Obama gets warm welcome from Narendra Modi in India

Obama gets warm welcome from Narendra Modi in India

25/Jan/2015  //  276 Viewers

US president Barack Obama has been welcomed like royalty in India as he started a three-day visit aimed at turning his burgeoning rapport with the prime minister, Narendra Modi, into progress on climate change, defence and economic issues.

Obama’s arrival in the bustling capital of New Delhi on Sunday morning marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India’s Republic Day festivities, which begin on Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country’s democratic constitution.

Modi, wearing a gold kurta, was at the airport to greet Obama at the foot of Air Force One with a huge embrace. Obama returned the gesture, patting the prime minister on the back several times.

Obama’s limousine was later escorted through a metal gate and into the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, India’s presidential palace, by a cavalry regiment of the Indian army. He was welcomed with a booming 21-gun salute and inspected an honour guard.

“It’s a great honour,” Obama said when reporters asked for his thoughts on attending Republic Day. “We are so grateful for the extraordinary hospitality.”

The mere fact that the talks were happening was being viewed as a sign of progress given the recent tensions that have marred relations between the US and India.

High on Obama’s agenda with Modi is progress on getting the heavily polluted country to agree to curb carbon emissions. White House officials hope the surprise climate agreement the US struck with China in November might spur India to take similar steps.

Obama is also expected to push Modi to make changes to liability legislation in India that has prevented US companies from capitalising on a landmark civil nuclear agreement between the two countries in 2008.

Ahead of the big day of celebration, Obama walked in his socks into a walled courtyard to lay a large white wreath at the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. He then shovelled earth and poured a pitcher of water around a young tree planted in his honour at the memorial.

But in a move likely to take some of the symbolic shine off of Obama’s trip, the White House announced shortly before he departed from Washington that the president had cancelled plans to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. The president and first lady had planned to tour the famed white marble monument of love on Tuesday, but instead will go to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the royal family following the death of King Abdullah.

India’s relationship with the US plummeted in 2013 when the Indian deputy consul general, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested and strip-searched in New York over allegations that she lied on visa forms to bring her maid to the US while paying her a pittance. Her treatment caused outrage in New Delhi and India retaliated against US diplomats.

Ties between the US and India have been steadily improving since Modi took office last May. He and Obama met for the first time late last year in Washington, and officials from both countries say they quickly developed an easy chemistry.

That came as something of a surprise to regional analysts given Modi’s difficult history with the US. He was denied a visa to the US in 2005, three years after religious riots killed more than 1,000 Muslims in the Indian state where he was the top elected official.

“I think Modi surprised everyone by, with very little hesitation, embracing the United States,” said Milan Vaishnav, a South Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “To give credit where credit is due, the Obama administration stepped in very quickly after his election to signal that he was willing to do business.”

Obama also had a good rapport with the former Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh. However, US officials expressed some frustration that their personal warmth never translated into policy breakthroughs.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/

Boko Haram militants attack city of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria

Boko Haram militants attack city of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria

25/Jan/2015  //  281 Viewers

Boko Haram militants have launched a fierce attack on Nigeria's major northeastern city of Maiduguri, according to military and government sources.

The attack was launched in the early hours of Sunday morning and shelling and gunfire was reported to be heard later in the day.

Military helicopters are circling the city and air strikes are being carried out. Authorities have imposed a curfew, all roads have been closed and commercial premises have been shut.

It is believed that militants began the attack at the edge of the city in the Njimtilo area. As the capital of Borno state, Maiduguri would be a major asset for Boko Haram should it fall.

The city is home to many thousands of people who have fled attacks by the militants from smaller towns and cities in the northeast of Nigeria.

Rachel Adamu, who lives in the Njimtilo district, said "please pray for us, we are in danger, under serious attack now."

Boko Haram has waged a five-year insurgency, killing thousands of civilians in the process, in its attempt to create an Islamic state in the north of the country.

The group already controls huge parts of Borno state and some areas of neighbouring Adamawa and Yobe states.

