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Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, the Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources in Enugu State, in an interview with Sun said that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s achievements in his first tenure would speak for him during the elections in 2019.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration is two years, what is your assessment of the government?

The governor has done very well and he is still going to do more in the remaining part of his first tenure. In the state today, there is a massive infrastructural development and this is in all parts of the state. As I talk to you now, many roads have been completed and so many are ongoing. Again in the past, we used to have moribund state institutions like the Daily Star, ESBS TV and Radio, and so on, they are all functioning now. You can pick Daily Star which earlier had been forgotten from the stand of the vendor and read. I do not think I should be mentioning roads and other infrastructure one by one. The issue of ghost workers has seriously been tackled by this government.

When the governor came in, he set up a committee that looked into the issue of ghost workers and the fake names were identified and replaced with authentic persons who are now in the employ of the State.

What is happening in your own ministry?

In my ministry, we are looking at it from keying into the theme of this year’s World Environmental Day which talks about connecting people to nature. It is as if to say we are the key people that conceived this idea. The theme came from Canada where the Environmental Day was hosted. The day came into being since 1972 and it is being celebrated every year. In Enugu, we have been trying to raise the people’s consciousness on the need to get back to nature irrespective of the technological development that has been threatening the world peace in terms of environment. We have already programmed tree planting. We are into environmental impact assessment which we used, to checkmate the random building and other human actions in the State. We are looking at the environmental audit and we are even looking at reducing the firewood syndrome, just as we are introducing coal. It is just like gas and it is even cheaper than firewood. We are also working to construct the factories in Ugwu Orba, Ugwu Arji and Orba in Nsukka. The project is almost on course. This is to reduce the use of firewood and so on. Apart from the infrastructural development, there is peace and stability in the State.

Is there any extra effort being put in place by the State government to achieve the level of peace and stability you enjoy?

The style of the government under the governor is such that things are distributed equitably to the ward levels. The 450 communities that we have in Enugu State are being given the opportunity to come up with what they consider their priority projects and the communities would be involved in the execution of such projects. There is what we call community projects execution. The whole idea is that at the end of the day, every community in the State would have a project to point at that the government has executed for them. Such a style gives the people especially those at the grassroots, a sense of belonging. The program is already on course.

What are the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State in the next general elections?

We know that we have other political parties in Enugu State but we are not scared because the government is doing well. However, irrespective of what you are doing, there should still be opposition because that is the whole essence of democracy. But the difference here is that irrespective of the political divide people belong, the governor believes that he is for everybody in the State. He is friendly with all and he does not believe in the politics of exclusion. All the stakeholders are being carried along in the affairs of the State. That is the reason for the peace we enjoy.

Generally, all the political parties have challenges but you know that the parties would strengthen themselves when elections are around the corner. In the case of Governor Ugwuanyi, he has a solid structure in the State. I am sure that the PDP would do very well in the next election in Enugu State. I am not saying it is going to be that easy but obviously the performance of Governor Ugwuanyi would definitely be a plus for him.

Recently, it was reported that the Enugu State government was trying to reach an understanding with the South African investors on the possibility of exploiting the abandoned Enugu Coal mine. What are the prospects?

We have not signed any partnership in this respect but we are working toward that. It involves my ministry because it is about mineral resources in Enugu State. The truth is that the governor has been very receptive and hospitable to investors in the State. That was why in April last year, we came up with a program where investors were told to come and invest in the State. And coal is one of the mineral resources we have. The idea is that when you harvest coal and do value addition which is the processed product, it could be turned to electricity, fertilizer, interlock and so many products you could use for road construction. You can have a by-product like sulphur and all that because of the chemical. So, there are prospects in the coal industry and we are going to employ the best expertise to make sure that the dirt in coal in terms of the environment during processing is highly reduced if not completely eliminated.

We want the coal to be at par with what we signed in the Paris agreement this year by President Buhari. The exploitation and processing of the coal deposit would go a long way in boosting the economy of the Federal and Enugu State governments. You know it is going to be a tripartite action between the Federal Government, State and the area where the coal would be processed from. We believe it would lead to employment generation, boost the revenue of the State and Federal Government and we are hoping that it would help in addressing our electricity challenge in the State and Nigeria.

