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Military Deploys 3,000 Soldiers in Niger Delta

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At least 3,000 soldiers have so far been deployed in the Niger Delta as Nigeria’s security agencies ramp up the war against militancy in the region, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, disclosed on Tuesday.

This came as Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) on Tuesday alleged an attempt by the military to cover up the death of 16 soldiers in Delta State, four days after ‘Operation Crocodile Smile.’ was launched in the region.

The army chief spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, just as the military moved to douse the tension occasioned by the massive movement of troops in the region, assuring communities in the area that the ongoing military exercise codenamed, ‘Operation Crocodile Smile,’ was designed to protect them.

Buratai’s comments yesterday were made against the backdrop of allegations that the military had embarked on harassing and brutalising innocent residents along the coastlines, an accusation that the security forces have always refuted.

The CAS, who spoke at the Government House when he visited Governor Seriake Dickson, told the communities to remain calm, stressing that troops involved in the exercise understood the rules of engagement and would strictly adhere to them.

He added that the visit was necessary as part of the operation’s confidence-building, maintaining that the current exercise was meant to equip the soldiers with required skills to ensure the safety of the maritime environment for Bayelsa and other states of the Niger Delta.

The army chief, who was accompanied by other military commanders including the Commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, said the exercise was part of the amphibious training activities of the military.

“I am leading a cream of delegation of the Nigeria Army as part of our amphibious training (Operation Crocodile) activities in making sure the maritime environment is safe for Bayelsans and Nigeria at large.

“The exercise has mustered about three thousand troops and equipment,yet we want to assure you that we are people-friendly. We want to appreciate the support you have given to the Nigerian Army,” he said.

He added that the military remained committed to the protection of the country’s territorial integrity from external aggressors, stressing that the Atlantic Ocean remains part of the territory that must be secured and protected from interferences.

“The task of the army is to defend the territory from external aggression. The Atlantic Ocean is not an exemption in this regard. Training and continuous training in the region will help the men to actualise the task of defending the territory.

“These projects also come with humanitarian services like health, education and civil works. The Nigerian Army is people friendly and have always emphasised that the number one rule of engagement is to ensure that lives and properties are protected,” he said.

The army chief was said to have also approved the establishment of a brigade in Yenagoa following the request of the governor, who appreciated the military for their selflessness in discharging their duties.

Dickson, who commiserated with the army over the death of some soldiers in a boat mishap that occurred in the state, urged them to adopt dialogue as a means of fighting criminality in the region.

Meanwhile, the JTF yesterday, denied invading some communities in Southern Ijaw destroying houses, beating up residents and carting away speedboats.

Spokesman of the JTF, Lt Cmdr Thomas Otuji said that there was no iota of truth in a report that soldiers invaded Peremabiri community, noting that the outfit has remained professional in all its activities in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

Meanwhile, the NDA said the incident was aside the untimely death of four fine soldiers in the creeks of Bayelsa noting that over 20 soldiers had died so far in the military exercise.

According to a statement signed by the spokesman of NDA, Mudoch Agbinibo, the deceased soldiers in Delta State were the first casualties of the exercise disclosing that they died along River Ethiope, four days after it started.

It however expressed its condolences to the families of the deceased and President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces over the death of “the fine soldiers.”

“The high command of NDA and the entire membership on behalf of the good people of the Niger Delta offer our condolences to the families and Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the soldiers murdered in the ongoing military operation cum exercise codes named “Operation Crocodile Smiles.”

“Mr. President from available facts, the untimely deaths of these four fine soldiers in the creeks of Bayelsa and another 16 that was recorded during the first four days of the exercise along the River Ethiope, in Delta State but was earlier covered up is nothing more than act of murder.

“Their death is due to negligence, administrative greed and a corruption within the military constructed and perfected by the ascendant APC political class (conflict merchants we have mentioned times without numbers) from the Niger Delta and some Abuja paid and bought up interest,” it alleged.

The militant group alleged that the military exercise was unfortunate since it was designed by some military top brass to amass wealth under the guise of making efforts to quell militancy in the Niger Delta region.