In recent weeks they have taken control of Baga and the nearby army base, in an attack that was described as one of Boko Haram's deadliest to date.

President Goodluck Jonathan visited Maiduguri on Saturday as part of his campaign for re-election in February. The inability of the government to deal with the insurgents is causing major problems for the president and his government.

On Monday the opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, is scheduled to visit the state capital.

Boko Haram last attempted to capture Maiduguri and a nearby army and airforce base in December 2013, but were pushed back by government forces.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/

29 people dead after attack on Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol Saturday morning: authorities

29 people dead after attack on Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol Saturday morning: authorities

25/Jan/2015  //  268 Viewers

KIEV, Ukraine — Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools and homes Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing at least 29 people, authorities said.

Ukraine’s top rebel leader announced that an offensive had begun on the strategically important port. The report came a day after the rebels rejected a peace deal and said they were going on a multi-prong offensive against the government in Kiev to vastly increase their territory.

The move is upending European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting. Mariupol, which lies on the Azov Sea, is the major city between mainland Russia and the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea. The RIA Novosti news agency cited eastern Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying an offensive has begun on Mariupol.

He spoke Saturday as he laid a wreath at the site where at least eight civilians died when a bus stop was shelled in Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. Rebel forces have positions within 10 kilometers 6 miles from Mariupol’s eastern outskirts.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement there were three separate strikes from Grad multiple rocket launchers on Mariupol and surrounding areas. “The area that came under attack was massive,” Mariupol mayor Yuriy Khotlubei said in a video statement.

“The shelling was carried out by militants. This is very clearly Russian aggression that has caused terrible losses for the residents of the eastern part of our city.”

Defense and police officials said rockets struck homes, a kindergarten, a market and shops. There was no immediate report of how many people died in various locations.

A Ukrainian military checkpoint on a road leading out of the city toward rebel-held areas was also hit and one serviceman was killed, the Defense Ministry said. Mariupol city council urged residents not to panic and to ignore rumors that Ukrainian armed forces were planning to withdraw.

“On the contrary, all units are on fully battle-ready. Security measures in the city have been strengthened,” the council said in a statement. No armed separatist units have been noted moving toward the city, the statement added. The U.N. human rights agency on Friday raised its estimate of the conflict’s overall death toll to nearly 5,100 since April.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/

Rifts Between U.S. and Nigeria Impeding Fight Against Boko Haram

Rifts Between U.S. and Nigeria Impeding Fight Against Boko Haram

24/Jan/2015  //  245 Viewers

WASHINGTON — Relations between American military trainers and specialists advising the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram are so strained that the Pentagon often bypasses the Nigerians altogether, choosing to work instead with security officials in the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger, according to defense officials and diplomats.

Major rifts like these between the Nigerian and American militaries have been hampering the fight against Boko Haram militants as they charge through northern Nigeria, razing villages, abducting children and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Nigeria on Sunday to meet with the candidates in Nigeria’s presidential elections, and the Pentagon says that the Nigerian Army is still an important ally in the region — vital to checking Boko Haram before it transforms into a larger, and possibly more transnational, threat.

“In some respects, they look like ISIL two years ago,” Michael G. Vickers, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told the Atlantic Council last week, using another name for the militant group known as the Islamic State. “How fast their trajectory can go up is something we’re paying a lot of attention to. But certainly in their area, they’re wreaking a lot of destruction.”

But American officials are wary of the Nigerian military as well, citing corruption and sweeping human rights abuses by its soldiers. American officials are hesitant to share intelligence with the Nigerian military because they contend it has been infiltrated by Boko Haram, an accusation that has prompted indignation from Nigeria.

“We don’t have a foundation for what I would call a good partnership right now,” said a senior military official with the United States Africa Command, or Africom, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We want a relationship based on trust, but you have to be able to see yourself. And they’re in denial.”

The United States was so concerned about Boko Haram infiltration that American officials have not included raw data in intelligence they have provided Nigeria, worried that their sources would be compromised.

