• Nigerians not against Biafra - Guy Ikokwu, civil war hero

    21/Aug/2016 // 489 Viewers

     

    Civil war hero and Second Republic politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu, believes that Nigerians must avoid fighting another civil war at all cost. He sees the agitations across some sections of the country as strong call for the adoption and practice of a true federal system of government within one Nigeria. In this interview, he declares that ‘Biafra’ has become a collective project of all sections of the country, warning the Federal Government not to wait until things get out of hand before doing the right things.

    Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo raised the alarm that the country has become fractured like never before. Both of you fought in the civil war. Are you alarmed too?

    No, I am not alarmed. Obasanjo’s statement was part of a realistic assessment of the state of the nation. Obasanjo certainly knows more than others because he has been within the system for many years. So, he knows the causes, remote and recent. People don’t know that Obasanjo was a very good friend of the late Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and Major Usman Katsina. They had served together in the North and various segments of the military. People also don’t know that when Nzeogwu died in the civil war, Obasanjo was taking care of his (Nzeogwu’s) mother in the present Delta State until she died. So, Obasanjo has been right within the Nigerian fabric and the Nigerian project.

    The cries we have today are not for disintegration; the cries we have today are for restructuring of the country. The proponents who are fighting for a just cause are in the majority in Nigeria today. From the South-east to the South-south, North-east, North-west, North-west, South-south and North central, there is a consensus of opinions that Nigeria should be restructured. Leaders and members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also share the view. So, it is not a question of political difference, it cuts across the politics of the day. It is in the APC manifesto that Nigeria should be restructured. So, it is not a glib talk; it is not something that started last night.
    The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is one of those who had seen it all from the academic and economic side of it. He recently asked, ‘how can out of the 36 states in the country today, 28 of them cannot pay salaries. All the 36 states have 36 governors and 36 deputy governors with millions of aides, 36 state assembly speakers, 36 deputy speakers, and state assembly committees of all sorts. In the National Assembly it is the same thing.’ Sanusi said when you go down to the local councils, you would see how much money that was spent on salaries and allowances. He asked what then was left for the development of Nigeria as a nation.
    As a former CBN governor, he was telling the truth. He knew it all; he had seen it all. You can have a reserve of $100 billion but if out of your $100 billion reserve $90 billion is used for recurrent expenditure, what then is left for capital expenditure? Capital expenditure is for development so what are we leaving for our children? How do we give proper education to our children? High level education is what any nation needs to develop. There must be productivity in your technology and in your science if you must develop.
    So, Nigeria has hit the bottom, a situation where virtually all the governments in the country cannot pay salaries. If you don’t pay salaries of workers that you hire, how would those workers feed and maintain their families? What of the multiplier effect and index?
    Now, look at other countries that have used their natural resources properly for the development of their country. See where they are now since 1960 and compare it with where we are now since 1960. I give you an example. Malaysia came here to study how we grow palm trees and produce palm oil. Today we are importing palm oil from Malaysia.
    So, calls for the restructuring of the country are very realistic. It is not something that is just a figment of the imagination. Obasanjo said what all of us know. A majority of our citizens, both low and high level, know that we have been in a crisis of productivity and governance for a long time now. The difference is that it is now on the table of the ordinary man. It is now that the ordinary man is agitated because he can’t afford one meal per day.

    How can we turn the ugly situation around?

    The situation can only be turned around if we change our system. All the countries that have made progress in the last 100 years have done so primarily because they have a system that is able to harness their natural God-given resources. The ones that don’t have such God-given resources fell back on their intellectual manpower. Singapore is in this latter category.

    Meanwhile, these countries are federations, not unitary. They have diverse ethnic and religious groups just like Nigeria. Nigeria is an amalgam of a lot of diverse interests but it is an amalgam, which if you harness individually and properly, could give rise to more beneficial productive aspects of the land. However, the military deceived Nigeria by saying that we had a federal government both in 1979 and 1999. It is a lie! What we have is unitary federalism.  And our historians and constitutional eggheads say that such a contradiction is a fallacy. The constitutions that the military gave to us right from the Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi era were military constitutions. These military constitutions are absolutely illegal. They are contradictions of what we call normal constitutional tenets. Sovereignty belongs to the people, not to the military. Therefore, the issue of system is that we need a truly federal government. We need a true fiscal federation so that there would be sustainability and the ethos of development.