Some argue that the governor has concentrated his projects more in Nsukka, his Senatorial zone. How true is that?

The fact is that the governor is carrying out projects in every local government. What he is doing in Nsukka, he is also doing in the other Senatorial zones. What people should know is that the execution of projects is not only in Nsukka. The governor is fair to all.

However, you know that Nsukka is the second largest urban metropolis in Enugu State after the Coal city, the State capital. We all know that Nsukka has been hosting the University of Nigeria, a premier university for that matter. You also know that Nsukka is the most populated Senatorial zone in the State. So, it is expected that the governor should do more there but so far, he has been fair to all parts of the State. He is doing well and people are happy with what he is doing because if you had not visited Nsukka for some time and you go there now, you may not be able to recognize it. So, there is no doubt that there are changes here and there in Nsukka and we thank him for that and like Oliver Twist, the people would naturally ask for more.

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Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State had in May 29th, accounted for the accomplishments of his government as a 'stand out'. He was overwhelmed by the three-year scorecard his administration had recorded under harsh financial periods.
Ugwuanyi talked on this when he addressed the people of Enugu State during the 2018 Democracy Day at Okpara Square, Enugu yesterday.

He had said that the promises he made during his inauguration on May 29, 2015 had looked vague and unrealistic due to a huge debt profile of the state.

The governor, however, said that with aggressive revenue drive and prudent management of available resources, his administration had held unto its dreams. This, we can account for based on the governments giant stride in education, security, provision of amenities, job creations, etc.

The governor's statement was as thus: “The laudable goals we have achieved appeared impossible at that time owing to the realities on ground: huge debt profile of the state pressing down our neck and huge salaries and pension arrears confronting us.

“All these were in the midst of economic crunch and depleted revenue from the centre. Our promises then appeared vague, but we held unto our lofty dreams.

“Following these reforms, our internally generated revenue hit N22 billion in 2017, the highest by Enugu in a single year since 1999.

“Today, the results we have on ground and the progress we have made in the last three years bear us out that with God all things are possible.”

The governor had said that his administration had set out to build a state where security and peace were the order of the day, insisting that apart from partnering with the security agencies to create a peaceful environment, his administration was also getting the youths engaged through job creation.

He had said that the health sector of the state had come alive with the construction of district hospitals and training of 400 volunteer workers for health intervention programs in rural communities.He noted that doctors, nurses and allied workers had also been employed in the sector.

“As we embark on the last lap of this tenure, be rest assured that we will never let you down. With God ordering our steps, we will continue to put efforts at ensuring that the common good remains our watch-word".

“Let me on your behalf congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari, members of the National Assembly, the judiciary and other state governors on this occasion,” Ugwuanyi had said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the high-points of the event were a parade by the Enugu State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, musical renditions and cultural displays.

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            A wide range evaluation of the governors achievement provides one with enough words to appreciate the governors overwhelming passion in quality education. He has proven to be a strong believer in the "leaders of tomorrow", 'education is key"; quotes.  

The governor’s  unprecedented and enduring feats in the sector have also gone a long way to demonstrate the high premium he places on education as the bedrock of nation building as well as the economic, political and socio-cultural  development of the society. The accomplishments are equally in keeping with his  vision to “deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment”

Reaffirming his commitment and belief in qualitative, accessible, affordable and inclusive education in the state, the  governor  while commissioning some equipment procured by the state government as well as facilities repairs for teaching and learning in Technical Colleges and Special Science Schools declared that “our best investment is in education”.

      In the past two years, his administration has made concerted efforts, despite the prevailing economic recession, to re-position the state’s education system to improve the standard of learning through the implementation of far reaching reforms as embedded in the four-point agenda. Shortly after he assumed office, the governor  embarked on a program for the renovation, rehabilitation and re-equipment of primary and secondary schools in the state, which were then in dismal and deplorable conditions.