In retaliation, Nigeria in December canceled the last stage of American training of a newly created Nigerian Army battalion. There has been no resumption of the training since then.

Some Nigerian officials expressed dismay that relations between the two militaries have frayed to this point.

“For a small country like Chad, or Cameroon, to come to assist” the Americans, “that is disappointing,” said Ahmed Zanna, a senator from Nigeria’s north. “You have a very good and reliable ally, and you are running away from them,” he said, faulting the Nigerian government. “It is terrible. I pray for a change of government.”

The tensions have been mounting for years. In their battle against Boko Haram, Nigerian troops have rounded up and killed young men in northern cities indiscriminately, rampaged through neighborhoods and, according to witnesses and local officials, killed scores of civilians in a retaliatory massacre in a village in 2013.
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Refugees said the soldiers set fire to homes, shot residents and caused panicked people to flee into the waters of Lake Chad, where some drowned.

Last summer, the United States blocked the sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel, amid concerns about Nigeria’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. That further angered the Nigerian government, and Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States responded sharply, accusing Washington of hampering the effort.

“The kind of question that we have to ask is, let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military that is then used in a way that affects the human situation,” James F. Entwistle, the American ambassador to Nigeria, told reporters in October, explaining the decision to block the helicopter sale. “If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously.”

All the while, Boko Haram has continued its ruthless push through Nigeria, bombing schools and markets, torching thousands of buildings and homes, and kidnapping hundreds of people.

Now stretching into its sixth year, the militant group’s insurgency has left thousands of people dead, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. It killed an estimated 2,000 civilians in the first six months of 2014 alone, Human Rights Watch said, and many of Nigeria’s major cities — Abuja, Kano, Kaduna — have been bombed.

American officials say that while it is unclear exactly how much territory Boko Haram effectively controls in Nigeria, the group is, at the very least, conducting attacks across almost 20 percent of the country.

“They reportedly control a majority of the territory of Borno State,” in northeastern Nigeria, “and a significant portion of the border areas with Cameroon and Chad,” said Lauren Ploch Blanchard, a specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service.

Even before the Nigerians canceled the training program in December, American military officials were stewing when soldiers showed up without proper equipment. Given the nation’s oil wealth, the Americans attributed the deficits to chronic corruption on the part of Nigerian commanders, saying that they had pocketed the money meant for their soldiers.

“It’s not like they don’t have the money,” the senior Africom official said. “There are some things that we require to be good partners. The first of which is a commitment on the part of the Nigerian government to support its own army. They have a responsibility to provide adequate pay, to take care of their people, and to equip them.”

“None of those empty allegations have ever been proved,” said Chris Olukolade, a spokesman for the Nigerian military. “The Nigerian military has always been receptive of honest support or assistance from well-meaning friends or partners. No one should however seek to use this security situation to usurp our sovereignty as a nation.”After Boko Haram made international headlines last April by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls, the United States flew several hundred surveillance drone flights over the northeast to search for the girls, but those missions were unsuccessful. When the Pentagon did come up with leads, American military officials said, and turned that information over to Nigerian commanders to pursue, they did nothing with it.

The frustrations between the two sides has broad implications for the fight against Boko Haram, officials said, including making it harder for other international partners who have joined the effort. “We are trying to work closely with the French and the Americans in support of the Nigerian military and government against Boko Haram,” a senior British diplomat said. “A rift between one of our two partners and the Nigerians is not a good thing.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/
Did Brookings Really Predict a Jonathan Win?

Did Brookings Really Predict a Jonathan Win?

24/Jan/2015  //  249 Viewers

My technical report for the Brookings Institution’s Africa Foresight publication on the 2015 presidential election entitled ‘The 2015 Elections in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges’, has become an issue between the PDP and the APC. As should be expected in an election year, one side wants to make a political capital out of the report, the other will not allow it to enjoy any political mileage from it.  Supporters of President Jonathan had this screaming headline go viral on the internet:  “US top think-tank, Brookings, projects Jonathan win; say APC is a fragile anti-Jonathan setup”. For supporters of President Jonathan, Brookings Institution, regarded as the number one think-tank in the world, has predicted victory for Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential election.

