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Abdulwaheed Usamah

Two Kaduna girls bag 2 months imprisonment over immoral dressing

By NewsDesk,

Two young woman, Farida Taofiq and Raihama Abbas, failure to adhere to their community’s moral ways of dressing have had them share of a Kaduna State Sharia Court II, sitting at Magajin Gari, which sentenced both of the girls to two months imprison after they were arrested for wearing indecent dresses

Taofiq and Abbas, 20 years, who were residents of Argungu road in Kaduna, were convicted after they pleaded guilty to constituting public nuisance and dressing against the law of their community.

The two convicts however pleaded for leniency and assuring the court that they would desist such crime again.

However, the Judge, Mallam Musa Sa;ad-Goma, gave the convicts an option to pay N3,000 fine each, with directive that the girls must return to their parents.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Aliyu Ibrahim, said that Taofiq and Abbas were arrested on April 16, at a black spot along Sabon Gari road, dressed in skimpy and roaming the streets.

Ibrahim said the offence contravened the provisions of  Section 346 of the Sharia Penal Code of Kaduna state.

“When they were asked where they were going, they said that they were going to a friend’s house who just put to bed”, the prosecutor said.

What’s wrong with these end-time Governors?

By Reuben Abati 

I believe we all have that one family member who thinks that he or she has the right to intrude into your schedule and order you around. When they call you, they won’t give up until you pick their calls. And these people, they can call you liked a hundred times. Send text messages. Whatsapp. Report you to the entire neighbourhood.

They can be so ferocious, your phone will keep ringing non-stop, you would think the fire service is at your door. This is exactly that happened to me, for at least two hours, as I sat down to write this piece. I stubbornly refused to take the calls. Wetin? Some people can use the phone to harass and intimidate.  Ki lo de? I could neither think nor write.

I had other things in mind: the defiance of the Sudanese Professionals Association, for example. The people of Sudan want a new post-Omar al-Bashir order, a complete break from the past,  by all means. They have refused to accept whatever has been offered by the military council that took over after Omar al-Bashir’s ouster.

They want an immediate transition to civilian rule that is led by the people themselves not by soldiers. I am fully in support of the people of Sudan. Omar al Bashir is a shameless dictator. He deserves the place that he has now been given in the Kober Maximum Prison, the same place where he used to keep his critics and victims.

He also deserves a day before the court of justice: to answer for his crimes against humanity and the hardship he imposed on his own people. African dictators, like Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias, believe that they are invincible but we have seen them falling one after the other and there are more that should fall: Paul Biya in Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo in Equitorial Guinea and Idris Deby Itno in Chad. Between 1993 and 1999, our own professionals used to be like present-day Sudanese Professionals.

We had the Concerned Professionals, who stood up and insisted on an immediate end to military rule in Nigeria. But that was then. Our professionals have all since taken to pepper soup and goat head, and to inanities garbed in the cloak of acquiescence and indifference. Many of them have developed pot-bellies.

They have eaten their own part of the forbidden Nigerian fruit, their mouths smeared with oyel, I mean oil. And hence: Professor Pat Utomi who was one of the original minds behind the revolt of the Nigerian middle class in the mid to late 90s Nigeria is now writing a trilogy on the complicity of the Middle Class and how that Middle Class has failed Nigeria. There are lessons for the Nigerian Middle Class in what is happening in Sudan.

I also had in mind the Easter Day killings in Sri Lanka, over 290 dead and over 500 injured in what looked like a pre-meditated, organized attack on churches, guest houses, hotels and other buildings. Coming shortly after the tragedy of Notre Dame de Paris, those who argue that Christianity seems to be under assault and that our humanity is under siege may not be too far from the truth. Sri Lanka is a country with serious ethnic and religious fractures, a little trigger could throw that country back into civil war and protracted humanitarian crisis. The response of the enlightened world is in order; the blatant act of terror has been condemned from the Vatican to Nigeria’s Aso Rock.

I wondered though, how our own Aso Rock picked up the tragedy in Colombo with such emotional clarity and promptly issued a statement. On Good Friday, there were reports of Christians being killed in Katsina-Ala Local Government of Benue State as they returned from church. The Nigerian Presidency apparently missed that, but of course Sri Lanka was in the international news networks, and our leaders in Nigeria hardly watch Nigerian news channels. But let someone fire a shot in the West Bank, or release a report in Washington DC, or a bullet in Yemen, there will be a buzz around Nigeria.

It is amazing how the yet unaddressed imbalance in the global information order leaves Nigeria constantly showing up at the lower end of the moral, governance and policy spectrum.

