The United Nations has released another damning report that has that driven fear, anxiety and sorrow into Nigerians as the ongoing recession continues to ravage Africa's most populous country.
The UN in its report warned that at least, 5.1 million Nigerians in the Northeast region may die in 2017 from starvation.
The Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affiars (OCHA), Peter Lundberg said this at the launch of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria's northeast region in Abuja.
“A projected 5.1 million people will face serious food shortages as the conflict and risk of unexploded improvised devices prevented farmers planting for a third year in a row, causing a major food crisis," he revealed.
He said $1billion was needed in 2017 to address the needs of those in crisis in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
"During the course of 2016 as the Nigerian Armed Forces pushed back Boko Haram held areas, the scale of human suffering became more apparent and humanitarian community scaled up the responses.
While calling on donours to provide funds, Lundberg noted that the “narrative on this humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored and we are appealing to the international community to help us prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians over the coming 12 months.
“This is the largest crisis on the African continent and I am confident that with the support of the international community and the private sector, we can begin to bring hope to the people of the northeast."
Speaking also, the Nigerian Minister of State for Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the scale of destruction and the new skills required to ensure a return to narmalcy, requires unprecedented levels of patnership between the international humanitarian community and government of Nigeria coming together.
While commending the international community for appealing for resources to meet the lifesaving needs of nearly 7 million people in 2017, she added that Nigeria "will continue to demostrate strong commitment to working together with international communities."
"We will endeavor to provide an environment in which humanitarians will be able to undertake priority activities.
"The government will continue to put funding into jointly prioritized sectoral activities so that there will be no gaps in the humanitarian reponse," Ahmed noted.
Dr Goodluck E. Jonathan, former President of Nigeria
PARIS, JANUARY 5, 2016: (DGW) The African Sun Times, US-based newspaper and, in fact, Africa's largest newspaper in the United States of America has given Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerian former leader a deserving honour by announcing him as its International Person of the Year.
Receiving the honour, President Jonathan thanked the management and staff of the newspaper and dedicated the award to Nigerians.
Said the former Nigerian leader:
“I thank The African Sun Times for naming me as its International Person of the year, 2015. I am indeed humbled by this honour. When I think about it, I understand why this medium may have thought me worthy of such an honour. However, I believe that my people, the Nigerian people, are more deserving of this honour. We, the Nigerian people put to shame naysayers and prophets of doom and in 2015, we held a most transparent, violence free and credible elections that transferred power from one political party to another and from an incumbent to the opposition, without rancour, bitterness or strife. In the process, we proved that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian or any national of any country for that matter. That to me, is a most worthy testimonial of the character of the Nigerian nation and the resilience of our people which is why I dedicate this honour to them. May God continue to bless Nigeria and Nigerians. GEJ,” he posted on his verified Facebook account.
The newspaper had in its award to President Jonathan on Monday written and applauded the former leader for choosing the path of honour and keeping his promise that saved Nigeria unnecessary bloodshed.
“Dr. Jonathan, who shocked the whole world by swiftly calling current Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and conceding his defeat in the March 29 Nigerian presidential election, thereby stopping the predictions of violent bloodshed in Nigeria, and keeping his words that he would not allow the blood of a Nigerian to be shed to further his political ambitions. President Jonathan must be applauded for creating a solid foundation for the growth of democracy in Africa. The world has started to recognize President Jonathan’s courageous act,” the newspaper wrote.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at the CPAC 2016 conference, March 5, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
PARIS, JANUARY 5, 2016: (DGW) U.S. President Barrack Obama in a highly emotional remark has declared that the United States of America has the strongest and most powerful military force on the face of the earth.
The outgoing U.S. President made this stunning declaration at the Armed Forces Full Honour Review Farewell Ceremony.
He said America's military's might remains strong in spite of the effects of the wars prosecuted in Afghanistan and Iraq which have not been able to diminished its capability.
According to him, “But make no mistake, even with the challenges of recent years – and there have been challenges -, our allies and adversaries alike understand America’s military remains, by far, the most capable fighting force on the face of the Earth.
“Our Army, tested by years of combat, is the best-trained and best-equipped land force on the planet. Our Navy is the largest and most lethal in the world — on track to surpass 300 ships.
“Our Air Force, with its precision and reach, is unmatched. Our Marine Corps is the world’s only truly expeditionary force. Our Coast Guard is the finest in the world.
“And we’re also the best because this military has come to welcome the talents of more of our fellow Americans,” he said.
The outgoing president also noted the impressive bravery and professional performance of the women combatants.
“Service members can now serve the country they love without hiding who they are or who they love. All combat positions in our military are now open to women.
“And Joe Biden and I know that women are at least as strong as men. We’re stronger for it. It’s one of the reasons that our military stands apart as the most respected institution in our nation by a mile.”
He recalled his moments with the servicemen during his eight-year presidency, having to face many challenges together.
” I’m very grateful for that. Because you remind us that we are united as one team. At times of division, you’ve shown what it means to pull together.
“As my days as your Commander-in-Chief are coming to an end, and as I reflect on the challenges we have faced together and on those to come, I believe that one of the greatest task before our Armed Forces is to retain the high confidence that the American people rightly place in you.