APC supporters on the other hand derided the report as a mere “op-ed written by one Jideofor Adibe, who is a Senior Lecturer in Nasarawa State University”. They also concocted a headline, meant to be a counter narrative to the one abstracted out of context by supporters of PDP and also went viral with it on the internet. The APC’s own was: “US Top Think-tank, Brookings, disclaims controversial report predicting victory for Jonathan”.  Like the headline which purported that Brookings Institution predicted victory for Jonathan, the concocted headline by APC’s supporters was falsehood in its entirety. Brookings did not disclaim the report and could not have done so.  What were presented under the misleading headline were series of tweets on the report published in Brookings’ Africa Foresight magazine.

Let me quote the portion of the report which has been doctored to suggest that Brookings predicted a Jonathan win:

“The APC gets much of its strength from tapping into anti-Jonathan sentiments in the Muslim north and grievances among the Yoruba who feel that the Jonathan administration has ignored them in key political appointments.

“Allegations of corruption against top PDP officials will be powerful ammunition in the hands of the APC, especially with the choice of Buhari, widely seen as not corrupt, as the party’s presidential candidate.

“The party is, however, a fragile one that seems united only in its quest to wrest the presidency from Jonathan or to have power ‘returned’ to the north. Though the election is expected to be very competitive, the odds still favour President Jonathan.”

It may be germane to make a few clarifications about the report by Brookings’ Africa Foresight.

Between 2013 and 2014 I was involved in a year-long research project by Brookings’ Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) on the impact of conflict on agriculture in Nigeria and Mali. For the Nigerian arm of the project, I provided the research on the conflicts in Nigeria, focusing on the conflicts purveyed by Boko Haram and Ansaru. My  three-part articles on the emergence,  trajectories and the way forward  for  the Boko Haram conflict which were excerpted from the research  and published on  Brookings’ blog (website), were exceedingly well received. In fact the first of the three instalments – ‘The Emergence of Boko Haram’ – holds the record of the highest read of all times on the AGI’s blog (website).

In September 2014 I was invited by Brookings’ AGI to do a brief technical report for its Africa Foresight publication on the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. Since 2011 AGI has used its Africa Foresight publication to examine the trends, events, and other important factors that it believes will shape affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa throughout the year. For Nigeria, it felt the presidential election would be that decisive event.

The report was approved after several peer reviews on November 17 – before Buhari emerged as APC’s presidential candidate – and updated to take cognizance of this fact before it was published online on 29 January 2014 (the print version was published a few days later). Essentially the piece was concluded before the re-invention of Buhari and the APC’s post-convention bounce which the party currently enjoys. The thrust of the report was not to predict who would win the 2015 presidential election but to analyse the dynamics that would shape the elections, the challenges that would likely be encountered and how these could be surmounted.

I have had to update the information in that report in recent interviews with the French news agency AFP and the American channels Bloomberg and CNBC Africa – among others. One of the issues that were not foreseen in the Africa Foresight report is the convergence of the normal post-convention bounce a party enjoys after its convention and the re-invention of Buhari – in the manner he speaks, his dress codes and even his general demeanour. These twin events are working to change the perceptions of Buhari among many Christians and people in the south as a northern irredentist or Muslim fanatic, making him look really electable.

As of today, I believe that Buhari will do better in both the north and south than he did in 2011 while Jonathan will do worse in both the north and south than he did in 2011. The decisive issue however will be the level of Buhari’s over-performance and Jonathan’s underperformance. Here money, the way the PDP uses the power of incumbency and APC’s counter strategies, including its mobilisation and media strategies, will play key roles. My personal opinion is that in areas where the voters are sufficiently animated by a cause they believe in (such as among Buhari’s supporters in the Muslim north), the role of money or the power of incumbency in influencing the outcome, will be mute.  However in areas where the elections are expected to be very tightly fought (such as in the battleground south west) or where the fear factor can be very easily played up (such as in the southeast, south- south and among Christians), the role of money (‘stomach infrastructure’), will be crucial. Here I believe the PDP enjoys a slight advantage and it is for this reason that I believe that if the elections were held today, the odds would still marginally favour the PDP despite the fact that the momentum is clearly with the APC.

