News
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Southern Gaza Attack Claims The Lives Of Eight Israeli Troops

The military reported on Saturday that an explosion in southern Gaza claimed the lives of eight Israeli troops, making it the bloodiest attack on Israeli forces in recent memory.


The bombing was certain to incite fresh cries for a cease-fire by Israeli protestors, who have been engaged in a grinding battle for more than eight months with no signs of an end in sight. It also coincided with the government's facing popular outrage over young, ultra-Orthodox men's exemptions from military duty.


In response to a cross-border attack by Hamas and other militants on October 7 that resulted in almost 1,200 deaths and the kidnapping of 250 more, Israel launched an air and ground invasion of Gaza. Local health professionals report that over 37,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the Israeli offensive; they do not distinguish between militants and civilians. It has also unleashed a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where over 80% of the population has been displaced, and Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered efforts to bring in humanitarian aid, fueling widespread hunger.

The explosion on Saturday happened in Rafah, a southern city that Israel has determined to be the final significant stronghold of Hamas. Early in May, it dispatched ground forces to the city; it has not stated when the operation will conclude.

"They did it so we could live in this nation, even though they knew they could have to risk their lives for it. In a tweet on X, the previous Twitter platform, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote, "I salute them and hug their families."



According to the military, the explosion occurred in Rafah's Tal al-Sultan neighborhood shortly after five in the morning. An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated that it was either caused by an anti-tank missile or an explosive planted by Hamas. 

The Israel-Hamas war has been a contentious issue, with both Israel and Hamas expressing their disapproval. President Joe Biden recently unveiled a new cease-fire proposal that seeks the release of the roughly 120 hostages who remain in Gaza and an end to the fighting. While the international community has broadly embraced the plan, both Israel and Hamas have expressed misgivings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he will not halt the war until he achieves the twin goals of destroying Hamas' military and governing capabilities.


The inconclusive war has divided the Israeli public, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets each Saturday night to call on the government to reach a deal that would bring the hostages home. The Israeli government has already pronounced over 40 of the hostages held by Hamas dead, and officials fear that number could grow the longer they remain in captivity.


At a rally Saturday evening, participants watched a video message from Andrey Kozlov, who was rescued from Hamas captivity a week ago. He asked them to bring the hostages home as soon as possible. The deadly explosion also comes days after Netanyahu’s coalition voted in favor of extending the controversial exemptions from the military draft given to ultra-Orthodox men.


Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered an end to government subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men who don’t serve in the army. However, Netanyahu’s government, which includes politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties, has found ways to keep money flowing to religious institutions. The government is still under orders to pass a new draft law.


Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, was the only member of Netanyahu’s coalition to vote against this week’s legislation. Gallant has insisted that all sectors of Israeli society contribute equally during its war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. If Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners leave the government, the country would be forced into new elections at a time when Netanyahu’s popularity is low and his re-election prospects are questionable.


Months of cease-fire negotiations have failed to find common ground between Israelis and Hamas. Hamas has continually called for a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza as part of any deal that would see the hostages released. While the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden includes these two provisions, Hamas has expressed concern about whether Israel will commit to them.

(AP)

World
about 16 hours ago

Federal Prohibition On Gun "Bump Stocks" Is Rejected By The US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected yet another firearms prohibition on Friday, this time one that was put in place by Republican former President Donald Trump. The ruling declared illegal a federal ban on "bump stock" devices, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices upheld the decision of a lower court that had sided with Austin, Texas, gun rights activist and gun shop owner Michael Cargill. Cargill had challenged the ban, arguing that a federal law prohibiting machine guns had been improperly interpreted by a U.S. agency to include bump stocks. The liberal justices dissented, leaving the conservative justices in the majority.

Following the use of the devices in a 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead, the Trump administration implemented the rule in 2019.

The ruling, according to Democratic President Joe Biden, "strikes down an important gun safety regulation." His administration had defended the legislation in court.

"Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation," Biden stated, adding that he has "used every tool in my administration to stamp out gun violence."

"I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take additional action to save lives. Send me a bill, and I will sign it immediately," Biden stated.


In the US election on November 5th, Trump is running against Biden. Karoline, the spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said after the ruling, "The court has spoken, and their decision should be respected," and called him a "fierce defender" of gun rights.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a "machine gun" because it cannot fire more than one shot "by a single function of the trigger." The ruling, which was issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), overstepped its authority by classifying bump stocks as machine guns. Federal law prohibits the sale or possession of machine guns, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


The ruling has been criticized by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who believes it would have "deadly consequences," as it cast aside Congress's will to embrace an "artificially narrow definition" of a machine gun, allowing gun users and manufacturers to circumvent the law. The court's majority focused heavily on the internal mechanisms of the firearm and used six diagrams and an animation to reach its conclusion when bump stock-equipped firearms are clearly machine guns.


The Supreme Court has taken an expansive view of gun rights, striking down gun restrictions in major cases in 2008, 2010, and 2022. In 2022, the court set a tough new standard for determining the legality of gun regulations, striking down New York state's limits on carrying concealed handguns outside the home. Mark Chenoweth, president of the conservative legal group New Civil Liberties Alliance that represented Cargill, hailed the ruling, while John Feinblatt, president of the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, urged Congress to outlaw bump stocks.


The United States is deeply divided over how to address gun violence, with Democrats favoring tougher gun restrictions and Republicans often opposing them. The justices are expected to rule by the end of June in another gun rights case.

(Reuters)

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In The Midst Of The Horrific Israel-Hamas Conflict, Muslims Begin The Hajj

Friday marked the official beginning of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage as Muslim pilgrims from the Saudi city of Mecca gathered at a sizable tent camp in the desert, despite the intense heat. They had already circled the Grand Mosque, the holiest place in Islam, which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba.


Since more pilgrims from Saudi Arabia joined the ranks, the number of pilgrims gathering in and around Mecca for the Hajj has surpassed 1.5 million from all over the world. This year, authorities anticipated that the number would surpass two million.

The fierce Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, which has brought the Middle East dangerously close to a wider confrontation, is the backdrop against which this year's Hajj is taking place.




Due to the siege, Palestinians in Gaza were unable to visit Mecca this year at the Rafah crossing in May, when Israel expanded its ground offensive to the coastal strip’s southern city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a significant spiritual experience for Muslims who believe it absolves sins and brings them closer to God. This year's Hajj saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Mecca on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade, as part of an ongoing thaw in relations between Saudi Arabia and conflict-stricken Syria. The pilgrims have been circling around the cube-shaped Kaaba in the seven-minaret Grand Mosque since arriving in Mecca in recent days.


Saudi authorities have adopted security restrictions in and around Mecca, with checkpoints on roads leading to the city, to prevent those who don't have Hajj permits from reaching the holy sites. Many who attempted to take pilgrims without Hajj permits have been arrested; most were expelled from the country, while travel agents face up to six months in prison. More than 256,000 visitors were not allowed to reach the holy sites because they lacked Hajj permits, and others whose incomplete papers paid fines were allowed into Mecca.


On Friday, the pilgrims made their way to Mina to officially start the Hajj. They will then move for a daylong vigil on Saturday on Mount Arafat, a desert hill where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final speech. Healthy pilgrims make the trip on foot; others use a bus or train. The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, as it's set for five days in the second week of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade, and when it falls in the summer, temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).


Many pilgrims carry umbrellas for protection from the burning sun, and in Mina, charities handed out cold water. Cooling stations sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down. The faithful set up in their tents, resting and praying together to prepare for the coming rituals. After Saturday's warship in Arafat, pilgrims travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles to use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.


Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor. Afterward, they return to Mecca for a final circumambulation. In recent years, the annual pilgrimage has returned to its monumental scale after three years of heavy restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. In 2023, more than 1.8 million pilgrims performed the Hajj, approaching the 2019 level, when more than 2.4 million participated.

(AP)

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Pope Francis Is Scheduled To Deliver The Opening Remarks At A G7 Meeting

Pope Francis is not new to artificial intelligence; in fact, a deepfake image of him wearing a white puffer jacket went viral last year. However, his worries about the technology have grown beyond this embarrassing image, and they are now the main topic of discussion at the Group of Seven summit.


It will be Francis's first speech as pope to the G7 leaders at their annual meeting in southern Italy on Friday. He plans to take advantage of the opportunity to join the chorus of nations and international organizations calling for more regulations on artificial intelligence in the wake of the explosion in generative AI, which was sparked by OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot.


This year, the Argentine pope called for an international treaty to guarantee that artificial intelligence be developed and used ethnically in his yearly message of peace. He contends that a technology lacking human values of compassion, mercy, morality, and forgiveness is too perilous to develop unchecked.

Giorgia Meloni, the premier of Italy, invited Francis and made his presence known despite the possible consequences of his John Kirton, the director of the G7 Research Group think tank at the University of Toronto and a political scientist, described the pope as "a very special kind of celebrity."


Kirton noted that the last summit with star power of this caliber took place in 2005 at Gleneagles, Scotland, where participants resolved to waive the $40 billion in debt that eighteen of the world's poorest nations owed the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


charismatic power and moral authority to combine his values of social justice and peace with a widely held worry about artificial intelligence.

Prior to that meeting, nearly a million people attended the Live8 event in London, which was organized in solidarity against famine and poverty in Africa and featured Sting, The Who, and a reformed Pink Floyd.


According to Kirton, "Gleneagles really hit a home run and for some, it's one of the most successful summits."

In the Italian city of Puglia, the G7 leaders are not subject to the same public pressure, but Francis is anticipated to use his own moral authority to reiterate his calls for AI safety measures and draw attention to the dangers AI poses to society and peace.



The ability of generative AI technology to generate reactions that resemble those of a human has astounded the globe, but it has also raised concerns about AI safety and resulted in disorganized global efforts to rein it in.

Francis echoed concerns about the potential risks of AI, including creating new bioweapons and supercharging disinformation, and its impact on everyday life through algorithmic bias and job loss.

He emphasized the importance of ensuring fundamental human rights, promoting peace, and guarding against disinformation, discrimination, and distortion. The G7 members have been at the forefront of the debate on AI oversight, with Japan launching its Hiroshima AI process and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida revealing a framework for global regulation of generative AI.

The European Union has introduced its wide-ranging AI Act, targeting AI products or services in 27 nations. In the US, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on AI safeguards and called for legislation to strengthen them. Antitrust enforcers have been scrutinizing big AI companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and OpenAI over whether their dominant positions stifle competition.

Britain initiated a global dialogue on reining in AI's extreme dangers with a summit last fall, and France is set to host another meeting in the series.

(AP)

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Trump Makes His First Visit To Capitol Hill Since The Unrest On January 6

On his first trip back to Capitol Hill since the riot on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump is meeting with Republicans.

In his message of togetherness, the presumed Republican nominee for president in November promised to "work out" any remaining issues with fellow Republicans.

The former president was also supposed to meet with a group of 200 business executives later that day.

In a statement, former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that Trump was the "instigator of an insurrection... returning to the scene of the crime.".

Weeks have passed since Trump was found guilty of falsifying business records during his hush-money trial in New York.

