Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This Week in Nigeria: Oil Spill Reaches Akwa Ibom Shores

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A woman collects oil from a spill in the Niger Delta. Photograph by SNDNigeria.

This Week: News

Oil spill reaches Akwa Ibom shores

An oil spill at an ExxonMobil facility offshore from the Niger Delta has spread at least 20 miles from its source, contaminating local waters used by fishermen. The spill, which occurred last week, has led to the closure of the pipeline while authorities investigate the cause of the leakage. Mark Ward, managing director of ExxonMobil's local unit, said a clean up had been mobilised, and apologised to the affected communities for the spill.

Etihad reintroduce Abu Dhabi to Lagos cargo flight

Etihad Cargo, a division of Etihad Airways, has concluded plans for the re-introduction of a freighter service from Abu Dhabi to Lagos, Nigeria. The service will operate on a weekly basis and will connect Nigeria to 16 new interline destinations across West Africa. Under the new service, cities including Accra, Freetown, Kinshasa and Malabo will become accessible via the freight interlink. Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways chief strategy and planning officer commented, "West Africa is a hugely important market for us, and we are delighted to offer freighter services to and beyond one of its gateway cities”.

300 Nigerians deported from Botswana

Approximately 300 Nigerians living in Botswana have been deported back to Nigeria in the past few months after officials refused to renew their permits. The deportees called on Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly to assess the relationship between Botswana and Nigeria, and address racial abuse they are alleged to have faced. Some deportees claim to have been forcibly removed, leaving their property and families behind, and there are concerns they will be refused re-entry into Botswana.

Strongman of Kwara State politics passes on

Olusola Saraki, scion of the Saraki political family and leader of the Senate during the second republic, passed away last Wednesday at the age of 79 in Lagos. Saraki, who held sway over the politics of Kwara State for over two decades, was said to be battling a long illness before eventually succumbing in the early hours of Wednesday. Well-wishers have come from far and wide to pay their respects to the ‘strongman of Kwara politics’, a man many saw as a mediator between the north and south of the country and a master political strategist.

$84million of narcotics destroyed by drug enforcement agency

Various narcotics valued at N13.6 billion ($84million) were destroyed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) last Thursday in Badagry, Lagos State. NDLEA spokesman Mitchel Ofoyeju confirmed that the drugs destroyed included cannabis, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

This Week: Politics

West African regional leaders under the banner of regional bloc ECOWAS have agreed to send more than 3000 troops to the troubled country of Mali. The aim of the expedition is to help government forces recapture the north of the country from Islamic fundamentalists. Nigeria by virtue of being the largest nation in the West Africa region and main fundraiser for ECOWAS is set to make up the bulk of troops with Ghana, Niger and Burkina Faso also contributing manpower. However, the plan still has to be given the green light by the UN Security Council.

Once again, Nigeria is to be involved in a mission beyond its borders. Many lives were lost in the past by engaging in civil wars in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. The ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was a regional multilateral armed force, established by ECOWAS in the late 1980s and heavily sponsored by the military regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. Nigeria lost billions of dollars and hundreds of young men with many still questioning its rational. Must we repeat the same mistakes, especially when we are fighting our own war on the domestic front? Would engaging in Mali not risk an escalation in Islamic fundamentalism on our own soil? Why play doctors to others while we ourselves continue to bleed? Unless other world powers with the sufficient capacities can guarantee logistics and the required assistance to prevent ECOWAS troops being drawn into Africa's own version of Afghanistan, I recommend all possible diplomatic measures are exhausted before committing lives.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was at his outspoken best last week while speaking at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor's time as the head of 'Word of Life Bible Church', Warri in Delta State.

Whilst praising the pastor, who is also president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Obasanjo divulged some of his inner thoughts on the current situation bedeviling the country, revealing that all was not well between himself and protégé President Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo, known to sometimes be abrasive, took the president to task over the rise of the Islamic sect Boko Haram and only stopped a few words short from calling the president weak.

Obasanjo, who was instrumental in the enthronement of the late president Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan, said the sect’s activities would have been nipped in the bud had drastic steps been taken at the initial stage of Boko Haram’s insurgency – as he did in 1999. Obasanjo ordered the deployment of troops in Odi community after 19 soldiers had been killed by rioting villagers and the predecessors of Niger delta militants in Bayelsa State. But Obasanjo decided to leave out the fact that during the Odi massacre hundreds of innocent villagers were also killed. Whilst Jonathan's strengths and weaknesses are being debated on a daily basis, Obasanjo's attempt at playing the elder statesmen and the voice of truth will push him further away from his political son or, even worse, make others remember his past record on similar issues. Was this a former president giving a current one advice, or was he berating him for the whole world to see?

Writers of the week:

Why Did a Judge Weep in Court?’ by Okey Ndibe looks at the plight of D.C.B. Nwanna, former deputy Nigerian ambassador to the UK, who is challenging the actions of Ezekiel Oladeji, Director-General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), to force his premature retirement. The article weaves between accusations of ethnic sentiment in the handling of the trial to the lack of professionalism from the courts to the NIA. The unique case denigrates the role of the judiciary and the influence of exterior powers in court proceeding and the law on the whole.

Revisiting the PhD-driver question’ by Chiemela Agu attempts to understand the recent issue of graduates and PhD holders applying for truck driver positions advertised by the Dangote Group. The writer expresses bafflement and denounces the lack of opportunities for Nigeria’s graduates.

Organisation of the week:

The Society Of The Performing Arts In Nigeria (SPAN) is a NGO which aims to set a world-class standard for performing arts education in Nigeria. The society offers unprecedented opportunities in dance, music, theatre and visual arts to Nigeria’s citizens. Founded in December 2004, its vision is to establish a single performing arts institution that uniquely combines the rich cultural traditions of Nigeria with world-class training offered in the likes of Europe and the US. Based in Lagos, SPAN seeks to establish performing art centres at which the richness and diversity of Nigeria’s culture and tradition can be nurtured, preserved and showcased for all to see and experience.

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