    In a truly federal system of a parliamentary nature, you find that the head of government is not a one-man show. And because it is not a one-man show, he is subject to party discipline. Today, there is absolutely no head of government in Nigeria that is subject to party discipline. It is not so in a parliamentary system. A minister or commissioner in a parliamentary system can take over from the president or the governor if the president or governor loses a vote of confidence. Therefore, the president or governor in a parliamentary system is very careful so as to retain the confidence of a majority. This majority are delegates of the people who have the sovereignty.

    So, the kind of restructuring in your mind is a return to the parliamentary system?

    Yes, we should return to the practice of regional governments in a parliamentary system in Nigeria, which was the system in place before and after independence until the creation of the 12 states structure by General Gowon shortly before the civil war. Under the system, Nigeria had more rapid development. In fact, when they started, Eastern region was less developed than the others. But within a very short time, the East overtook the others and was developing at a minimum of 10 per cent per annum. It was just like China which developed at the minimum of 12 per cent.

    The new system should be in such way that the regions will be contributing to the centre, not the centre contributing to the regions or the states. Today, all the states go cap in hand to Abuja every month to get some palliatives. Have you ever heard of the centre bailing out the states so that they can pay salaries until now? It is ridiculous; it is a contradiction of federalism. It never happened when we practiced the parliamentary system under regional governments. This current system encourages corruption. But the parliamentary system will reduce it and there will be more growth. Now, how would there be more growth? This is what we say should be in the new constitution of Nigeria. The new constitution must have a clause which says that any appropriation bill should have at least 60 per cent for capital expenditure and 25/30 per cent for recurrent expenditure. But today, the reverse is the case because there are constraints. If we go into the details you will find that we are in real mess.

    You mentioned that the present system encourages corruption. What is your take on the anti-corruption crusade of the current administration?
    Unitary federalism, which we are practicing encourages corruption because it allows for very little accountability. It is a system that is dictated by one man so there are no checks and balances. If you go back to the last 16 years of governance in Nigeria, the Executive lobbies the Legislature to pass the budget. But as soon as the Legislature passes the budget, it becomes the property of the Executive. At the federal level, it is the property of the president and his wife. It is in their bedroom that they will deal with oil blocks, infrastructure, and make disbursements. Ditto at the state and local council levels. No minister or commissioner in that government can query the president or governor. If the EFCC should probe all the governors across the political parties in the last 16 years, there is hardly one of them that it would not find to have embezzled billions of public money. So, if President Buhari wants to wipe out corruption, it should be holistic. Some of the suspects, in order not to be probed, have decamped to the president’s party so they can be protected. The EFCC knows them, so why are so many of them not being probed? Why have those already probed not been fully tried? Why have they not been sentenced? Why has government not collected the monies that they stole? That is what the ordinary man is asking.

    President Buhari basically has two agenda. One is to fight against insurgency. We support him 110 per cent. Buhari also has a penchant inbuilt in him to fight corruption. His election slogan was that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We support him on the issue but the methodology is a different matter. The theory is correct but how to implement the theory is a different thing. If you want to wipe out corruption, there is no country in the world that can wipe out corruption 100 per cent. What you do is you reduce corruption by dealing decisively with culprits in accordance with the law. Therefore, any issue of corruption must be dealt with holistically. We applaud him for being determined to deal with the corruption of the last administration. But he must also deal with the corruption of the previous governments and we have records that go back to 1979. The people are still alive and the money that they accumulated corruptly is still around us, further corrupting our system. He should order the anti-graft agencies to take those people on.

    Do you think the National Assembly has the capacity to effect some of the reforms you have advocated?

    The National Assembly (NASS), to some extent, can do it. The issue is now on the front burner and the hue and cry is everywhere. I’m still talking about restructuring. The media has helped, and the media is still helping by putting it on the front burner and not waiting for the latter day because the latter day is total disintegration. So, it should be done; there is no excuse. Obasanjo knows this; Gen. Akinrinade knows this, likewise Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Tanko Yakassai, David Mark, Atiku Abubakar and many others that have voiced their concerns. Let me add that even President Buhari also knows this.

    Former President Goodluck Jonathan placed the report of the 2014 National Conference before David Mark, the former Senate president (never mind Buhari says the report is in the archives; it is in his own bedroom archives).  The National Assembly has made copies of the report available to members in preparation for the planned amendment of the constitution. Recall that the 7th NASS amended the constitution but the amendments were not implemented because Jonathan refused to sign the document. So, those former amendments and the report of the 2014 National Conference should be taken. Then any new proposal on the basis of what we have seen or what we are learning that is applicable to us as a people should also be added to them and discussed during the new amendment process. The NASS should also involve the civic society for their input. It’s only when that is done that we can have a semblance of what the people want in the country called Nigeria.

