Ex-governors fail as successors struggle with law and order
By 9th August, this year, it would have been 730 days since the South-east region began to observe the weekly sit-at-home exercise as declared by proponents of separatist state of Biafra, to press for the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Of the 730 days, every Monday, beginning from August 9, 2021 had been observed as sit-at-home in the region, thus grounding economic activities in the region and causing the region an estimated loss of N7.6 trillion in productivity, potential investments as well as loss of lives and properties.
Since the commencement of the exercise in 2021 and this year, 105 Mondays of the 520 working days have been lost in terms of productivity or any real economic activity. This leaves the South-east region with 415 days in which her people are expected to go to work. Of the remaining 415 days, public holidays declared by the government further deplete the available productivity period in the region.
Investigation by The Guardian showed that since the Monday sit-at-home started, productivity has seriously dwindled in the region; jobs are threatened; there is loss of confidence by investors; insecurity has increased; and there is a near collapse in the infrastructure of the region with the attendant spike in social vices.
Despite assurances from the newly-inaugurated governors, the people have remained adamant and stayed indoors to avoid becoming victims of the lawless group enforcing the sit-at-home order.
An investigation sponsored by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) published in May this year on the economy of the region as a result of sit-at-home revealed a whopping N5.375 trillion loss by businesses between August 9, 2021 to December 19, 2022.
But an Economic and Financial Expert, Dr Chiwuike Uba, stated that southeast had lost “approximately N7.646 trillion between August 2021 and July 2023 having lost 101 days within the period”.
He stated that it was incontrovertible that the economy of the southeast is bleeding from the compulsory Monday sit at home.
“It is important to note that the amount may be higher when all the direct and indirect costs of the sit-at-home are included in the basket. The current figure represents mainly the losses of microenterprises in the region. The social and economic costs of deaths, destruction of properties and other costs are not included in the total economic loss to the region”, he stated.
Checks with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), revealed that the southeast region remains the region with the least revenue profile.
The Bureau’s data on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of various state governments in the country for first quarter of 2021 indicated that southeast region generated about N53 billion in the following order; Abia N7.550b; Anambra N12.773b; Enugu N14.140b; Ebonyi N7.753b and Imo N9.991b. This was a few days before the commencement of the Monday sit-at-home in the zone.
A further check indicated that none of the states in the zone met with their revenue targets in the preceding year. A review by Dataphyte, a media, research and data analytics organization about the projected IGR of states in the first quarter of 2023 indicated that aside from Anambra state that achieved 27 per cent of its projected revenue, other states in the region, including Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states generated below 15 per cent of their projected internal revenue.
Anambra state governor, Prof Charles Soludo had during his swearing in on March 17, 2022 stated that every day that there was sit-at-home, the poor masses of the state lose as much as an estimated N19.6billion.
He had listed those in this category as artisans, Keke drivers, vulcanizers, hairdressers, cart pushers, petty traders, bricklayers, women frying akara and all who depend upon daily toil and sweat to feed their families.
Soludo who added that a significant part of the Anambra economy was powered by artisans, further lamented that, “due to the protracted law and order, businesses are relocating outside Igboland, with growing unemployment, and traders who used to come to shop in Onitsha, Aba etc are going elsewhere”.
He had added that by forcing the children who are the future of Igboland to stay at home when they should be in school and the sick people including pregnant women who should be in hospital not to go, harms the future of Igboland.
Only recently, the Governor of Enugu state, Peter Mbah had banned sit-at-home in the state effective June 5, this year.
He had revealed that the ban was necessary following the realization that the state was losing N10 billion every Monday that people observed sit-at-home in the state, stressing that the trend was endangering the $30 billion GDP projection of his administration.
“For us to transit from a public service economy to a private sector-driven one, we must free our markets from the shackles of restriction to commerce”, he had told the people of the state.
On Monday, July 17, more than one month after his order, Mbah however, decided to move around the state to monitor the rate of compliance to his directive. Moving around, he discovered to his chagrin that some markets, businesses, and institutions had continued to remain under lock and key as residents still sat at home.
Perturbed by the development, Mbah threatened to revoke licenses of businesses that fail to open on Monday, July 24 in the state.
