Friday, May 22, 2015

Nigeria Fuel Crisis Takes Rising Economic Toll

Nigeria is facing a prolonged fuel-supply crisis that is taking a severe toll on the country’s economy, living conditions, and basic services, reports say.

The shortage in Africa’s leading oil producer has forced an increasing number of drivers in Lagos to stop using their personal vehicles, but prices for commuters on public transport have more than doubled.

Black market vendors have been selling petrol at about $0.70 per litre – almost double the official price.

At Lagos domestic airport on Thursday morning, passengers were told all flights were delayed because there was no aviation fuel.

Felix Onuah, a Nigerian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Abuja on Thursday that many companies and businesses have been forced to shut down due to a dearth of supplies.

“There is a serious crisis. About eighty percent of petrol stations do not have fuel in the country,” he said.

“It has also caused a lot of hardship because the shortage has caused a sharp rise in transportation costs and other services associated with fuel.”

Nigerian motorists have borne the brunt of the shortages, with long queues at petrol stations in major cities, including the capital, the oil-producing hub of Port Harcourt and Kano in the north.

Toll on employment

Musa Yusuf, director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told AFP news agency that “many companies have shut down because they cannot get diesel to fuel their plants”.

He also warned that the fuel crisis could take a major toll on employment.

“Unless the situation is redressed, companies may be forced to lay off [staff],” Yusuf said.

Nigeria produces about two million barrels of crude oil a day but despite its huge reserves, it imports much of its fuel due to a lack of refining capability – a situation blamed on corruption and mismanagement.

The government’s fuel-subsidy programme has also been found to be rife with corruption, including false claims and overpayments.

In January 2012, the government tried to end the fuel subsidies, causing petrol prices to more than double.

It was forced to partially reinstate them after tens of thousands of people took to the streets in violent protests that left more than a dozen dead.

Onuah, the Abuja-based journalist, said oil and gas is normally subsidised by the state, but the government does not have the funds to pay for it anymore.

“Suppliers claim they have stopped distributing fuel because the outgoing government led by President Goodluck Jonathan still owes them more than $1bn,” he told Al Jazeera.

He said the suppliers fear that the incoming administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who takes office next Friday, would not make up for the unsettled payments.

Ryan Rifai in Doha contributed to this report

By Al Jazeera
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tuface Made To Eat His Words Against PDP

Nigerian singer, Tuface Idibia recently made some comments bashing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He accused the party of not doing anything for the country for the past 16 years they have been in power.

However, Tuface's fellow kinsman, Mr Eric Amodu took a swipe at the Benue musician and said that he lacked the moral ground to criticise the PDP since he too was a beneficiary of their perfidious rule.

The man went forward to attack Tuface's integrity, questioning what he has ever done to help out his fellow Idoma people.

Read Mr Eric Amodu's full statement below;

Too bad you threw the bomb at yourself on this. You are my friend but the truth must be told. Question 1. Name a single soul you've ever helped? Question 2. Why did your fellow childhood friends deserted you? Question 3. What have you given back to the society that made u? Infact lets go deeper First of all, OJB produced you and brought you to limelight and even gave you a song for free without you paying a dime. But you threw your back at him when the world were rallying round to save his life. Not even a dime from you when lesser musicians gave their widows mite.

No any Idoma sons could say he's on your scholarship list yet you have the mouth to talk back at the people that you helped in eating from their states’ funds. You ate the resources meant for Benue State during Akume days in PDP as a governor when he bought you a Camry. How about Donald Duke when he was the PDP governor of cross Rivers State? He lavished the state resources for you and still paid 20 million naira just to reunite the plantation boiz yet you have the guts to say PDP did nothing? Better still, you for reject all the money. Akwa-Ibom state governor under the PDP-led government lavished the money meant for the state to sponsor your wedding. Why didn’t you kick against it when he gave you eight jeeps and sponsored several people to Dubai just to attend your wedding? Jolly Nyame wasted the state resources on you and you practically abandoned Lagos for Taraba just because you began to taste the juicy side of unmerited resources from government coffers.

Don’t forget… when you sang "I de feel like so so so and so person… because you de spend for me." Over 70% of the names you mentioned were PDP people you joined in eating away the future of their states. Brother man, sorry to say this… you don’t even stand the moral ground where conscience speaks to talk about PDP. I would love Banky W, the little Davido that just started, Ice Prince, Don Jazzy and so many others to talk because they don’t dine with the PDP and their states’ funds yet they’ve given a whole lot to the society. On your wedding day, you took away the pleasure of the eyes from Nigerians to Dubai so that dem no go fit benefit even small thing from you. Stingy life.
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Soft Approach To Hardcore Groups In Africa

The al-Shabab attack on Garissa University in Kenya, the ongoing battle with Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the arrival of ISIL in Libya highlight the expansion of violent groups in Africa.

