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Niger: Hard times for communities, as tension rise among soldiers at borders

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Subtle hostilities have been reported between Nigerian and Nigerien soldiers constituting the Multinational Joint Task Force in Malam Fatori town, bordering Marte Local Government Area of Borno State, Nigeria and Bosso town in Niger Republic, in the Lake Chad region.

Following the sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Niger and the declaration of potential military action by ECOWAS, Nigerian soldiers have been denied access to Bosso town where they usually go to source items for their daily lives and basic provisions.

Nigerian Tribune  quotes Liman, a Nigerian who resides in Diffa, as saying: “Commercial activities between the two countries have been suspended, while no individual is allowed entry into Diffa or Bosso from Nigeria. The price of commodities is also increasing because most of the goods that we are using here came from Nigeria. One litre of fuel is more than N1,000, one Maggie cube is now N30 and we are not supporting military operations in Niger.”

Musa Saminu, a commercial motorcyclist in Diffa was also quoted to have stated: “There is no light, no electricity because Nigeria cuts off the power supply, no fuel and everything is very expensive, including food items.”

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In Kebbi State, vehicular movements were restricted along the major routes leading to Niger Republic from the fringes, but the movement of people of these areas was unhindered.

The report also said, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Department of Security Service (DSS) and soldiers have been put on the red alert as the deadline for the restoration of democratic rule in Niger Republic ended yesterday, Sunday, August 6, 2023, adding that the security on the Nigerian borders with Niger Republic has been intensified.

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Immigration officials, DSS personnel and Nigerian Customs Service have been mandated to stop Nigerien citizens from crossing over to Nigeria through official or unofficial borders.

On the other hand, Nigerians were not allowed to cross over into Niger Republic through the Kamba border in Kebbi State, llela border in Sokoto, Jibiya, Maradi, Zango, Mai’Adua as well as Kaita borders in Katsina State. Other borders affected included Gurbin Bore, in Zamfara and Babura, Maigari in Jigawa State.

Speaking on the development, the Immigration Comptroller in charge of Special Border Command, Mustapha Sani, in an interview, stated: “Nigerians should stay at home and not attempt to go to the Niger Republic until the embargo is lifted,” adding that “we are determined to return any Nigerian citizen planning to come back to his country.”

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According to him: “We have already put our officers on alert and we have already deployed some to man the orthodox routes through which some of the foreigners use to enter into Nigeria and from what we have on the ground, we know it will be impossible for them to enter into Nigeria. We have also already stationed our officers at strategic places for stop and search as usual.”

Sani explained that since the special border command received a signal that all borders with the Niger Republic should remain closed, officers of the command have been active in enforcing the sanction.

In Zamfara State, tight security had been mounted in Gurbin Bore village in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state to check illegal migrants from Niger Republic into the country.

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In a chat, an indigene of Gurbin Bore town, Mallam Abdullahi Mohammed, said few weeks after the coup in Niger Republic, normal business transaction has dropped drastically in the area.

He further hinted that, though Gurbin Bore is not close to the Niger border, it is a few kilometres to Jibiya in Katsina State that has borderland with Niger and whatever affects Jibiya has affected residents of Gurbin Bore.

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Similarly, in an interview with journalists, the state Comptroller of NIS, Ibrahim Dauda Sabimoro, posited that the primary responsibility of immigration is to check the influx of migrants in the country, stressing that security has been beefed up at the border to checkmate influx into the country through Niger border.

Also, in Sokoto, at Illela border community, residents were apprehensive over the ultimatum given by President Bola Tinubu-led Economic of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday.

Some of the residents of the community who spoke on telephone appealed to the Federal Government to rescind its decision of using military option to resolve political instability in Niger Republic.

Nuhu Ibrahim, a motorcyclist in Illela, said any attack on Niger Republic would have negative effects on the people of Illela community, which he said, will be a soft target for the people of Niger Republic.

He added: “We are still appealing to President Bola Tinubu to have a rethink over his plan to invade Niger Republic through ECOWAS troops, because our people will suffer for it if the president goes ahead with the military action.”

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Also speaking, Abubakar Bello, who sells foodstuffs in Illela, said most of his colleagues could not open their shops today due to fear of being attacked, expressing fear that “even if Niger Republic army didn’t attack the community, some hoodlums may take the advantage of what is happening to attack us, so we are being careful.”

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In Jigawa, reports from the areas indicated that almost all business activities had been put on hold in fear of collateral damage that may be borne out of military action.

Findings revealed that movement and activities at the Maigatari-Niger border of Jigawa State had been stopped, while the number of soldiers and other security personnel had increased at Maigatari and Babura borders gates. (Adapted from a Nigerian Tribune report)

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Soyinka, terror to dictators, face of democracy – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, spared no nice words in showering accolades on Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate on Literature, extolling his democratic credentials, ending it all with the renaming of the National Theatre as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts, in honour 90th birthday of the celebrated playwright, novelist and activist.

The President’s sentiments, on Soyinka, a professor of literature, globally celebrated essayist, actor, singer, composer, and documentarian, who brought great honour to Africa and Nigeria when he won the coveted prize in 1986, was conveyed by Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman in a statement, ahead of the birthday on Saturday, July 13.

Describing him as one of the finest minds of his generation; conforming to the highest standards of human enlightenment, but unyielding to injustice, oppression, and base impulses, Tinubu hailed his long-time friend, with whom he was in the trenches some three decades ago, during the June 12, 1993 struggle.