By the time he reached a Republican office building close to the US Capitol on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators brandishing signs reading "failed coup" and "Democracy Forever, Trump Never" had already passed.

During a brief press conference early on Thursday afternoon, Trump declared that the party was in "great unity" and swore to support other Republicans, even if they had occasionally had a tense history.

"Everyone, I'm with you. I'll always be by your side," he declared. "If [a relationship] wasn't fantastic, it gets worked out."

"We have one thing in mind, and that's making our county great again," he stated.

Following the press conference, Trump gave reporters the finger and waved instead of answering any questions at a small group of supporters shouting "I love you".

"Thank you," he mouthed in response.

House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have expressed their belief that the former president has brought an extraordinary amount of energy and enthusiasm to a meeting between Trump and House Republicans. McConnell called the visit "really positive" and noted that Trump received standing ovations. Other Trump critics included Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Louisiana's Bill Cassidy. Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley described Trump as "extremely gracious" and "warm" to Senate Republicans, stating that he had the warmest meeting with them in five years.


Trump reportedly called the Wisconsin city of Milwaukee, which will host the Republican National Convention later this year, "terrible," referring to crime in the city rather than the city itself. Trump called Johnson to help reverse his conviction on 34 counts of falsifying documents in New York, but New York Republican Representative Marcus Molinaro told CBS that Trump made no mention of the conviction during the meeting with House Republicans. Trump urged supporters to "fight like hell" just hours before a mob stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a failed bid to prevent the certification of the election.


Mrs. Pelosi stated that Trump comes to Capitol Hill with the same mission of dismantling democracy and has already cemented his legacy of shame in the hallowed halls.

(BBC)

Education
Education
4 days ago

Kano Collaborates With PLANE To Revitalize Education Sector

Balarabe Abdullahi Kiru


Kano State Government has reiterated its total commitment to work closely with the Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE) to revitalize the state education sector.


The State Commissioner of Education, Umar Haruna Doguwa, gave the assurance on Tuesday while receiving a team from the PLANE (FCDO) head office, Abuja that paid him a courtesy visit to his office.


Umar Doguwa explained that so far, Kano benefited a lot from the intervention projects of PLANE which according to him, yielded positive impacts on the present administration's commitment in ensuring quality education in the state.


The Commissioner said it is obvious the present administration had inherited the state education sector in a stage of total dilapidation and decay of school infrastructures and lack of instructional materials resulting in a non-conducive learning environment.


He said: "We have produced a documentary program portraying total neglect and decay of the education sector meaning that we have a lot to do to address all the challenges of the education sector.”


The Commissioner therefore maintained that the administration is fully determined to work with relevant stakeholders like PLANE to ensure that all the problems inherited from the immediate past administration in the education sector are critically addressed.


He explained that there are three basic components that the present administration focuses on to improve the education sector which bordered around access, quality, and infrastructure development in schools.


"Presently, the administration is more concerned on the issue of access to education by the out-of-school children we have in the state and the quality of the education being given to students.


"So, as we thank and appreciate your intervention programs on education in Kano, we are still urging PLANE to fully engage with the present administration in providing access opportunity and quality education to our children," he disclosed.


Earlier, the Deputy National Team Lead, FCDO, Sam Achimugu, said the team was at the Commissioner's office to inform him of the intervention programs executed in Kano by PLANE specifically in the education sector.


He explained that under the project, over 8000 primary school teachers were trained in Kano and the program was conducted with the full collaboration of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).


Other intervention programs according to the team leader, include coordination of book distribution and other learning materials at the classroom level across the 532 schools in Kano, supporting 35 school-based management committees that sensitized stakeholders on book care and maintenance among others.


He said to restore the quality of education in the state, the Kano Government in conjunction with PLANE had recently formed a 19-member Committee to organize a Conference on Education Recovery, stressing that preparations had gone far for the commencement of the conference.


"This conference is aimed at facilitating technical deliberations on education access, including topical issues like out-of-school children, Almajiri school system, Qur'anic and Tsangaya education, teacher professional development, girls education, and female teacher shortage especially in rural areas among others," he disclosed.


While appreciating the immense support and cooperation given to the project by the administration, Sam explained that to achieve better results of the intervention program, the ministry should try as much as possible to provide essential documents, and indicators and ensure the sustainability of any development project embark upon with PLANE.

 

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Zulum Approves N4.8bn Foreign, Local Scholarship

Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, has approved N4.8 billion foreign and local scholarships for 524 Brono indigenes to study postgraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


He flagged off the scholarship scheme on Friday at the multi-purpose hall of the Government House, Maiduguri.


The Governor said his government had allocated a total of ₦4,852,955,000 for scholarships, with ₦241,000,000 for the tuition fees of 241 Master's degree candidates in Nigerian universities; ₦141,000,000 for the tuition fees of 94 PhD candidates in Nigerian universities; ₦1,105,500,000 for the tuition fees of 147 Master's degree candidates to study abroad and ₦286,350,000 for the tuition fees of 42 PhD candidates to study abroad.


He charged the beneficiaries to be dedicated to their studies and exploit all opportunities that would add value to their professional roles.


“It is imperative to emphasise that with great opportunities come great responsibilities. Scholarship recipients must recognise this rare opportunity and approach their academic pursuits with diligence and dedication. We expect you to demonstrate a strong commitment to your studies and, subsequently, to any professional roles you undertake,” Zulum said.


He added, “This dedication is crucial to ensuring that the benefits of your education contribute directly to the development and progress of our state. We trust that you will honour this commitment and use your knowledge and skills to make a meaningful impact on our community.”


Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Engr Lawan Abba Wakilbe, reiterated Governor Zulum’s commitment to providing scholarships for Borno indigenes.


Wakilbe said it is imperative to highlight the significant strides that Zulum's administration had made in awarding scholarships.


He said that from May 2019 to date, a total of ₦8,864,495,010.70 had been spent on scholarships.


“Notably, since May 29th, 2023, ₦5,237,938,366 has been allocated for scholarships, exclusive of the ₦4,582,955,000 we are disbursing today. This reflects Zulum’s commitment to investing in the knowledge and training necessary for the advancement of our beloved state,” the commissioner said.


The flag-off ceremony was attended by the state chairman of APC, Honourable Bello Ayuba; the Deputy Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly, Engr Abdullahi Askira; Majority leader Dige Mohammed and other members of the house.


Also present were the Secretary to the State Government, Bukar Tijani; the Head of Service, Barr Mallam Fannami, Commissioners and other top government officials.

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Zulum Opens 6 Schools, Unveils Strategy to Increase Enrollment

Borno State Governor Babagana Umara Zulum on Tuesday commissioned six new secondary schools constructed by his administration.


The governor also unveiled a “build back better strategy" aimed at increasing enrollment of new students.


The newly commissioned schools were equipped with modern teaching facilities and sporting complexes.


They are Government Day Secondary School, Maiduguri; Government Day Secondary School, 777 Housing Estate; Government Day Secondary School, 1000 Housing Estate; Government Junior Day Secondary School, Wulari; Government Day Secondary School, Bulanulin Diyabe and Government Day Secondary School, Gonifamgari.


As part of the "build back better strategy," the government also launched the distribution of school items for 100,000 students who will be enrolled in public schools across the state for the 2024/2025 academic session.


Meanwhile, Governor Zulum has stated that all the projects executed by his administration are owned and funded by the Borno State Government.


He stated, “Before I go on, I want to clarify certain things that are not well understood by many in Borno State; all those projects you are seeing, some with the inscription of World Bank project, the African Development Bank project, and so on, are not their projects.


“The projects are funded by the Borno State Government. When I came in, I asked the Adolescent Girl-Child Education, AGILE, why do you completely take ownership of the projects, writing (AGILE) in all the spaces.


"I don't have any problem with that, but I think our people need to understand that all these projects belong to the Government of Borno State.


“We borrowed the money, and we are going to pay it back; even federal government-funded projects are those that the federal government borrowed from the World Bank. But repayment is made from the federation account, of which the Borno state is part.


“This AGILE project, for example, is a 60m dollar project, am I right? The Borno state government borrowed it, which will be paid back within 25 years with a moratorium of five years.”


“The World Bank provides some guidance, especially in procurement and safeguarding, both environmental and social safeguards. And most especially, monitoring and evaluation, among others.


This is to ensure that projects are implemented according to the components designed and agreed upon by the sub-national governments and duly signed under a subsidiary loan agreement by the government of Borno State.


“As a borrower and horizontal coordinator, the federal government provides oversight for implementing the project at the national level. I think some people do not understand when they see projects with the World Bank inscription on them. However, the projects completely belong to the government of Borno State.


“When we took over the mantle of leadership as Government of Borno state, a continuation of the previous administration. We decided to provide access to ensure children's enrollment in schools.


“Boko Haram insurgency has created a severe gap in that direction. So, AGILE was meant to breach the education gap, especially in girl-child education.


“I believe after I complete my four-year tenure, the next Governor who is coming, if he wants to work, I think he will divert most of his attention to service delivery because I will almost complete the construction of all schools in Borno State.”

Agriculture
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‘Take Advantage of Boom in Cocoa to Recreate Economy’ - Cocoa Farmers Tells FG

The President of the National Cocoa Farmers Association, Comrade Adeola Adegoke has raised concerns that the Nigerian Government is yet to take advantage of the boom in cocoa which can recreate the nation’s economy.


He said that based on the reality of the existing cocoa prices in the world there is no doubt that the farmers are smiling to the banks as against previous years when the farmers were wallowing in poverty.


At the weekend, he spoke at a Cocoa sector stakeholders' roundtable on Nigeria’s readiness to comply with the EUDR by the National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC) held in Abuja.


Speaking on the sidelines of the roundtable, he said there is a need based on the richness of Nigeria in cocoa, for the Government to develop a special interest in Cocoa, the highest foreign exchange earner today at N11m per ton.


He said that the cocoa economy would ameliorate the criminality in the forex.


“If we are having a ton of cocoa for N11 million at present, it shows the potential that the cocoa economy can bring in terms of the forex challenges we are still battling with

“So that is why we believe Nigeria cannot look away. And in those olden days, when we had professors they were traced to be the children of cocoa farmers.”


He said, wealth was synonymous with cocoa farmers when Nigeria was a leading producer but that when the oil came and distracted the government, investment in cocoa went down and the farmers became poor,“ But something happened in between, and that is why we say, yes, this is an opportunity for Nigeria. Because the problem we are having is that we are having issues with production.


“What we are having, we are having issues with forex. Cocoa can solve some of these things. When we make more forex Nigeria makes more money. When Nigeria makes more money, we can put more money into production.


“So cocoa is a game changer, it can change the narratives from a consumption economy to that of the production economy.


So with this excitement we are witnessing today with the cocoa economy, with this kind of getting a ton of cocoa at N11 million which is unprecedented, I wonder if anybody will take to Yahoo Yahoo, I don’t know how you can surpass this kind of money-making treasure.


“So this is a game changer for the government to invest more in the system, invest more in the life of cocoa farmers, to empower their livelihood, create a kind of production, encourage our youth to go into it. “Let’s support our existing farmers.