    Sequel to this, he constituted an administrative committee headed by his deputy, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo to ensure the full and proper execution of the development projects of the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB. It's satisfactory  to note that the committee’s assignment has yielded the desired aim resulting to the completion of most of the abandoned projects in some schools. The governor at the inception of his administration also renovated and equipped the sickbay and two classroom blocks at Queen’s School, Enugu, and another 7-classroom block at New Haven Secondary School, Enugu.

     The administration equally procured 10 Braille Machines, Jaw Readers, Desktop Computers and other Accessories for visually-impaired students of the College of Immaculate Conception, CIC, Enugu. The best students are not only formed by the best schools but by the best teachers. The government recruited up to 2000 primary school teachers through ENSUBEB. Under ENSUBEB, the state government  renovated over 348 primary and secondary schools in the state worth N3 billion with the federal government providing 50 percent of the sum. The state government through the Post Primary Schools Management Board, PPSMB, under the Chairmanship of Barr. Nestor Ezeme, had procured 600 computers, 600 computer desks, 600 UPS, 60 power generators and 60 printers for public secondary schools in the state.

     In 2016, 12, 480 furniture, comprising writing desks and chairs were procured for primary school pupils in the state and 868 tables with chairs for teachers, as part of the infrastructural reforms being undertaken by the administration to ensure that pupils and teachers in the state primary school system study under very conducive classroom environment.

    The governor in a bid to provide an enabling environment for workers in the state as part of the government’s efforts to promote job satisfaction, efficiency and productivity among the workers; initiated and relocated the Post Primary Schools Management Board, PPSMB, from the temporal secretariat to a befitting permanent site at Independence Layout, Enugu. The relocation, according to the governor, was “another demonstration of his administration’s resolve to provide quality education for the people of the state”. Worried by the ugly experience that post-primary school teachers in the state have not been promoted since 2013 as most of them approach retirement, the administration approved the release of the 2013 promotion arrears for the affected teachers with financial effect. The approval released stated that  the 2014 promotion arrears would be released with financial effect from September 2017 while that of 2015 will be from December 2017. In keeping with its promise to revamp and re-position  state-owned tertiary institutions,  the Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu was upgraded to a degree awarding institution through the amendment of the extant laws of the Institute.

    His administration, in spite of the daunting economic recession in the country, released N100 million to the institution to enable it meet the accreditation needs of its courses. The government was and is still assisting heavily in the provision of infrastructure, renovation of dilapidated buildings/ facilities and other logistics needed to improve the quality of learning in the institute.

The government has also extended same to other state’s tertiary institutions, such as the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo and the Enugu State College of Education (Technical), through various interventions aimed at re-positioning and revamping them to be able to award certificates. In this regard, the administration has put in place, machinery to ensure that the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo scales through the accreditation of its new courses by the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, to be formally listed as a polytechnic. It has also provided necessary funds to enable the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) scale its accreditation hurdles and be in a position to issue certificates which it had not been able to do for nine years because of non-accreditation. The state government had approved the upgrade of the Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Enugu to a University of Education status to specialize in training of teachers in sciences, technology, vocational subjects, arts and social sciences. The government also approved the sum of N200 million for relocation of the institution to Ihe in Awgu Local Government Area to provide enough space for expansion and open up the council area for socio-economic development.

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A History of Election Violence 
Between independence in 1960 and 1999, Nigeria produced only two elected governments - both later overthrown in military coups. Nigeria's military ruled the country for nearly 30 of its first 40 years of independence. However, in 1999, Nigeria made a transition to civilian rule. The 1999 elections, which brought a retired general, Olusegun Obasanjo, to power, were blighted by such widespread fraud that observers from the Carter Center concluded that "it is not possible for us to make an accurate judgment about the outcome of the presidential election."