“This is a responsibility not simply for those of you in uniform, but for those who lead you. It’s the responsibility of our entire nation,” he said.
Obama also threw a challenge to the American military and political leaders in taking military actions.
The outgoing commander-in-chief said while the event was meant to appreciate and praise him, he was rather turning it on them.
“And so, although I recognise that the formalities require me listening to praise directed in large part to me, I want to turn the tables – I am still Commander-in-Chief, so I get to do what I want to do – and I want to thank you.
“Of all the privileges of this office – and there are many – I will miss Air Force One, I will miss Marine One but I can stand before you today and say that there has been no greater privilege, and no greater honour, than serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military in the history of the world.”
The outgoing commander-in-chief, who said he would be eternally grateful to the servicemen, expressed the confidence that America would continue to maintain its leadership role across the globe.
“So we can’t say it enough and we can’t show it enough. Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for your character in representing the very best of the American spirit. Our nation endures — we live free under the red, white and blue – because of patriots like you.
“It has been a privilege of a lifetime to serve with you. I have learned much from you. I’m a better man having worked with you. I’m confident that the United States and our Armed Forces will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known.
“God bless you and your families. And God bless the United States of America,” the outgoing president concluded.
A 12-year-old can no longer get married in Virginia, thanks to a new law that went into effect Friday.
The state now has a minimum marriage age of 18, or 16 if a child is emancipated by court order. The new law replaces policies that allowed girls as young as twelve to marry if they had parental consent and were pregnant.
Virginia is one of several states this year to take steps to replace lax marriage laws that are now seen as antiquated and even dangerous, as similar bills have been introduced in California, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
The phrase "child bride" typically conjures up imagery of religious rituals in developing countries. But as World Policy Forum data highlights, when it comes to child marriage laws, the US and Canada more closely align with countries such as Niger and Bolivia than they do with most other industrialized Western nations.
Across the country, states generally set the marriage age at 18. However, most states allow 16- or 17-year-olds to marry with parental consent, and many allow children younger than 16 to marry with parental or judicial consent.
"We think we're so sophisticated, so progressive and ahead of the times, and yet we still see this barbaric behavior," Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D), sponsor of a bill in New York that would ban marriage altogether for people under the age of 18, told The New York Times.
It's true that child marriage is not as common in the US as it is in countries with similar laws. By 2002, just one-tenth of 1 percent of American girls between the ages of 15 and 17 were married; in Niger, 39 percent of girls are married by the age of 18, and in Bolivia, 22 percent are.
But it happens in some parts of the US more frequently than some may think. In Virginia, for example, 4,500 children under age 18 were married between 2004 and 2013. More than 200 of those children were 15 or younger.
In New Jersey, 3,481 children were married between 1995 and 2012. Most were 16 or 17 and married with parental consent, but 163 were between ages 13 and 15, requiring the approval of a judge. And 91 percent of the children were married to adults.
"The common assumption we are seeing is the belief that child marriages don't happen that often – and when they do, it's believed they are Romeo-and-Juliet-aged peers, which is not what we are seeing happen here," Jeanne Smoot, senior policy counsel for the legal advocacy group Tahirih Justice Center, told The Christian Science Monitor's Lisa Suhay in March.
Advocates such as Ms. Smoot say that laws permitting young teenagers to marry often encourage forced marriage, human trafficking and statutory rape disguised as marriage. These "marriages" can result in physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abuse, and lead to mental health problems.
Furthermore, when children marry, they are 50 percent less likely to finish high school, four times less likely to go to college, and more likely to have children sooner and more closely spaced than people who marry as adults, Smoot says.
So why has it taken so long for the issue to reach US lawmakers?
It could simply be a lack of awareness. In a viral video published in February, YouTuber Coby Persin conducted an experiment in which he had a 65-year-old man stand in Times Square with his fake 12-year-old "bride." Reactions from bystanders ranged from disgusted to outraged, with several threatening to call the police despite the man's insistence that the marriage was legal.
"Mostly the response [from lawmakers] is, 'I can't believe this is happening in my state. We have to stop it,'" Fraidy Reiss, head of the nonprofit Unchained at Last, who pushed for legislation in New Jersey, told The New York Times.
Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R), who sponsored the bill in Virginia, said she hadn't been aware of the issue until constituents sought her help when a man in his 50s was suspected of having sex with a high school student. To avoid facing prosecution, man obtained the permission of the parents and married the girl. It was the second time he'd used this strategy; the first marriage had ended in divorce.
One common denominator between many child marriages that contributes to the lack of visibility is that many of them take place within closed communities, Smoot says.
"Whenever you have a community that is closed, where it's difficult to reach outside it, where there are great stakes to oppose community norms, that contributes to child marriage happening," she told NPR, citing as an example some polygamous communities in the American West that consider themselves "fundamentalist Mormons," despite engaging in activities not sanctioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Because of the social isolation of these communities, outside adult figures like teachers and administrators may not be aware that their students are in such situations, Ms. Reiss says.
As awareness of child marriages and their consequences continues to grow, advocates are hopeful that Virginia will serve as a model for other states that currently have laws permitting young teenagers to marry.
"We hope that legislators will see the efforts in Virginia as a wake-up call about how their laws can facilitate forced marriages of children," Smoot told the Washington Post.