Let’s create a kind of backward integration whereby Nigeria will not only be exporting raw materials, as at today we export about 90% of our cocoa raw. We don’t need that. We need to create jobs. We need to kick-start our economy.


“We need to make sure that we support the processing. We need to make sure that the byproduct of our cocoa in value additions is very important. These are important things that we can create serious investment.


“Ghana today relies more on the cocoa economy. No doubt about that, don’t forget that originally, Nigeria was almost the largest producer of Cocoa, and today where are we?

And we can’t continue like this.


“I can tell you, with what we’re having in the cocoa economy today, it’s a kind of prospect for the government. It’s a win-win situation for the farmers, the valuation operators, for the industry players, the government will make more money the state will also make more money and the local government will make more money.


“It creates jobs and it’s a kind of excitement to discover youths because youths want to be convinced that they can make reasonable money. With this, I wonder how much you’ll be making as Yahoo, Yahoo advocate.


“If you have three tons of Cocoa, you are already talking of N33m. And I think this is an eye-opener.


“It gives a kind of future for our country and this can readjust our economy and reawaken our GDP and make our country work well and solve the problems of our forests.”


On the issue of Nigeria's Cocoa not meeting the EU standard, he said at the World Cocoa Conference held in Brazil in 2024, for the first time in the history of the Conference, the living income became a big priority.


“As of today, now, a living income has become a fundamental right, just like we have child labor as a fundamental issue that you cannot just deprive any child of their access to education. You can’t put heavy loads on a child and you can’t have children that are supposed to be in school working for you. It is a crime.


“Likewise we are having a living income for our farmers. You cannot just be buying irresponsibly and expecting a responsible cocoa economy. So the highlight was that there should be a decent price, a living price for our cocoa as a right of every farmer.


“So it shows that farmers will now try to be encouraged to adhere strictly to the practices.

“Let me tell you when Nigeria was known to be the best cocoa in the whole world ahead of Ghana, it was the same incidence where our farmers were making more money.


“People have reasons to invest more when they make more money, you understand, it’s an incentive. But the moment you are not making money from it, the incentive is not there

“It is because of the demoralization farmers suffered that has affected our compliance. But I can tell you that our farmers with this level of what we are asking, everybody is ready to do the necessary thing.


“You apply your pesticides and fertilizers reasonably by making sure you don’t over-saturate your farms with chemicals that give the residues.


“There are a lot of issues and I said Nigeria must start to invest in capacity building. Do we have extension workers? How many extension workers do we have? They are not there when you make a comparison with the older days.


“We had extension workers that had motorcycles but go to most of these ministries today, there are no extension services. The job of an extension worker might be a ratio of one to 50 farmers. Do we have that? We don’t have that.


“That’s why I say the government should invest in cocoa. It means the government will invest in research and development through the Cocoa Research Institute. The government must also invest in inputs for farmers that are subsidized.


“In terms of seedlings, there are varieties that yield fruits in 18 months. They give one and a half or two and a half tons per hectare.


“These are issues. For example, Nigeria is falling behind about 300 to 400 kilograms per hectare. Where we are supposed to be producing about close to 800 kilograms per hectare. You know that we are losing.


“So this is exactly what we need, capacity building, we need investment. And like I said, why are our factories not working? Why are we exporting at a 90 percent rate? We can’t continue. Why are our youth jobless when we have raw materials that can do all these things?


With the Cocoa economy, “We can’t be talking about the forex crisis, we can’t be talking about inflation, if we are not doing the backward integrations and what of the by-products, what are we doing in value additions on some of these things.


“These are things that are critical and germane to uplift each of the communities that are associated with the production of cocoa.”       


(National Update)          

Agriculture
9 days ago

Kano Governor Flags off KSADP Road Projects

Kano State Governor, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf on Thursday, flagged off the construction of two access roads in Dawakin Kudu local government area, under the Kano State Agro-pastoral Development Project (KSADP) at the combined sum of N2, 453, 105. 743. 20.


The two road projects, totalling 14. 728 km are Mil Goma – Yankatsare and Rigiyar Gwangwan road network, awarded to Messrs RADOC Construction JV Limited with a completion period of 12 months.


The KSADP, funded by the Islamic Development Bank, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund and the government of Kano state, is constructing 70km of roads linking several communities in different parts of the state, at the cost of N9.97 billion, to facilitate economic activities including movement of people, commodities and animals to and from farmlands, markets as well as towns across the state.


During the well-attended ceremony, Governor Yusuf said his administration is determined to put in place viable projects that would enhance the quality of lives of rural dwellers.


“As we promised to work with all our friends, including the development partners, this day marks the fruition of another effort between these partners and Kano state government, to resolve some of the nail-biting problems facing the state”, he stated.


The governor added the rod projects embarked upon in collaboration with the development partners cut across the three senatorial zones of the state with the aim of enhancing agricultural and rural development.


Governor Yusuf thanked the Islamic Development Bank and the Lives and Livelihoods Fund for supporting the state to achieve major milestones in rural and agricultural transformation, hoping the partnership will continue to wax stronger.


KSADP, now in its third year of implementation has been instrumental in transforming the lives of thousands of beneficiaries through a series of impactful initiatives.


With a core mission to alleviate poverty by 30 percent and strengthen food and nutrition security, KSADP aims to achieve a significant 50 percent reduction in the number of individuals affected by chronic food shortages.


This ambitious endeavor directly impacts an impressive 1, 260, 000 beneficiaries across Kano state, focusing on sustainable development of selected livestock and crop value chains.


The project’s scope extends to smallholder farmers actively engaged in chosen agricultural value chains, as well as other key stakeholders as input suppliers, service providers, processors, marketers, and traders.


By fostering collaboration and driving innovation within the agricultural sector, KSADP is making substantial strides towards fostering economic development and resilience within Kano state.


Credit: Ameen K. Yassar

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Governor Yusuf Lauds President Tinubu for Donating 70 Trucks of Fertilizer to Kano Farmers

Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, has lauded President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his generous donation of seventy trucks of fertilizer in support of agricultural activities in Kano.


This was contained in a statement issued by the Governor's spokesperson, Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, on Thursday.


During the inauguration of rural access roads in Dawakin Kudu Local Government, the Governor announced that the President had graciously provided seventy trucks of fertilizer to be promptly distributed to farmers in Kano.


The Governor expressed his delight in informing the public of the President's generous donation and extended heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the government and the gracious people of Kano for the President's support towards their farmers.


“Kano remains steadfast in its commitment to agricultural transformation by ensuring the accessibility and affordability of high-quality agricultural inputs to enhance crop production within the state,” he said.


Previously, the Governor had directed the state-owned Kano Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO) to begin extensive production of fertilizer in preparation for the upcoming 2024 rainy season, intending to aid smallholder farmers across the state.


As one of Nigeria's leading crop-producing states, Kano is blessed with vast arable land suitable for cultivating staple crops such as rice, maize, soybeans, groundnuts, sesame, hibiscus, and sorghum.

Health
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UK-Lafiya Program, Al-yaqeen Waqaf foundation Trains Female Health Ambassador in Miga

Isiyaku Ahmed


The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Program Lafiya-UK supported communities in 18 local government areas of Jigawa state for the establishment of the "Waqaf Foundation" (charity foundation) for grassroots sustainable humanitarian intervention.


The aim was to train Al-yaqeen Waqaf Foundation female Health ambassadors.


Participants of the training were carefully selected across the 23 village head communities to identify those less privileged who cannot pay for health care services and link them up with the foundation to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and ensure universal health coverage across the LGA.


In his remarks, the Chairman board of trustees of Alh Garba Mohammed Koguna of Dutse District head of Miga LGA, said the objectives of training the Jakadun Lafiya were to support health groups to cater to pregnant women, child delivery, children, and orphans.


“We discovered that in Jigawa there are male health ambassadors who do not usually give enough explanation to the issues of women’s health, especially in the case of delivery.


“The State had over 12,000 Jakadun lafiya (health ambassadors) volunteers recruited to strengthen the public health system in the state, but one of the shortfalls of the initiatives was that all the volunteers were Males, while maternal health issues directly affected the females.


“Other challenges with the male Jakadun Lafiya are cultural and religious issues.

“These Male health ambassadors find it difficult to interface directly with the women, as a result of these issues the Al-yaqeen WAQF foundation initiated a new dimension of working with Female Health Ambassadors to provide a sustainable solution to RMNCHA±N services in Miga LGA.


RMNCHA±N is Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Nutrition, a strategy that provides a strong platform for the delivery of services across the entire healthcare.


The Charity Foundation collaborates with the Lafiya -Uk Programme of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).


Sulaiman Miga said: “We informed them of this new initiative and the UK-Lafiya Programme offered to train the Female Jakadun Lafiya on basic health services for pregnant women and safe child delivery.  


“Our Female Jakadun Lafiya are now equipped to handle basic health issues for pregnant women.”


Female Jakadun lafiya are also expected to create demand and work harmoniously with other community structures to improve access to health services.


One of the many female health ambassadors, Fatima Muhammed, from Miga Local Government was thankful for being selected as jakadun lafiya.


“First my prayer is that Allah should give us the strength to discharge the responsibility and trust bestowed upon us.


“My knowledge of healthy living that concerns women, especially pregnant women, gained a lot from the training has improved.


“Usually, pregnant women here do not sleep under mosquito nets, but, from this training, I know it is a bad habit. Mosquito bite causes malaria and it can lead to the death of a pregnant woman.


“Also, I learned that pregnant women should do one form of exercise or the other to prevent swollen legs or any part of the body.


“More importantly, is that women should visit clinics regularly and ensure that they give birth in a hospital to avoid complications.

Health
13 days ago

Use of Sniper for Food Preservation Causes Cancer, Death - NAFDAC

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has once again warned Nigerians about using dangerous chemicals to preserve food items.


Specifically, the agency has banned and emphasized the dangers associated with dichlorvos, a chemical commonly utilized by traders to safeguard food from spoilage.


A statement by the Resident Media Consultant to NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, said the agency showed concerns over the recent viral video showing individuals using dangerous chemicals to preserve food items like beans, stockfish, and crayfish.


“The sale of small volume dichlorvos (100 ml or less), sold as Sniper® has been banned since 2019 while the sale of the large volume (one liter) is limited to certified agrochemicals outlets. NAFDAC underscores the toxicity of dichlorvos to human health, cautioning that its use can have fatal consequences.”


The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, urged traders and merchants to desist from using unauthorized chemicals on food meant for human consumption.


She said: "The misuse of dichlorvos poses significant risks to human health, manifesting in both short-term and long-term consequences. Long-term exposure can result in severe health implications, including developmental abnormalities in offspring, memory loss, reduced fertility, and potential carcinogenic effects.


"These adverse effects highlight the importance of adhering to safety guidelines to mitigate the risks associated with dichlorvos exposure.”


Similarly, the Director of Veterinary Medicine and Applied Products (VMAP), Dr Rametu Momodu, reiterated that using certain chemicals, especially pesticides, to protect grains and prevent beans from having weevils is not approved.


She explained that there are approved pesticides for use as fumigants, which should be used according to the manufacturer’s specifications on the product label.


Dr. Momodu stressed that these products should not be applied directly to food due to their inherent dangers to human health.


