Nigeria records 6,562 deaths in 11 months

Four weeks to the end of 2018, many Nigerians would be eager to bid the year goodbye and welcome 2019 with open arms.
Nigerian troops rallied to flush out Boko Haram rag tag forces in Guzamala
Reason: 2018 has been a harbinger of death, tears of blood and gnashing of the teeth for a host of people and families in all parts of the country.
Literally, Nigeria could be described as a killing field in 2018 as no fewer than 6,562 Nigerians, according to Sunday Vanguard’s checks, were slaughtered through the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, cult clashes, sectarian and communal clashes, kidnapping, ritual killings, and armed robbery, among others.
The Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen and farmers’ clashes accounted for the bulk of the deaths.
The North-Central, North-East and North-West zones were the apex theatres of the killings with states like Borno, Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Taraba being the epicentre of the killings.
The death figure is conservative because it is based on but not even limited to reported incidents and deaths. Many killings were not reported or the casualty figures were not disclosed. If those who died in the custody of kidnappers were added, the tally would be much higher. The 6,562 deaths recorded since the beginning of 2018 exclude those who died from illnesses, accidents, flooding, infant mortality, Lassa fever, malaria, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Those killed include civilians and security agents as well as the insurgents.
In the first 10 weeks of the year as tallied by Sunday Vanguard in March 2018, no fewer than 1,351 people were mowed down.
In January, 676 Nigerians were killed, and in February, no fewer than 517 people died violently, across the country. For the remaining months the death tolls are as follows: March, 485; April, 670; May, 508; June, 639; July, 357; August, 363; September, 926; October, 1,033; and November, 388.
The deaths have made Nigeria one of the countries affected most by terrorism. According to the Global Terrorism Index, GTI, Nigeria is the fourth country with the highest number of deaths resulting from terrorism. In 2016, the GTI said 2,164 persons died through terrorist acts in Nigeria.
The Committee on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, set up by the Plateau Government, said penultimate week that 1,801 persons were killed and 50,212 people displaced by the recent attacks in the state.
AVM Bala Danbaba (retd), Chairman of the committee, while presenting the committee report to Governor Simon Lalong, in Jos, said the committee identified 115 communities cutting across Jos North, Jos South, Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Bokkos Local Government Areas, that were affected by the crisis. He said the committee, whose one month mandate was later increased to two months, received 55 memoranda and visited 27 camps where the IDPs were quartered, noting “The only IDPs camp we did not visit was the one at Lere, in the Dorowa area of Barkin Ladi Local Government. We could not go there because of security reasons. ‘’
Last July, the Amnesty International (AI) said the killings in Zamfara were under reported, saying of then 371 people had been killed in the state.
Amnesty International recalled that on Friday 27 July, 18 villages in the Mashema, Kwashabawa and Birane districts of Zurmi local government area of Zamfara state were attacked, leaving at least 42 people dead.
“At least 18,000 residents of the affected villages who were displaced over the weekend are now taking refuge at various locations in the local government headquarters. The following day a further 15 people were kidnapped in Maradun local government area.
“On Saturday 28 July, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the deployment of 1,000 troops to Zamfara. This is the third time since November 2017 that the authorities have deployed the military in response to attacks, but villagers told Amnesty International that this has not translated into protection for remote, vulnerable communities.
“Previous military interventions have failed to end the killings, especially in rural areas of Zamfara. At least 371 people have been killed in Zamfara in 2018 alone, and at least 238 of these killings took place after the deployment of the Nigerian air force. The government is still neglecting the most vulnerable communities in this region,” said Osai Ojigho.
“Villagers described feeling helpless and on edge, constantly bracing themselves for attacks. Men said they are sleeping outside their homes and in trees as a way of keeping vigilant, while women and children are sleeping together in groups for protection. Villagers described a pattern where they receive warnings ahead of attacks, including by phone, ordering them to pay huge sums of money or be killed or abducted,” AI further disclosed. – Vanguard.

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Fuel scarcity looms as marketers give govt 7-day ultimatum to settle subsidy debts