“It declared: Mr. President, the worrisome dimensions about the ongoing reorganization and restructuring of the unending security operations in the Niger Delta is where two of your head of security apparatus are boasting to the minister of defense that, they have your hears. They assured him, it is now their turn to bloat their pockets and that they can talk you to even borrowing money to sustain the insecurity in the region, which the honourable minister of defense concurred to before the ongoing exercises.

“We have earlier advised against timing, strategy and objectives of the show of military might and the deployment of military hardwares to the Niger Delta suddenly when there is certainly cessation of hostilities for peace talks to commence. But the top hierarchy of the Nigerian military led by Lt. Gen. Buratai was only after his pecuniary monetary gains and that of some Akpakpa- Ajudaibo Champagne intelligence chief who is desperately arm-twisting the peace processes continuously.

“The advice is that all lives matters! Why are you in a hurry to train over two thousand military personnel for just 4 to 14 days on amphibious military exercise to occupy the Niger Delta region when the Niger elders and stakeholders are awaiting your response for peace talks?,” it asked.

NDA recalled the amphibious exploits of the Ijaws during the civil war, though fought without military training, to win the war for Nigeria.

It asked further: “Have you forgotten the exploits of our great fathers during the infamous Nigerian Civil War in amphibious warfare without any military training? Is it because they were volunteers as such the success was credited to Late Lt. Col. Benjamin Adekunle and Lt. Col Olusegun Obasanjo instead of them?

“Mr. President, as a veteran of that fateful war, you know that after all failures, the amphibious warfare and successes was under the command of Lt. Gen. Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro of blessed memories, the pride and face of the 3rd Marine Commandos (3MCDOS) constituted of able-bodied Ijaw warriors voluntarily.

“They were not given any formal military training prior to that great contribution to the unity of Nigeria, but they succeeded because they were amphibious by nature.

“Mr. President, the truth be told, we are the “Great White Sharks” of the Atlantic when it come to marine warfare! “Operation Crocodile Smiles” is ironically, a simulative military operation cum exercise for waters less than 2 fathoms in depth orchestrated by the top hierarchy of the military to undermine any genuine disposition from your government towards restoration of tranquility in the Niger Delta and to exhaust your security budget for the year, except you are thinking otherwise towards peace in the Niger Delta too”, it added.

It reiterated that the Ijaws and the people of the Niger Delta had been in that region times immemorial stressing that they had resisted any attempt of exclusions in the control of their God given resources, from the Portuguese and British colonial trades and periods to date.

“We are ever ready to continue that resistance even without guns and ammunitions,” it maintained.

NDA therefore urged President Buhari to set up a commission a high powered panel to investigate all processes that led to the ongoing military operation and exercise in the Niger Delta tagged “Operation Crocodile Smiles” and all the ongoing cover-ups of military mishaps that have led to more than 20 deaths so far.

“Mr. President, in practical terms crocodiles do not have any capacity to swim close to the water depth, small tiger sharks swim and play around not to talk of the depths of the great whites, the heart of the nation’s economic where we have overmastered. The mission ongoing in the Niger Delta is a brainchild of orchestrated military corruption at your face Mr. President.

“Operation Crocodile Smiles is nothing but a conduit pipe for military contracts, political profiteerism and patronages designed for the stress of your administration’s scarce resources,” it concluded.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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2023 Presidential Candidates: Hidden Hands Now Publicly Raised

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2023 Presidential Candidates

As the 2023 presidential election draws near, more anxieties have enveloped Nigerians. Who will the cap fit? Who will wear the crown and who can handle the baton the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari is about to pass on? These and more questions linger in the hearts of the citizens.

While some have voiced that it’s time for a southerner to rule, some others have opposed it, saying no law in the land states that. This has intensified the heat and raised more eyebrows.

After the announcement of the election dates by the nation’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), some undecided and hidden aspirants have publicly raised their hands.

Slated to hold February 18, 2023, the general election updates have seized the space and dominated the media, even small circles.

In this, aspirants– both old and new have been largely analysed as the line drawn becomes wider.