I was also thinking of the Sharia Council telling President Muhammadu Buhari to take national security seriously and protect Nigerian Muslims, and I thought the best message would be to insist that all Nigerian lives matter- Muslim, Christian or animist. I also read a story about the Minister of Finance saying Nigeria is mindful of its borrowings from the Chinese, Eurobond loans, the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank and how we have not even borrowed enough because we have not yet reached the threshold of borrowings within our peer group, and I felt like lamenting how poorly digested textbook knowledge sabotages Nigeria.

By now, Nigeria should be tired of all these half-baked ideas about debt-to-GDP ratio, and all these power point intellectuals who get to high office after a weekend course in Harvard where they learn nothing other than the ability to do power-point magic. Their village-type, poorly exposed bosses look at the power point and they think it is magic.

Pat Utomi may need to investigate the abuse of technology as an instrument of deception and theft in policy corridors, facilitated by the complicit middle class that he is disturbed about.

My head was trying to sort out these issues, even as my phones kept ringing, buzzing and tingling. The calls would not stop. The urgency was intimidating. The persistence was offensive. I picked.

“Yes?”

“I have been calling you since. If somebody is calling you, you should pick your calls.”  You know that kind of tone, sounds like the guy at the other end is holding a horse-whip and would apply it on your back, to beat the devil out of you, if you were available.

I smiled, knowing that the call will soon go off and you will be told later that the caller’s credit is finished. In Nigeria, callers don’t ever have credit on their phones, particularly if they are calling from hometowns. You ‘d have to call them back and send them phone credit later.

“Yes? Ki lo sele. I hope there is no problem. A ku odun oh. Compliments of the season. How are my children?” It always helps to be polite.

“Amosun ti tun bere oh. Amosun has started again. Jemila ori e ti jeun yo o. He is on rampage”.

“What’s the problem?” Ibikunle Amosun, also known as Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) is the Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria, (2011-2019).  Amosun ran for the Senate from Ogun Central, his Senatorial district in the 2019 general elections, and the people of that constituency decided to send him to the National Assembly which sadly has become a retirement home for former Governors who need a resting place and for all kinds of malcontents without measurable ability- the reason Nigeria’s National Assembly is progressively incompetent.

Amosun also wanted to impose one of his boys as Governor of Ogun State; he even chose candidates for all the seats in the election, but the people rebuffed him. They rejected his Gubernatorial candidate and voted majorly for the All Progressives Congress, the party that brought him, Amosun to power, and which he rejected to go and form a rival party, a platform he deployed to treacherous use in one of the most classical cases of anti-party politics. But Amosun is not giving up. He lost the election. He was humiliated, but since the elections, he appears set on a revenge mission.

“Amosun has sent caterpillars to Kuto market. He wants to demolish all the shops including Mama’s shop. Call your sister quickly, so that they don’t destroy the shop.”

Mama means my mother. She died in 2013. In her lifetime, she rose to be an Iyalode of one of the key groups in that market and the state. The caller was so hysterical that her shop will be demolished. But wait a moment, if Amosun wants to demolish the entire market, it would be wrong to worry about personal spaces.

“Caterpillars are already in Kuto. They say Amosun has asked them to demolish anything in sight”, I was told.

It is barely four weeks to Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s end of tenure, but he seems to find it difficult to withdraw as Governor of the state. His minion having lost the Gubernatorial election, he has since embarked on a desperate mission to tie the hands of the Governor-elect, Prince Dapo Abiodun. He is creating booby traps for him.

He is laying land mines. If what we know is so bad, how about other acts of mischief that are not yet in the public domain? Since the Gubernatorial election of March 9 in Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has refused to conduct himself after the fashion of a gentleman. He and his chosen candidate have refused to congratulate Dapo Abiodun, the declared winner of the election. Instead, Amosun, using the power of incumbency has been busy appointing permanent secretaries, general managers, and board members.

These new appointees are not going to work with him. They will work with a new Governor that will be sworn in next month. Is it morally right, intelligent or correct to act so mischievously? Amosun has also embarked on the demolition of houses and structures while announcing new projects by the state government.

In Abeokuta his hometown where the people voted for him to go to the Senate because they believe he used the office of Governor to help his own Egba people, Amosun has been busy demolishing houses and shops in Adatan towards Moore junction, Adigbe, Lafenwa market and now Kuto. The people’s interpretation is that Amosun is targeting political opponents and their areas of influence.