She further elaborated that consuming food contaminated with dichlorvos can cause dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, tremors, and convulsions, and in some cases, can lead to coma and death.


The Veterinary expert warned that once used, pesticide residues remain on or in the food, posing significant health risks. Washing the food does not mitigate the risk, as the harmful substance would have already soaked into it.


She emphasized that the Agency cannot recommend washing as a solution, as it gives a false sense of security.


“Instead, she urged grain merchants, market vendors, and farmers to adhere strictly to manufacturer guidelines and refrain from directly applying dichlorvos to beans and other foodstuffs. It should be used as intended, either as a field crop treatment or a fumigant, to ensure food safety.”


Momodu also advised consumers to avoid buying from vendors known to use such practices and to report them to the nearest NAFDAC office for appropriate sanctions.

NAFDAC DG, Adeyeye further emphasized alternative methods for preserving food, mentioning the use of bio-pesticides as a safer option than dichlorvos.


She noted that food remaining unspoiled for an extended period might indicate pesticide contamination rather than freshness unless stored in the refrigerator.


In addition to the banning of the 100 ml size bottle, the NAFDAC DG said the agency has implemented several initiatives such as stakeholders’ sensitization meetings on restricting the direct application of dichlorvos on grains and foodstuffs and thorough laboratory testing to ensure pesticide residues do not exceed maximum limits for both in-country consumption and for exports.


She said, “Routine monitoring of stakeholders is also conducted to ensure compliance.”

Adeyeye continued NAFDAC’s commitment to global best practices, including the phase-out of certain pesticides that have been banned in other countries due to proven toxicity.

She also acknowledged the challenges faced by farmers due to bans on various chemicals and emphasized the importance of transitioning to safer alternatives.


Addressing misconceptions about banned chemicals being dumped in Nigeria, she clarified that comprehensive lists have been provided to the media to dispel such notions.

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Peace & Security
Peace and Security
1 day ago

Defense Minister Urges Youth Council to Join Fight Against Oil Theft

Musa Na Allah Sokoto


Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, on Thursday, called on the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) to support the Federal Government's efforts in combating oil theft and other related crimes.


Badaru made the remarks while receiving a delegation from NYCN, led by its President, Ambassador Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo, at Ship House, Abuja.


He emphasized the critical role of youth engagement in national development and security. "Youth involvement is crucial in our efforts to combat oil theft and ensure the security of our resources," he stated.


In a statement made available to newsmen by the PA to the Minister of Media and Publicity, Malam Ali Mati said the meeting with the NYCN was aimed at exploring collaborative efforts to curb rampant oil theft and bunkering in the Niger Delta region.


According to the statement, he highlighted the importance of partnerships in addressing security challenges, stating that together, we can develop innovative solutions to tackle oil theft and other security issues affecting our nation.


Ambassador Sukubo the leader of the NYCN affirmed the youth commitments in supporting the Ministry's initiatives, pledging to "work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Defence to protect our national assets and promote peace in the Niger-Delta region."


"The partnership will boost and enhance surveillance and monitoring of oil facilities, provide intelligence on illegal oil bunkering and theft, support military operations in the region, engage in community outreach and awareness programs, and further foster collaboration with all stakeholders.

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Court Fines Kano Government N10m For Violating Rights Emir Aminu Bayero

A Federal High Court in Kano on Friday ordered the Kano State Government to pay N10 million in compensation to Deposedd Emir, Aminu Bayero, for breaching his fundamental human rights.


The presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda, gave the order while delivering the judgment in the case instituted by Aminu Bayero, seeking to enforce his fundamental human rights.


Justice Amobeda described the order given by Governor Abba Yusuf for the arrest of Aminu Bayero as unlawful and forced the applicant into house arrest.


The respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of Kano State, the Nigeria Police Force, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police Kano State, State Security Service (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, and Nigerian Air Force.


However, Justice Amobeda restrained the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th from arresting, detaining, threatening, intimidating, harassing, or further interfering with the applicant’s fundamental rights.


“That the act of the Governor of Kano State in directing the police to arrest the applicant without any lawful justification is a threatened breach of the fundamental right to liberty of the applicant guaranteed under Section 35(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).


That the act of the Governor of Kano State in directing the police to arrest the applicant without any lawful justification, which directive has forced the applicant into house arrest, preventing him from going freely about his lawful business, constitutes a flagrant violation of his fundamental right to freedom of movement as guaranteed under Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (as altered).


“That the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Respondents are either by themselves, their agents, servants, privies, or any other person or authority forthwith restrained from arresting, detaining, threatening, intimidating, harassing, or further interfering with the Applicant’s fundamental rights.


“That the 2nd Respondent and the Government of Kano State shall pay to the Applicant the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) only for the breach and likely breach of the Applicant fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).


“The prayer for the cost of filing and prosecuting this suit is refused, the amount having not been specifically pleaded and strictly proved,” Justice Amobeda ordered.

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Comptroller Olomu Strengthens Ties with Host Community, Visits Oba of Ijora

The Comptroller Babatunde Olomu, in charge of the Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Customs Area Command (CAC), on Thursday paid a courtesy visit to His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulfatai Aromire, the Ojora of Ijora land and Iganmu kingdom in Lagos.


The Customs Area Controller visited the palace to strengthen ties and renew community relations between the Nigeria Customs Service and its host community, one of the cardinal points of the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Adewale Adeniyi.


According to him, the visit is to ensure that the directive of the CGC is fully complied with. "We're here further to propagate the customs community relationship agenda of the CGC".


"Customs Community Relationship forms one of the pillars, on which the Nigeria Customs Service cohabits, within the environment, and I made it clear that we shall leverage on strengthening the relationship between customs and all our stakeholders", he emphasized.


He congratulated the king on his 30th anniversary on the throne while expressing optimism for a continuous relationship between the service and the community.


"I wish to congratulate you on behalf of Nigeria Customs Service on your 30th anniversary on the throne of your forefathers; we pray that the Almighty will keep you here for us in good health and prosperity.


In response, the Ojora of Ijora Kingdom expressed delight at the presence of his guests, as it is a first-of-its-kind experience for him and the community.


He assured his community's support of the service and other security agencies.


He said, "Today is one of my happiest days, and I promise you that we will continue to cooperate with Customs and all the security agencies. If you have any issues with my people, try to inform me, and I will call them to order. My community and I will give you one hundred percent support," he added.


(NCS)

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NCS Auctions PMS, Handover Truck with Cuts of Railway Tracks to NSCDC in Sokoto

Musa Na Allah  Sokoto


The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Sokoto/Zamfara Area command has on Monday auctioned 2, 270 liters of seized PMS otherwise known as Petroleum to the general public in Sokoto at 180 Naira per liter.


The Comptroller of the NCS Sokoto Area Command said the auction is to curtail smuggling and economic sabotage of petroleum products.


He said the Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi on the 22nd of May, 2024 inaugurated an intelligence-driven tactical team code-named Whirlwind assigned with the mandate to combat the smuggling of petroleum products to neighboring countries.


According to him, in compliance with the CGC's matching order to seal up all routes used for the smuggling of petroleum products, the NCS Zone "B" whirlwind tactical team with reinforcement from Officers and men of Sokoto/Zamfara Area Command intercepted 11, 270liters of premium spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol along Kebbi/Sokoto road.


He said the maritime and cross-border smuggling of PMS has impacted negatively on the overall supply chain of the product in addition to the possibility of funding criminal activities with the proceeds.


"Even with the removal of subsidy, the smuggling of PMS brings about extra cost burden on the country both in terms of security of supply and securing of the scarce foreign exchange used to import the product.


“The service is poised to continue to protect Nigeria's economic interest with dedication and integrity without fear or favour in tandem with the provision of the law.


"In line with extant laws and the approval by the Comptroller General of Customs, the seized PMS will be auctioned to the general public at a token of 180 naira per liter.


"Relatedly, the whirlwind zone B over the week the tactical team auctioned 20,142 liters of PMS to the general public at Kebbi Area Command. 


"In the same vein, on the 8th of June, 2024, operatives of the Command clampdown on a notorious cartel that specializes in vandalization of railway tracks with a truck conveying a 20 feet container laden truck with vandalized railway tracks along with three (3) suspects were intercepted by the Command monitoring team at Kajiji town along Kebbi/ Sokoto road.


"The suspects could not tender evidence of allocation from the Federal Ministry of Transport, instead made an overture to bribe officers of NCS with 1.5 million Naira making an advance cash offer of 300, 000 Naira.


"Out of patriotism and integrity, the Officers chose the path of honour and refused the offer and further detained the suspects at the Command Headquarters.


"As we are all aware, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense (NSCDC) is the Agency mandated to secure Critical National assets, conforming with the Collaboration Policy thrust of the CGC, the Area Command handed over the Suspects, the truck, and its content and the sum of 300,000 Naira cash to the Commander NSCDC Sokoto Command for further investigation and prosecution.


"At this juncture, I want to use this medium to pass a stern warning to smugglers to desist from their dastardly act as the long arm of the law will surely catch up with them in no distance time.


"Gentlemen of the press, thank you for your presence and attention, we appreciate your continuous support in our effort towards upholding the rule of law and protection of the Nation's interest."

Politics
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Democracy Day: Dabiri-Erewa Seeks More Support For Women In Politics

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has called for more support for women to enhance their participation in politics.


She made the call on Wednesday while speaking as a Special Guest at the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex in Ikeja, where she delivered a speech on “The Role of Women in Nation Building.”


The lecture was organized to commemorate 25 years of democratic governance in Nigeria.


Dabiri-Erewa described Nigeria’s rating as the lowest in terms of women in elective positions in Africa, as disappointing and unacceptable.


She then called for more deliberate support of political parties and the parliament for women politicians.


According to her, out of over 1,300 elective positions at the state and federal levels, less than five percent are occupied by women, saying that the statistics rather than increasing, diminished over the years.


She called on Political parties to be more sincere and intentional about getting women into elective positions.


The NIDCOM boss added that Nigeria had more than enough gifted and competent women that are capable of occupying any elective political office in Nigeria.


She also called on the parliament to give their backing to women-friendly legislation, while calling on women professionals in all walks of life to participate actively in the political space.


“If you are not on the table, you will be on the menu.“


The NIDCOM boss commended women who have risen to top positions in Nigeria through their hard work, tenacity, and zeal.


She emphasized that women should take mentorship seriously, and serve as role models to younger generations, paving the way for aspiring young women to occupy various positions in society.


She applauded Rt. Hon. Dr. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, the Speaker of Lagos state House of Assembly for the well-organized event, expressed her hope that deserving women would be given opportunities to contribute to national development.


Dabiri-Erewa stressed that Nigerian women are the cornerstone of any society, describing them as beacons of creativity, peace, and determination.


She praised the intelligence, brilliance, and energy of women, noting that Nigerian women rank among the best in the world.


She called on Nigerian women to put their best forward and urged women in various professions to participate actively in politics.


The event was hosted by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa was attended by the wife of Lagos state Governor, Dr. Ibironke Sanwo-Olu, former governors, former deputy governors, past and serving assembly members, party leaders, party executives, and members of the diplomatic corps.