Federal and state elections in 2003 were again marred by fraud as well as serious incidents of violence that left at least 100 people dead and many others injured. Human Rights Watch found that members and supporters of the ruling party were responsible for the majority of abuses, though opposition parties also engaged in political violence. Most deaths occurred when opposing bands of armed gangs fought each other in an effort to control an area and displace supporters of the opposing party. Human Rights Watch documented how ruling party politicians in the oil-rich Niger Delta mobilized and funded armed groups to help rig elections. That led to a sustained increase in violence and criminality in the region.

Despite the abysmal record of the 1999 and 2003 elections, the government did not correct the problems in the next elections. Observers from the European Union described the 2007 elections, which brought Umaru Yar'Adua, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, to power, as among the worst they had witnessed anywhere in the world. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 300 people were killed in violence linked to the 2007 elections.

Corrupt politicians, in many cases backed by mafia-like "godfathers," openly mobilized gangs of thugs to terrorize ordinary citizens and political opponents and to stuff or steal ballot boxes. The police were often present during such incidents but frequently turned a blind eye or, at times, participated in abuses. In other locations elections simply did not take place, yet the electoral commission reported ruling-party victories with high voter turnout.

Following Yar'Adua's death in May 2010 from natural causes, Goodluck Jonathan, his vice president, was sworn in as president. An internal zoning agreement within the ruling People's Democratic Party provides that a northerner should have held the presidency following the eight-year administration of Obasanjo, a Christian from southwest Nigeria.

Despite opposition by some of the northern leaders, Jonathan managed to secure the ruling party's ticket in the party primary in January 2011 and went on to sweep the predominately Christian south during the April elections. His main opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change, won the majority of votes in the largely Muslim north. The election left the country deeply divided on religious and ethnic lines.

A New Cycle of Violence
The day after the presidential election, held on April 16, Buhari's supporters launched demonstrations in the streets of northern Nigeria. The protests turned violent in 12 northern states as mobs burned the homes, vehicles, and properties of ruling party stalwarts, most of whom were Muslim, and traditional leaders who were seen to have backed the ruling party.

The rioters also began targeting and killing Christians and members of southern Nigerian ethnic groups, who were seen as supporting the ruling party, and burning churches across the north. As the riots spread, mobs of Christians in predominately Christian communities in Kaduna State retaliated by killing Muslims and burning their mosques and properties.

In Bauchi State, rioters targeted members of the National Youth Corps Service, who served as ad-hoc election staff. According to media reports and journalists interviewed by Human Rights Watch, on the afternoon of April 17 in Giade, a rural town in northern Bauchi State, rioters attacked the youth corps members in the town. The youth corps members, who were from southern Nigeria, ran to the local police station to seek refuge, but the rioters stormed the police station. The mob killed the police officer on duty and burned down the police station, the journalists said. They raped two of the female youth corps members then hacked them to death with machetes, along with five male youth corps members. In total, rioters killed ten youth corps members in the state.

Kaduna State, which is divided along religious and ethnic lines, suffered the highest death toll during the three days of rioting. The Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, most of whom are Muslim, make up the majority in northern Kaduna State, while southern Kaduna State is dominated by predominately Christian ethnic groups. In the city of Kaduna, the state capital, the river that intersects the city serves as a symbolic divider for the largely segregated city, state, and nation.

Kaduna State has a history of violent inter-communal clashes but peace that had lasted since the last major outbreak of violence in 2002 was broken by the post-presidential election violence. It soon spread to sectarian bloodletting around the state. The following are some of the incidents of post-election violence recorded in Kaduna State:

  • A lecturer at the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, a college on the outskirts of the city of Zaria, described to Human Rights Watch how a mob of youth chanting pro-Buhari slogans cornered four Christian students and a Christian lecturer in the staff quarters of the campus and beat them to death with sticks, clubs, and machetes on April 17.
  • In the city of Kaduna, Christians and Muslims who found themselves on the wrong side of the river during the riots were bludgeoned to death by marauding mobs. Churches and mosques were torched in the city. Civil society leaders said that Christian travelers were dragged out of their vehicles by mobs of Muslims and killed on the main road leading north of the city. Mobs of Christians also torched vehicles on the expressway leading through the city's southern neighborhoods, killing Muslim motorists.
  • A Human Rights Watch researcher visited the town of Maraba Rido on the outskirts of the city of Kaduna. Dozens of houses and shops were razed to the ground, and the main mosque was torched, with anti-Islamic graffiti and the inscription "Jesus is Lord" inscribed on the burned-out walls of the mosque. According to one of the Muslim leaders, 28 Muslims were killed, while hundreds of others fled the area and as a result were unable to vote in the gubernatorial elections.
  • A Human Rights Watch researcher returned to a polling place near the burned-out homes and mosque in Maraba Rido for the April 28 gubernatorial elections, after the violence. The posted results showed the ruling party candidate for governor, a Christian, received 441 votes, while the Muslim candidate for Buhari's Congress for Progressive Change failed to register a single vote. Similarly skewed results were found by a Human Rights Watch researcher in the town of Zonkwa where many Muslims were killed or fled.
  • Men from the predominately-Christian Bajju ethnic group in the town of Zonkwa burned six of the town's mosques, as well as the homes, shops, and vehicles of Muslim residents. Witnesses said that violence began late in the afternoon of April 18 and continued throughout the night. By mid-morning on the following day, the Bajju men had killed or displaced nearly all of the town's Hausa-Fulani residents. One of the district heads acknowledged to Human Rights Watch: "The boys here made it total. They would not relent."
  • According to one of the Muslim leaders in Zonkwa who participated in the burial of the victims, and showed Human Rights Watch photo documentation of the mass burial of corpses, 311 Muslims, nearly all of them men, were buried in a mass grave in Zonkwa later that week, while the remains of 24 others, many of their corpses charred beyond recognition, were buried in one of the town's wells. Christian leaders in Zonkwa told Human Rights Watch that 10 Christians had also been killed in the town and surrounding communities. No churches were destroyed.
  • In the neighboring town of Kafanchan, clashes between Muslim and Christian youth continued unabated throughout the night of April 18. Christian and Muslims leaders told Human Rights Watch that by the next morning at least 20 Christians and 34 Muslims had been killed. The mobs torched hundreds of homes, shops, and vehicles, and razed to the ground the central market. Twenty-six mosques and four churches were burned or destroyed. One of the leaders from the Igbo ethnic group, the vast majority Christians from southeastern Nigeria, told Human Rights Watch that 11 Igbo residents were killed in Kafanchan, while 224 of their houses and 837 shops, many of them in the central market, were burned.

Failure to Break the Cycle of Violence
More than 15,700 people have been killed in inter-communal, political, and sectarian violence since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999. In Kaduna State, at least 2,000 people were killed in sectarian clashes in 2000 sparked by Christian protests against the proposed introduction of Sharia law in the state. Two years later, sectarian violence sparked by Muslim protests linked to the Miss World beauty contest left some 250 people dead.

The human cost of such violence has been particularly high in neighboring Plateau State, where Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 3,800 people have been killed in inter-communal and sectarian clashes since 2001, at least 1,000 of them in 2010 alone.

Human Rights Watch has found that state and local government policies that discriminate against members of ethnic groups classified as "non-indigenes" - those who cannot trace their ancestry to what are said to be the original inhabitants of an area - have exacerbated existing inter-communal tensions in Nigeria. These discriminatory government policies have effectively relegated millions of residents to permanent second-class status.

Despite repeated outbreaks of inter-communal violence, federal and state government authorities, under the ruling party's control since 1999, have done little to address the root causes of the violence. The Nigerian authorities have failed to break the cycle of killings by holding accountable those responsible.

In southern Kaduna State, a civil servant told Human Rights Watch that he recognized some of the individuals who he saw kill his neighbors. But when he went to the police to file a report, the senior police officer at the station told him that "if the police started arresting people now, it would cause more problems." Instead the police advised the man to wait until a commission of inquiry is set up to investigate the violence.

Over the years, the federal and state governments have set up various committees and commissions of inquiry to investigate outbreaks of violence, but the reports from these bodies, and the occasional government white paper, have mostly been shelved. In the absence of accountability and effective redress, communities that have suffered violence frequently resort to vigilante justice and exact revenge by inflicting commensurate harm on members of other communities.