But his main target is Dapo Abiodun, the Governor-elect. There are uncompleted projects across the state. Amosun is not focusing on those uncompleted projects in the twilight of his administration. He is busy destroying things and creating new problems. It may take Dapo Abiodun a whole four years to correct the damage that Amosun has created since the election of March 9. Whose interest is being served? Even President Muhammadu Buhari who may not need handover notes is asking for handover notes.

In Ogun State, Amosun has refused to set up a transition committee. The Governor-elect has a Transition Committee and 10 working groups. But there is nobody to talk to on the other side because the Governor has refused to recognize the people’s will.  Amosun can beat his chest in his wife’s presence in “the other room” and remind her that he is still the man in Ogun State – good for him- but each time he does that he should keep an eye on the clock and the timelines of history.

It is sad that our democracy in Nigeria continues to create little tyrants. Amosun is definitely not alone and this is not in any way, a partisan comment. In Oyo state, there was once upon a time a man who called himself “the constituted authority”.

He too demolished buildings and punished anyone whose face he didn’t like. His name is Abiola Ajimobi. He was also once a Senator, and he became Governor. As Governor of Oyo state, he was a male version of the legendary Efunsetan Aniwura, the bad woman of Ibadan politics. Not even the Olubadan could talk to Ajimobi. He trampled on the traditional institution and surprised even his own most ardent admirers.

Why and how do good men end up as villains in Nigerian politics? I have no clue yet. It is sad that in Oyo state as in Ogun state, we have been hearing stories about the outgoing Governor behaving badly. Ajimobi also wanted to go to the retirement house in the National Assembly. The people have rejected him and also rejected the candidate he wanted as his successor. Ajimobi has not been smiling since then. He too has been behaving like a bull in the China shop.

Ajimobi is just probably slightly better than the out-going Governor in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha who also wants to go to the National Assembly. INEC won’t give him a Return Certificate because INEC insists he forced the state Resident Electoral Commissioner to declare him winner under duress. Okorocha wanted his son-in-law as his successor, but the people of Imo state refused. They voted instead for Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In Imo state, the people have rejected Okorocha’s “Iberiberism”, whatever that means.  Ihedioha should humour Okorocha after May 29, by erecting his statue at the market place so the people of Imo State will for long remember the “Iberiberism” known as Rochas Okorocha.

These are only three examples of the end-time Governors in Nigeria. Their two-term tenures have ended but they want to retain control and remain in charge. This is not the first time we would see this withdrawal syndrome on display. Power is like opium. It is addictive. Once you take it, you get hooked. End-time Governors probably deserve some kind of rehab treatment.

They must learn to let go. There must be legislation banning all departing Governors from making last minute bank withdrawals, contract approvals, demolition of houses and shops, and new appointments. The rule that a serving Governor is in power till the last minute is made for decent people, not for the types we have seen in Nigeria. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should be more concerned about these rogue, end-time Governors than the politics of the 9th National Assembly.

Buhari to visit Lagos, commission international airport road, other outgoing governor’s projects

By NewsDesk,

The Lagos State Government has announced that President Muhammadu Buhari would be visiting the state on Wednesday for commissioning of rehabilitated Murtala Muhammed International Airport road, the president’s visitation which was said could also served as appreciation visit to Lagos after election victory.

It was said that Buhari, during the one-day visit, would also commission the state’s outgoing Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, other projects, including 170-bed  Maternity Hospital at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), considered for public use after completion.

Also, the president would also have Lagos State Theatre at Oregun, new 820 Mass Transit buses and multi-level Oshodi Transport Interchange on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, commissioned, before the present administration leaves office.

However, in a state statement issued by the state’s Ministry of Information and Strategy on Tuesday, it disclosed that Buhari would be visiting the state and also carry out commissioning of various completed projects, embark upon by the state government months ago.  .

It listed the project that would be commissioned by the president to include rehabilitated 10-lane Oshodi-Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, and the 170-Bed ‘Ayinke House’ (Maternity Hospital) at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja.

“Other projects to be commissioned include the Lagos State Theatre at Oregun in Ikeja, new 820 Mass Transit buses and the multi-level Oshodi Transport Interchange on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

“`The Presidential visit would hold between 9.00 a. m. and 3.00 p.m. on Wednesday, during which traffic on some routes will be diverted in order to ensure a free flow of traffic,’’ it said.

According to the statement, the routes that will be affected by traffic control include the Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way (coming from the Presidential wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport to LASUTH under bridge); Kodesoh Road; Obafemi Awolowo Way; Kudirat Abiola Way and Ikorodu Road (between the Ojota Intersection and Anthony Interchange).

Other routes are the Oworonshoki-Apapa Expressway (between Anthony and Oshodi Transport Interchange) and the International Airport road through the Local Wing of the airport to Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way and back to the Obafemi Awolowo Way.