    Don’t you think that representatives from the northern part of the country where there is no consensus in support of restructuring will frustrate any motion towards that on the floor of the NASS?
    We have been fighting Boko Haram for how many years now? Boko Haram is from the North-east. It started from there but it is the resources of the whole country that government has been spending to fight them. Has it ended? The answer is No. Is the NASS not concerned about what is going on? They are very much concerned because it is our resources that are being depleted. If oil price goes down to $20 per barrel, how would members of the NASS get their money? The price of a loaf of bread now is from N200 upwards. When a loaf of bread starts costing N1000, there will concerns. You can’t shut your eyes to realistic issues. Whether you are North, East, South or West, all of us would be victims. The people who might not be victims are the so-called billionaires who can buy a loaf of bread for N5000. So, when the concerns become universal, there would be a collective search for solutions. It is a question of time. Sovereignty, which means real action, belongs to the people. When the people say enough is enough they mean it.

    You are a respected elder statesman from Igboland. You are talking about restructuring but the agitation by members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) is for total separation. What is your take on that?

    If Nigeria disintegrates there will be Biafra. When I say Biafra I don’t mean the old Biafra of the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Biafra means (and those who don’t know it should know now), conscience. Like Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka said recently, Biafra is an attitudinal matter. Biafra is self-determination. What the South-south people, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), are talking about for their self-determination is Biafra not territorial Biafra. People should understand that. They are talking about Biafra of the conscience, Biafra of justice, and Biafra of self-determination that sovereignty belongs also to them and that they should get their own side of it. Go to the South-west, what Afenifere is talking now is Biafra. Afenifere is saying that if Nigeria is going to disintegrate, they want their own Biafra; they want their own self-determination. So, Biafra as self-determination, applies to South-west, South-east, South-south, North-east, North-west and North central.
    When the late Saudana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, was governing the entire Northern region as premier, he used proceeds from groundnuts to build great universities. Then, the North had economic sustainability. In the West, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, used proceeds from cocoa to build the first television station in Africa. And Nigeria can still produce more cocoa than Ivory Coast, which survives on proceeds from cocoa, or equal them. In the East, we had rubber and palm oil plantations. Today, Michellin has gone; they had factories here, but they don’t produce tyres anymore in Nigeria. But we have the rubber, we have the raw material. We can start exporting it or we will establish factories that will manufacture better tyres for our vehicles. Why do we have to import virtually everything we need in this country?
    So, when you have a system that encourages the economy of self-reliance of all the component parts of Nigeria, using the mineral resources available to them to do exactly what God says they should do, that is Biafra. During the civil war, we were refining crude oil into petrol in the bush for 30 months and distributing to cars and whatever. For aircrafts there was an element that was added during the refining process to get aviation fuel that the jets used. This was done sustainably by a part that believed in itself, in its own technology and in its own advancement for almost three years. So, if all parts of Nigeria can exercise their right to self-determination, there will be healthy competition and sustainable development.

    Do you think this is achievable under a united Nigeria in the face of growing separatist agitations?

    The separatist agitations are against unitary federalism as our system of government. The separatist agitators are calling for a true federal system of government within one Nigeria. The Afenifere of the West is an army of the Yorubas. Are you deceived by it? It is an Oduduwa army and security apparatus.  You have it in IPOB, the militants in the Niger Delta and so on. Are you waiting until everybody starts fighting each other before you do the right things? The country would go into abyss if that is allowed to happen.

    So you believe that IPOB, for instance, is not serious with its quest to have a country called Biafra?

    They are our children. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is one imperial institution of all Igbos; it doesn’t matter who you are. Ohanaeze believes in justice, equity and fair play. Ohanaeze believes in the autonomy of federating units and that these units should subscribe to the centre for what the centre should do for the country. What are the things the centre should do for the country? They should be in charge of foreign affairs and protection of territorial integrity. They should also have a central police, but the component units should be allowed to have state police with the two complementing each other. That is what operates in the U.S. and it makes them to grow rapidly. Nigeria can also move fast if we do the right things. Last year, Nigeria was ranked as the largest economy in Africa. Last week, we heard that Nigeria has gone below, that South Africa has taken its place. The next you will hear, if care is not taken, is that Nigeria is below Egypt. And before you know it we will be fourth or fifth on the ladder. You see, we are going down. Is it when we reach the drains that people will begin to ask what happened or how did we get there?
    Today, most Nigerians who have their thinking faculties say that the price of Nigeria’s crude oil should not rise to $100 in the immediate future.  When we reform let it go up. Let it rise when we know how to use our cocoa, rubber, cotton, etc. We are dormant because we run a mono economy. Everything depends on oil and yet the communities where you get the resources are not benefitting. Let the economy remain depressed for the next two years so we can recycle Nigeria and move forward as a country.