Alongside military operations, some governments are now attempting to challenge the basic tenets of violent ideology to stem the flow of recruits to these armed groups.

The Nigerian government has announced the national education curriculum will be altered as part of its “soft” approach to its “counter-terrorism programme”.

Uganda has “created several platforms” to “reach out to the public, highlighting on the dangers of getting involved in radicalism”. These include a campaign that employs ex-combatants to warn the public of the dangers of getting involved in “radicalism.”

In Kenya, the Media Council published a report critical of journalists’ representation of armed groups, while the newly elected Council of Imams and Preachers chairman, Abdala Ateka, urged religious leaders to be vigilant and challenge violent organisations by preaching peace.

But across Africa observers say many imams have lost touch with the youth, government programmes risk being politicised, and research has shown that religion is not always the principal reason for recruitment.

Al-Shabab – changing tactics

On April 2, al-Shabab attackers stormed the Garissa campus in northern Kenya and killed 148 people, mostly students.

Questions of support for al-Shabab’s violent campaign were likely high on the list during a visit to Kenya by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who upon his arrival announced: “Our major message is that fighting terrorism requires a multi-faceted approach.”

According to Muhsin Hassan, a conflict adviser at USAID in Kenya, this is a tactic that al-Shabab has adopted as well, and the Somalia-based group has reinvented its message.

Hassan told Al Jazeera al-Shabab shifted its attention to Kenya from its original focus on Somalia, which also indicates a change in recruitment strategy.

When Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006, Hassan said, “various Somali groups all over the world were supporting al-Shabab because they were defending the country against foreign invasion. These were folks who didn’t necessarily support al-Shabab’s ideology”.

The turning point came, said Hassan, when an al-Shabab suicide bombing targeting officials killed about 20 young doctors during a medical graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

“Somalia needed doctors and after that, many people re-evaluated their support,” Hassan said.

Al-Shabab then began crossing into Kenya and kidnapping aid-workers and tourists, and the Kenyan government decided to send the army to intervene in Somalia alongside UN troops.

These military offensives squeezed the rebels, causing them to lose a lot of territory, and al-Shabab turned to guerrilla-warfare tactics with attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

This is when the group began changing its recruitment narratives to co-opt local religious issues, said Hassan.

Out of Somalia

A recent al-Shabab video specified as targets the capital cities of Kenya, Burundi and Uganda saying, “Yesterday the war was in Mogadishu, today it is in Nairobi, Bujumbura and Kampala.”

Many young Muslims in Kenya are excluded from employment opportunities and traditional Muslim strongholds such as Eastleigh in Nairobi, the Mombasa coast, and northeastern Kenya suffer the dual effect of insecurity and a lack of development.

Abdulhamid Sakar, executive director of the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, runs projects across Kenya to counter al-Shabab recruitment.

He told Al Jazeera that monetary incentives make recruitment more attractive to people in these impoverished parts of the country.

Lately however, Sakar said his organisation has been receiving a lot people returning from Somalia.

“They want to reintegrate back into the community and that has been informed by the false promises they’ve been given before going to Somalia,” he said.

Sakar said the government has released some funds for youth projects.

“We established an Economic Empowerment Centre to try and exploit some of the potential they’ve got,” he continued.

Why extremism?

Anelli Botha, from the South African Institute for Security Studies, has carried out research both in Somalia and Kenya.

She told Al Jazeera there are many interrelated issues that ultimately play a role into why people participate in “violent extremism”.

Botha said in Kenya recruitment goes far beyond economic motives.

“It is a sense of being extremely disregarded not just by the security services but also by the government. And this frustration is what makes people extremely vulnerable,” she said.

Kenyans experience corruption every day when the authorities demand bribes for imaginary offences; Kenyan passports are for sale; impunity can be bought for a fee.

According to a 2012 survey by Afrobarometer, 71 percent of Kenyans viewed some or all officials as corrupt.

Botha’s research shows that the political circumstances are a key driver of recruitment for “violent extremism”.

“People have lost trust, first and foremost in politicians and the political system,” she said.

This view is echoed by Freedom Onuoha from the Nigeria National Defence College in Abuja. He said disappointment with governance is a key driver of recruitment for Boko Haram.