“The listed roads shall only be cordoned-off when necessary, Obafemi Awolowo Way and portions of Mobolaji Bank-Anthony shall be closed to traffic on three occasions within the specified period, as they are central to the President’s itinerary,’’ it said.

The state government advised motorists to avoid listed roads where necessary and make use of alternative routes of their choice.

It implored ,motorists and commuters to bear with state government for inconveniences as a result of the diversions, traffic managers, enforcement and security agents will be positioned at all strategic intersections to allow orderly vehicular movements.

Trump accepts Queen Elizabeth’s state invitation

By NewsDesk,

Buckingham Palace has disclosed that United States President, Donald Trump, had accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June, with expectation that the US president would meet with British Prime Minister, Theresa May.

As learnt, Trump and his wife, Melania, would embark on the trip on 3rd of June 3 and return by 5th of same month, though the palace would also release further detail in due time.

According to the palace, Trump would hold a meeting with  May in Downing Street and the trip also coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War Two.

Through a statement on Tuesday,  May reaffirmed on UK and U.S.  deep and enduring partnership said to be rooted in common history and shared interests.

She explained that the Trump’s state visit was an opportunity to strengthen the two countries’ already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead.”

It would be recalled that Trump met with the queen in Britain in July, 2018, which was not deemed a state visit.

As gathered, from White House statement on Tuesday, Trump and his wife would also travel to France on June 6, where Trump would also meet with French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Lagos gay partner on the run, relatives in search

By NewsDesk,

For a two gay partner, Olalekan Animashaun and Tola Adeosun, who may have willingly been playing ignorant against law that forbid homosexuality in Nigeria, nemesis may not had had its share on them after the duo were caught while engaging in same sex actions during a nightparty in Shomolu axis of Lagos, recently.

The middle age men were said to had narrowly escaped from been lynched by other party attendances who went after them on learning of their actions after manager of the facility raised alarm after he got hints of the two men from his subordinates.

It was gathered that, while both Animashaun, 34, and Adeosun, 32, were held for police arrest, argument ensued between two rivalry cult groups, with one demanding for the release of the gay partner, while the other stood against the decision.

The Guild learnt that disagreement between the cult groups and operator of the facility, lead to the escape of the the two men before arrival of law enforcement officers from Alade Divisional Police Station, who later went in search of the duo.

Investigation by The Guild revealed that the two young men had previously been suspected of homosexuality and that concerned community members had constantly been drawing Animashaun and Adeosun relatives’ attention to unusual closeness and strange attitude noticed between the two.

While the two men were said to still be on the run and their whereabouts were yet unknown, there were strong believes that capital punishment were awaiting the duo, should they show up in future.

Meanwhile, a law signed in 2014 made it illegal for gay members to even meeting, the act,  Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

On visiting the area, a resident who lives close to party venue where the incident had occurred informed The Guild of how homosexuality has been secretly gaining ground in the axis couple with cultism which the area was known for and that the case of the the gay partner was not new in that part of the Lagos.

The man, who pleaded not be mentioned due to sensitivity of the matter, disclosed that he got hint of Animashaun and Adeosun relationship before their matter came public and since the incident, the duo had gone into tin air.

He said that the two men had not shown up in the area after the incident, suspecting that police may still be searching them and that they could also be attacked by community members.

He added that the gay partner’s families had not communicated since after the their sons committed the atrocity, facing mockery from entire community.

Both Adeosun and Animashaun have put their families in shame and uncomfortable situation. The parents of the two young men are scared of not losing their children.

A close relative to one of the gay partner, Ola Yusuf, said that she learnt of the incident a day after it occurred and that since then his cousin had not appear in the area.

She said that they have been everywhere in search of Adeosun and Animashaun but all their efforts had been in vain.

She explained that the two young men may had flee for their lives base on beating they received from other party attendances and also scared of severe punishment from police.

Condemning the actions of the gay partner, Yusuf claimed that his cousin was a religious man but that something must have gone, such that could be linked to psychological and spiritual attack.

“We, the family would not watch and let our sons die. We have been searching for them, to see how we can talk to them over the situation they have put us and they themselves.

“They are scared of the consequence of their actions and particular the police arrest that may be waiting for them anytime they show up”, she disclosed.

However, an eye witness told The Guild that the two gay men were caught engaging in an unusual sexual act and that incident occurred when the suspects left spot bar in Shomolu where they have attended the party organized by another friend.

“It all started when they were spotted by those working at the party’s venue who reported the two upon seeing them in the act”.