    You witnessed the build up to the civil war and eventually went to the battle front on the side of Biafra. What do you expect leaders of the country to be doing at a time like this?

    Ojukwu, before he died, said ‘please don’t fight another civil war. Do all you can to rectify any anormaly. Shout and protest but don’t fight another civil war’. It’s on YouTube and we have shared it with members of the IPOB. That is why the disobedience of the boys is very civil and not armed. But you see some people provoking them by killing them and so on.

    Only recently they started releasing some of them that were being incarcerated. Some are still being incarcerated even when the courts have granted them bail. We do not believe in another civil war. We believe that civic actions will eventually lead us to a solution, the aggregate of which would come from the people. Restructuring used to be a dirty and innocuous word a year ago but it is no longer. I now hear it everywhere. There is a thunderous yes to restructuring everywhere it is mentioned now. When you have that kind of hilarious cry, people who say they are deaf their ears will open. And their ears will open more because the economic situation is bad. They can see it with their own eyes. Many world powers are now advising Nigeria to change the system because the people want it. Any government that doesn’t have good ears would soon hear. - DAILY SUN


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  • The Latest On The Attack On A Hotel In The Malian Capital Of Bamako

    21/Nov/2015 // 295 Viewers

    The U.S. State Department says one American was among at least 19 people killed an attack Friday at a Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mail.

    The department is declining to immediately identify the American victim out of respect for the family.

    Secretary of State John Kerry is offering “deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and injured” in the assault.

    Kerry says the U.S. Embassy in Bamako stands ready “to provide support to the Malian government in the investigation” of the incident.

    He says, “These terrorist attacks will only deepen our shared resolve to fight terrorism.”

    10:48 p.m.
    A top army official says 22 people including the attackers were killed in the siege of a hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako.

    Army Cmdr. Modibo Nama Traore said late Friday night that there appeared to have been two attackers, both of whom were killed.

    He said a Malian gendarme was among the dead. He added that five people were injured including two Malian police, and that 126 people were safely evacuated.

    9:14 p.m
    At least two Canadians are safe after Islamic extremists stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital.

    A clerk for the House of Commons and an employee of Quebec’s national assembly were both in the hotel at the time of the attacks.

    Patrice Martin, acting deputy principal clerk, in Mali on a diplomatic support mission was unharmed in the attack according to Commons spokeswoman Heather Bradley.

    Earlier, a spokesperson for Quebec’s national assembly said Maxime Carrier-Legare was also safe.

    8:55 p.m.
    The United States says it is trying to verify the location of all American citizens in Mali after the deadly attack and siege at a hotel in its capital, Bamako.

    National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the U.S. condemns the attack in the strongest terms and commends the bravery of the Malian, French, United Nations and U.S. security personnel who responded to the situation and prevented even worse loss of life.

    He says the U.S. is “prepared to assist the Malian government in the coming days as it investigates this tragic terrorist attack.”

    8:24 p.m.
    The death toll in the Mali hotel siege remains murky with France’s defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying 18 people are dead at the hotel along with one Malian soldier killed in the fighting.

    It wasn’t immediately clear if the hotel dead included the gunmen.

    The French report of 19 dead is lower than the 27 dead initially reported by the U.N.

    A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation was still ongoing, said a number of different casualty figures have been reported and the organization is working with authorities on the ground to get an exact number.

    —Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations
    7:33 p.m.
    Germany’s foreign minister says four of his country’s citizens survived the siege in Bamako unharmed.

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier says no Germans are known to have been injured in the attack

    He paid tribute late Friday to Malian security forces and French forces who supported them in freeing the hostages.

    Steinmeier said “today’s terrorist attack makes clear again that there’s still a long way to go before Mali is stabilized and that Islamic terrorism in the region hasn’t been defeated yet.”

    He also reiterated that Germany is prepared to increase its involvement in Mali and the region. Germany currently has nine soldiers in Mali as part of the Minusma mission, and 200 as part of the EUTM training mission.

    7:19 p.m.
    A spokeswoman for Quebec’s national assembly says an employee of the institution was among the hostages freed after Islamic extremists stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital.

    Noemie Cimon-Mattar said Friday Maxime Carrier-Legare was in the hotel but is now safe.

    She said Carrier-Legare has been working as an adviser to an association of francophone parliaments since 2011.”

