This Week: News

"Sex Slaves" Repatriated from Mali

Almost 100 Nigerian "sex slaves" have been repatriated back to Nigeria from Mali. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficked Persons (NAPTIP) announced that the 93 women and two babies are being held at the NAPTIP shelters, the Daughters of Abraham Foundation, and the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation. NAPTIP executive secretary Beatrice Jedy-Agba told a press briefing that nine suspected traffickers were being interrogated after being captured with the support of Malian authorities. The victims came from 17 different Nigerian states, with those from Edo and Delta states making up the vast majority. Several thousand more victims of trafficking are thought to be scattered across many other African countries, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal.

Train Boost for Osun Farmers

Farmers in Osun State have a lot to smile about with the start of the Osun Farmers Trains Initiative, which will allow them free transport for their goods to Lagos. The project is the idea of state governor Rauf Aregbesola, who is working with the Nigerian Railway Corporation. A lack of transport infrastructure has long been identified as a key block in enabling Nigerian farmers to get their goods to market. Farmers and agricultural traders will now be able to use 40 newly procured train wagons which will run a daily shuttle service from the Osun State capital, Oshogbo, to Lagos – both Osun and Lagos are governed by the Action Congress of Nigeria. Users of the train service are not charged for journeys, as it is anticipated that the project will provide a significant boost to the state economy.

Ex-Politician Turned Newspaper Magnate Dies

The death of Chief Alex Ibru has sent shockwaves through the Nigerian media and political establishment. Ibru, the publisher of the renowned Nigerian Guardian, died on Sunday after a protracted illness at the age of 66. He was an elder member of the Ibru business dynasty and established the Guardian in 1983. Ibru also held the position of minister of the interior during the military regime of Sani Abacha. He was known for reforms to the management of Nigerian prisons and the Immigration Service before resigning from the government in protest at its actions – shortly afterwards, an attempt was made on his life. Ibru was a known philanthropist, running both the Trinity Foundation and the Ibru Centre, which promotes religious harmony.

PDP Defies Court Order to Hold Bayelsa Primaries

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defied a federal court order to hold the Bayelsa State gubernatorial primaries last Saturday. The election for the ruling party's candidate in the upcoming state polls was won by Henry Seriake Dickson – thought to be the preferred candidates of the PDP hierarchy and the president - in a landslide victory - he gained 365 votes out of the available 368. Dickson, who currently represents Bayelsa State in the Federal House of Representatives, fought off the challenge of three other aspirants to claim the party ticket. The elections were marred by the walkout of other aspirants and statutory delegates, alongside the absence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) representatives. Incumbent governor Timipre Sylva was barred from contesting the elections by the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and had gone to the courts in order to postpone the election proceedings. The court order was dismissed by the party, which quoted section 87(1)) of the Electoral Act, which precludes the courts from stopping any party primaries or an election. It was reported that former Nigerian leaders Shehu Shagari and Yakubu Gowon urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to meddle in the affairs of his home state.

Smuggles Arms Impounded

A smuggled cache of arms and ammunition has been impounded by Nigerian customs in at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos. The cache, which included shotguns, a machine gun and a handgun, were found in the strong room of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company. The haul has been relocated by customs authorities to a government-owned warehouse in order to commence investigations into the origins of the weapons.

This Week: Politics

What is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) actually doing? This question has been plaguing my mind for the past few days. Ever the internal optimist, I cling onto the belief that the EFCC - such a crucial and sensitive organ in Nigeria's fight against corruption - must be going around the country slowly sweeping away those who have grown fat off the land through their ill-gotten gains. I hoped they had chosen not to play to the galleries and make a song and dance about their achievements; I hoped they were finding and prosecuting those who had held back the nation in favour of their own benefit; I hoped they were playing an active role in changing the psyche of Nigerians to be firmly against graft. But to give a stark reminder of the reality of things, can anyone point to one highly placed or well-known individual who currently languishes in a Nigerian jail cell after being convicted of any financial crime? Sadly, I cannot. What is the EFCC doing?

The Osun Farmers Trains initiative deserves praise – and in this case, imitation would be the most sincere, as well as appropriate, form of flattery. The lack of transport infrastructure is a key block to our farmers' progress, which, in turn, hampers any effort to reduce poverty in Nigeria. While we may all lament the need to catch planes to get anywhere in the country, the appalling state of the roads linking our states and a non-existent train network, for farmers this problems is even more severe, affecting profits and even survival. If farmers manage to produce goods to sell, but due to the lack of a reliable power supply cannot store them properly, or due to a lack of transport cannot get their goods to market, what is the point of their productivity? An excellent intiative that must be replicated elsewhere, so that farmers, consumers and the country as a whole can benefit from our comparative advantage in agriculture.

The death of Chief Alex Ibru has once again brought to fore the past atrocities of the Sani Abacha military regime (1993-1998). Chief Ibru survived an assassination attempt in 1996 on the orders of the military regime he had recently quit. His only crime was allowing his publication, The Guardian, to be impartial and forthright in its news reporting. The struggle to free Nigeria from the strangle hold of military oppression led to the loss of the lives of many Nigerian patriots. The murderous Abacha hit squads and intelligence agencies would silence any dissenting voices. Nigeria was a country in disarray. The brain drain that followed sapped Nigeria of many great minds. The death of Chief Ibru reminds us of those who fell victim to the struggle for democracy which we are now ‘enjoying'.

Writers of the Week:

Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ihirogba, writes an interesting article-cum-promotional piece on the achievements of the Lagos State government. In ‘Is Lagos Still Working?' Ihirogba outlines the achievements of the past four years and measures them against the current direction of revered state governor Babatunde Fashola. The article provides a perhaps expected answer to the title, given its author – yes, Lagos is working.

Telecommunications finance expert Dr Franklin Chidi writes "Mobile Money: the Opportunity and Challenges in Nigeria" for 234Next. The article details the rise in "mobile money" services in emerging markets generally and Nigeria in particular, while taking a view of the current framework and environment in Nigeria in relation to the growing "MM" market.

Website of the Week:

Proshareng.com is a financial and economic information portal which has been created as a direct response to the need for additional information and requirements for everyone in the fast-changing Nigerian financial market space. Proshareng provides businesses and governments with content and information platforms in relation to not only Nigeria but Africa as a whole. The website includes investment data and information on a variety of companies, alongside a portfolio of services which includes events, trainings, financial information intermediation and market reports.

Lagun Akinloye

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.