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Soyinka faults 24-hour curfew, recommends town hall meetings, immediate soldiers withdrawal

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Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has condemned the use of armed soldiers to quell protests by #EndSARS agitators which has led to violent clashes in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country.

He has therefore called on governors in states where protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad forced declaration of curfews to immediately demand the withdrawal of soldiers deployed by the Federal Government.

The playwright, in a message on Wednesday from his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, titled, ‘DÉJÀ VU– In tragic vein,’ spoke on the backdrop of the reported killing of unarmed protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on Tuesday night after a 24-hour curfew imposed on the state by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

There have been peaceful protests across many states in the country against police brutality and the F-SARS, a unit in the Nigeria Police Force.

Soyinka said, “To the affected governors all over the nation, there is one immediate step to take: demand the withdrawal of those soldiers. Convoke town hall meetings as a matter of urgency. 24-hour curfews are not the solution. Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage. Substitute community self-policing based on local councils, to curb hooligan infiltration and extortionist and destructive opportunism. We commiserate with the bereaved and urge state governments to compensate material losses, wherever.

“To commence any process of healing at all – dare one assume that this is the ultimate destination of desire? – the Army must apologise, not merely to the nation but to the global community – the facts are indisputable – you, the military, opened fire on unarmed civilians. There has to be structured restitution and assurance that such aberrations will not again be recorded. Then both governance and its security arms can commence a meaningful, lamentably overdue dialogue with society. Do not attempt to dictate — Dialogue!”

The playwright also said it was bliss indeed to be alive to watch youths finally beginning to take the future into their own hands, adding that with the protesters’ roadblocks in Ogun State and elsewhere, it was all déjà vu– the uprisings in the former Western Region of Nigeria and the anti-Abacha movement among others.

He added that it was absolutely essential to let the Federal Government know that the army had now replaced the SARS in the demonic album of the protesters.

He said, “My enquiry so far indicates that the Lagos governor did not invite in the Army, did not complain of a ‘breakdown in law and order. Nevertheless, the centre has chosen to act in an authoritarian manner and has inflicted a near incurable wound on the community psyche. Need I add that, on arrival in Abeokuta, my hometown, I again had to negotiate a road block? That went smoothly enough. I expected it, and have no doubt that more are being erected as this is being written.

“It is pathetic and unimaginative to claim, as some have done, that the continued protest is hurting the nation’s economy etc. COVID-19 has battered the Nigerian economy – such as it is – for over eight months. Of course it is not easy to bring down COVID under a hail of bullets – human lives are easier target, and there are even trophies to flaunt as evidence of victory– such as the blood-soaked Nigerian flag that one of the victims was waving at the time of his murder.”

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Lagos to erect barricade on Ojuelegba Bridge as another container truck falls

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has promised that barricades will be constructed on the Ojuelegba Bridge to restrict the movement of articulated vehicles.

This is coming just as another container-laden truck Monday fell on the road along the Dopemu area of Lagos.

The truck barrier by the state government is in reaction to the accident on Sunday in which a truck carrying container fell on a passenger bus around the bridge, killing nine people.

Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, permanent secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), confirmed that two children were among the casualties of the Ojuelegba incident.

Another nine people were injured and treated in a hospital.

The Federal Road Safety Corps in its reaction to the Sunday accident immediately recommended the construction of barricades on the bridge, noting that the cases of loaded trucks falling on vehicles under the bridge were becoming frequent.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has confirmed that another container-laden truck fell Monday on the road along the Dopemu area of Lagos.

LASTMA in a tweet also shared a short clip of the truck, saying the container is “occupying 90 per cent of the road.”

The tweet read, “A 40ft container-laden truck fell at Sawmill inward Dopemu under the bridge.

“It’s occupying 90 percent of the road. Our men are on ground doing the needful as Effort is on for recovery.”

 

 

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Obasanjo worries about depreciating economy, govt appointments based on favouritism

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed concern about the current state of affairs in the country, especially the continued drop in living standard.

He lamented that government’s appointments were based on “favouritism” and not merit or competence.

The former president said this in a statement while felicitating the Federal Government College, Kaduna, on its 50th anniversary.