(Vital News)

Politics
8 days ago

Governors Reject FG’s N60,000 Minimum Wage Proposal

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have rejected the N60,000 minimum wage earlier proposed by the federal government.


The Director, Media and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Hajiya Halimah Salihu Ahmed disclosed this in a statement yesterday.


Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on Monday embarked on indefinite strike action after rejecting the federal government’s N60,000 offer as minimum wage.


But they later announced that they would relax the strike action for one week to give room for further negotiations with the federal government, which had promised to increase the wage from N60,000.


However, the governors said the N60,000 wage is not realistic and unsustainable, arguing that if implemented, it would force some states in the country to be borrowing to pay workers’ salaries.


The statement reads in part, “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is in agreement that a new minimum wage is due. The Forum also sympathises with labour unions in their push for higher wages.


“However, the Forum urges all parties to consider the fact that the minimum wage negotiations also involve consequential adjustments across all cadres, including pensioners.


“The NGF cautions parties in this important discussion to look beyond just signing a document for the sake of it; any agreement to be signed should be sustainable and realistic.


“All things considered, the NGF holds that the N60,000 minimum wage proposal is not sustainable and cannot fly. It will simply mean that many states will spend all their FAAC allocations on just paying salaries with nothing left for development purposes.


“In fact, a few states will end up borrowing to pay workers every month. We do not think this will be in the collective interest of the country, including workers.


“We appeal that all parties involved, especially the labour unions, consider all the socioeconomic variables and settle for an agreement that is sustainable, durable, and fair to all other segments of the society who have legitimate claim to public resources.”


DailyTrust

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Municipal Water Supply, Revival of Ojirami Dam Will be a Priority - Sen. Okpebholo

Akoko-Edo Development Association, aka Akoko-Edo Forum, hosted Senator Monday Okpebholo in a one-hour session at the "Meet the Candidates" series on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.


The meeting allowed the APC candidate to meet Akoko-Edo's critical stakeholders to present his plan for the LGA, given the outcry of perceived marginalization by the area's people.


Sen. Okpebholo capitalized on the opportunity to declare his connection with his roots in a rural area like many parts of Akoko-Edo and his quest to serve the people as pivotal to his interest to serve as the next governor of Edo State.


The APC candidate listed three areas that will take priority if elected. These include security, healthcare, and water supply.


He said: "I see a lot of potential and many things can be done in Akoko-Edo." Also, the APC candidate acknowledged the vast mineral resources in the area, begging for investments and utilization.


Senator Okpebholo shared his childhood experience to demonstrate his connection with Akoko-Edo, saying, "I have something in common with Akoko-Edo, which is a distance of 15-20 minutes from my place."


He promised to run an inclusive government where all parts of the state will be treated equally.


He further mentioned his efforts in helping Dr. Philip Ugbodaga with his appointment as the substantive pioneer medical director of the newly established Federal Orthopedic Hospital, Benin.


He was reminded that no Akoko-Edo person has ever been appointed a Federal Permanent Secretary, Ambassador, or Chairman of any board or commission since the inception of this 4th Republic.


On the need to split Akoko-Edo through the creation of more LGAs or LCDA to bring development to the area, the Senator initially said the creation of LCDAs from Akoko-Edo “will not happen under my watch.”


When it was impressed on him that marginalization of the area was real and that creating LCDAs from the current oldest undivided LGA in the country is one of the immediate actions required to address the lopsidedness in the state, he then said if such a move would help the area, he will consider it.


This will be based on the report of a committee he plans to set up to ask the area's people what they want.


On healthcare, Senator Okpebholo said: "I will focus on healthcare delivery such that each ward will have at least one primary health center, renovate existing General Hospitals, and equip them with Laboratory."


He continued with more promises to incentivize medical doctors and other healthcare workers to draw them to the area and the entire state.


He said: "I will allow local government councils and Health Management Boards to operate freely." When asked how much he knows of Akoko-Edo and its healthcare challenges.


He also promised to visit health centers in Akoko-Edo to demonstrate his seriousness in getting first-hand information about the state of healthcare in the LGA before the elections.


When asked about the underdevelopment of the tourist attractions in the entire LGA, the Senator said, "Tourism has a special place in my heart. Ososo, Lampese, and Igarra come to mind the beautiful nature of the area, which is begging for full development.

“I will inject money into Ososo, make it a vibrant place of tourism and relaxation."


However, he emphasized the scourge of insecurity in the area, a fundamental problem to tourism and farming.


He said: "Security will be at the top of my focus so that tourism can thrive and people can go to farms."


Pressed on his plans to achieve security for all, he said, "I cannot reveal my plans because security issues are confidential." Nevertheless, he said he didn't believe that forest guards could address insecurity in the state when this was suggested to him.


As water supply is one of his primary focuses, Senator Okpebholo said he will revive Ojirami Dam for water supply to the LGA as planned at inception, but how this can be achieved was not clear.


The Governorship candidate was asked about the effort of the Edo Caucus of the National Assembly in seeing that the School of Mining and Geology signed into law by the Buhari administration kicked off, to which he said he was not aware of such a bill but will immediately inquire from the Clerk of the National Assembly to know what to do.

Nothing was said about a state higher institution in the LGA as promised by other participants in this "Series."


The session ended with members asking Senator Okpebholo to liaise more with Akoko-Edo people to get in-depth knowledge of the pain points of the people of the LGA because Akoko-Edo expects a far better opportunity for the area from the next tenant of Osadebey House.


He was asked to look into inclusivity extensively, not just APC loyalty or people who will not tell him the truth if elected.


He promised to visit Akoko-Edo in the next few days.

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INEC Extends Voter Registration in Edo, Ondo

Editor



Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in Edo and Ondo states scheduled to end on Wednesday, June 5, to Sunday, June 9, 2024.


The CVR enables eligible citizens who are not registered voters to do so and gives those who are registered voters the opportunity to transfer their registration from other states of the federation to Edo and Ondo states or from one location to another within the two states ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections.


INEC national commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, saying the extension followed stakeholders’ appeals.


He also said the exercise is extended from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, and the number of centres has been increased beyond the 397 wards and the two-state offices in Benin City and Akure to include all 36 local government offices of the commission in the two states.

Olumekun said more machines will also be deployed to areas with peculiar needs, such as rugged terrain or communal issues.


As of Monday, the INEC national commissioner said 120,458 new voters had registered in the two states.


“Like the ward registration centres, detailed information on the names and location addresses of the LGA offices have also been uploaded to our website and social media platforms for the guidance of registrants in the two states.


“Meanwhile, the exercise is progressing well in the two states. As of yesterday, Monday, 3rd June 2024, eight days after the commencement of the CVR, a cumulative total of 120,458 new voters have registered. Of this figure, 55,861 (46.4 percent) are male, while 64,597 (53.6%) are female. Most registered voters (82,003 or 68.8 percent) are youths (18 -34). In terms of occupation, 43,419, (36.8 percent) are students, while 812 (0.67 percent) are persons with disabilities.


“The public should please note that these are preliminary figures. The final figures will be published state-by-state and for all categories of registrants at the end of the exercise and after data clean-up using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).


“The commission once again appeals to eligible voters to seize the opportunity of the extension to register, transfer or correct personal information on their PVCs as provided by law. The commission will grant no further extension,” he added.

Sport
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Brighton Appoints Fabian Hurzeler As Roberto De Zerbi's Successor

Fabian Hurzeler succeeded Roberto De Zerbi, according to Brighton, after the German did amazing things at St. Pauli.

Hurzeler, 31, was appointed as the new manager of the Seagulls in an audacious and momentous move that made him the youngest full-time manager in Premier League history. Hurzeler became well-known for his outstanding performance at FC St. Pauli, as he led the team to the Bundesliga 2 championship in the most recent campaign. He led St. Pauli to victory in 20 out of 34 games, displaying both tactical skill and leadership ability.

Due to Hurzeler's achievements with the German team, Brighton selected him over other candidates, and he signed a deal that lasted until 2027. After obtaining his work permit, he will begin working with Brighton, joining the team in time for the July preseason. In order to ensure a seamless transfer and a successful Hurzeler is younger than a number of Brighton's more experienced players, such as Danny Welbeck, 33, Lewis Dunk, 32, and James Milner, 38, which creates a distinct dynamic. In premier league football, managers are usually older and have more experience; therefore, this is an unusual situation. Nonetheless, the team is anticipated to respond favorably to Hurzeler's contemporary coaching methods and novel viewpoint, which may help to close the age divide through respect and a sense of camaraderie on the job.

First-team coach Andrew Crofts and goalkeeping coach Jack Stern will stay in their roles to provide stability during this change. Hurzeler is the youngest full-time manager in Premier League history, and the manager's contemporary football philosophy is expected to mesh well with Brighton's culture, ensuring a bright future for the Seagulls. Hurzeler represents Brighton's forward-thinking approach.successful start to the new season, the team is keen to include him into their lineup.

"Fabian has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton & Hove Albion team to play, and I'm confident that our supporters will appreciate and enjoy it," chairman Tony Bloom stated. Fabian has worked with the German federation at different age group levels and has a strong coaching background. Actually, we are excited to start working with Fabian to prepare for the upcoming season.”

(Goal)

Sport
about 7 hours ago

I Have Lost Respect For Finidi - Osimhen

Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, has lashed out at coach Finidi George, stating that he has lost respect for him, over some comments on his attitude towards the national team.

Finidi, who is said to have also resigned as the head coach of the Super Eagles on Saturday, was quoted to have said he can’t beg Osimhen to play for the national team after the player withdrew from their last two 2026 World Cup qualifiers due to injury.

The striker was said to have been ruled out by a four-week injury and was replaced by Enugu Rangers defender, Kenneth Igboke.

But following the Super Eagles wobbling performances against South Africa and Benin Republic, the narrative of Osimhen’s absence changed as an online medium (not The PUNCH) reported that Finidi used Osimhen’s absence as a poser for the players’ bad attitude towards the national team when he and the Nigeria Football Federation chiefs met with the Sports Minister, John Enoh, in Abuja on Wednesday.

 Osimhen was apparently infuriated by the comments and, in a live Instagram video on Saturday opened up on the circumstances that led to his withdrawal from the Super Eagles last two World Cup qualifiers, adding that Finidi was adequately briefed by him and his doctor.

“I knew things like these would happen and that’s why I have the videos and screenshots of when I called Finidi while I was with the doctor in Germany,” Osimhen said.

 “I got injured in our (Napoli’s) last game against Lecce and I went to the MRI scan. And I called Finidi there for him to listen to the doctor too.

“I called him (Finidi) and asked him to allow me to come to the camp to be with the boys and I spoke to some of my teammates too but he said I have to be with my family.

“I’m not addressing anything, everybody knows I play my heart out whenever I’m playing for the club or national team. I’ll share the screenshot and videos of my conversation with Finidi for the sake of those believing what Finidi said.

“I’ve lost respect for that man because before I disrespect anybody, I always respect them,” the player added

In Finidi’s first game in charge of the Super Eagles, Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, last Friday and a 2-1 defeat against Benin Republic in Abidjan compounded the Super Eagles fate in Group C of the qualifying series, leaving them with just three points after four games.

