One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity…

Rather than the greetings of happy New Year, the people of Tomatar, Umenge, and Akor villages in Guma, Ayilamo, Turan Ngambe-Tiev in Logo local government area of Benue were greeted with cries of agony, pain and loss.

From Numan to Barkin-Ladi and Riyom, from southern Kaduna to Awe and Doma in Nasarawa and then to Agatu, Logo and Guma in Benue, all the way through to Odukpani and then to Arochukwu, this group of malicious and murderous herdsmen have been acting out a genocide with complete contempt for human lives.

So much loss! Children have become orphans, women have become widows, mothers and fathers have become childless.

We have watched as the journey from the sanctuary of our homes to our place of productivity, be it farms or shops, have become treacherous routes and our places of safety have become our graves.

The lethal act of these herdsmen goes as far back as 2012 in Yogbo, Guma local government area, where no fewer than 30 women and children were killed. We also saw the 2016 killing of almost 2000 people in Aguta.

The herdsmen related death toll in Benue has grown to almost 3000 and no group has been brought to justice.

During the campaign, yourself and your running mate at the time visited Benue, and even identified with its people by dressing up in their local attire as you all fought for votes. But, the fact that the president or vice president did not deem it fit to attend the mass burial of 73 of its citizens, or even send a representative remains a mystery to me. That the people you swore to serve and protect are now placed second to the commerce of cattle rearing. Now a 4 hour drive from the capital has suddenly become a 3 week journey.

We have watched in complete stupor as the team of doctors and specialists, including the Hon. Minister of Health who was appointed to administer the health of over 180 million Nigerians, the Chief Medical Director of National Hospital, Abuja, and his team, among other experts, dropped all to attend to the ‘sacred cow’ who was in a coma after a motor bike accident. The same government, however, was too busy to send a delegation to mourn with the wailing wailers when they buried their loved ones. Or in the least, send medical help to the injured and dying in Benue.

Genocide is playing before our very eyes. These people are creeping into our communities and taking over, they are settling in communities that once belonged to the people of Benue. Cows are now roaming freely in places where children used to play.

Hatred, rage, anger, bitterness, vengefulness and other dangerous emotions are been sown and carelessly thrown around. They are fanned by malicious elements in the society and the government has failed to pay attention. This government has allowed all this negative feelings take root in an already agitated populace. A wise man said, “you sow the wind, you reap a whirlwind.”

The last line in the second stanza of the National Anthem could not express my opinion better; it speaks of “One Nation, bound in FREEDOM, PEACE AND UNITY”.

We can only be considered as one nation if we are bound by the tents of freedom, when everyone from all parts of the nation know they are free, then we will have peace and that peace will guaranty unity.

The interesting thing about unity is that, unity is one of those things that can never be forced. Like the young man who tells his father, “I may be sitting physically, but I am standing in my mind.” You cannot enforce unity. The people must choose unity.

How can you expect unity in a nation where agitators are arrested and harassed but the perceived injustice that caused the agitation is not addressed?

How can you expect unity in a nation where internationally recognized terrorists and murderers are protected by the government that was voted in by the victims?

How can you, Mr. President, expect unity in a country where murderers roam free and the victims who raise lamentations about their victimization are harassed by those sworn to protect them?

Mr. President, this is unacceptable. You are the president today because the North, South, East and West chose you. At your inauguration, you said, “I BELONG TO NOBODY.” We believed you. Your actions however, do not align with those declarations. Starting with your lopsided appointments to the military actions of your generals in the South-East and other parts of the country.

As the nation stands at the precipice of great division, suspicion, fear and accusations and counter-accusations, you are the umpire of this technical march. Your action or inaction will set you apart as the president who brought unity and kept us together proving your accusers wrong or forever shove you down in history as the Nigerian president that caused the greatest division in our country.

Whatever your decision Sir, history will remember!

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Minister of Info appeals against comments that could jeopardize release of remaining Chibok girls

rescued chibok girls

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has appealed to commentators and analysts to refrain from making statements that could jeopardize the release of the Chibok girls who are still in captivity.

The minister made the appeal on Sunday in Abuja at a special thanksgiving church service and reunion for the 21 girls and their families.

‘There are many reckless analysts and commentators who are not helping the situation. We still have many of our children in captivity. Therefore we have to be careful with the kind of comments that we make. We must not make comments that will make the release of these girls difficult or impossible,’ he said.

Mohammed, who quoted from the Scriptures, ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them,’ said those who doubted the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to the safe release and the reunion of the abducted Chibok girls with their parents were disappointed.