Oil marketers on Sunday in Lagos gave the Federal Government seven-day ultimatum to settle outstanding debts totalling N800 billion, failing which depots would cease operation across the country.
The marketers, comprising Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), said failure to meet the deadline would force its members to disengage workers from depots.
Confirming the seven-day notice, Mr Patrick Etim, Legal Adviser to IPPI told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that banks have taken over investments and assets of oil marketers over unpaid debts.
According to Etim, marketers have no choice that to ask their workers to stay at home over unpaid salary arrears due to huge subsidy debts owed by the government.
“The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of promissory note being proposed.
“As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances received by government saying it would pay off the outstanding debts.
“The oil marketers have requested that Forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketers be calculated up to December 2018 and be paid within next seven days from the date of the letter sent to the government,’’ he said.
Etim said that several thousand jobs were on the line in the industry, as oil marketers began cut-down of their workforce due to inability to pay salaries
“At the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with the view to secure approval for all outstanding subsidy-induced debts handed over to the current administration,’’ he said.
The counsel said that the current administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differential still pending.
The Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Mr Olufemi Adewole, also confirmed the seven-day ultimatum notice.
Adewole disclosed that the oil marketers on Nov. 28 served the ultimatum letter on the Debt Management Office (DMO), Minister of Finance, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Department of State Services and Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
“We urge the DMO to process and pay marketers in cash for their outstanding forex differentials and interest component claims, together with the amount already approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Assembly.
“Marketers are not in a position to discount payment on the subsidy-induced debt owed as proposed by DMO.
“The expected payment is made up of bank loans, outstanding admin charges due to PPPRA, outstanding bridging fund due Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board and in a few cases AMCON judgment debts.
“We urge that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved payment instrument, (the promissory note) be substituted with cash and paid through our bankers to stop the avoidable waste of public funds through these debts accruing interest,’’ he said.
DAPPMA also urged government institutions involved in resolving the lingering problem to appreciate the situation marketers faced and expedite payment of the debts in full without further delay.

Lagos guber: Why I chose Hamzat as running mate — Sanwo-Olu

The Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Sunday said he chose Dr Obafemi Hamzat as his running mate because he would make a capable deputy.
Sanwo-Olu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that Hamzat is a man with high level of knowledge and skills that would help make the difference in the state.
”Femi and I have been friends for well over 15 years. I know his strength and I know he is a capable man, and I know he is a competent individual.
”I know his pedigree, the value, the level of integrity, knowledge and skills that he has. I’m not in any doubt that he would not only be a strong supporter of my campaign and programme, but he will also be a capable deputy that will help make a difference in Lagos.
”It is two good hands in the narrative of Lagos State, ” he said.

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki said he would start off setting salary arrears owed certain category of workers in Kwara state from next week

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki said he would start off setting salary arrears owed certain category of workers in Kwara state from next week
Saraki announced the news during the PDP monthly stakeholders meeting at the ‘ charity house’ in Ilorin, Kwara state.
He said he would commence the payment of salary arrears with three selected local government areas; one each from the three senatorial districts of the state.
The PDP national leader also announced that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar will flag-off his campaign in Ilorin on Wednesday.
Saraki asked his supporters to troop out in large number to receive Atiku and his entourage, insisting that Kwara is wholly PDP.
He extended an olive branch to his estranged political aides who are now in the opposition party to return.
The state governor, Alh Abdulfatah Ahmed who was present at the meeting had earlier blamed the inability of the government to clear the backlog of salary arrears on the drop in the federal allocation to the state and the refusal of the federal government to release the state’s last tranche of the Paris Club refund.
Ahmed announced that plans were on top gear to clear the salary arrears in order to make the affected workers and their family more comfortable.

Kebbi businessman, 5,000 APC members defect to PDP

Alhaji Mustapha Asaija and five thousand other members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the weekend left the party to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP gubernatorial candidate, Senator Isa Galaudu, his running mate, Alhaji Abubakar Malan, PDP state executives and hundreds of PDP members received the businessman with his supporters at Ambursa in Birnin Kebbi local government area of the state.
Asaija said he left the ruling APC with his supporters to join the PDP because the party has failed in making the lives of Nigerians better in spite of its numerous promises.
He said “I did not decamp with my supporters to get money I swear, I left the APC simply because things are not just right”.
He said he would mobilise more people in the area for the success of PDP gubernatorial candidate Isa Galaudu in the 2019 election.
In his remark the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Galaudu said he was happy to receive the ‘decampees’ while calling for peaceful electioneering campaign devoid of hate speech and violence.
He said “If elected, I promise to address issues of youth unemployment, improve civil service, maintain regular payment of pension and gratuity and come up with genuine agricultural program in Kebbi with adequate loan subsidy to farmers”.
At another development, the PDP has inaugurated its Campaign Committee and Alhaji Isah Mungadi was appointed Director General of the party campaign in Kebbi State.
Also, the deputy speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abdulmumini Bala Fanti and some other state lawmakers have dumped the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and joined the opposition Peoples Redemption Party ( PRP).
Two APC senatorial aspirants have also left and joined the PRP.
The other state lawmakers that defected to the PRP are; Ibrahim Bello Katagum, Auwal Hassan Shira and Yusuf C. Nuhu.
Nuhu is the member representing Toro in the state House of Assembly who recently won the by-election for Toro federal constituency on the platform of the APC.
Two ex-lawmakers, Abdulmumini Ningi and Dayyabu Chiroma have also defected.
Their defection follows the fallout of the party’s primaries which saw over 20 members losing their tickets to re-contest.
Yakubu Shehu Abdullahi, the member representing Bauchi constituency in the state House of Assembly who lost his bid in the APC to contest also left the party and joined the PRP to contest for Bauchi federal constituency seat.
Two senatorial aspirants who contested for Bauchi South and Bauchi Central senate tickets under the APC, Barrister Lawan Ibrahim and Bappah Aliyu Misau respectively have also joined the PRP to contest for the ticket.
Bauchi State PRP chairman, Alhaji Shehu Barau Ningi confirmed that the APC defectors have joined the party after they were denied tickets in their former party.