The former Enyimba coach was said to have resigned from the national team as well, two days after the NFF said they were going to hire a foreign technical adviser.


Punch


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Germany Beat 10 Man Scotland

Scotland crumbled before a blistering display from Germany, as Steve Clarke's 10-man team lost badly in Munich to start Euro 2024.


After barely ten minutes, Florian Wirtz waltzed on to the ball to steer in the first goal, setting the tone in an electrifying Allianz Arena.


Nine minutes later, Jamal Musiala's fierce strike nearly tore through Angus Gunn's net and the hearts of the startled Scots behind the goal.


And with Ryan Porteous' red card, Kai Havertz scored the third goal from a spot just before the half ended, leaving Scotland with the highest mountains to climb.


With Antonio Rudiger's late goal, there remained time for substitute Niclas Fullkrug to smash high into the net for Germany's fourth deflected own goal, pulling one back.



It was a strike celebrated wildly by the suffering Scotland crowd, only for Emre Can to mute those in dark blue as the game edged into injury time.



That ensured this would be the biggest win in the opening game of the Euros.

Despite Scotland's shortcomings, this German march will inspire hope in the host country once more.


The three-time champions of this competition started the season poorly, drawing with Mexico and losing to Turkey and Austria until Nagelsmann took over the national team in September. The general populace was not persuaded.


But victories over the Netherlands and France propelled them into this on a surge of optimism.


Territory dominance and patience culminated in Wirtz's early endeavor. Musiala and Fullkrug's strikes provided clear proof of a confident team.


At moments, the former was unplayable, and Toni Kroos was once again in charge of the midfield.


The horrifying statistics for this destruction were revealed. A 94% passing rate, 19 attempts, 43 attacks, and 655 passes completed to Scotland's 193. They also covered 9 km more than their beleaguered opponents.

There will be plenty of people looking nervously at the hosts this summer.

(BBC)

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Crystal Palace Is Approached By Chelsea And Newcastle On Signing Olise Michael

Michael Olise's potential signing with Crystal Palace has been discussed by Chelsea and Newcastle.


Although other teams are interested in the forward, Chelsea has a long-term interest in him and is eager to sign him as one of Enzo Maresca's first acquisitions.

Olise signed a new four-year contract with Palace last summer; his current term expires in 2027, although he has a release clause estimated to be worth around £60 million.

The 22-year-old, who left Reading in 2021 to join Palace, has contributed 25 assists and 16 goals throughout all competitions.



Olise thrived under new manager Oliver Glasner, scoring 10 goals in 19 appearances last season—his greatest output despite missing 18 games due to injury.

With 11 assists in the 2022–2023 season, he tied for fourth in the Premier League in assists.


Head coach Thierry Henry included Olise in the France U23 preliminary team for the Olympic Games this summer. On Thursday, the new Crystal Palace uniform for the 2024–25 campaign was unveiled.

Richard Olise, the younger brother of the winger, is a full-back that Chelsea already has on their roster.


"Club-to-club, I've been informed that Chelsea has made a very serious attempt to sign him from Crystal Place. Chelsea is realistic about their chances of making an attempt to close a deal. He is being pursued by numerous other clubs as well.


For example, Newcastle would like to sign him. They have identified Olise if they sell Miguel Almiron as a perfect player to bring in.



"Olise has also been linked with clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, but Chelsea have a long-standing interest in him. He used to play in their academy when he was about 14.

"Last summer, they made another attempt to sign him, but he ultimately agreed to a fresh four-year deal with Crystal Palace. I get the impression that Crystal Palace would be open to letting him go if the offer was right.


"Chelsea is incredibly curious. Although they took the initiative, other clubs are fiercely competing with them."

(Skysport)

Entertainment
Opinion
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Kano Government: A Rendezvous with Recklessness And Executive Rascality

By Bala Ibrahim


If care is not taken, the present leadership of Kano state may go down in history as the most reckless and probably the one to squander the state’s resources the most, in paying damages to people, as a consequence of the executive rascality of those in power.


A Federal High Court in Kano, has today awarded the dethroned Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, N10 million naira, for the breach of his fundamental rights, personal liberty, and freedom of movement. The ruling came under the executive rascality of Kano State Governor, H.E. Abba Kabiru Yusuf, who gave directives to the police for the arrest of the deposed Emir without lawful justification.


 This is not the first time the Governor has acted with such discourtesy, he had done so in the past, and like what happened today, it also came to the state at a cost.


I don’t know the exact position of things as of today, but according to reports, the state Government had agreed to pay N3 billion as compensation to incorporated trustees of the Masallacin Eidy and Traders Association, over the demolition of shops in the state.

The full story is that the government and the traders’ association reached a consensus, through an application of settlement dated December 12 and filed on December 13.


Reports have it that the counsels to the parties reached an agreement before the Judge.

It may be recalled that, earlier this year, shortly after he assumed office, without the constitution of an executive council, Governor Abba Yusuf unilaterally ordered the demolition of many buildings, which according to him, were believed to have been constructed wrongly, or on government properties.


Amongst the buildings demolished was the Government House entrance roundabout. Also brought down, was a three-storey building with 90 shops situated at Nasarawa GRA and shops built around Kofar Mata. Many residents of the city had earlier protested against the government’s action but the His Excellency refused to listen, saying the debris from the demolition would be used to rehabilitate some areas.


In the end, the matter went to court, and after listening to all the parties in September, Justice Samuel Amobeda, the presiding judge, asked the Kano government to pay compensation of N30 billion, as against the N250 billion demanded by the traders. The two sides, however, were said to have settled out of court, wherein the Government agreed to pay N3b, being the cost of recklessness.


Not long ago, at the onset of the Emir ship tuzzle that earned the Government today’s fine, the State Deputy Governor, comrade Aminu Gwarzo, was forced to apologize to the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, over the allegation he made against him, that he was involved in the return of the dethroned Emir Aminu Ado Bayero to Kano.

Gwarzo alleged that Ribadu said: “The former Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is not happy with the peace and understanding being enjoyed in Kano and is using the office of the National Security Adviser to deploy security personnel to subvert the will of Kano people and to bring something the people don’t like.


Mallam Nuhu did not take the accusation lightly. He threatened to sue the Deputy Governor if he did not withdraw the allegation and tender a conspicuous apology.


In what was seen as an open embarrassment and evident humiliation, Gwarzo swallowed his pride, withdrew his words, and tendered an open apology. That is another price paid for executive rascality and avoidable recklessness. Had he not apologized, the state might earn itself an avoidable fine, like the one today.


Leadership is meant to be a responsible way of championing a course, where the leaders are expected to provide direction and vision, motivate and inspire others, and help create an environment conducive to success, by promoting collaboration.


In short, leadership and strong management are essential for any organization or government that wants to achieve its objectives. And no organization or government makes rascality as a goal or means of achieving its objectives. Why then should Kano, Nigeria’s oldest commercial center and the all-agreed politically polished state, be a subject of ridicule, because of the regular rascality of its executives? Why? why??


Since the return of Nigeria to democratic rule in 1999, many absurdities have been permitted to happen, but they hinge mostly on corruption and shameless ways of aggrandizement.


Executive rascality is now becoming an addendum, at least in Kano, to the list of Nigeria’s leaders' crimes, and the country needs to frown and stand against it.


People in power, who wake up to see themselves surrounded by the posh paraphernalia of office, along with the unimaginable backing of security operatives, often become drunk, as a consequence of this, they act arrogantly and irrationally.


No doubt today’s decision of fining the Government would go to appeal, but whatever may be the outcome, state resources would be additionally wasted, and the name of the state would continue to feature in a manner that is suggestive of its leaders, having a rendezvous with recklessness and executive rascality.

Opinion
1 day ago

June 12: Sakon Yan Ritayar Jigawa, Danmodi A Sake Tausaya Musu

Ahmed Ilallah

Maigirma Gwamna a matsayin mu na Yan Jigawa, kuma kunnuwa da bakunan ku, a doran sa kai, bayan ji, saurare da fahimtar al’amuran wannan gwamnati, a wannan karon ma an bani sako zuwa gare ka, a matsayin ka jagora na gari ga al’umar jahar Jigawa.


A karshen makon nan, na samu kiraye kiraye har ma da ziyarar mutane daban daban, daga cikin su a kwai mutanen da suka ajiye ko kammla aikin su a gwamnatin Jahar Jigawa, wato wayanda suka yi ritaya, sama da watanni wasu ma sama da shekara.


Tabbas a cikin bayanan da muka yi da wasu a kwai abin tausayi, ganin cewa, mutum ya bar aiki sama da wata goma sha, babu fansho, babu gratuti ga kuma yanayi na halin rayuwa da yan kasa suke ciki.


Kamar yadda na fada a baya, ina tausaya wa Maigirma Gwamna a kan wasu aiyuka da ya gada, wanda suke cike da kalubale, kuma suke bukaratar gyaran da zai dau tsawan lokaci, wannan hukuma ta fansho (State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme) tana ciki, ko da a baya ma, an sha magana a kan wannan batu.


Koda yake, Maigirma Gwamna ya kudiri aniyar gyara a kan duk abubuwan da ya gada, da mai kyawu da ma masu damuwa.


Tabbas Maigirma Gwamna bai boye damuwar sa ba, wajen kawo karshen wannan matsala ta hukumar fansho, a watan farko na maigirma gwamna ya kafa kwamiti don gano matsalolin wannna hukuma da magance su.


Amma abin da ya kamata mu sake faimta shine, ita hukumar pension ta Jigawa, hukuma ce mai zaman kanta bisa doka, tana tattara Adashen Ma’aikata daga albashin su da kuma kaso na gwamnati, hukumar ce zata samar da yadda za a sarrafa kudin, domin samun riba.


Wannan hukuma ita kuma ta ke biyan ma’akatan hakkokin da suka hada da gratuti da fansho na wata-wata, da zarar sun yi ritaya. Doka ta bawa wannan hukuma iko da yancin gudanar da harkokin ta wajen tattarawa da biyan hakkin ma’aikata.


A ka’ida ma’aikaci baya wuce watanni uku, bayan ya bayar da sanarwar ritayar sa a aiki, zai soma samun hakkokin sa, sai gashi a hankali, ma’aikatan kan wuce shekara ma ba tare da an biya su hakkokin su ba.


Matsalolin da suka hada da yawan ritayar ma’aikata da kuma kasa daukan ma’aikatan a jaha da kanannan hukumomi kamar yadda kwamatin da maigirma gwamna ya kaffa suka bayyana, shi ya kawo wa wannan hukuma tangardar da tasgaron da ta sami kanta a ciki a yanzu.


A wattanin baya bisa tausayi na Maigirma Gwamna, ya arawa wannan hukuma kudi har Naira Biliyan biyu, domin biyan wayanda suka yi ritaya suke jira a biya su hakkin su.

Ko da a watan May, a lokacin bikin ranar ma’aikata maigirma gwamna ya sake cewa zai bawa wannan hukuma Naira Biliyan Daya.