    6:40 p.m.
    UN mission spokesman Olivier Salgado says two attackers in the Mali hotel siege have been killed but he cannot yet confirm that operation is over. Security forces are going from room to room checking for more casualties.

    Another U.N. official says initial reports from the field indicate that 27 people were killed in the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital. It is not clear if that total included the bodies of the attackers.

    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the operation is still ongoing, said 12 bodies were found in the basement and 15 bodies were found on the second floor.

    The official stressed, however, that operations are ongoing and that the building had yet to be totally cleared.

    —Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations
    6:20 p.m.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is condemning “the horrific terrorist attack” at the Radisson hotel in Mali’s capital and expressing hope that it won’t derail implementation of the peace agreement in the troubled West African nation.

    Ban’s spokesman, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, says the U.N. chief noted with concern that Friday’s attack took place “at a time when the peace process is making good progress,” and signatories were in Bamako to attend a meeting,

    He says Ban is expressing “full support to the Malian authorities in their fight against terrorist and extremist groups” and sent condolences to the bereaved families and the many injured.

    Dujarric says a U.N. peacekeeping force has been assisting Malian authorities in handling the crisis.

    Dujarric said the three U.N. staff members in the hotel during the attack “were safely evacuated.”

    4:55 p.m.
    Malian state television is reporting that no more hostages are being held at a luxury hotel after a daylong siege by Islamic militants.

    National broadcaster ORTM, citing security officials, said 18 bodies were found at the hotel so far and that no more hostages were being held.

    It was not immediately clear whether the attackers were still inside.

    Gunfire continued into the late afternoon, and Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore said operations were continuing.

    4:30 p.m.
    An extremist group that two years ago split from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch and led by Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the attack, in a recorded statement carried by Al-Jazeera. The group said it wanted fighters freed from Mali’s prisons and for attacks against northern Malians to stop.


    The group, known as the Mourabitounes, was formed in 2013 after Belmoktar left al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and fused with a Malian militant group. The statement issued Friday said the Mourabitounes had attacked in coordination with the “Sahara Emirate” affiliated with al-Qaida.
    3:20 p.m.
    United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says U.N. “quick-reaction forces” have been deployed to the siege area at the Radisson Blu hotel and are supporting Malian and other security forces.

    But he said that U.N. peacekeeping troops are not conducting operations. He said the United Nations had a few staff members in the hotel at the time of the attack but they are all safely out.

    Separately, the French Defense Ministry says a unit of French soldiers has arrived in Bamako in support of Malian security forces. It did not specify how many soldiers were involved.

    France has 3,500 troops operating in Mali and four other countries in the Sahel region as part of a five-nation counterterrorism operation codenamed Barkhane.

    2:55 p.m.
    A U.S. military official says at least six Americans have been evacuated from the Radisson Blu hotel.

    U.S. military personnel already stationed in the country have been helping take people from the hotel to safety.

    Col. Mark R. Cheadle, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, says the U.S. military hasn’t received any other requests for help responding to the attack, but that the United States will continue assisting the French with intelligence and surveillance in Mali.

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls meanwhile is expressing his support for Mali, France’s former West African colony, saying it is a country “that fights jihadism so bravely.”

    2:45 p.m.
    France’s national gendarme service says “about 40” French special police forces are taking part in the assault on the Radisson Blu hotel.

    A spokesman for the service who was not authorized to be publicly named said the forces are permanently based in Bamako, primarily to secure the French Embassy.

    He said they are currently “playing a supporting role” alongside local security forces.

    —Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Paris
    2:25 p.m.
    A spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command says U.S. military forces stationed in Mali are helping to secure the scene of the hotel attack in Mali.

    Col. Mark R. Cheadle says American military personnel “have helped move civilians to secure locations, as Malian forces work to clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”

    U.S. State Dept. spokesman John Kirby says Americans “might be present at the hotel,” and that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is working to verify this.

    1:30 p.m.
    The Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group that operates the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako when the assault began says 125 guests and 13 employees are still in the hotel.

    Separately, Germany’s foreign minister says that two Germans who were taken hostage in the hotel have been set free.

    Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters on Friday during a visit to Zambia that is unclear whether any other Germans were in the hotel, the dpa news agency reported.

    1 p.m.
    Malian state TV says 80 people who were in the hotel in Bamako when the assault began have now been freed. The special forces were continuing their operation to end the standoff.

    Earlier, the Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group that operates the Bamako hotel said the assailants had “locked in” 140 guests and 30 employees in the attack on Friday.