He said the economic situation in the country had increased hardship, insecurity, and affected the quality of leadership.

According to him, leaders are more concerned about their selfish interests than the country’s survival, adding that the religious tensions in the country have been intentionally instigated by politicians.

“Once again, our nation is dancing on the precipice and some of us are truly worried about the state of affairs today. I expressed that worry in my open letter to Nigerians and Nigerian youths on New Year’s Day,” he said.

“As I stated in the letter; ‘If we fall prey again, we will have ourselves to blame and no one can say how many more knocks Nigeria can take before it tips over. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed.’ Of course, I pray that Nigeria will never tip over. We must constantly work at it and pray.

“My worry is premised on a number of issues. First, I am concerned that the current state of our nation’s economy has widened the gulf of inequality and left many people in despair. Inflation is on the rise; poverty and hardship have returned to many households. The last decade has reversed many of the economic gains that were made in the first decade of the century. There is a general sense of hopelessness across the nation with seemingly uncontrollable insecurity.

“In addition to the economic hardship is political mischief. Never have we been so politically divided along religious, ethnic and other fault lines and deliberately so. Appointments in government are skewed and lopsided on basis of nepotism and mediocrity and disregard of merit and competence.

“Elections are here and may compound the problem. Political parties and politicians have now been emboldened to discard some of the things that were put in place to give all groups a sense of belonging. Exclusion is being taken as normal. Disunity stares us in the face and many of our leaders are more concerned about their selfish interests than the survival and health of our nation.”

Speaking further, Obasanjo urged Nigerians to change the political course of the country by participating actively in the forthcoming elections.

The former president said the concerns raised about the presidential candidates are real, adding that Nigerians would have themselves to blame if they do nothing about the situation.

The statement read, “Let me reiterate that the concerns being raised about the nature of the options before us in the presidential elections for instance are real and should not be trifled with.

“Nigeria belongs to us all and no part of the country should be left in doubt about their place in this union on any basis whatsoever; ethnic, religious, language, region, culture or social standing.

“The beauty of democracy is that the options before us cannot be imposed on us if we all do what we need to do to send a message to those who have had the audacity to present those options to us with little or no interest for the 225 million Nigerians.

“If we choose to do nothing, we will only have ourselves to blame. If we choose to do the right thing, we will by so doing return this country on the right track; one which gives all our people a sense of belonging and a sense of unity of purpose and a stake in the project Nigeria; a project that will give all of us peace, security, stability, shared prosperity, hope and progress and a place within the comity of nations.”

 

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Updated: Postpone visit to Kano, Ganduje advises Buhari over fuel, new naira anger

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Abdullahi Ganduje and Muhammadu Buhari

Governor of Kano State, Abdulahi Ganduje, has made a request to President Muhammadu Buhari to put on hold his planned visit to the state.
Ganduje’s reason, according to a statement by his media aide, Abba Anwar, is to avert possible embarrassing breakdown of law and order by the ordinary citizens over the complications arising from the fuel scarcity and scarcity of the newly redesigned naira.

Ganduje was quoted to have stated this before some professionals who visited him at the Government House on Friday.

He was quoted as telling his visitors, “As we are waiting for this important visit, we find ourselves in this situation, which puts citizens into untold hardship. For security purposes, we wrote to the Presidency that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Kano be postponed.

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“We got an acknowledgement copy of the letter. People are really suffering because of this policy.”

Among the visitors were said to be two serving senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Barau Jibrin and Kabiru Gaya, 20 members of the House of Representatives and 30 legislators from the State House of Assembly.

The governor quoted as saying that it has become difficult to transact businesses even with the Point of Sale (POS).
The situation is said to have led to many traders closing their businesses.

“This problem affects all of us.Therefore, our voice must be heard in all nooks and crannies. We are a commercial hub. As such, our position must be loud and clear,” Ganduje said.

The governor also reportedly called for an extension of the deadline for returning old naira notes.

“There are no banks in most of our rural communities. How these people get new naira notes is of great concern. Just look at what is happening in our urban areas; people go and spend hours upon hours in banks without any assurances of getting the new notes,” Ganduje lamented.

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