Maigirma Gwamna ga sakon wadannan mutanen domin ka sake tausaya musu kamar yadda yake cikin burin ka na kautatawa dukkanin al’umar jahar Jigawa, domin mutanen nan suna cikin wani hali na abin tausayi.


Maigirma Gwamna kamar yadda muka bada shawara a baya a kan a duba iyuwar sanya ma’aikatan da suka yi ritaya a kan jadawalin karbar fansho kafin a biya su gratuti, wannan kan iya rage musu tsananin wahala da za su shiga yayin da suka bar aiki.

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An Indolent Labour Union and Matters Arising

By Hassan Gimba


For the past four years, I have been insisting that our problem and even need now is not about salary increment but about being a productive nation that produces what it needs and uses what it produces.


This would galvanise our economy and strengthen the naira. With a strong currency, ₦30,000 is more than enough as a basic salary. Just imagine the naira to be equal to the dollar and there was a time when ₦60 was equal to $100. Here I have reproduced an old writeup on this topic.


There is no Nigerian that will tell you he is not aware of the NLC even if he does not know that it is an acronym for the Nigeria Labour Congress. What the average Nigerian knows about them is that they always go on strike at the drop of a hat, strikes that have lost their meaning because they always achieve almost nothing.


Well, there’s nothing in it for the average Nigerian; only for the vanguards of the congress. At least, that is what an average citizen will tell you. This suspicion, or rather an assumption, is fueled by the fact that days into a strike, the comrades would be shown on national television laughing and exchanging banters with government officials, and the next you hear is that the strike is suspended while the reasons for the strike in the first place remain unresolved.


Citizens suspect the laughs from the chubby-cheeked people on the telly mean each side is happy with what transpired at the closed-door meeting despite the cause of the strike remaining unsolved.


A good example is that of fuel increase or subsidy withdrawal. The labour leaders would shout, give ultimatums and then mobilise workers for a strike. And these strikes affect everyone, not only workers because the public and private sectors are intricately connected. Yet the issue (subsidy) lingers: the palliatives promised, even though mainly targeted to help government workers, are too little or are still being awaited.


We were witnesses to a long strike, getting to almost a year, by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yet the NLC was nowhere to be found.


But what is getting alarming now is that the labour union, like our governments and their institutions, is becoming a tool for personal causes. There is no reason for the union to call a national strike because its president was assaulted. If he was attacked because he was fighting for fairness and justice, then that should be seen as a sacrifice for his role.


Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Aminu Kano, Gambo Sawaba and many other great freedom and human rights fighters never privatised or personalised their struggles or made people fight the system because they were assaulted.


In any case, how many Nigerians have been attacked, humiliated and dehumanised without the labour union fighting for them? How many have been killed, some by non-state actors and some by security agents? And some victims were public servants. If labour says it is there for the workers, where was it?


And despite this, they are full of cowardice. For instance, the labour union president was manhandled in Owerri, but they came to Abuja Airport to block access roads and, after that, they embarked on a nationwide strike.


We have had many labour leaders, right from Michael Imoudu, popularly known as Pa Imoudu, the father of labour unionism in Nigeria, but none of them personalised the labour struggle till now.


Wahab Goodluck, the first president of the NLC, who served between 1978 and 1984, led the struggle for better wages and working conditions. He fought against the government’s attempt to deregulate the economy and privatise state-owned enterprises.


He organised the NLC and made it a force to be reckoned with, but he never personalised the struggle.


Paschal Bafyau, who took over from Goodluck, made the NLC more politically conscious and active, but he never personalised the union. He successfully negotiated a minimum wage and led the union in the fight to usher in civilian rule in 1999.


One of the greatest presidents the NLC ever had was Ali Ciroma, who served from 1988 to 1994. He fought against General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s move to introduce the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). The union gained strength and influence under his leadership, but one thing he did not do was personalise its activities.


Adams Oshiomhole, who served as its president from 1999 to 2007, gave the labour union more visibility, influence and effectiveness but he never personalised its fight.


One may contend that the quality of the labour union and its search for solutions for the Nigerian worker and, ultimately, the country started nose-diving after Oshiomhole. Many people expected the union to be at the vanguard of solving the country’s problems instead of being self-serving and bringing archaic ways to help the workers and the country.


A good example is the one to do with minimum wage. For how long will labour unions continue mouthing ‘salary increments’ in the face of dwindling national income and the plummeting value of our currency?


Perhaps out of intellectual paucity, they have failed to propose a more intellectually viable option, to both workers and the government, about how to stabilise the naira and make us a nation that produces what it consumes and vice versa.


Every patriot knows that buying things from abroad causes capital flight. A patriotic labour union should be the last to sanction a situation where our government spends hundreds of billions of naira annually to buy cars from foreign manufacturers, thereby keeping afloat other countries’ economies to the detriment of ours.


But Nigerian labour leaders feel comfortable being chauffeur-driven in foreign cars, keeping foreign businesses thriving and foreigners employed while Nigerian youths are jobless and languishing in abject poverty because the country’s industries are dead.


How patriotic! This is why they cannot offer a better alternative other than asking for a salary increment. They do not have the intellectual capacity to know that it is not the quantity but the quality of the currency that matters.


Take, for instance, the case of China and Germany, where the minimum wages are $358 (about ₦405,000 as of last week) and 1557 euro (₦1,845,000) respectively, now cast your mind back to when the naira was at par with the dollar and assume our minimum wage of ₦30,000 is $30,000, don’t you think that is more than enough?


Yet still, workers in some of these countries enjoy free housing, healthcare, education, affordable public transport and a constant supply of electricity. This is why salaries have value there.


Our labour union, which should be fighting for better working conditions and stronger currency, is instead fighting for more money, thereby courting inflation and encouraging capital flight through patronising foreign goods and services.


With our bumbling, self-serving and intellectually lazy labour union, it is high time we started scrutinising their motives and their base desires.


Gimba is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Neptune Prime.

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NLC: Missing the Meaning of Minimum

By Bala Ibrahim


For those, whose precious time I have been wasting with my nonsensical write-ups, they have been at a relief for some time, because I was reasonable enough to go away on sabbatical. However, because of the insensitivity of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, I was compulsorily compelled to recall my IPad, and resume the business of disturbing their peace, starting with today’s heartlessness by way of a strike.


Yes, the NLC’s, constant, swift, and speedy way of embarking on strike every time they are in dispute with their employers, is nothing but the arrogant exhibition of the absence of concern for the welfare of others, including that of yours truly.


It may interest the reader to know that this writer was once a unionist, a unionist that belonged to the radical left, or far left, as the lexicon in use then, for referring to the people with leftist ideologies within the political spectrum.


But that was when ideology and unionism went hand in hand with honesty and strong moral principles. Without any fear, I can boldly say, that the reverse is the case today, with the NLC hallmarking such rascality.


At the risk of being branded as an apologist of market fundamentalism, I intend to tilt this article in the direction of castigating the NLC, so if you are sympathetic to the NLC, please discontinue reading. As I write this article, the NLC, alongside its partner in crime, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, have declared what they call an indefinite strike. 


Sadly I was told, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the NUJ, which is the union of my colleagues, has also joined, against the wisdom of rational thinking.


For starters, to push home their hardheartedness, or raw ruthlessness, the NLC, under the leadership of Joe Ajaero, who happens to be a journalist by calling, and a member of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, was quick to shut down the national grid, forcing the country to go on total darkness.


When I think of the distress and discomfort that would visit poor patients in public hospitals, my instinct is to send innumerable invectives to the NLC.


How does compounding the problems of the poor help your plight as a worker? If the aim is to cripple the comfort of those in power, sorry, wrong number! They have enough resources to survive in unhindered luxury, beyond the period of the strike.


The timing of the strike also coincides with when the 2024/2025 West African Examinations Council, WAEC, exams are going on. So while Nigerian students, alongside their counterparts in Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, are busy writing the exams that would shape their academic and future pathways, the NLC, for its lack of pity, has chosen to frustrate that ambition.


This is nothing but naked cruelty on the side of the NLC, under the leadership of Joe Ajaero, whose tenure is marked by the lack of public trust, because of his questionable principles, which seem tilted politically towards the opposition and give priority to self-welfare over the welfare of the nation.


I have listened to the arguments of the NLC on the issue of minimum wage, and every time they talk, I cannot but say they goofed. Their understanding of the word minimum makes a mockery of the ambition of the word.


The last time I checked the dictionary, the meaning of the word minimum is the least, or smallest amount, or quantity POSSIBLE or ATTAINABLE. The same dictionary gave the meaning of possible as, able to be done, or ACHIEVED.


Nigeria is a country with dwindling GDP and GNP, with nearly 300 million people, which according to statistics, has only about 60 million in employment, with almost 10 million in the labour market and the balance of more than 200 million are either unemployable or simply surviving through the private sector. If my mathematics is helpful, it means the bulk of the country’s resources is simply spent on the employed minority, by way of salaries.


Yet the employed, the unemployed and those in the private sector go to the same market.


If the logic of equity is engaged, Labour should be reprimanded for missing the meaning of minimum, because their demand of N500,000 per month cannot be feasible, cannot be possible, and cannot be achievable.


In fact, if we go by the provisions of conscience, even the N60,000 offered by the government is more than magnanimous. How much would those without employment get? 


The increase would increase the amount of money in circulation and instantly ignite inflation, which would affect the poor, the unemployed, and those in private capacity most. Indeed, wants are insatiable but in the search for wants, we should endeavour to be reasonable.


The Nigerian economic situation today is so pathetic that whoever has a job, should be extra grateful to God.

I have argued on several forums, and my position is constant: that the salary structure in Nigeria is simply hopeless. Yes hopeless, because the take-home pay of the average worker cannot take him anywhere near home. That is even for those who are fortunate enough to have a home.


For those in retirement, the situation is more pathetic. But rather than think of a straight solution to the problem, which would involve addressing the ways and means of reducing the excesses of political office holders, as well as forcing the government to block areas of leakages and reduce the cost of governance, the NLC is busy comparing the salaries of political office holders and those in permanent employment.


This is simply illogical. Corruption is the root cause of the problem and not giving more money to the privileged few.


Labour should press for a change in the style of leadership in Nigeria so that leaders can be forced to imbibe prudence.


If that is done and done well, it would reduce wastage dramatically, and free more funds for the benefit of the bulk of Nigerians, that are not living on a salary, and who also have a right to everything, including the minimum resources of the country.

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Kananan Hukumomin A Jigawa Da Yunkurin Nemawa Kananan Hukumomin Cin Gashin Kai

Kananan Hukumomin Jahar Jigawa, da suka samu kansu a da da yanzu, a lokacin da suke cin gashin kai, da kuma a yanzu da suke karkashin kulawar jaha.


Cigaban da ake samu a yanzu yafi na da, ci gaban al'umar da aiyukan raya Kasa, tabas gwamnati baya da na yanzu sun taka rawar gani.


Kamar yadda ya ke faruwa a yanzu, Shugaban Kasa ta hannun Babban Lauyan Gwamnati, sun maka Jahohin Kasar Nan 36 gaban babbar Kotun Kasa, don Kananan Hukumomin suna shugabancin su da karbar kudaden su kai tsaye ba tare da zuwa ta hannun jahohin su ba, kamar yadda ya ke a yanzu.