Onuoha told Al Jazeera that for Nigerian youth, “it’s a sense of not being sure of their future and so they are confronted with the question of their own identity within the context of governance”.

When these extreme ideologies take root, Onuoha said, “it begins to give people a sense of hope or an explanation for their situation and why they are where they are”.

‘Ruling class’

But this identity crisis may also be a generation gap.

Onuoha said in Nigeria, many young people believe that their elders have mismanaged opportunities for a better future.

“Religious leaders don’t denounce the mismanagement and so they see them as part and parcel of the ruling class,” he said.

In Kenya the security services have repeatedly launched mass round-ups that use ethnic or religious profiling to target and abuse particular groups.

Al-Shabab plays on this in their videos emphasising that Muslims or Somalis are bullied and mistreated.

But Botha is emphatic saying, “You cannot profile – that is simply impossible”.

Identity, said Botha, is an important driver of violent extremism.

“People have no sense of national identity. There is no pride that we are Kenyans or we are Ugandan. People first and foremost revert back to ethnic identities or religious identities. And politicians themselves are responsible for fuelling this,” she said.

After the Garissa attack, the Kenyan government publicly announced a 10-day amnesty for ex-combatants, a move that was received favourably in the press.

However, analysts argue it needs to be extended and some question the government’s commitment to non-military solutions.

“It remains to be seen how they will go about the countering of radicalisation,” Hassan said.

Ugandan security services are slowly beginning to engage with civil society organisations and were praised by Muslim youth groups for participating in an open discussion forum.

Many analysts say these are the kind of strategies that are needed.

Botha emphasised there are many different reasons for radicalisation but “in the case of Kenya, 65 percent referred to the way the government responded to them as the final push”, she said.

People are often arrested for terrorism-related offences and then released by the courts because there is no evidence.

Botha said the culture within the security services needs to change to one that respects the rule of law and human rights.

“You’ve got to investigate to arrest, not arrest to investigate,” she said.

By Caroline Hellyer
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MTV Base Announces MTV Africa Music Awards 2015

A decade after bursting onto the world stage, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa and MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) are once again shining a global spotlight on African music, creativity and achievement at the fifth edition of the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA).

The MTV Africa Music Awards KwaZulu-Natal 2015, brought to you by KwaZulu-Natal Province in association with Absolut and in partnership with The City of Durban, returns to the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on Saturday, 18th July 2015.

The definitive annual celebration of African talent, MAMA 2015 takes "evolution" as its theme, recognising and rewarding musicians and achievers who have made the most impact on African youth culture over the last 12 months, while also celebrating the development of the continent's talent and creativity over the last 10 years. The ceremony will feature stunning performances from African and international artists along with unique collaborations.

MAMA 2015 will celebrate African talent across 17 award categories such as Best Male, Best Female, Best Song and Best New Act Transformed by Absolut. The contribution of artists from Portuguese and French-speaking Africa will also be recognised in the Best Lusophone and Best Francophone categories. In line with the MAMA 2015 "evolution" theme and VIMN Africa's 10-year celebration, this year's show will also feature a special edition Artist of the Decade category to recognise artists whose careers have flourished throughout the last 10 years. Additional categories include the MAMA Leadership Award and Personality of the Year. The nominations for the awards will be revealed on 11th June 2015.

Commented Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks Africa, "We are thrilled that the MTV Africa Music Awards will be returning to Durban and KwaZulu-Natal on 18 July, a date famous for being the birthday of Nelson Mandela - what better day could there be for staging this inspirational celebration of African achievement and creativity that showcases Africa’s best talent on the world stage."

Desmond Golding, Head of Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, KwaZulu-Natal Province, commented, "In 2014, the world saw how Durban and KwaZulu-Natal leveraged global events such as the MTV Africa Music Awards to realise our tourism goals.   After the major success of the MAMA in Durban last year, we are delighted to welcome back MTV Base and the MAMA awards to KwaZulu-Natal this July. By attracting ground-breaking events like the MAMA to KwaZulu-Natal and Durban, we continue to make a significant contribution to economic growth and tourism in the region."

Head of Durban Tourism, Phillip Sithole, commented, "It is a tremendous honour for The City of Durban to be host city once again for the much anticipated MTV Africa Music Awards. The MAMA is a celebration of Africa’s award winning musical achievements and we are privileged to have this prestigious gathering in The City of Durban. We look forward to an unforgettable event in Durban and may the MAMA continue to be the best platform to bring Africa together on our shores and allow our continent to enjoy the unique flavours of Destination Durban."