“Both suspects were attacked and sustained injuries but were able to escape from the scene with the aid of some area boys who recognized Animashaun, been a resident of the area.

Another one said that both men were caressing and dancing together at the party and she believes that nobody suspected the two men are gays as they thought they were having fun at the party.

She said the gay partner were family men who were expected to be of good conduct but behave otherwise.

She indicated that the partner have kids who would were looking up to them but failed to be be a good role models, even within their community.

“This is a big shame for Animashaun because his wife is devout Christian and I am sure that she will be disappointed of her husband’s act.

“I am not surprise to hear the woman had left their apartment after the incident because of shameful act of her husband”, she said.

Another resident claimed that people in the area became uncomfortable of noticed closeness between the two men when they began isolating themselves from other childhood friends.

He said that other friends had alleged the two of homosexuality on several occasion but decided to treat the matter with care so as not to raise wrong alarm.

Meanwhile, several attempts by The Guild to speak to the divisional police officer to confirm the matter, prove abortive as the officer were not available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria and the Misery Index: Not a miserable country

By Reuben Abati 

In a Report titled The Misery Index 2018 authored by Dr. Steve Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Nigerians have been labelled the sixth most miserable people in the world.

The misery index was introduced in the 1970s by Arthur Okun, an American economist, author of the seminal work, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade Off (1975). The original index considers such factors as unemployment rate and inflation rate.

It is a formula, a methodology as it were, consistent with what is known as Okun’s law, but modified subsequently by Harvard Professor, Robert Barro and Professor Steve Hanke. The latter releases a Report annually.

He tells us that: “My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. Higher readings on the first three elements are “bad” and make people miserable. These are offset by a “good” GDP per capita growth which is subtracted from the sum of the bads. A Higher Misery Index score reflects a higher level of misery, and it’s a simple enough metric that a busy president, without time for extensive economic briefings can understand at a glance.” 

In the 2018 Report which is basically a forecast of what to expect in the year 2019, Hanke identifies Venezuela as the most miserable country in the world, followed by Zimbabwe, Argentina, Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt and Ukraine. . Is Nigeria the sixth most miserable country in the world? Where is Syria? South Sudan? Somalia. Steve Hanke’s Report does not necessarily cover all the countries of the world. But certain points are clear from his submissions.

First, the Misery Index makes the point very clear that economic growth is linked to the people’s prosperity and happiness. Countries that suffer from stagflation are likely to have very miserable citizens.

Second, lack of economic growth or a poor economy can result in political and social crisis as we have seen in Venezuela where inflation rate is said to be above 6,000% and Zimbabwe where inflation is allegedly over 97%, although this has been disputed in other evaluations which unlike Hanke’s Index, accommodate the employment rate in Zimbabwe’s informal economy.

Third, good governance, leadership and political stability are important factors for macro-economic growth. The least miserable countries in the world as seen in the Misery Index 2018, would also seem to have strong leadership, and institutions and a certain measure of stability.

Fourth, poverty should be avoided because it could lead to misery. Fifth, the state has a responsibility to prevent the growth of poverty and promote economic growth.

It is important to break down and outline some of these well-known, elementary points because I see a tendency in this season to ignore external rankings or politicize them. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has already jumped on the back of the Misery Index to say that the Report confirms the party’s position that Nigeria’s economy “has virtually collapsed under Buhari.”

The Hanke index does not say that the Nigerian economy has “virtually collapsed”. It says the people are among the ten most miserable people in the world. It is an economist’s index not a political review.

Nonetheless, there are certain basics that should be established. Indeed, unemployment rate in Nigeria is about 23. 10 per cent (Q3 2018, an all-time high between 2006 and 2018. Youth unemployment according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is even higher. Inflation rate is about 12%. Food inflation is higher at 13.5%. Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria reduced Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 13.5%, down by 50 basis points from 14%.

Nigeria’s GDP growth is 1.8%.  Compared to statistics from other parts of the world, these Nigerian statistics paint a gloomy picture. Unemployment rate in India, for example, is 6.1%, Canada (5.8%), Australia (4.9%), United Kingdom (3.9%), Germany (3.1%), Ghana (2%), Cote d’Ivoire (2.6%), Saudi Arabia (12.7%) etc.

There is also no doubt that the Nigerian economy has gone through major contractions in the last five years. The sharp drop in the spot price of oil depleted the country’s reserves, created a foreign exchange crisis  and soon resulted in recession.