Cheers and frowns were accorded to the aspirants as they declare their intention to run and make promises to the people. Below are your 2023 Presidential Candidates compiled by Investors King.

Dele Momodu

On Thursday, January 13, a veteran Journalist and Publisher who jostled for the cap in 2011, Dele Momodu declared his interest to run in 2023 as he said he is not giving up on his presidential ambition.

He had earlier explained that he joined the presidential race in 2011 because of frustration. He said he was tired of lamenting about Nigeria’s bad leaders, so he decided to bring himself into it to make a difference.

Dele Momodu, who was a member of Labour Party (LP) and 2011 presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in October, 2021.

Momodu, who polled 26,376 votes which ranked him 11th in the 2011 election, stated in an interview that he won’t join the list of serial contesters who contest and lose at every election. He said, ‘The day my country needs me, they will find me,’ this made him return to his business until October when he joined PDP. 

Declaring his 2023 ambition at the national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja, Momodu apologised for his role in bringing Buhari to power in 2015 as he canvassed both online and offline against the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan and further governance of PDP.

The veteran journalist, while featuring on a radio programme in December, 2021 stated that the All Progressives Congress (APC) should be held responsible for the nation’s woes and shouldn’t be given another privilege to come into power.

When asked if he would support Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Yemi Osinbajo in the next general election considering their closeness, he hinted that his allegiance is to the candidate of his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and that he will support anyone his party picks.

He added that Tinubu and Osinbajo are not technocrats and they might continue to carry the liabilities of politicians. “For me, I don’t think after Buhari, APC deserves to govern Nigeria,” he concluded.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Similarly, the recent declaration of the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu has solved the puzzle on Nigerians’ table and took over the media as the election knock gets louder. It’s now very clear that he is in the race.

asiwaju-bola-tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

First, was the inauguration of South West Agenda for Asiwaju, SWAGA’23 a year ago with the aim of mobilising youths, women, market leaders among others in the South-west to support Tinubu in the next general election.

The movement was launched in all South-West states– Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Lagos. Tinubu, during the period was in London where he was recuperating after undergoing surgery.

In the mobilisation, loyalists of Asiwaju have said he is the most qualified to run for presidency in the South West. This gospel, they are ready to take to not less than four hundred traditional rulers and several communities in the South West of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Tinubu officially stated his interest on Monday, January 10 in a closed-door meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari before addressing the press. He described it as a lifelong ambition which he is ready to pursue.

Speaking with newsmen, he said, “I have informed the President of my ambition but I have not informed Nigerians yet, I am still consulting. I have no problem consulting. And I’ve not set a parameter of limitation to the extent of how many people I will consult.”

Dave Umahi

Subsequently, just a day after Tinubu’s declaration, the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Tuesday, January 11, visited the president and informed him of his intention to contest in the next presidential election.

Dave UmahiUmahi also had a closed-door meeting with the president whereby he discussed his ambition with him.

He noted that he is not disturbed by Tinubu’s recent declaration as he said, “I’m not in contest with anybody, I’m in contest with myself.”

He said that if the party makes the race open, he would contest for the presidency with a mission to replicate the infrastructural development in his state to the country.

Umahi, who left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of its refusal to zone the presidential ticket to southeast insisted that Tinubu isn’t seen as a threat to his ambition.

Orji Uzor Kalu

Another aspirant, Orji Uzor Kalu, chief whip of the Senate also wants the presidential ticket zoned to southeast.

After Tinubu’s declaration, Kalu became uncertain about his presidential ambition but stated that he will contest if the ticket is zoned to southeast.

Orji Uzor KaluAs a close ally to Tinubu, he debunked the notion that he would attack Tinubu. He said, “my friendship with Tinubu is deeply-rooted and I am not quarreling with him.

“I am not against his ambition of becoming the president. It is the choice of the party to determine who becomes the presidential candidate.”

Pius Anyim

Another political bigwig on the growing aspirants’ list is Pius Anyim, former Senate President and former Secretary to the Government of Federation.

He declared his interest in the presidential race, whether his party, PDP zones the ticket to the southeast or not. 

