Boko Haram: One Massacre Too Many

The latest gruesome killings of 43 rice farmers in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by the Boko Haram terrorists debunk the pretentious claim by the Nigerian government that it is winning the war against terror. More than 10 years after it initiated its violent campaign to found a caliphate in Nigeria, the insurgents remain a deadly force against the Nigerian state.

When the news of the carnage broke, panic and commotion gave way to anger over the way the insurgents operated unchecked for a long period despite the ongoing military onslaughts on them. Sources in Borno said 76 persons were murdered in all, apart from those abducted.

Soon after the incident, condemnatory statements came in from everywhere. The United Nations, Pope Francis and aid organisations were among those disgusted at the heart-rending attacks on innocent farmworkers. State governors sent out messages and visited their Borno counterpart, Babagana Zulum. We are overly tired of the customary denunciations.

Though the killings of the rice farmers impinged on the very profundities of humanity, senseless atrocities by Boko Haram have been characterised by treachery and deceit. Last October, the implacable extremists drenched the irrigation fields near Maiduguri with the blood of 22 farmers in two separate incidents.

Like all Islamist sects, Boko Haram mutates, carrying out overwhelming raids on soft targets or exploding IEDs as it delights. Between July and November this year, Zulum’s convoy was assaulted on three occasions despite the heavy security around him. Soldiers, police officers, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and civilians were slain in those attacks.

Boko Haram has caused much trepidation and destruction to Nigerians. The New York Times reported on September 13, 2019, that Islamist extremists were better armed and had more advanced weapons than the less enthusiastic Nigerian military. it is difficult to understand why the government has failed to procure weapons from any country willing to assist in ending the festering savagery.

Already, following constant attacks on farmers, there is a palpable fear of food insecurity as farmers and the over two million people displaced are afraid to return home and their farms. According to international sources, the jihadists have flagrantly killed 36,000 persons. Former Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, however, generously put the death toll at 100,000.

Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, recently claimed that some of the insurgents that escaped from the Boko Haram territory are the ones operating as bandits in the Northwest, while some of them are involved in the kidnapping currently pervading the Southwest as well as the atrocities by herdsmen.

The reality is that the federal government is unable to withstand Boko Haram’s firepower and bloody campaign. Rather, it still lives in the past, endlessly referencing the initial success it achieved when it assumed power in 2015 by retaking the local government areas under the control of the insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

In the intervening period, the terror group has become more ferocious, attacking military formations at will and confiscating high calibre weapons. It solidified its firm grip over the Lake Chad Basin area, inducing a coalition by Chad, Niger and Cameroon against it, but Nigeria suffers the most drastic tolls in the group.

The military’s lacklustre performance in the war has led to widespread calls by Nigerians for the sack of the service chiefs and replace them with new ones with fresh ideas and solutions. But such calls have always been rebuffed by the president for reasons known to him. We make similar calls for their sack because they are bereft of new ideas to tackle insurgency.

This conflict is one of the biggest blights drooping on the conscience of the country’s leadership. It may never end because it mimics aloofness from Buhari and his commanders. The war is uncoordinated and purposeless, prompting even the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to admit to a longer duration of insurgency ahead.

Things have to change. President Buhari should be in sync with reality. Beyond his condemnation ritual, Nigeria’s commander-in-chief has to move out of his comfort zone and take real charge of the battle to see what goes on and stop relying solely on briefings. He should emulate Chadian president, Idriss Déby, who has led wars against Boko Haram on several occasions when his country was attacked.

With a reinvigorated objective, Nigeria can put an end to Boko Haram, but upon the condition that the present administration must be strategic. Haunted and devastated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014, Syria and Iraq turned to the West for succour. By the end of 2019, a Western coalition led by the United States had wiped out ISIS completely.

If the truth must be told, Nigeria cannot win this war on its own. The president has to go all out and attract greater international assistance if he is serious about defeating Boko Haram, which also has foreign backing from other terrorist groups like ISIS and a few countries.

Henceforward, captured Boko Haram suspects should be prosecuted. They should not be granted amnesty as is presently the case. Lately, the United Arab Emirates convicted six Nigerians for funding terrorism with $782,000. That is the way to go. Employing financial intelligence, Buhari should track and uncover the backers and financiers of insurgency, bringing them to justice.

There is an urgent need for Nigeria to restore its alliance with Cameroon, Chad and Niger, taking the lead with human and military resources. The coalition has to work together to hold down regained territories long enough to pare the insurgents’ influence. Also, the prolonged issue of insufficient weapons and corruption in the prosecution of the war should be settled forthwith.

Alalibo resides in Port Harcourt.

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Kpo Fire: Fuel Scarcity Looms, In Rivers …As Tanker Drivers Mull Strike Over Impounded Trucks

Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital and its environs may witness another scarcity of petroleum products as members of the Rivers State chapter of Petroleum Tanker Drivers unit of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Friday, February 14, began an indefinite strike in protest against what the members termed undue harassment from security agents in the state.