"Panels of inquiry have become a tunnel through which the government runs away from their responsibility to bring the culprits of violence to book," said Innocent Chukwuma, executive director of CLEEN Foundation, a civil society group that works on justice sector reform. "Going to these panels buys the government time and when the problem drops from the headlines they go back to business as usual."

Witness Accounts 
A lecturer at the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, a college on the outskirts of the city of Zaria in northern Kaduna State, described to Human Rights Watch how a mob of Muslim youth attacked and killed four Christian students and a Christian lecturer on April 17:

Between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. they entered the school chanting slogans and shouting: "Where are the Christians that supported the ruling party?" When you see the mob, they were not in their senses. They had painted their faces black and were shouting that they needed "change" [the Congress for Progressive Change campaign slogan]. The mob had all sorts of weapons - machetes, sticks, and clubs. They started breaking the glass [windows] on the buildings. The students ran away but the mob pursued them into the staff quarters and they had nowhere to go. The mob beat them to death and hit them with machetes. Four Christian students and a Christian lecturer were killed. The lecturer was Yoruba. Three of the students and the lecturer died on the spot; the other student died at St. Luke's Anglican Hospital. About 200 students - both Christians and Muslims - were injured; eight students are still in the hospital. I helped take the dead and injured to the hospital. The mobs also burned four of the staff houses. They said the lecturers had given money to the ruling party.

Between 12 and 1 p.m. the military arrived and started shooting in the air and the mob scattered. They arrested one person. The military gathered the students to the main football field and kept guard. There were several thousand students. They all slept that night on the football field.

In the small town of Matsirga in southern Kaduna State, Muslim leaders told Human Rights Watch that 39 Muslims were killed. A middle-aged man who lives in the town described to Human Rights Watch what he saw on the night of April 18:

Around 8 p.m. after Isha'a prayers we were sitting around our mosque eating with our neighbors. One of my sons told me that people had made a roadblock on the road entering our town. I called one of the Bajju [ethnic group] leaders [name withheld] and he told me this trouble is from Kaduna and he can't do anything. He said I should pack my family and go hide. But they had blocked the road so we couldn't leave. I stood by the gate with my family. Around 10 p.m. I was told that the Bajju youth had set fire to one of the houses. I saw the fire in the distance. Some time past 10 p.m., a group of Bajju youth came and set fire to my neighbor's house. They were large in number. Some had sticks, machetes, and catapults. I recognized one of them. I called out to him, "What is going on?" He said, "Today you will face the music." Another Bajju youth had a double barrel gun. My neighbor Yahaya pleaded with him saying, "Why are you doing this?" But he shot Yahaya at close range. He was gasping for breath and died. I ran to my house and told my family to run. I climbed a mango tree by my house. I saw the Bajju come and set fire to my house. I saw them burn my house, my car, my neighbor's house, and the neighborhood mosque.

Around 3 a.m., after all the houses were burned, I climbed down from the tree and crawled on the ground until our burial ground. I then ran to the river about two kilometers away. I hid in the water for about an hour. When it started getting light, I crawled out of the river and climbed a nearby mountain and hid. I saw the Bajju people looking for us. I saw them kill three people by the river with machetes and an axe. I could see them but they couldn't see me....

I later went back to my house with the police and army. One of my sons was killed, but my wives and other children survived. One of his [my son's] friends told me he saw the Bajju youth cutting him with machetes. They didn't kill women; they only killed men and boys. Some of the corpses we saw were burned. We couldn't identify them. Everything was burned to ashes, all of my documents, everything was burned to ashes. We have no other place than here. I was born in Matsirga.