Pius Anyim

Anyim, who banked on the experience he has said “I am willing and available, ready and equipped, by experience and exposure, temperament and humility, capacity and competence to serve Nigeria at this point in time as the country’s president.”

He also enjoined all the political parties in the country to zone their presidential tickets to the Southeast for equity and fairness.

Kingsley Moghalu

Sometime in June 2021, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu declared his intention to run for the presidency. He is referred to as the first to openly raise his hand.

Kingsley Moghalu

Kingsley Moghalu

He joined the African Democratic Congress (ADC) to pursue his presidential ambition as he said the party’s policies align with his ideologies.

Moghalu, who was formerly in Young Progressives Party (YPP) and 2019 presidential candidate of the party renounced his membership in October, 2019.

He said, “I’m making myself available to lead our country as a competent 21st century president. My desire is to make Nigeria the envy of other nations if I become the president.”

He also mentioned that since the formation of ADC in 2005, the party has remained consistent to its beliefs, passion and idea in nation-building.

Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi

The unending list is not void of the female gender as 38-year-old Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi, daughter of former Federal Works commissioner, Femi Okunnu, SAN joined the race.

Khadijah, a renowned entrepreneur and youth development advocate publicly made known her interest in Lagos.

She is also a media expert, the founder and chief executive officer of Slice Media Solutions.

Unfolding her vision, she said she is set to harness the potentials of the country to become the Nigeria its people have always dreamt of, moving the country from a third world country into a developed nation with innovation and technology.

“I believe in the possibilities Nigeria holds; that is why I have taken this first step, not because there are no fears, but the will to bring about the Nigeria we all wish, hope and believe we can make a reality together,” she affirmed.

Nigerians await other interested persons to openly declare their ambition and goals as the social media platforms are filled with advertorials. Posters and fliers of some persons that are yet to clearly declare that they are in the race have also gone round.

Eyes are still on the incumbent vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who has disassociated himself from a group mobilising support for him online ahead of the 2023 general election.

Former Vice-president, Atiku Abubakar and former president, Goodluck Jonathan are also yet to openly declare their stance on the presidential race. 

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Federal Government Raises Price of Electric Meters

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The Federal Government through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has raised the price of both single-phase and three-phase electricity meters starting from November 15, 2021.

The regulator increased the price of a single-phased meter to N58.661.69, up from the present cost of N44,896.17. While the price of a three-phase meter was raised from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.

The commission announced this in a circular dated November 11, 2021 and addressed to managing directors of all electricity Distribution Companies and all meter asset providers.

The circular, with reference number NERC/REG/MAP/GEN/751/2, was entitled ‘Review of the unit price of end-use meters under the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations’.

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Complete Text of President Buhari’s Speech at the Furniture Investment Initiative Summit

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Buhari arrives Bamako, Mali

President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the global leaders invited to speak at the ongoing 5th Future Investment Initiative Summit organised by Saudi Arabia.

As reported by Investors King, President Buhari arrived Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday at about 11.50 pm for the summit.

On Tuesday President Buhari delivered the speech below.

“Let me begin by conveying my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for inviting me to the 5th edition of the Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh.

In the short period of its existence, this summit has emerged as a credible forum for interaction between the public and private sectors, to explore ways of advancing economic growth, development and global prosperity.

I wish to commend the organizers of this year’s summit for the foresight to look at “investment”, not only from a profitability and wealth accumulation point of view, but also bringing prosperity to humanity in general. The humane approach to investment is the only way to address the global challenges we face, especially in the Covid-19 era.

We should continue to sustain our efforts to combat the COVID- 19 pandemic and mitigate its negative socio-economic impact on our societies, build resilience and achieve recovery. It is therefore my hope, that this session will leverage on the enormous economic opportunities that lie ahead in order to satisfy the prevailing needs of our people and planet.

Investing in humanity is investing in our collective survival. This is why we in Nigeria we believe that public and private partnership should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security. By so doing, it will go a long way in re- energizing the global economy in a post COVID-19 era.

Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 percent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies.

In the past six years, our government took very painful but necessary decisions to invest for a long-term prosperous future knowing very well that this will come with short term pains.