“There are consequences for not heeding our orders. Going forward, I want to put you on notice. I will go around the state again on Monday (July 24). We are going to come with the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority to put a seal on any shop that is found locked on Monday because of the illegal sit-at-home. We will take it that you are not ready to do business.
“We are going to revoke your license to operate. We will revoke your shop title and reallocate it to someone else, who is ready to do business. This is something we must enforce with effect from Monday next week”, he forewarned.
He had insisted that: “It should never be heard that we were cowed because of the threat of violence by these criminals”. He added “the poverty that will befall us for sitting at home will kill us even faster.
“We are losing over N10bn every Monday that we sit at home. Enough is enough. This foolishness must end and it must end now. We cannot marginalise ourselves and still complain of marginalisation.
“So, we must say no to sit-at-home because what it means is that we are destroying our employment, our economy, and our GDP. We must erase it from our memories. We should see it as our shameful past, which we do not want to remember. We must put it behind us and forge ahead, ensuring that we work every working day of the week”, he urged Enugu people.
Acting Director General of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr Uche Mba, had however, stated that beyond the estimated figure, “confirmed report from selected hotels in the region show that they lose over 80 percent of their bookings on any sit at home day”, adding that, “we are aware that schools manage to rush through their calendar”.
Lamenting the development further, he added: “Small traders that depend on their daily sales to earn a living most times end up borrowing to eat on sit-at-home days. The government’s internally generated revenue is adversely affected as the government cannot get funds from motor parks, markets, tricycle riders, miners to pay daily taxes/levies to the government.
“The implications of the sit-at-home in the southeast are a loss of both foreign and local investments/businesses. Take for instance; business persons in Onitsha are now moving their businesses to Asaba which is just a few minutes away from Onitsha. It might be difficult to get those businesses back to Onitsha again, let alone southeast. This by implication has led to increased levels of unemployment in the zone which can lead to increase in crime rate”.
President, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (ONNICMA), Mr Stanley Anyafudu told The Guardian that “millions are lost each Monday there is sit-at-home”, stressing that the Chamber was daily losing members to neighbouring states.
“I cannot easily put a figure to what we lose on Mondays but you can always know about that when you come to Onitsha on a normal day and see the volume of business going on in the city.
“I can tell you that the loss of revenue is affecting even the various governments in the region in their plans. You can only notice this by the level of development going on in the states. A situation where no state can talk about any capital project any longer is disturbing; a situation where there are no more investments in the states is something that should worry any right-thinking fellow. I want to tell you that the way it is, unless something drastic is done, you could wake up one day and discover that there is nothing like the southeast region any longer.
“We are fast losing everything. As a Chamber of Commerce, the kind of investments leaving Onitsha is not the type that we can recover easily. These people move to areas like Asaba, Cross River and even Rivers because there is a stable environment. One thing that has happened since we started talking about sit-at-home is the fact that we have succeeded in breeding insecurity.
“Our young men and women hide under the guide of Biafra to unleash terror, kill among all manner of things that could make life unbearable. We have attained a level where they now waylay people in their homes and dispossess them. There are no jobs to fall back on by the youths graduating from the higher institutions and life is becoming increasingly difficult. So, they are on the street looking for guns to rob and kidnap targets.
“I think the point has been made even by the court for the release of the leader of the IPOB, Kanu. But we cannot continue to keep our zone unsafe because the federal government is not listening. We are beginning to lose everything we are known for. The farmlands are not safe so we cannot even plan on how to use the farm produce to feed our people. So it is not a good story and we should retrace our steps”, he stated.
Last month, the Senator representing Anambra South, Ifeanyi Ubah moved to end the Monday sit-at-home when he addressed over 2000 Vigilante operatives from four quarters of Nnewi comprising Otolo,Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewi-Ichi.
Ubah who had armed the Vigilante with security gadgets he procured, urged them to move into action to protect the people and their businesses to enable them move out and do their businesses freely on Mondays.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Jerry Nwankwo, told The Guardian that overcoming the insecurity posed by the incessant sit-at-home in the zone required the collective effort of all and sundry.