There are other issues that seem to be playing important roles in the campaigns which were not reflected in the Africa Foresight report. Two of these are Buhari’s certificate controversy and rumours about his health on account of his age.

Let me say that both are legitimate issues for aggressive interrogation in campaigns. In campaigns, candidates for election compete to define each other by trying to put each on the defensive on any issue at all – from their campaign promises to the issue of their character. Most campaigns devise strategies for quick recovery when boxed into a corner and for putting their opponents on the defensive.

On the certificate issue, I believe that the Buhari team could probably have managed the situation better. Since the requirement is for a candidate to have school certificate “or its equivalent” why did the retired General’s handlers not simply include the copy of his certificate from military training – if the school certificate was nowhere to be found? To write an affidavit that the General’s WASC certificate was with the army is not good enough. Also to argue that Buhari ran for the presidency three times without his certificate being an issue is to miss the point. The innuendo that the PDP is pushing is that Buhari entered the army without the requisite qualification – an indirect attack on Buhari’s integrity widely seen as his greatest marketing point. With the Army now debunking the claim that a copy of Buhari’s certificate is with them, you could expect the PDP to open another front of attack in which Buhari would now be painted as a liar. And this too, is legitimate in campaigns.

What has been surprising to me is that Buhari’s handlers have not equally scrutinized Jonathan’s qualifications as well. In climes like the USA, Jonathan’s B.SC, M.Sc and PhD theses would by now have been carefully scrutinized for any issue that could be used against him such as any hint of plagiarism or an opinion given there. That too would have been legitimate.

Another issue that has been very prominent in the political space, which was not reflected in the Africa Foresight report, is the issue of Buhari’s age. I believe it is legitimate to aggressively interrogate the health status of all who aspire to govern the country, especially given the kind of political turmoil the country experienced following the illness and subsequent death of Umaru Yaradua. Given Buhari’s age, I believe APC is already aware that it will be a campaign issue – as it was in the USA when John McCain contested against Barrack Obama in 2008. I am again surprised that the APC is not demanding for Jonathan’s medical record because it cannot be assumed that Jonathan is healthier than Buhari simply because he is younger than him.

Will Buhari’s certificate and health issues affect the outcome of the presidential election? I do not think so. My impression is that over 70 per cent of the voters have already made up their minds on whom to vote for and that among the undecided voters, age and certificate will be non-issues. I also believe it will be a grave mistake to disqualify Buhari – even if it is proven that he does not have any WASC certificate after all.

Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

Buhari: From Pillar to Post

Buhari: From Pillar to Post

24/Jan/2015  //  254 Viewers

With initial momentum on his side, promoters of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, touted him as the man who will emerge all-out winner in next month’s presidential election. His well-trumpeted moral high-ground was enough to drive his aspiration against any other candidate. Not even the impressive list of positive development indices from President Goodluck Jonathan could match the solid pillar of integrity that Buhari flaunted.

Then the controversies started tumbling in. Week after week, the Buhari candidacy has faced one scandal after another, leading to the certificate saga that has brought a once-promising campaign to a near stop. The well-oiled opposition campaign machinery, which once churned out issues and facts that were to define the campaign, has since been bogged down in firefights. In trying to extricate their candidate from one self-inflicted scandal after another, chips keep falling from the pillar of integrity on which his candidacy is built.

It all started with Buhari’s health condition and his fitness to withstand the rigours of the office of President.  Against the background  that the last President of Northern extraction, Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua, died without completing the first of his possible two terms in office, the concern among Northern leaders over the reported collapse of Buhari on the second day of his nationwide campaign in Calabar, was understandable.

