This Week: News

Achebe Snubs Award Again

In an embarrassing snub, literary icon Professor Chinua Achebe has rejected the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) for the second time. Achebe's rejection overshadowed the conferment on Monday of 360 awards to Nigerians from various fields, including sports, business, the arts and politics. When Achebe first rejected the award in 2004, he said he intended his decision to act as a wake up call for the then Obasanjo administration. "A small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom," he told the BBC. Achebe that this year's snub is because the situation he outlined in 2004 continues. Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said Achebe's rejection "flies in the face of reality", citing the clean elections of 2011 and "tremendous efforts to positively change the political architecture" made by the Jonathan administration.

PDP Blocks Sylva From Contesting Bayelsa

There have been more twists in the Bayelsa State gubernatorial primary elections as the People's Democratic Party ruled out current state governor Timipre Sylva and four other candidates from contesting elections scheduled for November 18. The party will now run a delegate election in 105 wards from the state's eight local government areas to elect 315 delegates who will join statutory delegates in picking the PDP candidate from a short list of seven. According to ThisDaynewspaper Sylva fell foul of the PDP hierarchy when he told a rally last week that he had not been disqualified. "For the avoidance of doubt, and in line with the provisions of our guidelines for primary elections, no aspirant can or should use a provisional certificate as a basis for unilaterally declaring himself or herself as a candidate of Peoples' Democratic Party for the gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa State," said a statement from the party's National Working Committee (NWC). Governor Sylva has said his rights as a party member had been violated by the NWC but pledged to abide by the decision. The move by the NWC ends months of political wrangling which was threatening to plunge the state into anarchy. The state primaries are scheduled for November 18.

UK-Nigeria Airline Spat Continues

It remains unclear at the time of publishing if a disagreement that led to a demand from the federal government that British Airways reduces its flights into Lagos from London has been resolved. Talks were ongoing Monday after it was reported that UK Prime Minister David Cameron appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan for assistance. The Nigerian aviation ministry came up with the demand after, it says, the 1958 Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) allowing carriers to enter the two countries unhindered was breached by UK airport authorities. Nigerian carrier Arik Air was stopped from landing flights at Heathrow, with the airline alleging that it paid £1.4 million (about $2.2 million) to a private company. Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah- Ogiemwonyi, said there is no going back on the decision highlighting that Arik Air had been unfairly treated and that the BASA must be respected in "spirit and letter".

Nollywood Star to Launch Human Rights Action

The lawyer representing Nollywood comedy actor Bababtunde Omidina Aka Baba Suwe has vowedto take a human rights case to the highest possible legal authorities. Babe Suwe was detained on suspicion of drug trafficking on October 11 before boarding an Air France flight to Paris. An airport body scanner at Lagos airport identified suspected drugs in his stomach which led to three weeks of incarceration on orders of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Baba Suwe was finally released on the orders of a Lagos Court after no drugs were excreted.

Border Security Revamped

The federal government has ordered the reactivation of 22 border security posts along Nigeria's borders in reaction to an upsurge in attacks from Boko Haram. The government believes there are weak spots on the country's border, especially where Nigeria neighbours Chad, Niger, Benin, Cameroon and, to a lesser extent, Mali. The attacks by Boko Haram – thought by some to have ties with groups operating in nearby countries - has led to an increased attention on national security generally, with a rise in security checks in cities and the posting of intelligence officers to busy hotels. The neglect of border security is thought to have led to an increase in the smuggling of light arms and an upsurge in cross-border crime.

This Week: Politics

Lagos State has once again proved itself a pacesetter with the recent announcement of its 2012budget. It is the first state in the federation to present a budget for scrutiny ahead of the new year, thus leaving adequate time for scrutiny by its state legislature. There are many lessons to be learned from the economic heart of Nigeria, not least the visionary leadership embodied by Babatunde Fashola. But this step in promoting efficient and accountable budgeting is one element of good governance that should be applauded and mimicked by other states.

Last week, This Week in Nigeria questioned why there has been so little tangible progress made on combating Boko Haram. This week, the government has leapt into action in an attempt to secure porous borders and beef up security both in Abuja and around the country. Military personnel have also been posted to all power generating facilities around the Nigeria. While the reasons behind the deployments have been shrouded in secrecy it would seem likely that this too is associated with Boko Haram. However, while visible protection is a step forward and undoubtedly comforting for Nigerians and visitors to Nigeria, perpetrators must be arrested prosecuted and convicted, and the root causes behind Boko Haram's ascendancy must be tackled.

Writers of the Week:

Nosa James-Igbinadolor writes an article for the National Mirror newspaper entitled ‘Why Nigeria Should Send Troops to Somalia'. Igbinadolor argues for Nigeria's intervention in war-torn Somalia based on past victories during the Liberian and Sierra Leonean crises in the 1990s. A highly interesting and polemical read which valorizes the capabilities of the Nigerian army and displays the writers knowledge of key moments in Nigeria's military history.

Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa's article ‘Triumph of Mediocrity' follows a trend of disillusion among Nigerian writers by asking where it all went wrong for Nigeria. In Isa's eyes, the answer to this is at the top, among the leaders. It is "persistent leadership failure" that has helped embed a culture of mediocrity, Isa says, pointing to leaders mis-appropriating economic growth as their successes and a tendency to believe a spiritual integrity means good leadership.

Website of the Week:

Kick off Nigeria is a website dedicated solely to domestic and international football news in Nigeria. The site, run by the media officer of the Nigerian men's national football team, Colin Udoh, provides up-to-date information on all the latest football news in Nigeria. A link to Udoh's Twitter page also allows fans to gain a closer feels of the internal goings on with the men's national team. A discussion forum is also available in which an array of topics are tackled.

Lagun Akinloye

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