In 2016, Nigeria faced the consequences of a negative growth of up to 2.3 %; in 2017, inflation was as high as 18%. In September 2018, the Economic Intelligence Unit of The Economist Magazine and the HSBC Research Unit predicted a gloomy economic prospect for Nigeria in 2019 and also jumped into the troubled waters of analyzing Nigerian politics, with predictions about the likely outcome of the 2019 Presidential election in Nigeria. Both the ruling party in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Nigerian government kicked. They told the “experts” to keep their opinions to themselves.

The EIU/HSBC in retrospect got the political analysis wrong (PDP lost the 2019 Presidential election, APC won) but the economic projections remain relevant and instructive. The Steve Hanke Misery Index Report may have been influenced by the EIU report.

Rather than dismiss it however, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Presidency (Hanke insists the message is so straightforward even a busy President can follow it) should study the report and attend to the messages about economic growth and the careful management of certain indicators to deliver prosperity to the people. Nigeria’s palace economists may quarrel over the statistics and the methodology, but not the common sense.

But is Hanke’s description of Nigeria as the 6thmost miserable country in the world accurate? Even if the Nigerian economy has not “virtually collapsed”, can misery be affirmed strictly on the basis of unemployment rate, inflation rate and lending rates? Does poverty necessarily translate into misery? Is the correlation absolutely given?  Nigeria ranks low in this 2019 Misery Index, just as it ranks low on the Human Poverty Index and the Human Development Index – these are challenges for governance and leadership. But does all that mean that Nigerians are miserable? The word misery connotes unhappiness, distress, wretchedness, hardship, suffering, affliction, anguish, sadness, sorrow, melancholy.

I think there are gaps in the Hanke Misery Index in terms of the parameters adopted; perhaps a more holistc assessment of the connection between economic growth and a people’s response as individuals and communities may have shown that economic prosperity and growth do not necessarily guarantee a people’s happiness. There may well be more misery in all the developed countries of Central Europe taken together than may be in Kenya or Cape Verde.

There are perhaps certain anthropological factors, a certain kind of neuroscience that accounts for a people’s happiness rather than cold macro-economic statistics. In 2011, Nigeria was classified as the happiest place on earth in a Gallup Poll and its people as the most optimistic. This was within the context of widespread underdevelopment, and all forms of social sector crisis.

Nigeria’s status as a happy country was again confirmed in a World Values Survey in 2014. It is noteworthy however that in 2018, Nigeria was listed as the 91sthappiest country in the world, and the 5th happiest country in Africa in the World Happiness Report. OBv iously so much happened negatively in Nigeria between 2014 and 2018. But the sum indication is that as at 2018, Nigerians were adjudged happier than they were between 2014 and 2016.

How then can we suddenly become the sixth most miserable country in the world a year later? The difference is who is looking at what. The UN 2019 Happiness Report, for example, focusses on the human being and community, on relationships, or the neuro-science and the anthropology of happiness, rather than economic indicators.

The World Happiness Report is more reflective of the Nigerian situation in my view than the Misery Index. We may have moved from being the happiest people on earth to the 91stin the world, a reflection of the existential crisis that Nigeria faces, but the word misery does not quite capture the people’s true essence.

My point is as follows: the measurement of happiness or its antonym, misery is perhaps more subjective and experiential than academic and statistical. Culture and context should matter. Nigeria has been described as one of the poorest countries in the world. The country faces a problem of low level insurgency in the North East.

Corruption is rife. Reports of all shades of violence are common place. The country’s wealth is concentrated in a few hands. Steady economic growth is a challenge. But we the people are not in misery. There may have been a slight increase in cases of suicide and depression in the country since 2015, but generally Nigerians are a resilient lot.

The average Nigerian is imbued with a fighting spirit.  If people in other countries go through what Nigerians have gone through and are still going through, such countries would have imploded. But Nigeria has not collapsed because the people’s fighting spirit is unique. In the midst of risks and vulnerability to poverty due to economic mismanagement by Nigeria’s leaders, the average Nigerian continues to forge ahead.

These are people who don’t give up easily. They believe that tomorrow will be better. When they are faced with election rigging, voter intimidation, outright theft of public resources, these are people who are likely to say: is it not four years? “Let them come and do what they want to do and go away.”  When people get killed and are abandoned by the roadside, you’d be surprised that with the corpses lying in open spaces, some Nigerians can just pull seats together and begin to have a drink, a few metres away from a decaying body.

There is no weekend when there is no celebratory feast in a Nigerian community: flashy attires, expensive cars, exotic drinks, musicians waxing lyrical, and the men and women dancing away with no care in the world. I do not know any other country in the world where the parties and celebrations are as elaborate as the parties we throw in Nigeria.