Buhari’s shoddy handling of the finances of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund during the regime of General Sani Abacha is another scandal his party is still trying to dismiss as inconsequential.  Over the years, the former military strongman has been hard-put explaining the humongous amounts of money frittered away in the PTF under his watch, the discrepancies associated with the award of its contracts and the lopsided nature of location of its projects.

It has still not been possible to sweep it aside, which is why General Obasanjo, who has since become more APC than the party leaders, rushed to his rescue. Penultimate week, in an apparent effort to clear Buhari, the former President who instituted the probe which revealed unwholesome dealings and phony expenditures in the PTF amounting to over N25 billion, declared, rather curiously, that Buhari is innocent of the various financial scandals that were unearthed in the PTF because he determined that Buhari did not personally benefit from the sleaze.  It was Obasanjo at his duplicitous best.

The question to ask is, must he be a personal beneficiary before he is held accountable for profligate spending of public money put in his trust?  The PTF cover up will, however, pale into insignificance when the certificate scandal involving Buhari, is considered. The simple personal duty of submitting his nomination form along with his personal details, has turned into the most confounding political rigmarole of all time. For a man who has over the years been sold up as upright and painstakingly meticulous, the hazy submissions about his certificates have turned out a scandal of gargantuan proportions.  It all started when he submitted his nomination forms to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); but instead of attaching his West African School Certificate as required by law, he referred the electoral body to the Secretary of the military board for them.

The Board has since come out to deny it was holding his certificate and all manner of rigmarole has followed. In explaining the gaping deficit in integrity, his campaign office has carried a bloody nose for weeks; if their lawyer is not rationalizing how the military rank of general equals a school certificate, we are being inundated with phony and funny diplomas from Military institutions from across the world. When all of them refused to stick, the Provisional Secondary School Katsina, which is now known as Government College, Katsina, now remembers that it can issue him, in 2015, a statement of result for exams taken in 1961. Incredible!

It is a school certificate that the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation has expressed doubt over, but which the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation insists, brings the scandal to a close. For the APC, that can only be wishful thinking, considering that Buhari`s academic qualification is at the heart of his eligibility to contest the presidency in February 14.  It cannot be swept away so easily.  The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Campaign Organsation, Chief Femi  Fani-Kayode, has already addressed a press conference in which he described the new certificate as a forgery and super imposition of documents for which perpetrators ought to face prosecution.

Buhari’s press conference on 21st of January where he attempted to explain the series of controversies surrounding his academic qualifications especially the Secondary School Certificate, ended up with more questions than providing a conclusive proof that he possesses this minimum qualification. It is indeed unfortunate that on such a simple personal duty, Buhari has been running from pillar to post, and dragging his party men down that dark alley of falsehood and uncertainty. Mallam Garba Shehu, APC Campaign spokesman, describes it as laughable that PDP would not let-go of the controversy “even when the matter has been exhaustively laid to rest.”

And we say no. Shehu’s appeal ought to go to Buhari; it is indeed his duty to lay the matter to rest. And until he really comes out clean, the presidential candidate passed off as an epitome of integrity has become complicit in a matter that borders on forgery, manipulation and fraudulent procurement of personal documents.  The combined effect of Buhari’s certificate saga on what is left of his personal integrity, is indeed enormous. It does not only bring his claim of superior character to serious question, his presidential aspiration may also have come to a dead end, finally.

Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

Dissociate Yourselves From Those, Who Are Bent On Undermining Our Security…. Gov Dickson Tell Bayelsans, As Special Advisers Are Sworn In

Dissociate Yourselves From Those, Who Are Bent On Undermining Our Security…. Gov Dickson Tell Bayelsans, As Special Advisers Are Sworn In

24/Jan/2015  //  243 Viewers

Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Friday called on the people, particularly the youths to dissociate themselves from those, who are bent on undermining the security of the state ahead of the February, 2015 general elections.