We focused on the following areas:
a. diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining;
b. tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change; and c. introducing a Social Investment Program.

We introduced policies that supported investments in agriculture and food processing. We provided loans and technical support to small holder farmers, through the Anchor Borrowers Program. As a result, Nigeria today has over 40 rice mills from less than 10 in 2014. Nigeria also has over 46 active fertiliser blending plants from less than 5 in 2014.

Furthermore, in agriculture, we have reformed the process of obtaining inputs such as fertilizer and seeds. We have several million hectares of available arable land and have embarked on the creation of Special Agriculture Processing Zones across the country. These initiatives we believe will make it easier for investors in agriculture.

Two months ago, I signed the Petroleum Industry Act. The Act will serve as a catalyst to liberalize our petroleum sector. It has introduced a number of incentives such as tax holidays, 100 percent ownership, zero interest loans and easy transfer of funds. In addition, we have highly skilled in-country workforce and a large domestic market.

In mining, we have also made several opportunities available for investors. Nigeria is a country rich in minerals from gold, iron ore, tin, zinc, cobalt, lithium, limestone, phosphate, bitumen and many others. We have made the licensing process easier and also made extensive investments in rail and transportation.

Infrastructure investments represent significant potential for investors in Nigeria. We have opportunities in seaports, rail, toll roads, real estate, renewable energy and many others. We have created several institutions that are available to co-invest with you in Nigeria.

We have the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and more recently, I approved the creation of Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria. These institutions are run as independent world class institutions to make investments in the country and are available to co- invest with you.

In addition, the development of social infrastructure such as healthcare and education present enormous opportunities for investors in a country our size.

Digital Economy in Nigeria has many potentials for investment, as it has remained the fastest growing sector in both 2020 and 2021. Nigeria has many opportunities for investment in broadband, ICT hardware, emerging technology and software engineering.

We have recently approved the national policy on Fifth Generation (5G) network. Our aim is to attract investors in healthcare, smart cities, smart agriculture among others. The benefit of real time communication will support all other sectors of the economy.

Yesterday, I launched the E-Naira, the electronic version of our national currency, which puts us on track to become the first African country to introduce a Central Bank Digital Currency. We believe this and many other reforms, will help us increase the number of people participating in the banking sector, make for a more efficient financial sector and help us tackle illicit flow of funds.

To further strengthen our anti-corruption drive, increase accountability and transparency, we have centralized government funds through a Treasury Single Account, and ensuring that all Nigerians with a bank account use a unique Bank Verification Number (BVN). These initiatives, coupled with our nationwide National Identification Number (NIN) exercise, reinforce our efforts to tackle corruption and fraud. We believe that this should give investors a lot of comfort.

As we strive to build resilience towards a sustainable economy in our various countries, let us not forget the negative impact of climate change on our efforts to achieve this goal. Nigeria and many countries in Africa, are already facing the challenges posed by climate change. Climate change has triggered conflicts, food insecurity, irregular youth migration, rising level of sea waters, drought and desertification, as well as the drying-up of the Lake Chad.

In the Lake Chad Basin region, where Boko Haram insurgency continues to undermine the peace, security and development of the region, climate change is largely responsible for the drying up of the Lake Chad which has shrunk by more than 85% of its original size.

The diminishing size of the Lake is at the root of the loss of millions of livelihoods, displacement of inhabitants and radicalization of teeming youths in the region who are recruited to serve as foot soldiers in the insurgency.

In order to redress this situation and restore the lost fortunes of the Lake Chad Basin region, strong public-private partnership through massive investments will be needed to recharge the waters of Lake Chad. I am confident that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development of our region.

We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries. These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall well- being of their population.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on “humane” investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Investing in Humanity is the right thing to do. I strongly believe the historical under- investments in “humane projects” is the genesis of most of the insecurity and socio-economic challenges the world is experiencing today.

I will conclude once again by thanking the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and also congratulate His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for their leadership and their support through the Future Investment Initiative.

I remain confident that through such exchanges, the world indeed will be a better place. I hope and pray that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development.

I thank you.”

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