo, organizzazione non governativa che si occupa del progresso della democrazia e dei diritti umani in Africa. La ONG afferma che la tortura, la detenzione illegale e le esecuzioni extragiudiziali nell’ultimo decennio sono diventate “comuni” grazie all’impunità. Le autorità nigeriane fino ad ora non hanno commentato quanto è emerso dal rapporto.

    I ricercatori affermano di aver esaminato il percorso democratico della Nigeria negli ultimi due decenni in diversi settori, tra cui i diritti umani, la libertà di stampa e la partecipazione dei cittadini alla governance. Il rapporto critica l’uso della “forza eccessiva” per contrastare i separatisti e le attività “terroristiche”, nonché le manifestazioni pacifiche. Nella ricerca è citata anche la gestione da parte delle autorità delle proteste #EndSARS dello scorso anno contro la brutalità della polizia. Gli eventi, secondo il rapporto, hanno creato un ambiente di paura tra i cittadini nella più grande democrazia africana.

    Si sostiene che le forze di sicurezza devono ricevere una maggiore formazione sui diritti umani e i trasgressori devono essere ritenuti responsabili, ai cittadini deve essere consentito di partecipare pienamente alla governance per un corretto sviluppo della società.

  • Twitter ban in Nigeria to end ‘very soon’, information minister says

    ABUJA, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Nigeria said on Wednesday it expects to end its ban on Twitter in a “few more days”, raising hopes among users eager to return to the social media platform three months after the suspension took effect.

    The ban, announced in June, has hurt Nigerian businesses and drawn widespread condemnation for its damaging effect on freedom of expression and the ease of doing business in Africa’s most populous nation.

    But Information Minister Lai Mohammed told a post cabinet media briefing the government was aware of the anxiety the ban had created among Nigerians.

    “If the operation has been suspended for about 100 days now, I can tell you that we’re just actually talking about a few, just a few more days now,” Mohammed said without giving a time frame.

    When pressed further, Mohammed said authorities and Twitter officials had to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s” before reaching a final agreement.

    “It’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that,” he said.

    The government suspended Twitter after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.

    It was a culmination of months of tension. Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey’s posts encouraging donations to anti-police brutality protests last October and Twitter posts from Nnamdi Kanu, a Biafran separatist leader currently on trial in Abuja, infuriated authorities.

    Last month, Mohammed told Reuters the Twitter ban would be removed before the end of this year, adding that the government was awaiting a response on three final requests made of the social media platform.  The ban is just one area of concern for free speech advocates. Nigeria dropped five spots, to 120, in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, which described Nigeria as one of the most dangerous and difficult West Africa countries for journalists.

    Reporting by Felix Onuah, Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by William Maclean

  • Smentita la fuga in massa dal Niger sudorientale dei cristiani minacciati da Boko Haram

    Riceviamo e pubblichiamo una nota di Anna Bono di “Nuova Bussola Quotidiana” del 17.06.2019 riguardante le persecuzioni  di Boko Haram  contro i cristiani nel  Niger Sudorientale

    Il 7 giugno Boko Haram, il gruppo jihadista nigeriano, ha rapito una donna cristiana nel villaggio di Kintchendi, nella regione sudorientale di Diffa, in Niger. L’ha poi rilasciata con una lettera indirizzata ai cristiani che vivono nell’area. “Lasciate la città entro tre giorni o sarete uccisi”, diceva il messaggio. Nei giorni successivi fonti locali hanno riferito all’organizzazione non governativa Open Doors USA che ai cristiani di Diffa era stato detto di trasferirsi nella capitale Niamey e che già diverse famiglie erano in procinto di andarsene. Tuttavia il 14 giugno la notizia dell’imminente partenza è stata smentita da monsignor Anthony Coudjofio, vicario generale di Niamey. “I cristiani sono minacciati – ha spiegato all’agenzia Fides – ma è falso che abbiano iniziato ad abbandonare in massa l’area”. La comunità cristiana di Diffa ha confermato al presule di aver ricevuto il messaggio contente la minaccia: “hanno detto che il fatto è certamente inquietante – riporta monsignor Coudjofio – ma hanno aggiunto che le forze di sicurezza stanno pattugliando l’area, proteggendo le chiese. I fedeli cattolici, sia pure spaventati, non hanno lasciato le loro case. È una notizia priva di fondamento”. È dal febbraio del 2015 che Boko Haram è presente nella regione di Diffa, che confina con la Nigeria e con il Ciad. Vi ha messo a segno diversi attentati il più recente dei quali risale alla fine di marzo quando due donne si sono fatte esplodere nel mercato di un villaggio uccidendo dieci persone.

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