Governor Dickson made the call during the swearing in ceremony of Mr. Boma Spero-Jack as Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters and Inikio Bonny-Ayah on Youth Mobilization in Government House, Yenagoa.


Congratulating the new Special Advisers for their appointment, the Governor said, both officials have a crucial role to play in ensuring that, they collaborate with the various security agencies to maintain the prevailing peace and stability as political activities gather momentum.


He expressed government’s determination to ensure that, the people of the State remain in peace, stressing that, his administration has a mandate to work with the security agencies and Bayelsans towards ensuring that, development and prosperity of the state are on track.


According to him, one of the most important achievements of the present government is in the area of security, and called on the newly sworn in officials to brace up for the task ahead.


Governor Dickson explained that, the appointment of the Special Adviser on Security was made sequel to the resignation of Col. Bernard Kenebai (rtd) to pursue his political ambition in the State House of Assembly and thanked him for his meritorious service.


His words: “I want to call on all the youths to be very careful with the stories they are told; they should be careful with the people they associate with. They should be careful with the encouragement that people give to them within and outside the state.


“A lot of people want to use the youths to undermine the security of our state and make this state a laughingstock. But, we are determined to ensure that our people remain in peace. I have a mandate to work with the security agencies and with the good people of this state to ensure that we keep this state on the track of development, prosperity and restoration.


“One of the most important achievements of our government is the issue of security, but as we are going into the electioneering period with the drumbeats of politics everywhere; some of them are discordant, while some are completely unreasonable. As they begin to step up, you will know that, all of these will have an impact on our security. “


“It is therefore your duty to coordinate the activities of our security and intelligence community in this state and ensure that they work harmoniously among themselves. It is also your duty to galvanize the citizenry to ensure that they continue to collaborate with the security services.”


In an interview with newsmen shortly after the swearing in ceremony, the Special Adviser on Security, Mr. Boma Spero Jack and his Youth Mobilization counterpart, Mr. Inikio Bonny Ayah expressed gratitude to the Governor for the appointment  and pledged their commitment to deliver on their new assignments.

Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

2015: Buhari Says He Will End Epileptic Power Supply

2015: Buhari Says He Will End Epileptic Power Supply

24/Jan/2015  //  256 Viewers

The Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen.

Muhammadu Buhari, says APC government will end current epileptic power
supply in the country.

Buhari told party supporters in Brinin Kebbi that “ending current
epileptic power supply will boost the economy and attract domestic and
foreign investment.”

He further said that, if elected, the administration would focus on the
provision of employment to curtail youth restiveness and insecurity in the

“I will revive mining industries and give loan to our businessmen and
women in such a way that our economy will emerge stronger than ever.

“My administration would utilize resources prudently and end corruption
through intensified anti-corruption crusade; build schools, provide
materials and transportation for students,” Buhari said.

The APC candidate pledged to transform the health sector through the
provision of modern equipment, qualified medical personnel and adequate
drugs across the country.

He noted the neglect of agriculture in the country, saying that the APC
government would open up the sector, especially fishing and rice
production, to generate employment and boost rural economy.

“We will also be transparent and uphold trust and confidence entrusted in
us by Nigerians, if elected into power in the 2015 elections,” he said.

In a remark, the APC gubernatorial candidate in the state, Alhaji Atiku
Bagudo, assured that the people of the state would vote massively for the

According to him, the People Democratic Party government has stagnated
progress in the state and the people are yearning for change.

Bagudo pledged to exploit the agriculture and mineral resources in the
state to provide employment and generate revenue.

NAN reports that the presidential campaign was held on Thursday at about
10:00 pm with large turn out of party supporters.(NAN)

Source: http://pointblanknews.com/
Buhari’s statement of result, a forgery says PDP

Buhari’s statement of result, a forgery says PDP

24/Jan/2015  //  293 Viewers

The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ) Thursday said the statement of result presented by General Muhammadu Buhari is a forgery.

