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Biden vows retaliation of Kabul attack that killed 13 US soldiers

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United States President Joe Biden has condemned a terrorist attack near the Kabul airport that killed scores of people, including at least 13 American service members, pledging to retaliate against the attackers and continue evacuations.

“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. These American service members who gave their lives — that’s an overused word, but it’s totally appropriate here — were heroes; heroes who’ve been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. They’re a part of an airlift and evacuation effort, unlike any seen in history. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We’ll not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation. I’ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. “We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing. Here’s what you need to know: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”

Biden spoke after the US military sustained one of its highest single-day tolls during its 20-year Afghanistan campaign.

The bombs were set off near a crowd of families at the airport gates who were desperately hoping to make one of the last evacuation flights out. Gunfire was reported in the aftermath of the explosions.

Biden said he had asked his commanders to find ways to target ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attacks earlier in the day on behalf of its loyalists in Afghanistan.

He vowed the US would respond with force at “a moment of our choosing,” echoing President Bush’s remarks days after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing,” Bush said, weeks before the US military began fighting in Afghanistan.

Biden spoke from the East Room of the White House shortly after the Pentagon confirmed the deaths of the American service members in what officials said were suicide bomber attacks.

He called Thursday “a tough day” and pledged that the United States would uphold its “sacred obligation” to the families of the fallen.

The night before the attack, a senior US official warned of a “specific” and “credible” threat at the airport by an affiliate of the Islamic State — the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K — and Western governments began urging people to leave the area.

Even with such a specific warning, military officials said, it would be very difficult to pick out a suicide bomber with a concealed explosive vest in a huge throng of people, like that at the airport.

The troops who died Thursday were the first American service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020. For the US military, it was a day with more deaths than any other since 2011.

Those deaths were just the kind of military loss Biden has repeatedly said he was trying to avoid by ending America’s 20-year war in the country.

Acting against the advice of his generals and overruling some of his top foreign policy advisers, Biden made the decision in April that he could not ask more American troops —  or their families —  to sacrifice themselves for a war that he no longer believed was in the best interests of the United States or its allies.

The President has said that he did not want to call the parents of another Marine, soldier or airman killed in action in Afghanistan.

But the rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban caught the administration off-guard and set in motion a chaotic evacuation in which 6,000 American troops attempted to secure the Kabul airport against the Taliban and terror groups. Earlier this week, Biden rejected calls from lawmakers, activists and other world leaders to extend the American presence at the airport past Aug. 31, citing the potential for terrorist attacks.

The Pentagon said at least 13 US service members were killed and 15 wounded in the attack near an airport gate on Thursday. Scores of Afghan civilians were killed and wounded.

Two suicide bombers struck a packed crowd outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, killing 13 American service members and scores of Afghan civilians, officials said.

“We have other active threats against the airfield,” General McKenzie told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

The Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

Biden and other US officials insisted that the carnage and continued danger would not halt the American-led airlift that, after a belated and rocky start, has ferried more than 100,000 people out of Afghanistan in the last two weeks. Many of those were Afghans who had worked with NATO forces and their families, and who feared Taliban reprisals and hoped to start new lives in other parts of the world.

New York Times

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TUC gives strike notice to Fayemi over unpaid workers’ benefits

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Dr Kayode Fayemi

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), Ekiti chapter, has advised Gov Kayode Fayemi to pay workers backlog of arrears as promised during his electioneering campaign in 2018 before the expiration of his tenure on Oct. 15, 2022.

The labour union said redeeming such pledge would further reinforce workers’ trust in the APC-led administration in Ekiti and smoothen relationship with the incoming Governor,   Biodun Oyebanji.

The union congratulated Oyebanji on his victory in the recently concluded Governorship poll, urging him to be magnanimous in victory by being inclusive in governance and forming robust alliance  with opposition, to build Ekiti of his dream.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this was contained in a statement in Ado Ekiti after the union’s State Executive Council’s meeting and signed by its State Chairman,  Sola Adigun.

The council condemned in strong terms, the rate of kidnapping of citizens in the state, urging Fayemi to devise means to curtail the nefarious act, threatening peaceful coexistence and investment drives.

Sequel to government’s inability to meet some pending workers’ demands, TUC issued a 21-day ultimatum to government to pay all arrears of salaries, deductions and promotion, failing which industrial harmony could no longer be guaranteed.

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“The TUC commends the government’s prompt payment of salary since the inception of this outgoing administration in October 2018 till date.

However, the TUC reminds Governor Fayemi of his initial promise to offset all arrears payment before the expiration of the tenure.

“But we noted with dismay, the refusal of the government to remit the already deducted dues such as co-operative deductions, contributory pension, bank loans repayment, NHF fund, to the appropriate quarters.

He said this had made life becoming unbearable for workers.

“We equally frown seriously at the refusal of the Accountant-General of the State to continue with cooperative savings update of Ekiti workers, due to the alleged presence of some syndicate operating in her office.

“Most members of TUC have not benefited from the new minimum wage after almost two years of implementation in the state.

” We call on the government to implement the minimum wage across the board for all workers without further delay.

“We note that the financial backing giving the 2018 – 2019 promotion exercise was selectively implemented.

“Hence, we call on  government to ensure that others exempted should be immediately captured for financial remuneration.

“The TUC also demands that the facilities in the health institution, especially the teaching hospital, be upgraded to meet up with the expected standard of best practice.