Investigation by The Vortex indicated that the tanker drivers were protesting alleged maltreatment of their members by personnel of the anti bunkering unit of The Nigerian Army and the Rivers State Taskforce on illegal parking and street trading whom they accused of harassing its members.

According to the drivers, soldiers of the Anti-Bunkering unit allegedly impounded a number of their vehicles on the allegations that the petroleum products which they claimed was officially loaded from the Abonnema Wharf depot, were adulterated products.

Narrating the reasons for the strike a chief driver in the Abonnema wharf depot who is also the chief security officer of the Tanker Drivers Unit in the area, Comrade Oyoyo said the crises erupted when a detachment of soldiers of the antibunkering team impounded some trucks at the Abonnema wharf/Azikiwe junction area alleging that the product contained in the trucks were adulterated.   

He said all entreaties from the leaders of the Union and the depot management on the soldiers to release the vehicles failed as the anti-bunkering officials impounded the trucks and took them to their office in Port Harcourt.

He described the actions of the soldiers as an effront on the Union and the management of the Nigerian Natural Petroleum Company (NNPC) as he insisted that the products were genuinely loaded from the Abonnema depot.

According to him the soldiers refused to release the vehicles even after documentary evidence were presented to them by the depot management to show that the products were loaded from the depot.

He wondered how soldiers who are not professionals in petroleum product quality could categorise and determine which product is kpo-fire’ or adulterated product.

Another driver, Comrade Williams, told The Vortex that the truck drivers are also protesting against the Rivers State Tasksforce on illegal parks and street trading, who they accused of impounding their trucks on the claim that the truck caused obstruction on the road.

Comrade Williams claimed that the Tanker driver was forced to parked along the road because of faults on the vehicle before the Taskforce Team swooped on the driver and impounded it, despite proofs that the vehicle was in faulty condition.

Williams disclosed that the Union had planned that the strike would go full scale on Monday February 18, stressing that union leaders “this morning ordered all drivers to down tool as a result  of the soldiers action against our members.”

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OGS Old Boys Class ’91 Holds Carol, Elects New Exco

As part of activities to mark the end of year, the Okrika Grammar School, Old Boys Association of Class ’91 held their maiden carol of nine lessons and election of a new executive to pilot the affairs of the body for next three years.

At a colourful event held at Tam Rose Suites, behind Chrisdoroon Hotel, Close to Christ Embassy Church, Egeleme, Okrika over the weekend, members unanimously returned all the former executives unopposed with a renowned administrator, Mr. Tamunokuro Fuayefika Loveday as President.

Also returned unopposed include Reginald Pelebo-Vice President, Engr. Alalibo Anthony – Secretary, Tubonemi Iwokiri – Financial Secretary, and Lambert Gift Welfare Officer.

Others are Erebele Saturday Treasurer, Tamunosiki Adubo – Provost and Atorudibo Cornelius – Public Relations Officer (PRO).

In his acceptance speech, the President of the Association, Comrade Tamunokuro Fuayefika Loveday thanked the members for the honour done him and his former Exco, saying that he was over-whelmed for returning them unopposed.

Loveday opined that the success achieved during the previous tenure was as a result of their unalloyed co-operation assuring that he would keep to their agenda of putting smiles on the faces of the families with the great men of the association, while promising that this tenure will be better that the previous administration.

In his sermon, an old student of Class ’91, Pastor Simeon Wariboko admonished all to plan for their future with a positive vision in life as God had plans for everybody whom he created, urging them to associate themselves with people of vision despite the challenges in life.

The man of God appealed to them to make positive resolution as the year is coming to an end and thanked the president of Class ’91, Comrade Tamunokuro Fuayefika Loveday for successfully piloting the affairs of the association to an enviable height.

He also commended the host, Hon. Tamuno-omie Daye for his love for the association, and urged all members to be dedicated to the association.

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Woman Drowns Son, 10 Years After First Attempt

A mother has been arrested after she drowned her 12-year-old son,  a decade after she first attempted to murder him by submerging him in water, police say.

Sherri Telnas, 45, reportedly drowned her son, Jackson Telnas, in an irrigation ditch in a cornfield in Porterville, California on Saturday.

Telnas allegedly tried to drown her seven-year-old son as well, identified as Jacob Ray Telnas.

Metro reports that both boys were rushed to the hospital where Jackson was pronounced dead and Jacob was listed in critical condition.

Witnesses reported that they saw Telnas walking ‘strangely’ with her children toward the field across from her home.

A neighbor and the boys’ grandmother were trying to revive them when deputies arrived.

This was not the first time Telnas tried to kill her child, according to Local 21.

In 2008, she tried to drown Jackson by walking into a river with him in Mineral County, Montana. She reportedly told police what she’d done afterwards. She pleaded guilty of criminal endangerment and the boy’s father was given custody of his son.

Although it is unclear why Jackson and Jacob were with their mother on Saturday.

Sherri Telnas’ relatives said the 2008 incident caused a rift in the family.

Tim Telnas and Elinor Brown said they are the victims’ uncle and aunt, but have not spoken to them for years.