Human Rights Watch interviewed two witnesses who described how a police officer shot and killed Suliman Adamu inside a house in the Tudun Wada neighborhood of Kaduna city on the morning of April 18. A construction worker described what he saw:

Around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night [April 17], the day after the elections, people started burning tires [in the streets]. The police came and started shooting and we ran away. On Monday morning, around 8:30 to 9 a.m., some people started coming out and burning tires again. The police returned and pursued one of the people into Suli's [Suliman's] compound. Two policemen entered the compound. One was in mufti [civilian dress], he had a red Manchester jersey, and was wearing a helmet. The other police officer was wearing a black police uniform with a helmet. I saw one shoot his gun through the window. I heard Suliman yell. The policeman then shot again through the door. I heard the other policeman ask him why he shot him inside his house. He answered, "If I shoot him, I can't miss; I can't waste my ammunition for nothing." The policemen then left. Before we could take him to the hospital he was dead.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari must think history is threatening to repeat itself as he watches his main challenger in February elections, Atiku Abubakar, do what he did three years ago: build a broad alliance to win power in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Buhari, 75, rode atop a wide coalition to become the first opposition candidate to win a general election in the continent’s most populous nation. While Buhari tapped into a yearning to end years of corruption, Abubakar, 71, is capitalizing on the angst of the elite. He’s portraying himself as the friend of investors and ethnic minorities in his bid to oust the ruling All Progressives Congress.

“What is happening is that the elite now think there’s an option,” said Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer of Financial Derivatives Co., a risk advisory group based in the commercial hub of Lagos. “Before it was almost a certainty it was going to be a slam dunk for APC. With Atiku, they now have a fighting chance.”

When Abubakar last week reconciled with his ex-boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he took along influential Muslim and Christian clerics. It was a deft move in a country almost evenly split between a predominantly Christian south and a mainly Muslim north and racked by periodic outbursts of sectarian violence that critics say Buhari has managed poorly.

Political Establishment

Added to previous endorsements by most of the country’s ex-military elite, consultations with influential pressure groups in the north, southwest and the oil-rich Niger River delta, Abubakar appears to be having some success at cementing the backing of the political establishment.

“The implicit support of important religious leaders from across faiths is likely to give Atiku’s emerging campaign a further boost in a country where religious leaders wield mass influence,” Malte Liewerscheidt, London-based vice president of Teneo Intelligence, said in an emailed note on Monday.

The importance wasn’t lost on Buhari, who admonished religious leaders in a speech two days after the meeting about the perils of meddling in politics.

“Religious leaders should not be seen to involve themselves in partisan politics or political controversies,” he said. “Otherwise, they risk losing their status and public respect.”

Muhammadu Buhari

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg

There are ominous signs for Buhari. Despite strong support in the north, he failed in three attempts to be elected president until 2015, when he formed an alliance with key segments of the political elite and defectors from the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

Many of those allies, including Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal, have deserted him. So have former army rulers such as Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, who toppled Buhari’s military administration in 1983.

While Buhari promised in the last campaign to calm Nigeria’s various security challenges, including the war against Islamist militants in the northeast, the violence continues. The president’s popularity has waned in the central region he won in 2015 over widespread perception he’s not done enough to end the grazing conflict that has devastated the area. Investors also blame Buhari for worsening a recession that resulted from an oil-price drop two years before he took office and deterring investment by imposing capital controls.

Anti-Corruption War

Buhari is still touting his anti-corruption war that critics say is mainly targeting his opponents. He signed an executive order on Oct. 13 that bars about 50 people, said to be facing graft investigations, from leaving the country.

He’s also expected to continue to question whether Abubakar, considered one of the richest people on Nigeria’s political scene, acquired his wealth legitimately. A former top customs official, he later became a major shareholder in Intels Nigeria Ltd., an oil-service company.

While the momentum may now appear to be in favor of the opposition, victory is far from certain, according to analysts including Liewerscheidt and Rewane.

Abubakar’s choice of running mate, Peter Obi, a former state governor with a good track record, may help lock down votes in the southeast, where the majority Igbo people have complained about a lack of national representation since their leaders tried to secede from Nigeria in the Biafra civil war in the 1960s.

But the choice of Obi also carries the risk of tilting votes in the ethnically Yoruba-dominated southwest, a key swing region where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo comes from, firmly in favor of the Buhari.