The Misery Index is talking about high unemployment rates in Nigeria. This is true but the people are so resilient, they manage to get by. They have learnt to move beyond their governments. Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa. Those who cannot get formal jobs find other things to do.

Come to Lagos, Dr. Hanke. Some of the young ladies you would see on the streets of Lagos and on Nigerian Instagram are from very poor backgrounds and they have no extra-ordinary skills, but you are likely to see them driving expensive cars, wearing bespoke clothes, the type that Kim Kardashian cannot even afford.

This is the “small girl, big God” generation that puts a lie to all that talk about misery in Nigeria.  Besides, thuggery and cultism are considered professions in Nigeria, and regarded as more profitable and influential than medicine, law or engineering. Thugs and cultists are patronized by political leaders and they are well-paid for their efforts, particularly during election seasons.

It is only in Nigeria I guess, that a security guard, earning less than a $100 a month will have three wives and 10 children while his own employer will be struggling to maintain a family of four. It is also in Nigeria that you will find a civil servant having five wives and two concubines, even when he has not been paid a salary for 24 months.

Misery? Professor Steve Hanke is an applied economist. He may not have visited some of the countries covered by his study, but in the case of Nigeria, he should not rely on textbook statistics. Unemployment rate, lending rate, inflation rate, GDP per capita may make sense to the economists, but those things sound like voodoo to the average Nigerian.

The people live in a zone that is beyond theory. The average Nigerian is not intimidated by the gap between the very rich and the very poor, for him or her, there is a religious, rather, a spiritual side to this thing called poverty or inequality.

The Nigerian is told by the large population of prosperity evangelists in the country – Muslim, Christian, and animist – that he or she can become rich overnight. In Nigeria, you can see a man as poor as a church rat in January and by December he has a mansion in his village, attended to by a retinue of hangers-on, all very happy, and he too has become an employer of labour and he is likely to pay salaries more regularly than government! Nigeria is the ultimate headquarters of trade-offs; not even Arthur M. Okun could have imagined that.

The Nigerian character and attitude both raise questions about the true nature of work, employment, economic growth, or the meaning of misery beyond the theories and “forecasts”. The other question is: what is the integrity of the applied data?

Pa Fasinro contributed immeasurably to growth and development of Lagos- Sanwo-Olu

By NewsDesk, 
The Lagos State Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has described Late Hassan Fasinro, who was reported to had passed away yesterday, as a patriotic Nigerian, whose contributions were immeasurable to growth and development of the state.
Sanwo-Olu stated that the former senator during second republic, contributed immeasurably to Lagos state since his days as council clerk at the state’s city council during pre-independent era.
Through a statement issued from the governor-elect’s office on Monday, to express his state of mind on the demise of the 99 years old statesman, Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos had lost a man with a repository of knowledge of ancient and modern Nigeria and that the late Fasinro was encyclopedia of Lagos and Nigeria’s developmental trajectory.
Having expressed grieve on the death of Fasinro, from the statement, the governor-elect added that the former senator served Lagos and the country diligently and was a lifetime accomplished man.
According to him, late Fasinro’s footprints spread across many spheres of life as an author, politician, community leader, lawyer and above all, a firm believer in Allah. Papa also made history in 1950 when he emerged  as the first Clerk of Lagos City Council, which was the administrative unit of Lagos  created under a new Local Government Law in succession to the Council created by the 1941 Ordinance.”
 “Pa Fasinro was a man that I personally admired and always looked forward to meeting for fatherly counsel. Although his departure at this time is painful, we take solace in the fact that Pa Fasinro lived a very fulfilled life, which he dedicated to the service of Allah and the humanity. We will miss him greatly in the State.” Sanwo-Olu stated.
While commiserating with family of the deceased, Sanwo-Olu urged those the former senator left behind to continue with legacy of the late politician, saying best form of memorial would be to preserve the great feat achieved by late Fasinro during his lifetime.
“On behalf of my family, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of late Pa Hassan Fasinro. The family and the rest of us should be inspired with his life of service and commitment to the overall well being of Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Men in Lagos Taskforce’s net over impersonation, extortion

By NewsDesk, 

Two men, who have been parading themselves as law enforcement agents and claimed be attached to Task unit of Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences, met their waterloo on Monday after they were arrested by personnel from the agency nabbed while illegal arrest of motorists.

It was gathered that the two suspects, Ademola Oyegunwa, 40 years, and Olaogun Adamson, 48 years, were arrested by the agency, after extorting a motorist at Ojota, and had identified themselves as members of Lagos Task Force.

The Chairman, Task Force, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, confirmed that the two suspects were apprehended by the agency after they had negotiated and collected N15,000 bribe.