Politicians Frustrating Nigerians, Another Protest Worse Than Endsars Looms — Aisha Yesufu
Popular socio-political activist, Aisha Yesufu, has said corrupt politicians in Nigeria are frustrating the masses, which can lead to another nationwide protest.
Yesufu said the anger burning in the hearts of Nigerians may sponsor another protest hotter than the one experienced in 2020 tagged ‘EndSARS’.
In 2020, Nigerians staged demonstrations across the nation to call for the end of the police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, notorious for brutalising youths.
The protest, which started on Twitter (now X), resulted in mass demonstrations occurring in all major cities of the country and accompanied by violence.
It led to the death of many young Nigerians, especially after military personnel shot at peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.
Yesufu, the co-convener of the BringBackOur Girls, who was one of the activists at the centre of the protest, said Nigerians might just be caught unaware in another demonstration.
She made this known via X account, writing: “Nobody saw the #EndSARS protest coming. Nobody will see the next uprising coming.
“Sadly, it might end up being violent. There is simmering anger fuelled by the impunity and brazenness of the corrupt politicians and rulers, who have rigged their way into power. Nobody will be spared.”
Decision Day In Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi: INEC Affirms Readiness, DHQ Uncovers Plot To Cause Mayhem
• There will be injurious consequences, DHQ warns unknown gunmen
• ICPC deploys operatives to prevent vote-buying
• Police read riot act, warn perpetrators of violence, sponsors
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said there are intelligence reports of plans by desperate politicians to cause violence with hoodlums wearing military uniform.
Responding to questions from newsmen at the bi-weekly briefing in Abuja yesterday, Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, issued a stern warning to gunmen planning to disguise in military wears to cause violence during Saturday’s off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states.
He warned that there would be injurious consequences for their actions, adding that the Nigerian military will not fold its arms and watch its image dragged into the mud during Saturday’s election.
He issued the warning while briefing journalists on military operations to counter threats of terrorists, bandits/kidnappers, oil theft perpetrators and other forms of insecurity across the country.
“For the off-season elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states this weekend, here is a message for you. The military is deployed in strength for the election to create a safe environment for voters to peacefully come out and cast their votes.
“However, we are aware of plans of some people to disguise themselves in military gear to orchestrate havoc and disrupt elections in some areas. Our message to such a group is that there will be injurious consequences for such an action,” he said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, distributed electoral materials to all 27 Local Council Areas of Imo State ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election. The distribution took place at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branch in Owerri. The electoral materials distributed were Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, ballot papers and result sheets for the polls.
Speaking to newsmen on the movement of the electoral materials, the Southeast National Commissioner, Kenneth Ukeagu, said INEC was ready for the election, adding that the election would go freely as INEC officials have been trained properly to do the needful. He also urged the electorate to come out en masse and participate in the election.
According to him, “we are ready for the election. We are distributing sensitive materials to all the LGAs in the state because elections will take place in all the LGAs in the states. We have received assurance from the security agents for providing adequate security during and after the election. On our part, we are ready and on top of our plans. The people of the state have to come out on Saturday and elect a governor of their choice.”
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday announced that it had deployed its operatives to monitor Saturday’s election in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi.
Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, stated that ICPC operatives had been deployed in the 56 local government areas and 649 wards in the three states to monitor and prevent vote-buying and other electoral malpractices at the various polling units during the electoral exercise.
The monitoring exercise, according to her, was a response to the invitation by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for ICPC to participate in ensuring that the electoral processes in these states are free and fair.
Ogugua charged operatives to strictly adhere to the ICPC guidelines for monitoring elections, adding that they should always act with discipline and imbibe the spirit of integrity while on the field, while adding that the operatives stay close to each other and work as a team to achieve the desired goal.
There are fears that distribution of materials by INEC, threats and counter threats by Biafra agitators may challenge tomorrow’s governorship election in Imo. Aside from fears of availability of commercial drivers to convey sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the flash spots, factions of the Biafra agitators are speaking differently about the exercise.
Already certain spots, including Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Orsu, Ihitte Uboma, Isiala Mbano, Okigwe local councils of the state have been identified as dark spots.
A faction of the agitators, led by Simeon Ekpa, asked residents to stay away from the election, while the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) urged residents to go and vote, threatening to deal with any INEC official caught conniving with politicians to rig the election.