“This election is going to boil down to who wins the southwest,” Rewane said. “It’s true that Atiku’s campaign experience gives the PDP a chance. But then the APC is not going to fold its hands and lie down.”

— With assistance by Yinka Ibukun


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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has officially endorsed former vice President Atiku Abubakar to run for the Presidency of Nigeria come 2019.

Obasanjo disclosed this while briefing newsmen after a meeting with Atiku, leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and others key stakeholders in his country home in Abeokuta.

Obasanjo said that he was giving his blessings to Atiku because he (Atiku) had ‘re-discovered and re-positioned himself’and as such had earned his (Obasanjo’s) forgiveness.

He said that Atiku had re positioned himself enough to now enjoy his support in the next election, adding that Atiku is the “the next President of Nigeria”.

Read full text below:

“Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, for his success at the recent PDP Primary and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.

“Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo.  In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku.

“And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself.  As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the Party, the Government and the country.

“I took the stand I had taken based on the character and attributes you exhibited in the position you found yourself.

“I strongly believe that I was right. It was in the overall interest of everyone and everything to take such a position.

“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.

“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you.

“Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party.

“That’s why today, you are the Presidential Candidate of the Party.  In addition to appreciating all that the Party has done for you, may I advise you to work together with all those who contested for the Party’s flag with you as a team for your campaign.

“There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends.  You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition.  But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared.  And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.

“I am sure with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate – all at the national level.

“With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secure their forgiveness and regain their confidence. It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion. After all, change and conversion are of man. I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.

“For me, relatively and of all the aspirants in the PDP, you have the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the tough and likely dirty campaign ahead through. From what I personally know of you, you have capacity to perform better than the incumbent. You surely understand the economy better; you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.

“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs.  You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways.  As Pastor Bakare, one-time running mate of the incumbent President said, “You are a wazobia man and that should help you in confronting the confront-able and shunning nepotism".

“As you know, along the road to where you are today, many leaders and ordinary people cooperated and overtly and covertly worked hard.  On your behalf, I thank them all.  May their coast continue to be expanded.  And when you become Nigerian President which, insha-Allah, you will be, remember what we did together in government – we ran an administration by Nigerians for all Nigerians where merit and performance count more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin.  Although some time and ground have been lost, you should endeavor to start from where we stopped and recover some lost ground, if not time.

“Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency.  The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended. I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding ALL the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.

“Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years. They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.

“The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure.  Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.

“All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible.

“Once again, congratulations and I wish you well.  My distinguished brothers and leaders of goodwill, thank you for making this happen.  I will now count on you to encourage all hands to be on the deck to take Nigeria to the level God has created it to be – autopilot level.”


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OBIARUKU – STALWART of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State, Mr. Chidi Nwabuofu, Wednesday, said the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the 2019 general election was not a threat to the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He however, urged the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole to call on all aggrieved parties and stakeholders to a negotiation table to “forestall the negative consequences arising from the just concluded primaries, before the 2019 general elections. Nwabuofu, in a statement, said "Atiku cannot contend with the overwhelming support that Nigerians have pledged for our President, Muhammad Buhari. Perhaps when the scales fall off the eyes of our detractors, they will realize the futility of their struggles.”

The statement further noted that “The divisive reflexes that struck our great party, APC, before and in the aftermath of the recent primaries is a development that must be arrested in good time. As a progressive party we need to set standards for other political parties to emulate in our attempt to write off the bad legacies of PDP. This is so for Nigerians to consider the APC as its viable choice. That of course will be negated if the different tendencies are allowed to fester. We need to eschew personal interests, greed, and unite in the party because service in itself is sacrificial and not a do or die affair". “However, in doing this I strongly recommend that those who purchased the party’s expensive forms and were not successful in the primaries across the nation should be compensated. This I believe, might help mitigate the grievances that the process entrenched. I’m confident in the capacity of our National Chairman to be able to weather the storms from across the states.”

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The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, yesterday held a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Abeokuta private residence.