According to the party ” i the more Gen Buhari tries to extricate himself from the crisis, the more he stumbles into a new phase in the unfolding narrative of his obvious complicity in a matter that borders on perjury and which has called his avowed integrity to question.”

At a news conference addressed by the Director of Media and Publicity of the presidential campaign organisation, Femi-Fani-Kayode, the party insisted that ” the results sheet which was attributed to the Cambridge examination body is clearly a super imposition of one document on another as you will shortly see in the enlarged image of the result sheet as published”

Full text

Gentlemen of the Press, Yesterday, 21st of January, 2014, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Gen Muhammadu Buhari addressed a Press Conference where he attempted to explain the series of controversies surrounding his academic qualifications especially the Secondary School Certificate.

Again, the APC candidate, rather than provide a conclusive proof that he possesses this minimum qualification, went into a session of blame game and shifting of what ordinarily ought to be his personal responsibility as he said and I quote “I have formally requested my old school, Provisional Secondary School Katsina, which is now known as Government College, Katsina, to make available the Schools copy of the result of the Cambridge West African Schools Certificate.”

It is unfortunate that the more Gen Buhari tries to extricate himself from the crisis, the more he stumbles into a new phase in the unfolding narrative of his obvious complicity in a matter that borders on perjury and which has called his avowed integrity to question.

It is quite unfortunate that a few hours after Gen Buhari’s Press conference, some documents appeared on various Media platforms purporting to be the APC candidate’s results released by his old school.

Having carefully studied the statement of Result signed by the “school principal” and an “examination officer” of the Government College, Katsina, as well as the attached document titled UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE WEST AFRICA SCHOOL CERTIFICATE 1961, we wish to make the following observations and comments: The results sheet which was attributed to the Cambridge examination body is clearly a super imposition of one document on another as you will shortly see in the enlarged image of the result sheet as published.

The column lines on the part where names are printed do not align with the blank columns while there is an introduction of extraneous lines on some other columns.

The document contains an obvious alteration on the Mathematics column of the candidate, Mohamed Buhari, who was assumed to have scored an “F” in the subject. This raises a very fundamental issue of validity in view of the fact that the accompanying result sheet states that “any alteration or erasure renders this statement of Results invalid.” This is the standard practice in all interpretation of documents especially academic records.

The question we put to Gen Buhari and his party is whether this alteration was done by the University of Cambridge.

One of the footnotes on the document purportedly issued by the University of Cambridge says “the results of this candidate in all subjects except English Language have been carried forward from the 1960 examination.” The question arising from this is: When exactly did Buhari sit for all the other subjects claimed to have been passed in the Secondary School Examination?

Our conclusion from all these is that the documents purportedly released by Government College (Pilot) Katsina, upon which the APC Presidential candidates hopes to bury the doubt about his eligibility for next month’s election are forged, manipulated and fraudulently procured. They are therefore untenable in fact and in law. We do not know who the authors and masterminds of this forgery are but whoever they are, we urge them to come forward and be identified.

If they fail to come forward voluntarily, we hereby call on the Police and other security Agencies to seek them out, find them, arrest them, interrogate them and prosecute them in accordance with the laws of the land.

We reiterate our call on Gen Buhari to submit himself to the police to answer charges of perjury, having lied on oath about his academic qualifications. This is what a man who claims to represent integrity and due process ought to do in this situation.

Source: http://pointblanknews.com/

At least 20 killed in Ukraine shelling

At least 20 killed in Ukraine shelling

24/Jan/2015  //  272 Viewers

Heavy shelling has been reported in government-held Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

Local officials say at least 20 people have been killed and blamed pro-Russian separatists but they denied targeting the city.

Mariupol lies on the edge of two rebel-controlled regions and on the Sea of Azov – a coastal route from the Russian border to Crimea which was annexed by Moscow last March.

Local police say many people were injured in the latest attacks with several fires caused by rockets hitting a multi-storey building.

Over the past two weeks, there’s been a surge in fighting between government forces and rebels with more than 250 people killed.

Source: http://www.euronews.com/