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RISING COST OF LIVING: SOUTHERN, NORTHERN, M-BELT ELDERS RAISE THE ALARM

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Elders and leaders of the various socio-cultural organisations across the country have raised the alarm that Nigeria seems to be on a precipice, warning that unless the challenges are tackled immediately, the country might witness an economic disaster pretty soon.

Leaders of different groups from the North, South and Middle Belt, including Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have warned President Muhammadu Buhari and other officials of the administration to address the current challenges head-on and save the country from collapse.

In the past few weeks, the nation has been bedevilled by a number of economic adversities beyond the security challenges afflicting virtually all parts of the country. The national currency, the naira, has suffered a hefty fall, while the nation’s foreign reserves have massively depleted. The debt figures have continued to soar. The aviation sector has continued to record assorted challenges, leading to cancellation and rescheduling of flights. A number of domestic airlines have announced the suspension of their operations. The high cost of diesel has led to some companies closing down and throwing workers into the labour market. The soaring prices of foodstuff have led to many families going to bed with empty stomachs.

In exclusive interviews with Saturday Sun, many of the socio-cultural organisations cried out that the country is on the precipice, and travelling on the road to a failed state.

Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, said the situations that unfolded in Nigeria in the past few weeks have further confirmed that those piloting the affairs of Nigeria currently are far from the realities that Nigerians are dealing with on an hourly basis. “It is therefore not surprising that steps being taken do not touch the problems confronting us as a nation, and that is why the country is grinding to a halt.”

Acting spokesman for the ACF, Shuaibu Lili, said the situation in Nigeria is really unfortunate. Hear him: “Let me talk on behalf of the Northern Region, which is the food basket of the nation. How do you expect a farmer who bought a bag of fertilizer for N5, 900 last year to buy it for N22, 000 this year? So, what can he produce? And even if he produced, where are the factories? The factories are mainly in the South, in places like Agbara in Ogun State. What will you give them to manufacture. No, no, the problem is too much for Nigerians. To be precise, mayhem may soon take place in this country.”

Publicity Secretary of the Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnaya, pointed that what is happening are the consequences of nepotism. His words: “Any place where appointment is made based on ethnicity and religion as against competence, it is always like this. What keeps these advanced countries going is that they look at merit, the accomplishment of an individual before they appoint a person into a position of authority.

“Take the service chiefs as example. It is difficult to contain the level of insecurity in this country because most of them don’t have the pedigree in the area of security; almost all of them come from the same ethnic groups and religion. There is no way under this kind of arrangement that Nigeria will not come to a halt. Activities of government that are supposed to be moving clockwise are now moving anti clockwise.”

Also speaking, Publicity Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman noted: “We have said it earlier that we are not in a failing state, but in a failed state. A state that has lost control of its economy, lost control of its land borders, highways, seaways and airports; it is certainly a failed state. You can see these since the coming to power of Buhari and these things have escalated to the level where people find it hard to eke out a living.

President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okada lamented: “If you do a comparison between 2015 on the status of the Nigerian economy and what we have gone through in the last seven years, you know that we are on the fast lane of approaching not just the precipice of a failure, but of disintegration. It is not just the economy, though the economy is the foundation upon which other infrastructure, politics, social issues, religion, etc. rest. The economy is on a decline in a dastardly manner; that is why you see today the naira is climbing to as much as N710 to a dollar, which was about N190 in 2015. The prices of foodstuffs have quadrupled, and life in Nigeria is becoming meaningless. It is not a surprise that the Senate itself is contemplating the process of impeachment of Mr President. The universities teachers are on strike over poor infrastructure in the institutions of learning and the government says it doesn’t have money to do anything, but it is going ahead to take toxic loans; loans that impact only the pockets of the few. “The indices of a failed state are so demonstrated. If radical steps are not taken, in the nearest future, it will very difficult even to predict if there will be election in 2023.” The National President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu said Nigeria was grinding to a halt, even as he expressed fear that things could get worse with Boko Haram and other insurgents getting bolder.

“This government has failed economically and failed in the security sector. Without security, there can never be economic development.

“So far, there is total collapse of governance and we are running as if it is not a country at all; we are running on auto pilot.  Things have to change. Remember, all the short periods when the president left this country because of ill health, anytime the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took over for that short period, there was a marked difference because he did the right thing when needed,” Pogu stated.

PANDEF President, Sen. Emmanuel Ibok Essien, noted that places like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Syria, Afghanistan and many others started with insecurity, inflation and then hyperinflation and at the end of the day, they became failed states.

“I pray that Nigeria will not travel that road. How can the dollar rise to N710 in the parallel market? That is unimaginable. How can petrol go up to N200 per litre when we are producing the oil? As there is no road for anybody to travel, people resorted to air travel and now airlines are closing down. It means that people will not be able to move around in the country.

“The present government is driving this country into a failed stated. Sometimes they think that it is the ordinary people that would be affected by the things going on in the country. But what is going on may wipe out even the elite.”

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PETER OBI RAISES ALARM OVER ARREST OF ‘OBIDIENTS’ BY SECURITY AGENTS

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi has claimed that security agents are ‘silently arresting’ his Obidients supporters.

Obi made this allegation in a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday.

His words, “Recent reports of OBIdients being silently arrested by some security agents is extremely disturbing and condemnable. We must ensure that everyone is given a level playing field in the forthcoming elections, and that no eligible Nigerian, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation is disenfranchised, more so through violence and intimidation.