    Malian troops reacted quickly. As people ran for their lives near the hotel along a dirt road, the soldiers in full combat gear pointed the way to safety. Within hours, local TV images showed heavily armed troops in what appeared to be a lobby area.

    12:35 p.m.
    President Barack Obama says he’s monitoring the situation playing out in Mali.

    Obama made the brief comment about hotel attack after a meeting in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He didn’t offer any additional details.

    The White House says Obama was briefed about the attack by his national security adviser, Susan Rice. White House officials say Obama has asked to be kept updated about new developments.

    12:20 p.m.
    Malian army commander, Modibo Nama Traore, says Malian special forces have entered the hotel and are freeing hostages “floor by floor.”

    He says at least 30 hostages have been freed already and that Malian security forces are trying to make contact with the assailants.

    Traore says at least one guest earlier reported that the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the Quran before he was allowed to leave the hotel.

    12:15 p.m.
    Air France says 12 members of one of its plane crew who are staying at the attacked hotel in Bamako are all safe.

    Air France spokeswoman Ulli Gendrot told The Associated Press that the “the crew is in a safe place.” She said the 12 included two pilots.

    12:10 p.m.
    French President Francois Hollande says France is ready to help Mali with all means necessary in the wake of the hotel attack in the capital, Bamako.

    Hollande asks all French citizens in Mali to make contact with the French Embassy there “in order that everything is made to offer them protection.”

    In Belgium, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said there were four Belgians registered at the attacked hotel but it’s unclear if they were taken hostage by the gunmen or not.

    Reynders also said there are “15 hostages who have been freed after an intervention” but didn’t provide more details.

    11:57 a.m.
    Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has cut short its tip to Chad where he was attending a meeting of G5 Sahel.

    The Mali presidency said on Twitter that Keita will be back to Bamako “in the next hours.”

    Meanwhile, France’s national gendarme service says about 50 elite police troops are en route from Paris to Bamako.

    A spokesman for the service who was not authorized to be publicly named said they are heading Friday from two different units of special police forces trained for emergency situations.

    —Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Paris
    11:52 a.m.
    Air France has cancelled its Paris-Bamako flight after gunmen attacked a hotel in the Mali capital.

    Air France spokesman Ulli Gendrot said the “3852 flight has been canceled.” It was due later Friday.

    The attackers seized about 170 hostages on Friday morning at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

    A Malian military official has said at least three people are confirmed dead in the attack and that more than 100 hostages are believed to be held.

     

    Source: AFP


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  • New cases of Ebola emerge in Liberia

    21/Nov/2015 // 509 Viewers

    There are three new  cases of Ebola in Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson  in Rome  confirm to our reporter. This is barely after 3 months the West African country was declared Ebola-free which has had no fewer than 10,000 Ebola cases and recorded over 4,000 deaths.

    The three patients including a 10-year-old boy have been isolated and his relatives and others who risk contracting the disease  have been taken to an Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia suburb.

    The country's President, Ellen Johnson had in a speech delivered in Monrovia praised their resilience in combating the epidemic which has killed many people in the country before the new cases emerge which pose a serious setback to the country.

     

     

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  • If you lose, concede defeat - Jonathan

    21/Oct/2015 // 266 Viewers

     The Chair of the Commonwealth election observers, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said the Sunday elections will only be peaceful if losing candidates gracefully concede defeat.

    He said it was equally important to realise that, for the poll  to be free and fair all stakeholders, namely, National Electoral Commission (NEC), political parties, police as well as voters must play their part.

    Jonathan, who was defeated by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in Nigerian general election in March, and conceded defeat, told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the Commonwealth Observers Group started its work in the country yesterday and expects to meet with a wide range of stakeholders including NEC officials, political parties, civil society organisations, the diplomatic community as well as other international and national observer groups.

    “If you lose, accept defeat,” he said, warning that any attempt to reject the will of the people can only lead to chaos.

    The Nigerian former president insisted that Commonwealth Observers Group will issue  an interim statement on the  preliminary findings shortly after the elections and a final report will be prepared in Tanzania.

    “We will also submit the report on the Tanzanian elections to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. The group is scheduled to depart in Tanzania on 31st October 2015,” he said.

    He added: “I am greatly honoured and privileged to have been asked by the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma to lead the Commonwealth Observers Group to Tanzania’s general election that will be taking place on 25th October 2015”

    He pointed out that during their time in Tanzania, they will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post election period, against the backdrop of Tanzania’s national legislation, regional and international commitments. 

    “Commonwealth Observers Group in Tanzania was constituted following an invitation extended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania, and we will work according to the rules and regulations,” he said.