“All those employed and drafted to various polling units to help rig this election will be doing so to their own and family risks; their families must call them to order or they all will sorely regret having participated in this election. Anyone that enthroned evil on the people deserves no mercy. IPOB eyes are at every corner in the state monitoring the activities of political jobbers and criminals”, IPOB said in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, has deployed the Deputy Inspector General (DIG), in charge of Training and Development, Frank Mba, to oversee the election with assurance of protection of lives and property.
Mba has arrived in the state. No fewer than 2,300 soldiers and other security personnel, and other para-military officials are to guard the exercise at various parts of the state.
On Thursday, the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Kanayo Uzoegbu said the command was moving 1,500 men to Imo state. He stated that the idea was to boost security and ensure free and fair exercise at the end of the day.
INEC has assured of enough ad-hoc staff to carry out election duties in the prone dark spots. The Commission has deployed nine Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), to assist the Imo REC, Prof. Sylvia Agu, in ensuring transparent elections.
Meanwhile, Head of Mission, International Organisation for Sustainable Development (IOSD), Dr. Timothy Ihemadu, told The Guardian, on Thursday, that they were concerned about heightened tension in six local government areas of the state, which are volatile.
“If citizens are not confident of their right to vote, the right to be voted for and free and fair atmosphere, in terms of security, it limits their confidence and fundamental right to vote.
“We want security deployed to protect the people and not to intimidate them. The security personnel should be professional and must understand the importance of human rights policing that seeks to protect the people first to avoid voter apathy.
“The NLC order as it concerns Imo and the blackout and air travel is anticipated to affect smooth conduct of the election as the importance of electricity to power election gadgets cannot be over emphasized, as well as arrival of critical personnel who may be challenged to arrive at their duty post”, he stated.
Amid the heightened tension created by alleged stockpiling of arms in Bayelsa and invasion of thugs from neighbouring states, the police, yesterday vowed to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of violence and their sponsors in Bayelsa.
The palpable tension, which is already causing apprehension in the state, was further heightened by the two major contenders and political stakeholders who continue to trade accusations over alleged plans to perpetrate violence.
Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday at the Police Officers Mess, Yenagoa, the DIG in charge of Saturday’s election, Sokari-Pedro, while assuring that the IGP, Egbetokun, is totally committed to the free, fair, safe and unhindered democratic atmosphere during the election, warned that no electoral offender will be spare.
He stated that though Bayelsa is a peaceful state, the three Senatorial zones are all volatile when it comes to election, while some local governments have already been identified as flashpoints.
“Officers have been directed to carry out a show of force, all the perpetrators of violence be put out of circulation and their sponsors, any civilian that is armed at any polling centre shall be arrested and failure to do that by the police, the police themselves or the sister agent who is responsible for such a lapse will be arrested.
“Any orderly or guard that escorts his principal to the polling centre shall be arrested and thereafter tried in the orderly room, in this case, if care is not taken, may lead to his dismissal.”
In Kogi, INEC reiterated that it is fully ready for the election. Speaking during a critical stakeholders’ meeting preparatory to the election, the INEC chairman, Yakubu said the commission is fully ready for the election. National Commissioner in charge Kogi, Kwara and Niger states, Prof. Sani Mohammed Adam, who spoke on behalf of the chairman, noted that sensitive and non-sensitive materials are on ground.
Given the volatile nature of election conduct in the state, the IGP, Egbetokun warned trouble makers to relocate from Kogi before Saturday. He also warned politicians and the electorate to allow security agents deployed to the state to do their jobs without being subjected to blackmail.
Already, 40,000 policemen and 3,000 men of the civil defence corps have been deployed to the state for the election, in addition to the heavy deployment of military that will complement the efforts of other security agencies.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello has urged the operatives of the Nigerian Police and other sister agencies to ensure adherence to professional conduct during the Saturday polls. He noted that his party, APC in Kogi State, holds a track record of peaceful electioneering. The governor was speaking when he received the Inspector General of Police, on Wednesday.
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) on Thursday, called on INEC to work diligently to reaffirm citizens’ confidence. IPAC also called on citizens in the three states to come out en-masse to exercise their rights to vote.
National Chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Sani, said IPAC has introduced an innovative intervention through Election Results Management System (ERMS), which was recently brought to the attention of INEC Chairman, all 19 National Chairmen and political party candidates.
Sani said: “Choosing leaders based on merit, vision, and their potential impact on the community is vital. Citizens should prioritize candidates who genuinely represent their interests and are committed to the welfare and development of their respective States. By doing so, they can ensure that their votes lead to the election of leaders, who will work towards the betterment of their lives and communities
“Citizens should be proactive in shaping the future of the nation. Grassroots involvement is fundamental to the success of any democracy. By disregarding the negative tactics of political actors and focusing on making informed choices, citizens can contribute to the establishment of a robust and accountable democratic system in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi by their conduct in the forthcoming election.
“The involvement of security agencies in the electoral process must be based on professionalism, neutrality, and a commitment to the defense of our democracy, rather than partisan interests. The citizens must feel secure in their participation in the electoral process, knowing that their safety and security are assured.”
113 Terrorists Eliminated, 300 Others Arrested In One Week – DHQ
The Defence Headquarters says the troops of the armed forces have eliminated 113 terrorists and apprehended 300 others in different operations in various theatres across the country in the last one week.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, said this while briefing journalists on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr Buba said the troops also apprehended 25 perpetrators of oil theft, rescued 91 kidnapped hostages and recovered 129 assorted weapons and 717 assorted ammunition within the period.
In the North East, he said the troops of Operation Hadin Kai, while conducting fighting patrols, arrested BH/ISWAP logistics suppliers in Kukawa, Damboa, Monguno and Konduga Local Government Areas of Borno.
The defence spokesman said the troops eliminated 17 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, arrested 16 and rescued six kidnapped hostages, as well as recovered different calibres of arms and ammunition during the period.
He added that the air component of Operation Hadin Kai had, on Nov. 2, engaged terrorists hibernating in the Degbewa area, where several of them were neutralised and had their logistics destroyed.
In the North Central, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Safe Haven conducted cordon and search operations in parts of Kaduna and Plateau States, killing five terrorists, arresting 14 and rescuing 15 kidnapped hostages.
He added that troops of Operation Operation Whirl Stroke conducted a raid operation at suspected criminal hideouts in parts of Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau States, neutralising two terrorists, arresting 10 and rescuing three kidnapped hostages.
In the North-West, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji neutralised 30 terrorists, arrested seven others and rescued 31 kidnapped hostages in Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara States during the period.
He said the troops also recovered 15 AK47 rifles, one RPG Tube, five RPG bombs, six hand grenades, five pairs of desert camouflages, 10 pairs of magazine purges, IED-making material, unconfirmed no of ammo and the sum of $16,200.
He added that the air component had, on Nov. 2, acquired and conducted an interdiction at a terrorist leader’s residence in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State.
According to him, the terrorist leader known as Badaru had several terrorists hibernating at the residence who were neutralised in the air strikes.
“Troops of Operation Whirl Punch conducted an offensive operation against terrorists in Birnin Gwari and Chikun Local Government Areas of Kaduna State, neutralising 23 terrorists, arresting 83 suspects and rescuing four kidnapped hostages.
“Troops recovered 12 AK47 rifles, two pistols, one unserviceable AK47 rifle, 141 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, one magazine, one motorcycle and three mobile phones,” he said.
In the Niger Delta region, Buba said the troops of Operation Delta Safe denied oil thieves an estimated sum of N571.7 million during the week.
He said the troops discovered and destroyed 76 dugout pits, 35 boats, 95 storage tanks, 10 vehicles, 129 cooking ovens, five pumping machines, 13 speedboats, six outboard engines, one vessel, three motorcycles and 49 illegal refining sites.
“Troops recovered 514,640 litres of stolen crude oil, 339,315 litres of illegally refined AGO and 775 litres of DPK,” he said.
In the South-East, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation UDO KA apprehended 10 suspected IPOB/ESN criminals and recovered one GT3 rifle, one locally fabricated pistol, two pump action guns, two dane guns, 30 live cartridges, two motorcycles and one cutlass amongst other items.
“All recovered items, arrested suspects, and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authorities for further action,” he added.