According to Marketing Director, Pernod Ricard Nigeria, Sola Oke, "We are once again proud to be part of a pan-African music celebration such as the MAMA. The partnership allows us to once again connect with our target consumers whilst utilizing the MAMA platform with our Africa is Absolut campaign, to be instrumental in helping transform artists' lives by driving support for the nominees of the Best New Act Transformed by Absolut and showcasing their talent to all of sub-Saharan Africa."

Celebrating the pan-African scope of the MAMA, the awards will encompass three stunning surround events featuring MAMA nominees and superstar DJs to be held in Durban (27 June), Lagos (3 July) & Kenya (1 August). Another key element of MAMA 2015 will be a workshop for aspiring musicians in the week prior to the awards.

First staged in 2008, the MTV Africa Music Awards has recognised the talent of musicians, achievers and personalities from across Africa, rewarding iconic artists and gamechangers such as 2Face Idibia, Big Nuz, Davido, D’Banj, Flavour, Gangs of Ballet, HHP, Fally Ipupa, Liquideep, Mafikizolo, Lira, Nameless, Lupita Nyong’o, Clarence Peters, Diamond Platnumz, Anselmo Ralph, Sarkodie, P-Square, Tiwa Savage, Cabo Snoop, Toofan, Zebra & Giraffe, Uhuru, Wahu, and many more.

The MTV Africa Music Awards 2015 will broadcast live on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) and MTV (DStv Channel 130) on Saturday, July 18. The show will also be transmitted worldwide on partner stations and content platforms from 18th July.

For more information on the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards KwaZulu-Natal, please go to www.mtvbase.com or http://mama.mtv.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MTVBaseVerified, or follow on Twitter and Instagram @MTVBaseAfrica. To join the conversation about the awards please use the hashtag #MTVMAMA2015.
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Student's Baby Started Crying In Class, The Professor Had The Best Response Ever

Sydney Engelberg, a 67-year-old Professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was unfazed when a student's baby started to cry, during his lecture on organizational management.

The embarrassed mother tried to leave the class, but instead, the father-of-four, grandfather-of-five and 45-year teaching veteran, scooped the kid up and soothed him in his arms – without missing a beat in the lesson.

Engelberg says he not only allows infants and occasionally older kids to tag along to class (and breastfeed whenever necessary), he encourages it.

"The reason is that education for me is not simply conveying content, but teaching values," he told Yahoo Parenting. "How better than by role modeling?" The social psychology professor, a native of South Africa who is also on the faculty of Ono Academic College, said he's not the only educator to allow babies in class. "It is certainly not uncommon, but I wouldn't say it is the norm," he said. "It does seem to be much more acceptable in Israel, which is a very family oriented society and culture."

When it comes to his photo's virality, though, the professor has a very basic explanation: "I think the photo went viral in a world with so much inhumanity — ISIS, corruption, Ferguson, and so on — and people are looking for symbols of decency, humanity, caring, integrity. Apparently, the photo resonated with these needs."
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French Special Forces 'Kill Al-Qaeda Leader In Mali'

French special forces have killed four members of al-Qaeda in northern Mali, including one of its leaders who was suspected of involvement in the killing of several French citizens, France’s defence ministry has said.

Special forces launched the raid overnight Sunday into early Monday, according to the ministry statement on Wednesday.

“Four terrorists were killed in the course of combat,” among them was Amada Ag Hama, whose alias was “Abdelkrim the Tuareg” and who was a leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the ministry said.

Ibrahim Ag Inawalen, known by the name “Bana” and a leader with Ansar Dine was also killed, it said.

The statement provided no details about the operation.

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, later said that Abdelkrim the Toureg was implicated in at least three operations against the French, and was the lead suspect in the November 2013 killings of two journalists, Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont, with Radio France International.

The Malian national was also implicated in the 2010 killing of French aid worker Michel Germaneau, and in the 2010 capture of four French people in the uranium mining town of Arlit, Niger.

“One should keep in mind that France has a long memory,” Fabius said in Paris, addressing a group at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations, the AFP news agency reported.

UN vehicle attacked

Tuareg rebel groups seized control of northern Mali in early 2012, but shortly afterwards, al-Qaeda-linked fighters streamed in from their base in Algeria and won control of the area with the aim of imposing Islamic law.

French forces led a military operation in January 2013 that pushed al-Qaeda members out of the cities and towns they had controlled and scattered them across a vast area of northeastern Mali.

Abou Zeid, the top al-Qaeda leader in Mali, was among scores of the group’s members killed.