“Elections are not deemed free and fair when a certain group employs the tool of intimidation to ensure that the opposition is silenced, both at the campaigns and at the polls.

“Peaceful assembly and unfettered electioneering campaigns are constitutionally guaranteed. Both and other ordered liberties cannot be breached wilfully by security agents,” he said.

Obi, however, called on the Federal and State agencies to remind their operatives on the need to respect civil liberties.

Recall that supporters of Obi had also raised the alarm over alleged intimidation by the officials of security agencies at the Lagos4ObiDatti during the weekend (Saturday).

A member of Peter Obi Central Coordinators, F S Yusuf, whow made the claim in a tweet via his Twitter handle, stated that Peter Obi’s supporters are being harassed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport 1.

His tweet reads, “Reports reaching me Joseph Onuorah @BigJoeOfLagos an #Obidient and a part of the Lagos ObiDatti Rally is being held by the DSS/Immigration at the MMA1 upon his arrival from France. He was flagged on the “Stop List”. We call on the authorities to respect his rights……”

A coalition of support groups, Lagos4ObiDatti, backing Peter Obi in 2023, had earlier announced plans to hold its Lagos 4-million-man march for ObiDatti.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, the Lagos4ObiDatti Central Organizing Committee said the march will take place across three major locations on October 1, 2022.

The group, however, denounced any attempt to link the Lagos Obidient Rally to the 2020 #EndSars Movement.

Speaking on the Lagos4ObiDatti rally, chairman of the Publicity and Media Committee, Christopher Ademuyiwa, had stated that the march would hold simultaneously in three different locations in the Lagos metropolis, namely Admiralty gate Lekki Phase 1; Archbishop Vining Memorial Church, GRA, Ikeja; and at FHA field on 23 road Festac.

Ademuyiwa said: “This march is more like a carnival, and the Obidients in Lagos are gearing up in large numbers to show their support for the Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed presidential ticket.

“Also, plans have been made to have buses transport Obidients to and from their locations, and the bus pickup points will be released on social media.

“Our march is legal and constitutional, it is within the electoral time frame and calendar released by INEC and all security agencies have been duly and formally informed using the appropriate means.

“The police, NSCDC, road safety and DSS will be on ground to provide security as we march,” Ademuyiwa had said.

Meanwhile, Peter Obi Grassroots Mobilization group had, ahead of the rally, stated that, as advised by our legal team, all the support groups for Peter Obi will comply with the Court Order and directives contained therein as it relates to Lekki Toll Gate.

“We will not deviate from the planned routes as judiciously Ordered. We urge every OBIDIENTS to comply,” the group stated in a post via its Twitter handle on Saturday.

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BUHARI’S INDEPENDENCE BROADCAST EMBARRASSING, SAY NIGERIANS

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Nigeria Coat of Arm

Nigerians, from different quarters, have described President Muhammadu Buhari’s national broadcast on the occasion of the 62nd independence anniversary, as a national embarrassment.

It could be recalled that during this year’s independence national broadcast, Buhari was quoted as saying: “The annals of Nigerian’s history was no longer a household secret as I failed and later succeeded in my attempts to become the country’s president.

“I am honoured to say my election as a democratic president in 2015 was made positive by the majority of Nigerians.

“When you elected me, I acknowledged that the tasks before me were daunting, but surmountable, because of growing national consensus that our chosen path to national development was democracy.”

Many Nigerians have, therefore, ciriticised the president as the democracy he referred to in his speech has been bastardised by the present All Progressives Congress (APC) led government by failing to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

Commenting on reactions to Buhari’s independence broadcast, a Dutse, Jigawa State-based social critic, Mahmud Tahir, said that the blame for the socio-political and economic woes of the country should not be borne by the president alone.

He added that his cabals, the state governors, and members of the National Assembly, among others, must share in the leadership failure of the country.

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FG WARNS AGAINST FAKE NIGERIA AIR RECRUITMENT WEBSITE

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The Management of Nigeria Air Limited on Tuesday described the website and links used for recruitment advertisements and announcements by unscrupulous members of the public claiming to be agents or staff of Nigeria Air as ‘fake.’

In a statement, the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to the Minister of Aviation, James Odaudu, advised Nigerians to disregard such notifications or invitations as nothing of such exercise is currently ongoing.

He, however, advised those who applied for the earlier officially advertised positions to get authenticated information from the official website: www.nigeriaair.world.

The statement read,” The attention of the Management of Nigeria Air Limited has been drawn to some recruitment advertisements and announcements by certain unscrupulous elements claiming to be agents or staff of the upcoming airline.

“The so-called agents have created a host of fake websites and links supposedly for the submission of applications by unsuspecting members of the public.

“We wish to inform the general public, especially those who have applied for the earlier officially advertised positions, that no recruitment interviews or tests have been scheduled. All such announcements or invitations for such should be disregarded as they are the handiwork of fraudsters and scammers.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the official website is www.nigeriaair.world, and only those pre-qualified as meeting the B737 requirements will be contacted by the management of Nigeria Air Limited individually, and certainly not by public announcements.

“All those concerned are therefore advised to ignore such announcements or invitations, as responding to, or dealing with them in any way, will be at their own risk.

“Management appreciates the unprecedented level of interest shown by Nigerians in the airline which has resulted in the receipt of over 20,000 applications for positions in the organisation so far and wishes to state that the recruitment process for other positions will begin in due course.”

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