Speaking through a statement released from his office on Monday, Egbeyemi disclosed that preliminary interrogations revealed that the suspects presented themselves as officers of the agency and arrested a motorist for traffic obstruction by Ojota bus-stop.

He said, “They arrested the owner of the vehicle for obstruction at Ojota, drove him down to Bolade bus-stop opposite Task Force office where they negotiated and collected the sum of N15,000 from him”.

According to Egbeyemi, the Agency also discovered that the suspects had perpetrated the act before saying, “We have severally received complaints from motorists, particularly commercial bus drivers, about activities of these unscrupulous fraudsters who specialise in impersonating officers of the Agency and defrauding people across the State”.

The chairman indicated that personnel assigned by his agency to enforce traffic and environmental sanitation laws would be on uniform for proper identification while on duty.

He clarified that only Lagos State Task Force and LASTMA are empowered by law to enforce traffic laws on ‘BRT’ corridors across the State.

While urging motorists to desist from giving bribe to traffic enforcement officers, the chairman disclosed that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Zubairu Muazu, had directed that the arrested suspects, ,who confessed to the crime, be arraigned immediately.

From their confessional statements, the 2 suspects claimed to be making N50,000 to N70,000 from this illegal duties.

 

Protest against Macron’s business reforms intensifies

By NewsDesk, with Agency report

Protest by France nationals against their president, Emmanuel Macron, over proposed business reformation, has intensified, lasting longer than expectation, with protesters violently attacking banks and stores on Paris.

It was reported that the action had hit landmark shopping street in a new flare-up of violence as France’s yellow vest demonstrations against Macron and his pro-business reforms.

Although, the country’s police was reported to had moved against the protests turned violent again after weeks of relative calm during marches and declining numbers of participants.

A branch of Banque Tarneaud spewed flames before firefighters arrived and two news-stands on the Champs Elysees avenue caught fire as bonfires burned in the streets.

Protesters threw cobblestones at riot police through clouds of tear gas in front of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe monument, which was ransacked at the peak of the protests in December.

Police had arrested more than 80 protesters by mid afternoon as demonstrators looted stores around the Champs Elysees and ransacked the high-end Fouquet’s restaurant.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the protests were small compared with a few weeks ago, with only 8,000 people participating in Paris.

“But within this 8,000, there are more than 1,500 ultra violent people who are there just to smash things up, to fight and to attack,” he said, adding more than 1,400 police officers were mobilized.

“I’ve given instructions to the police this morning for great firmness so that nothing slips by,” he added.

Protesters have promised to draw bigger numbers to mark the fourth month since the movement erupted in mid November, over since-scrapped fuel tax hikes and the high cost of living.

Named after the high visibility vests French drivers have to keep in their cars and worn by protesters, the revolt quickly swelled into a broader movement against Macron and his reforms.

However, the weekly demonstrations, held every Saturday in Paris and other cities, have been generally getting smaller since December, when Paris saw some of the worst vandalism and looting in decades.

After the spike in violence, Macron offered a package of concessions worth more than $11 billion aimed at boosting the incomes of the poorest workers and most pensioners.

His government ordered police to crack down on the protests in January, leading to complaints of police brutality after a series of injuries.

The 41-year-old former investment banker also launched a series of national debates which are aimed at determining what polices people want the government to focus on.

Saturday’s protests coincide with the end of the debates.

Pope goes back to South Sudan visitation plan

By NewsDesk,

Barely two years after Pope Francis’ plans to visit South Sudan was aborted due to an unresolved civil war in the region, the Pope has directed his aides to put back on plan visit to the country, even though date was not yet discussed.

Francis decision to visit the South Sudan was reported to had been reached to prove a closeness and encouragement for peace process.

expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a

A statement issued by the Vatican on Saturday indicated that a meeting with South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir on Saturday, fascinated the Pope’s declaration to visit the country

It added that the Pope wanted to make the trip as \a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process”.

Meanwhile, the oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.

In September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a unity government in May.

Three days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps have occurred, just two months before the deadline.

More than half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is predominantly Muslim.

In 2017, Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year. The tentative plans were scrapped because of security concerns.

About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.

The original trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to have flown in after spending a night in another African country.

Francis is expected to visit several African countries this year, including Madagascar.

The pope was to have made the 2017 trip to South Sudan with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican communion, in an effort to promote unity in the mostly Christian country.

The conflict sparked Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and plunged parts of the country into famine.

More than 875,000 refugees have fled into neighboring Uganda since the war broke out.

The pope and Kiir discussed the return of refugees, the Vatican statement said.