France withdrew its intervention force but now has about 1,200 troops in northeastern Mali as part of a five-nation counter-terrorism operation.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, an armed man tried to set fire to a UN vehicle in front of the home of several military personnel for the UN mission in Mali in the capital Bamako, in the country’s south, according to a statement from the UN.

“Before running away, the attacker shot the guard who was injured, as well as the cars in front of the house,” causing property damage, it said. The guard is being treated in hospital.

Police are investigating the incident, and de-mining units from the UN mission were called to neutralise two unexploded grenades found at the site, it said.

By Al Jazeera
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Meet Nkem Owoh Osuofia's Daughters

Everyone knows Nkem Owoh aka Osuofia, as one of the funniest Nollywood actors; but what about his family.

The actor and comedian, who became popular after starring in the 2003 film 'Osuofia in London', has over the years shielded his family from public glare. But he surprised many during the week when he appeared at a business meeting accompanied by two of his daughters.

The teenage girls accompanied their father to renew his MTN endorsement deal.
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Chad: At War With Boko Haram

The Nigerian based Boko Haram insurgency has been plagueing the country since 2009, but last year the armed group dramatically stepped up its campaign of violence – capturing large areas of territory, displacing many tens of thousands of people, and killing 4,000 more, the vast majority of them civilians. By the beginning of 2015, the group had seized and taken control of several major towns in northern Nigeria and were seeking to extend their influence across West Africa by launching further attacks in neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and in and around Lake Chad, which adjoins the borders of the four nations.

In February, the governments of those four countries – Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon – responded by forming a military coalition to take on the insurgents. The charge would be led by Chad; its troops among Africa’s most battle hardened and feared. The central African nation committed 2,000 men to a proposed African Union force of around 8,000. Its aim: to smash Boko Haram and end a conflict that has caused the death of 13,000 people and made refugees out of 1.5 million more.

In March 2015, two French filmmakers, Charles Emptaz and Marine Courtade, joined a unit of Chadian troops as they flew into Boko Haram’s northern Nigerian heartland, where some of the fiercest fighting had been taking place. In the preceding weeks, the Chadian army had enjoyed a string of successes and had managed to push the rebels back, liberating key Nigerian towns in the process.

In the face of this unexpected onslaught, Boko Haram’s response had been typically defiant. In a video released on the internet, the insurgency’s leader Abubakar Shekau publicly swore allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rebranded his organisation as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province – a direct challenge to the region’s established powers. He even had a personal message for Chad’s President, Idriss Deby: “You, Idriss Deby, the ‘King of Africa’, you’re too late! I dare you to attack me, I’m ready!”

Emptaz and Courtade arrived in Nigeria around the same time and were immediately whisked by the Chadian military (and by Colonel Azem, its enthusiastic media relations officer) to Dikwa, a town that had been at the epicentre of the fighting and which had only just been liberated. Soldiers proudly paraded the bodies of defeated militants killed less than 24 hours earlier and took the journalists to Boko Haram’s now trashed headquarters – a villa the militants had forcibly requisitioned from the area’s emir.

But the most macabre moment of the trip came when the filmmakers were ushered out to the courtyard and encouraged to point their cameras at a fatally wounded insurgent left lying in the dirt. The young man had not been treated and it was clear that to make some kind of revengeful point, he was merely being abandoned to die slowly and in agony – against all the supposed conventions of modern warfare. Certainly, when the filmmakers suggested he needed help, their protests were brushed aside.

Yet for all the brutality exhibited by the combatants towards each other in this conflict, it is the local civilian population who are probably suffering the most. Splitting off from their military minders, the filmmakers drove 350km towards the Lake Chad region and the town of Ngouboua, just across the border, inside Chadian territory. Boko Haram had crossed over from Nigeria and raided this community two weeks earlier – looting, burning property and killing seven local people.

Such attacks are frequent along this porous border and the violence and destruction has thrown thousands of refugees out of their homes and onto the roads. Ordinary life has become impossible. Since the beginning of this year over 25,000 people have left Nigeria and sought sanctuary in Chad.

Some are Nigerians fleeing the violence, others Chadians who had emigrated and are now returning to their place of birth, leaving behind their businesses and land in a bid to survive. All are desperately in need of aid, precious little of which is available.

While the increased presence of Chadian soldiers in their villages and towns over the past few months may have relieved some pressure on the local population, few are yet willing to believe that this brutal conflict is going to end any time soon. For the foreseeable future, it appears that ordinary civilians will continue to suffer and be driven from their homes.

Click here to watch the video.


By Al Jazeera
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