‘When the President said that the Boko Haram saga will not be closed until all the girls abducted have been released and reunited with their families safely, those who doubted did not believe us so we thank God this day has come,’ he said.

He appealed to the parents of the girls who are yet to be freed to continue to exercise patience, saying, ‘This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that very soon another batch bigger than this will be released. I want to assure you that these negotiations are ongoing even as we speak.’

The chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Chibok School Girls Yakubu Nkeki re-echoed the minister’s plea by appealing to the people to stop spreading rumours, particularly on the social media, that will put the lives of the girls at risk.

He debunked some reports alleging that 18 of the 21 free girls are pregnant even as he denied that the girls were radicalized by Boko Haram.

Mr. Nkeki thanked President Buhari for summoning the courage and the political will that eventually led to the release of the abducted girls.

In her testimony, the spokesperson of the released girls, Miss Gloria Dame, who recalled their ordeal in captivity, thanked God and all those who made their safe release and reunion with their families possible.

Miss Dame, who spoke in Hausa, prayed that God will ensure the safe release of the other girls still in captivity.

‘We never thought we will ever see this moment but God has made it possible for us. I want to appeal to all of us to fast and pray for the safe release of those left behind,’ she said.

Dr. Shiktra Kwali, who delivered the sermon at the thanksgiving service, told the girls that as they start a new life in freedom, they should not allow the experience of the past to weigh them down, and urged them to remain steadfast in serving the Lord, who has not forsaken them even in captivity.

Several ministers of God, including the President of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) Reverend Joel Bilili, offered prayers for the girls.

The high-point of the occasion was the reunion between the parents and their daughters. Tears flowed freely as parents took turns to identify their daughters, while one woman simply carried her daughter on her back in happiness.

The ceremony ended with an identification parade, as each of the freed girls identified her parents who in turn made brief comments, with many of them praising President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring the safe release of the girls.

Security: US issues travel advisory to its citizens in Nigeria

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The United States Embassy in Abuja has released a security message advising its citizens to avoid travelling to Borno State and elsewhere in the northeast of Nigeria.

The security alert is in light of extremist incidents, including armed attacks on a humanitarian convoy travelling from Bama to Maiduguri on July 29 and a suicide bombing in Maiduguri on October 12.

The embassy reminded its citizens of the serious threat of violence and kidnapping in the northeast, particularly Borno State, and also urged its citizens to avoid travel to Borno, Adamawa, north of the Benue River, and Yobe states.

‘Review your personal security plans, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal safety, remain aware of your surroundings, monitor local news for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance,’ the statement added.

Similarly, the African Union (AU) has distanced itself from a travel advisory circulating on social media and online publications.

The union said it has not sent out any travel advisories to any country or territory in the world.

The Newsghost recalls that early in October, a purported travel advisory urging Africans to avoid travelling to the US due to increasing rate of black related killings was circulated on the social media and online publications.

Local IT experts warn Nigerian government, do not outsource Nigeria’s national security to foreigners

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Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) has raised a warning that Nigerian government should not outsource Nigeria’s national security to foreigners.

Recent reports say, the president of the society Prof Sola Adorounmu said that Nigeria would ‘continue to remain in the digital colony of other countries of the world unless her national security is protected and managed by the indigenous IT professionals in the country.’

He also said that NCS and its members ‘can play a major role in improving the state of security nationwide, combating terrorism, enhancing public service delivery and accountability and boosting job creation.’

Adorounmu also hinted that the discussions at the 2016 NCS national conference holding in Abuja in a few weeks would focus on advancing national safety and security, innovation, inclusion and networking security.

Adorounmu strongly condemned the engagement of foreigners in handling Nigeria’s national security.

Jide Awe, Innovation and Development Advisor, ICT and Chairman, Conferences Committee of NCS, according to reports also said:

‘It is against the very concept of our own national security to outsource national security. With our national security in their hands, they could exploit the situation to favour their companies, industries and global aspirations while at the same time undermining Nigeria and keeping us at a disadvantage.

‘Nations always compete actively and aggressively for strategic and global advantage. So another country will always prioritize their own interests over our own national interests.

‘It is risky to assume external interests will care more about your local concerns who have a more direct stake in Nigeria. Forward looking nations always ensure that there is significant local content in national security.’

Awe also said that, ‘There is also a growing global market in IT enabled security and it isn’t in Nigeria’s interest to be on consuming end. Building local capacity in security can enable tap into the global opportunities as well.’