    Jonathan noted: “Our group comprises of 14 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth countries including Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, The group which includes experts in politics, election, media, conflict prevention and youth affairs. We arrived in Tanzania on Monday and will stay here until 31st October 2015.” 

    He went further saying that the Commonwealth Observers Group will perform their observation role with impartiality, independence and transparency.

    He disclosed that on Friday this week, members of the Commonwealth Observers Group will deploy in small teams to various regions across the country to observe preparations ahead of the poling day.

    He also said that on Election Day, members of the Commonwealth Observers  Group will observe opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management process.

    “If all parties including the National Electoral Commission, Political Parties, and Police Forces will play its role, nothing will stops Tanzania to record a free and fair election this year,” he said.

    He insisted: “We hope that our group’s presence in Tanzania will demonstrate the commonwealth’s solidarity with the people of this country. The success of these elections depends on every stakeholder playing their part in the peaceful, inclusive and transparent manner, we are very confidence that we will achieve the goal.”

    However, The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to 2.2 billion citizens of which over 60 percent are under the ages of 30.

    The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, Spanning five regions. The thirty one of its members are small states, many of them island nations.

    Commonwealth countries are supported by an active network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil societies, cultural and professional organisations.

    In the same vein, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has hailed the appointment of former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan as leader of a 33-nation observer mission to the Sunday, October 25, 2015 general election to be held in Tanzania, describing it as “a global recognition of the former president’s democratic credentials.”

    He said: “Jonathan’s appointment to lead the Commonwealth observer team, comprising 33 countries, is recognition of his remarkable role in the last presidential election, in which he conceded defeat, thereby saving Nigeria from catastrophe that even the international community thought would befall the country.”

    Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said; “Jonathan should be celebrated and I am happy that the world is beginning to give him the deserved recognition and celebration less than five months that he left office.”

    He said Dr Jonathan’s courage and spirit of sportsmanship in accepting the outcome of the presidential election despite the obvious shortcomings saved the nation from political chaos and violence, adding that “Jonathan provided the foundation on which democracy is standing in Nigeria today and one is not surprised that he is being asked to lead the Commonwealth election observer team from 33 nations to Tanzania.

     “Even if those who benefitted from his show of love and commitment to the peace and development of Nigeria are paying him back with persecution and victimisation, I am happy that the former President and those who worked with him are being celebrated globally.

    “I therefore congratulate Dr Jonathan and urge those currently holding power in Abuja to emulate him by putting Nigeria and its interests first.”


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  • Kenyans marks Westgate siege anniversary

    21/Sep/2015 // 252 Viewers

    AFP | Staff of the Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi pray as they mark the second anniversary commemorations of the Westgate shopping mall attack by militants from Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab on September 21, 2015
    NAIROBI (AFP) -
    Kenyans held prayers and lit candles in Nairobi on Monday to mark the second anniversary commemorations of the Westgate shopping mall attack by militants from Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab.
     
    In the Nakumatt supermarket inside the mall, where many of those who died in the attack were killed, staff held prayers, as shoppers went about normal business in the redecorated building.
     
    "We are commemorating a time where many of our friends were lost, many of our friends had their destinies shattered," said preacher Dennis Pamba, as staff in the supermarket lit lines of white candles to remember those killed.
     
    The attack began on September 21, 2013, when four gunmen entered the mall, spraying shoppers and staff with machine gun fire and tossing grenades into crowds of Saturday shoppers and diners. The attack left 67 dead.
     
    "Though they killed the 67, they never killed our spirit," said supermarket manager David Muturi.
     
    "My appeal to all Kenyans all over the world is people to come and shop at Westgate, Westgate is safe... we will continue with the same spirit."
     
    Apparently inspired by the Mumbai attack of 2008, the gunmen hunted down shoppers in supermarket aisles and singled out non-Muslims for execution. They then fought it out with Kenyan security forces before the siege was finally declared over four days after the first shot was fired.
     
    The Shebab said the attack was revenge for Kenya's sending of troops to fight the extremists in Somalia.
     
    They have launched a string of subsequent attacks in Kenya, including their biggest attack to date earlier this year -- the massacre of 148 people, most of them students, at Garissa university in the northeast.
     
    All four gunmen were believed to have died in the mall, their bodies burned and crushed by tonnes of rubble after a section of the complex collapsed following a fierce blaze started by the fighting.
     
    The Westgate mall, Nairobi's most upmarket shopping centre and a magnet for the east African nation's growing middle class and expatriates, reopened in July after extensive renovations.
     