The statement, which stressed that Tinubu also hailed Soyinka as one of Nigeria’s living repositories of history, knowledge, and courage, and commended him for his valiant efforts in the trenches for the nation’s future both as a pro-democracy champion and as a trenchant voice against corruption and maladministration over several decades, recalled the days of the struggle.

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His words: “Our paths crossed during our just struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. When faced with a trial in absentia and death sentence by the military regime at home, he galvanized opposition in exile through NALICON and NADECO. His global stature made him the face of our struggle to validate June 12 and restore democracy in Nigeria.”

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Wishing him many more years in good health and creative fulfilment as a global force for change, he added: “Today, I join the world to celebrate his profound influence on generations of writers, scholars, and activists who have been inspired by his work. I celebrate him for giving us the spark to fight and confront military dictators in our country.

“I am, accordingly, delighted to have the honour to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

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S’Court: No more allocations to 37 Development centres in Lagos, others  

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The 37 Local Government Development Centres (LGDC), created in Lagos in 2003, during the tenure of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as Governor of the state, may have been dealt a hard blow, as they will no longer be captured in the funding bracket of the state, going by the interpretation of Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court, by some legal minds.

One of those who believe that by the judgement, the councils have lost their source of funding, following the pronouncement of the courts that allocations from the Federation Account be paid directly into the accounts of recognised entities is, Mike Ozekhome, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Lagos has 20 local governments originally created by the Federal Government, while the 37 LGDCs, were created by the Tinubu administration, in a bid to further take governance to the grassroots, a development, which led to a bitter feud between the government and the Federal Government under the President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In fact, throughout the period Obasanjo was in power after the creation of the LGDCs, the state was denied its council allocations, as a punishment to the state, following the former President’s aversion to the move.

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It was only the government of Umaru Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s successor, who released the entire entitlements to the state, when he assumed power in 2007, after the state had funded the councils from its own resources for four years.

Ozekhome, a renowned constitutional lawyer,  who was a guest of The Morning Brief, a breakfast programme on Channels Television, on Friday, told his host that Thursday’s apex court judgement on the autonomy of the councils, made it clear that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) would not send funds to local government areas headed by caretaker committee chairmen, or development centres.

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Hear him: “The judgement of the government is clear. If you want to receive funds from the federation account, then conduct an election. If what you have in place is a caretaker committee as local government chairman, be sure that it will not have money from the federation account.

“What this law is saying is that if you are not a democratically elected local government council, you cannot have this money under section 162 subsection 5 and 6 of the 199 Constitution. So, what it means is that money should now be ploughed to those local governments that are in existence democratically.”

The only remedy, he stated was for the state to find ways of funding the development centres from the allocations of the councils, adding: “They can do that internally to share. That is their internal business. Nobody can control that one. But for now, the money can only go to those local government areas named in the constitution. Don’t forget they are even named in the constitution, 774 local governments. If you want money from the federation account, such councils must be democratically elected.”

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The apex court not only endorsed full local government autonomy and ordering that funds from the FAAC be paid directly to their accounts, but also barred governors from henceforth dissolving democratically elected officials for local governments adding that doing so would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution.

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Tinubu completely caged, now surrounded by thieves, Ndume insists

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Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South at the National Assembly, on Thursday dug deeper in his earlier revelations putting Nigerians on notice that President Bola Tinubu is currently under a cocoon thrown around him by his aides, who have used the opportunity to mindlessly fleece the national till.

A guest of Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise News Network, Ndume, Chief Whip of the Senate, told his host that the seat of power has now been captured by “kakistocrats” – a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens and kleptocrats – one run by thieves.

Absolving Tinubu of complicity in the alleged massive thievery he alleged that the Presidential Villa and top government bodies have become, he said: “The government is also populated by kleptocrats, but unfortunately that is not what the President is up to. He really meant renewed hope, but you can only do that when you have people around you that are on the same type of thinking.”

Ndume one of the longest serving members of NASS, explained that much as Tinubu, whom he described as a close political associate and a democrat, would always be quick to act on any act of malfeasance that came to his attention, such as his recent repudiation of the Cyber-crime bill, the said unscrupulous aides, had been doing much to keep him away from some critical information.

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Hear him: “When the president realised that he had not heard about it, he quickly suspended it.” He highlighted the significant challenge of hunger and food scarcity, mentioning that inflation has risen to 40%. In some places, even with your money, you won’t find the food items you want to buy, which is very dangerous..

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“Nigeria has never been included among countries facing severe food crises or food insecurity, but recent UN and World Food Programme figures rank Nigeria as a hotspot. For people like me, I have to be scared because I’m 64 years old with 10 children, 20 grandchildren, and I don’t have a passport or visa to anywhere.

“Some Ministers only meet the president during council meetings and that the President is often the first to leave. I’m the chief whip, and if the chief whip can’t have access to the president, the new senators won’t have access either. During the time of President (Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration, any senator could see the president within 24 hours.

“President Tinubu is caged in. There are no visible efforts by the government to address pressing issues like climate change. The President has to harness Nigeria’s natural and human resources. He must get the right people into office and dominate his government with democrats. The president needs people who will realise his dream and tell him when something is wrong.”

Ndume who also bemoaned the effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy, argued that much as it was a good move to eliminate corruption and allow savings to benefit the people, measures must be taken to cushion such effects, like the introduction of food stamps, adding that presently the anger of Nigerians over their parlous situation could snowball into uncontrollable conflagration.

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