UNN sets record with highest number of Ph.D graduates

Four hundred and eighty (480) graduands on Saturday received Postgraduate degrees and diplomas of the University of Nigeria in what the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Benjamin Ozumba, described as “the highest by any Nigerian university in one year.”
The university also conferred honorary doctorate degrees on three distinguished Nigerians. The Group Managing Director of Access Bank Herbert Wigwe, former executive secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) Mr. Reginald Chika Stanley, and then the Managing Director of the Dozzy Group, Sir Daniel Chukwudozie, who bagged the degrees, said they felt ‘greatly honoured’ to be associated with the University of Nigeria in such capacity.
Ozumba said the honour conferred on the three Nigerians was “not a knee-jerk decision” but a product of careful appraisal of their contribution to the nation and mankind. He specifically pointed out Wigwe’s successful efforts in moving Access Bank to its “present status as one of the top banks from 16th position to number six in just 10 years.”
He said the banker’s idea of establishing a chair for the university was worthy of emulation.
The vice chancellor also described Reginald Stanley as a successful Nigerian who served the country as a technocrat and has, since his retirement, continued to make a positive impact in the private sector. Ozumba said the third awardee, Chukwudozie, was a philanthropist who had made an immense contribution to the growth and welfare of many Nigerians.
At least, 480 of the 2,113 graduands, who were conferred with postgraduate degrees of the university by the Chancellor and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Akande, were Ph.D candidates.
Eleven retired professors of UNN, one of who were Professor Uche Azikiwe, the wife of the founder and wife of Nigeria’s first president, the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, were elevated to the university’s club of “Emeritus Professors of the University of Nigeria.”
Vice-chancellor Ozumba said the 480 doctorate degree awardees represent 22.7 percent of the 2,113 postgraduates who, like their 9,702 first degree and diploma counterparts, had fulfilled the standard requirements of character and learning as stipulated in the school’s regulations.
Describing the figure as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘remarkable,’ the vice chancellor explained that the significant increase in the number of postgraduate degrees awarded at last weekend’s graduation “reflects a deliberate response to the mandate given to first-generation universities to increase the enrolment of postgraduate students.
“I’m quite pleased that my staff have been able to adapt to the additional challenge placed upon them by the increased enrolment without necessarily compromising on the standard for which the university was known,” Ozumba said on Sunday.
The (grand finale) second day of the 48th convocation ceremony was set aside for the purpose of conferring the postgraduate degrees and diplomas. It followed the previous day’s event at which 9,702 were awarded first degrees, diplomas and certificates of the university. – Guardian.

GTBank maintains leading position as Best Bank in Nigeria, wins Bank of the Year, Sierra Leone

Foremost African financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc has won the award for “Bank of the Year Nigeria” for the second year in a row at The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards, regarded as the industry standard for excellence within the global banking sector.
Guaranty Trust Bank Sierra Leone Ltd, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, was also recognized as the “Bank of the Year Sierra Leone” at the event, which held on November 29, 2018 at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, London, United Kingdom.
The Banker, a publication of the Financial Times, is the world’s leading monthly journal of records for the banking Industry, with over 90 years expertise in publishing developments in the banking industry in Africa and on the global scale.
The Magazine’s Bank of the Year Awards celebrates leading financial institutions within the global banking sector who are setting new industry standards and driving innovation in financial services and customer experience.
Receiving the award on behalf of the Bank, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said; “We are honoured to be recognized as the 2018 Bank of the Year in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. These awards serve as further motivation for us as we continue to go beyond traditional banking services by creating innovative digital services that are less about us as bank and more about our customers and how we empower them with everything that they need to better their lives.”
He further stated that “Our vision has always been to create an oasis in the financial services industry that leads, not only in earnings and returns on equity, but also in maintaining world class corporate governance standards and pushing the bounds in service delivery and customer experience.
These awards reflect our sustained commitment towards this vision, which we will continue to pursue, driven by our passion for excellence and guided by our founding values of hard work, discipline and integrity.”
Alongside its record for consistent year-on-year growth, GTBank is widely regarded by industry watchers as a trailblazer in the banking industry due to its many innovations in digital and financial services.
Recently, the Bank launched Habari, Nigeria’s largest platform for music, shopping and lifestyle content and the first mobile platform created by a financial institution in the country that focuses on enabling people’s needs and lifestyle rather than providing regular banking products.