    Prayers were also held on Sunday in Nairobi's Karura forest at a site where a memorial stone and a plaque bearing the names of the dead, as well as newly planted trees, was unveiled a year ago.
     
    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Flash: South Sudan

    21/Sep/2015 // 237 Viewers

    AFP / by Fred Garet, Marian Henbest
    JUBA (SUDAN) (AFP) -
     
    Conditions in war-torn South Sudan have worsened with thousands fleeing fighting since a ceasefire deal three weeks ago, the United Nations has warned. VIDEOGRAPHIC
     
    by Fred Garet, Marian Henbest


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  • Ghana: Public officials cut down to size by ban on first class travels

    22/Dec/2015 // 212 Viewers

                                     John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana


    ACCRA, DECEMBER 22, 2015: (DGW): Ghanian President, John Dramani Mahama has placed a ban on first class travels for public officials, Minister of Communications, Mr Edward Boamah  disclosed to our reporter Tuesday in Accra, Ghana.

    This ban has become necessary seeing that it is a major weapon the opposition is campaigning with against the ruling party as presidential and parliamentary elections  are  billed to hold  next year, DailyGlobeWatch understands. 

    In a statement, the presidency directed that top government officials embarking on unwarranted  foreign trips at the expense of government to forget it as the government can no longer finance such trips.

    As this comes into force Ghana would be discussing Financial Accountability Bill which will impose penalties bordering on jail term for violators, our source further revealed.

    Meanwhile, the West African state has been enjoined to fix its economy by the International Monetary fund and this has in earnest commenced since April this year following high deficits amid a widening public debt and unstable local currency.

     

     

     

     

     


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  • 'We are at war with the extremists; we remain unbowed', President Kenyanta says in a memorial

    22/Jan/2016 // 280 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JANUARY 22, 2016: (DGW) - General Abas Ibrahim of the Somalian Army said Kenya troops in the country were warned of an impending al-Shabab attack on their base 45 days before it was launched that killed no fewer than 100 Kenyan soldiers, DailyGlobeWatchhas reliably gathered.

    That episode remained the deadliest attack on Kenya's army although at the time of filing this report the Kenyan military has not made any disclosure regarding the death toll of their fallen soldiers in the country. However, reliable sources told our reporter that the bombs used in the attacks on Kenyan military base  three times outpower the ones used in 1998 American Embassy attacks in Nairobi, Kenya's capital city and no fewer than 224 people were killed in that ill-conceived attacks, DailyGlobeWatch understands.

    President  Uhuru Kenyata was quoted as saying during a memorial service held in honour of the slain soldiers 'we are at war with the extremists, terrorists and it is a war we must win. We remain unbowed''.

    Speaking further, Mr Kenyatta told the audience which was well-attended by the families of the victims that the attack was launched by a buildup of militants in the area which also  foreshadows future attacks and that Kenyan forces will henceforth intensify efforts on intelligence gathering to forestall similar incident in future while the war with the extremists continues.

    His words, "We were told that al-Shabab was bringing fighters from all over the regions in south Somalia - from Gedo region, Middle and Lower Shabelle and Juba. They were very strong."


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  • Al Shabaab militants launch deadly restaurant attack in Somali capital Mogadishu

    22/Jan/2016 // 242 Viewers

     

    (AP) - Somalia's security forces ended a deadly siege of a beachfront restaurant in the capital, with more than 20 people killed in the attack, a police official said Friday.
     
    The security forces took control of the restaurant just before dawn, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, speaking from the scene of the attack in Mogadishu.
     
    It was not clear whether Hussein's report of more than 20 killed included the assailants.
     
    Blasts and bursts of gunfire could be heard as Somali special forces went from room to room pursuing the al-Shabab gunmen who were holed up inside the restaurant.
     
    Hussein said the security forces rescued many people who had been trapped inside the restaurant's hall, where a party was taking place when the attack started on Thursday.
     
    Witnesses said that gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great," and entered the restaurant from the direction of the beach as clients, sitting behind razor wire, watched the seashore.
     
    "They randomly fired at people sitting near the beach before entering the restaurant," said witness Ahmed Nur, who was strolling along the shoreline when the attack happened.
     
    Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, in a broadcast on its online radio late Thursday.
     
    Al-Shabab attacked Kenyan peacekeepers in southwestern Somalia last week. The al-Qaida-linked group said it had killed about 100 Kenyans and seized weapons and military vehicles. The Kenyan government has given no death toll, but said there were some fatalities.
     
    Despite being pushed out of Somalia's major cities and towns, al-Shabab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the Horn of Africa country. African Union troops, government officials and foreigners are frequently targeted.
     
     


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