“Finally, the meeting demands that the government should set machinery in motion within the next 21 days to meet up with the demands, failing which industrial harmony will no longer be guaranteed”.

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Army to engage retired soldiers in insecurity fight – COAS

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The Nigerian Army says it will continue to engage the services of its retired personnel in tackling insecurity in the country.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya said at this on Tuesday night at a ”Regimented Dinner ” he organised for the 2021 set of retired officers from its 3 Division, Rukuba, near Jos.

The COAS, who was represented by Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Ali, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the division and Commander Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), thanked the retired personnel for their sacrifices and commitment to duty while in service.

He explained that the expertise of the retired personnel would be needed toward supporting the Nigerian army in its bid to end all forms of insecurity in the nation.

”I wish to assure you that the Nigerian army is grateful for the services you rendered to our father land.

”There are ongoing efforts to engage the services of the retired professionals with the wealth of experiences gathered over the years.

”These experiences are necessary toward tackling all forms of insecurity in our nation, ”he said.

Yahaya added that the dinner was organised to appreciate the retired personnel and their spouses for thier meritorious service to the nation.

The COAS assured the personnel still serving, to put in their best in securing the territorial integrity of the nation and promised to make their welfare top of his priorities.

Also speaking, retired Maj.-Gen. Hasaan Umaru, who was Special Guest at the event, thanked the COAS for introducing the dinner as a welfare package for the retired officers.

He tasked the retired officers to be good ambassadors of the Nigerian army and be ready to support it anytime their services would be needed.

Umaru advised them to contribute to the growth of their immediate communities and the society in general.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that earlier, a buffet was held in honour of retired soldiers at the cantonment.

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20 million Nigerians benefitting from our cash transfer – FG

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The Federal Government says over two million households in Nigeria are currently benefitting from its conditional cash transfer programme.

The government also said over 20 million persons were indirect beneficiaries of the programme in the two million households.

This came as it began partnership with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC,the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission,ICPC and other relevant agencies to probe compliance level of the National Social Investment Programme,NSIP in states of the federation.

The National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, Dr. Umar Bindir, speaking on Tuesday at the stakeholders’ meeting on state compliance check exercise of NSIP in Abuja, said, ”As we speak, we are now advancing cash transfer to two million households, these are houses of not individuals, so if you are approximately putting 10 people per household,you are talking about probably like 20 million or so people that we are handling.”

Bandir said the government was spending between N12 billion to N15 billion monthly.

“When you look at N-Power,we have a bill of possibly between N12 billion to 15 billion every month. And you can estimate that we have 510,000 now ongoing and we have the batch c for 490,000 coming on,so when you multiply the number of the graduates by N30,000 per month, you will get the figure,”he said.

He said government was injecting N12 billion and N14 billion every month into the funds for feeding school children.

He said, “If you look at the school feeding,you will see that we are feeding between nine to ten million children nationwide and each child on a schooling day is fed with N70 per meal,so again,when you do the arithmetic,you get something maybe between N12 billion and N14 billion every month in feeding these children during school every month.

“But the finances injected in summary,into the National Social Investment Programme,the recurrent alone is over N300 billion. That is not enough,that is less than possibly what is required, gauging against the number of poor and vulnerable we have in this country.

He said, ”We are beginning to see the multiply effects, people who have gotten credit and are now hiring one or more people, therefore,the employment generation is improving. The graduates,some of them are exiting and establishing their businesses.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, speaking at the event, said government had begun partnership with relevant agencies in carrying out the compliance check of the implementation guidelines “of all our programmes and to develop a standard and effective compliance check structure for the various NSIP assignments.”

The Permanent Secretary,who was represented by the Director, Special Needs, Mrs Nkechi Onwukwe, explained that,”Our primary goal is to meet the needs of the people who need a helping hand from Government to restore hope, provide support and succor, as well as an enabling environment for recovery, rehabilitation and social inclusion, while ensuring their human dignity is upheld at all times.”

The creation of the ministry,he explained, “was necessitated by the compelling need to harmonize, synergize, institutionalize, as well as provide coordination of all government’s humanitarian and social interventions.

“This is in line with the vision of Mr. President to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”

“The National Social Investment Programme, a social investment initiative aimed at tackling poverty across the country was launched, targeting “the poorest of the poor and the socially excluded members of the society.”

Speaking more on the event, he said, ”The activities of the Mmnistry constantly impact on the well-being of the indigent citizens and contributes to the socio-economic development of the country and in order for the ministry to effectively provide the desired and much needed coordination and leadership it was conceived to provide, it must have an effective and consistent means of appraising its activities.”

Sani-Gwarzo said since inception, the ministry had so far “achieved a lot in the area of the provision and effective coordination of humanitarian interventions in keeping with our mandate. “

“We have also been able to provide coordination through cooperation and partnerships with relevant government MDA’s, development partners, UN agencies and other strategic partners.

“This is all in a bid to ensure sustained and expanded social protection programmes, prompt emergency response services, and appropriately targeted humanitarian interventions,”he said.

Noting that,“The National Social Investment Programme,NSIP is the biggest social protection and poverty eradication programme ever put in place by any government in Nigeria and one of the biggest in Africa”,he explained that:”it was established by President Buhari in 2016 to address immediate and long-term socio-economic imbalances and inequalities, alleviate poverty, and stimulate accelerated economic growth.”

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