Brown said: ‘Sherri wasn’t on the best of terms with the rest of the family,’ and added they found out about the first murder attempt through one of Telnas’ former coworkers. None of us believed it at first, because we found out through an old co-worker and at first it was like, “Oh yeah that happened ten years ago.”

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‘Why FG Must Audit Niger Delta Environment’

The Federal Government should carry out an urgent audit of the Niger delta environment to ascertain the level of degradation and possible remedy. This is one of the high points to be tabled by Senator George Thompson Sekibo as the 9th Senate resumes in June, 2019.

Re-elected to represent Rivers East, Senator George Thompson Sekibo also stated that fiscal federalism and devolution of power would be among his priorities as he returns to the Nigerian Senate

Speaking with The Vortex on his re-election into the upper chamber, Senator Sekibo said he will channel his efforts towards pursuing policies that will improve the lots and living standards of Rivers people.

According to the experienced lawmaker, true federation and devolution of power to states will guarantee greater development and benefit to the states and the grassroots in governance.

The senator also said he will pursue issues of the environment in the Niger delta stressing that since 1958, there has been no proper environmental audit in the region.

He stated that the issues of environment degradation in the Niger Delta has greatly affected the lives of the people of the region, emphasizing that he will in concert with like minds ensure that the problems of the region are proper tackled.

The Senator equally stated that the issues of non functional Seaports in the region especially those in Rivers state will also be pursued at the national assembly, and expressed dissatisfaction on the shutdown of the ports in the south-south, while others in other region are fully operational.

He however said he will collaborate with other law and policy makers who may be sympathetic or share the same deprivations in the area to actuate his plans.

Sekibo also indicated interests in working towards ensuring that the state controls its energy sources, as a way of controlling the supply and distribution of electricity for the benefit of the people noting that the monopoly of the energy sector by the Federal Government which makes power to be in the executive list has denied Rivers State the capacity to generate and distribute electricity.

According to him the state would have been enjoy 24hour power supply during the Dr. Odili administration but the effort was frustrated by the faults legal condition.

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FG Approves N5.5bn To Create 60,000 Jobs

The Federal Executive Council, FEC, has approved N5.595 billion for the creation of 60,000 jobs for youths in the country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma while briefing State House correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting  at the Council Chamber, Presidential villa, Abuja.

Senator Udoma explained that the contract which is under the N-Power Knowledge Multipack project was earmarked to train 12,000 youths between 18 and 25 years old, adding that each of the 12,000 youths will be empowered to train five youths, bringing the total beneficiaries to 60,000.

According to him, the contract, which was awarded under the Social Investment Programmes, will make provision of N259,000 for each of each of the youths, while N207, 000 each for their tools.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed disclosed that $6.8 million loan was approved for rebuilding of school in the North East.  

Special Adviser to the President on Media and publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said that the government has awarded 166 projects from the ecological fund and  93 of the projects have been completed and handed over to the different communities.

 Adesina said that 20 more of the ecological projects were ready, adding that most of the projects were on erosion and flood control.

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Sports NewsUncategorized

PH Fans Express Confidence Despite 2-0 Defeat By PSG

Manchester United football club fans in Port Harcourt said they have taken the 2-0 defeat by Paris Saint German (PSG) last Tuesday in good faith because they were the better team of the day.

Some fans who barred their minds in an interview with The Vortex sports desk in Port Harcourt said all hopes are not lost as their new coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who tasted his first defeat since he joined the club will restrategize the team as they hope to win the second leg even at PSG ground.

The fans however blamed one of the key players, Paul Pogba for his ungentlemanly behavior that earned him a red card as one of the reasons the defeat, adding that the coach was still testing the players that were recruited by the former Coach, Jose Morinho.

According to them, the center referee of the match also helped to spoil Manchester United record of winnings at a stretch, stressing that Man. United is a team to watch and support.

A sports analysts, Elder Eric Uzoma said it is football and there is nothing wrong with the 2-0 defeat by PSG, because they are better and they won, boasting that the second leg on PSG ground will not be a walk-over.

Another Man. U. fan, Barivule Akpo noted that the match was a high-tech encounter as PSG players are currently in high spirit adding that he was not sure any team could withstand them in the premier team.

Akpo said with the exit of coach Morinho, the new coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is putting the team in order and commended him for making them proud since he took over the coaching job.

He said, Manchester United has come to stay as they are improving as the league progresses, despite the fact that the referee was not too upright and PSG players are world class.

Ogbonna Okafor another loyal fan said, “It is a game and anything can happen in any match but I hope that the return leg will be different,” maintaining that Man. United team is the only club he will continue to support despite the 2-0 defeat by PSG.

He said, “I think Man. U. can still win the second leg. It is possible because their last match with Juventus at Old Trafford was not favourable but we beat them on their ground,”.

The coach should fortify the team and decide which player to use at any given match as Juan Mata did not play to expectation of the fans while Paul Pogba exhibited ungentlemanly behavior on the field.

“Pogba lost his temper and since United did not have a better substitute on the bench led to manage him”, he noted and express hope that the team and I hope the team will bounce back in the champions’ league, Okafor posited.

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