Wannan ya biyo bayan korafe korafe da jagororin Siyasa sukeyi da kuma wata bukata ta musamman ta mutanen Kudu Maso Yamma na son a chanja fasalin Nijeriya, ta yadda kowanne yanki zai zamanto mai cin gashin kanta, kamar yadda a ke rade-radi.


Wannan daukan mataki a kan nemawa Kananan Hukumomin yanci, yana da ga cikin somin tabin wannan tsari.


Amma fa mu sani, a kwai jahohi da dama da a yanzu sun fi samun cigaba a wannan tsari da ke ciki, na gudanar da Kananan Hukumomi karkashin kulawar Jahohi.


A yau Kananan Hukumomin Jahar Jigawa suna kan gaba wajen aiyukan raya Kasa da cigaban al'ummah.


Ko a yanzu, Hukumar Kula da Kananan Hukumomi, karkashin jagororin Ahmed Garba MK, ta nada kwamitin da kawo tsari da chanja fasalin aiyuka da gudanarwar Kananan Hukumomin, domin dacewa da bukatuwar al'ummah da dun chanjin Zamani.


Wannan da daga cikin kulawar da Jahar Jigawa take domin inganta mulkin Kananan Hukumomin.


A yau babu wata headquarters ta Karamar Hukuma a Jahar Jigawa da bata da a kalla hanyar mota ta zamani sama da kilometers 15.


A yau a Jigawa duk wata mazabar kansila ta na da karamar asibiti wato Primary Health Center.


Harkar samar da ruwan sha, tsabtace muhalli da sauran manyan aiyukan al'ummah, Kananan Hukumomin Jahar Jigawa sunyi fice.


Koma mai ake bukata game da mulkin Kananan Hukumomi shine, a samu amana da sanin makamar aiki, domin duk ana yi ne domin al'ummah.


Amma da a yanzu a shaidu na samun gagarunin cigaba, musamman a irin jaha ta Jigawa.

Africa
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Eid Al-Adha: Senegal's Impoverished Fisherman Are Not Particularly Cheered

In most of West Africa, Eid al-Adha is the biggest religious celebration of the year.


In Senegal, the religious celebration is referred to as Tabaski locally. It's a time when Muslims slaughter and consume sheep, which makes them highly sought-after in the days leading up to the celebration.


To commemorate the story found in the Quran about Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God, families save for months in advance to purchase a sheep to be slaughtered.


Living in the Thiaroye area of Dakar, Ibrahima Diouf is a fisherman who shares his village with other fishermen and their families.


His father was a fisherman, and he was born into the trade, much like his neighbors.

He claims that when his father killed three or four sheep for Tabaski, they would distribute the meat to the less fortunate.


However, in recent times, Senegalese fishermen have had to contend with competition from huge fishing vessels hailing from China, Europe, and Russia. These vessels have overfished the coastal seas, leaving the local fishermen with a meager amount of catch.


Diouf claims he has been struggling to make ends meet and hasn't been able to purchase a single sheep this year.


Tabaski is the only thing on my mind. Not even sleep is an option for me. He spoke from his one-room house beside the shore, "I'm helpless.


Oumar Mbeye began fishing as a youngster, just like the majority of fishermen in Thiaroye.


"If you visited the sea, you would come back quickly with fish. But right now, the sea is ruined. You lose more than you gain. You put your money into it, you go to sea and come back with nothing,” he said.

Thriving villages, such as those in Thiaroye, provided overwhelming support to President Bassirou Diomaye Faye and his running mate, the now-prime minister, Ousmane Sonko.


Under former president Macky Sall, Sonko and Faye were both imprisoned; their release, just weeks before the March election, sparked wild celebrations in the nation's capital.


Running on a platform of change, the two pledged to assist Senegalese fishermen in competing with giant trawlers while operating tiny wooden boats.


Senegal's seas were open to European vessels thanks to fishing accords that the former president's government had struck with the EU.


According to Diouf, it's too soon to tell if Faye's president will live up to the hype.


"We were quite hopeful and supportive of them, and we hope that we will not be disappointed. We want them to change things,” he said.


(Africanews)

Africa
about 10 hours ago

Kenyan Magistrate Shot By A Police Officer And Killed

Kenya's chief justice has announced the death of a magistrate who was shot earlier this week by a senior police officer.

Justice Martha K. Koome stated that Makadara Principal Magistrate Monica Kivuti had "lost the fight" due to her "extensive injuries" on X, the former Twitter.

At a court in Nairobi's capital on Thursday, Ms. Kivuti was shot by a police officer when she refused to grant his wife's bail because she had absconded.

Samson Kipchirchir Kipruto, the policeman, was shot and killed by other cops after the attack.

Despite being injured in the incident, three of these officers are reportedly in stable condition.

"With heavy hearts, I announce to the country that Hon. Monica Kivuti, Makadara Principal Magistrate Law Courts, has lost the fight against the extensive injuries sustained during an open gun attack in court," said Justice Koome in a statement on Saturday.

"The Judiciary family stands in solidarity during this deeply traumatic time and calls for sensitivity and compassion as we share in grief."

After being shot in the leg and chest on Friday night, Ms. Kivuti passed away, according to a source at Nairobi Hospital who was interviewed by The Star newspaper.

Up until Monday, the Makadara Law Courts are scheduled to be closed.

Kipruto, who oversaw a police station in western Kenya's Londiani, was in court for "unknown reasons" on Thursday during his wife's case hearing, according to a statement released by the national police agency. Receiving money "under false pretences" was the charge made against her.

The events that transpired are still being investigated.

According to Justice Koome, Kipruto had intended to kill Ms. Kivuti.

The incident inside the courtroom has come as a shock to Kenyans.

Although no such occurrence has been documented within a courtroom, the police have frequently been accused of being involved in extrajudicial killings.

The judiciary has promised the safety and security of its employees and other court users, saying that it will strengthen security measures.

The incident was "not an isolated event but part of a troubling trend of increasing threats and attacks against judicial officers and advocates," according to a statement released by the Law Society of Kenya.

"Legal disputes can be highly emotive, and the risks to judicial officers and advocates cannot be understated."

The group further stated that it would "develop comprehensive strategies aimed at safeguarding our justice system and its practitioners" in collaboration with Justice Koome.

(BBC)

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ANC And Pro-Business DA Will Be Part Of The Unity Government Of South Africa

After thirty years of ANC majority control, the African National Congress and its main adversary, the pro-business, white-led Democratic Alliance, decided to collaborate in South Africa's new government of national unity on Friday.

The agreement between the two fiercely opposed parties was once unimaginable, but it represents the most significant political change in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the elections that ended apartheid in 1994.

"South Africa is a better nation now than it was a day ago. In a televised speech, Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen stated, "We've started a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one, for the first time since 1994."


As of right now, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration," he said, adding that multi-party government is the "new normal.".

On May 29, the ANC suffered its first election-related majority loss. It then had to negotiate with other parties for two weeks, ending on Friday morning just as the new parliament was about to meet.

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters, "Today is a remarkable step in the aftermath of the 29th of May." He also mentioned that the parties included in the unity government would be working together in both the legislative and executive branches.

Formerly regarded as invincible in national elections, the ANC has suffered a decline in support in recent years as people have become weary of the high rates of poverty, inequality, and crime, as well as the frequent power outages and internal party corruption.


The DA's ascension to national leadership marks a significant turning point for a nation still coming to terms with the past of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes.

The party claims that several of the ANC's black empowerment initiatives are ineffective and wants to discontinue them. It claims that all South Africans would gain from sound administration and a robust economy.

The party disputes claims made by rivals like the extreme-left Economic Freedom Fighters that it speaks for the rights of the affluent white minority.

While some voters, including those who support the ANC, likewise view it that way, others see the racial dynamics more favorably.

"The ANC was not doing well either. To climb back up, they require a partner. Since most DA members are white, if they banded together, we could have more power, and maybe a lot could change; even jobs could be created," said Bongani Msibi, 38, a street vendor in Soweto.

Helen Zille, a senior DA figure, said Steenhuisen's skin colour was irrelevant.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Democratic Party (EFF) have agreed on a historic deal, with the EFF and the Patriotic Alliance joining the unity government. The DA, which came in fourth in the election, has described the DA as a tool for imperialism and white monopoly capital. The deal includes the inclusion of the IFP, which has an ethnic Zulu base, which may help sweeten the DA pill for ANC voters. The ANC won 159 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly, while the DA got 87. The "basic minimum program of priorities" outlined in the document include rapid, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth; promotion of fixed capital investment and industrialization; job creation; land reform; infrastructure development; structural reforms; and fiscal sustainability. London-based research firm Capital Economics said the prospect of a coalition involving the ANC and DA was well received by investors due to policy continuity or acceleration of reforms and because the EFF and MK would be excluded from policymaking.

(Reuters)

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Morocco: Ahead Of Eid, The Drought Keeps Sheep Out Of Reach

Like Muslims elsewhere, many Moroccans will be celebrating Eid al-Adha by sacrificing an animal. The holiday is almost approaching.


However, there is now less food available for the flock because of a drought.


The state will provide farmers with two bags of fodder because it is used to helping farms. Wahid Redouane's farm received thirty this year, but it wasn't enough.


We occasionally have to sell sheep due to drought in order to raise money for the remaining sheep's feed. Because we sell a lot of sheep to keep things under control and to protect our cash, this has led to an increase in market prices."


Sheep at a Berrechid local market in northwest Morocco are on sale ahead of Eid.



Prices have been rising for several years, but it's more noticeable than ever now.



Moroccan sheep cost between 73 and 83 dirhams (6.83 to 9.03 dollars) per kilogram. That means the average sheep costs up to 160 dollars more than it did last year.

Now, sellers are looking to Spain, where sheep can be purchased for less money.


"When touring the marketplaces, Moroccans were unable to handle the exorbitant costs associated with Moroccan sheep. Lehcen Ziate, a sheep vendor in Berrechid, explains that this is the reason they were compelled to purchase Spanish sheep due to their affordable prices, which may go up to 67 dirhams (7.29 euros) per kilogram.


Getting over the climate emergency

The Agriculture Ministry reports that 600,000 Spanish sheep have been imported by Morocco thus far this year.


Consumers want to outfit their family with the finest-looking, highest-quality lambs at reasonable prices.


However, many are taken aback by the sheer amount that will cost them.


This year, there's a distinct vibe. As I was exploring the city's markets of Berrechid, I noticed that prices have risen, but they differ from one market to another and also according to the quality of the sheep," says local resident Abdelghani Chihab.



Experts fear the problem is only likely to get worse.

If prices keep going up in five or ten years, what will buyers do?


To assist farmers in adjusting to the effects of the climate catastrophe, significant measures are being called for.


"The upcoming years will see repeated droughts, which will put Morocco in a crisis regarding the preservation of its livestock stock. As a result, it will need to turn to modern livestock breeding," states Mustapha Benramel, an expert in the environment and the president of the Minaretes Ecological Association for Development and Climate, which is based in Kenitra.


Morocco will celebrate Eid al-Adha on June 17.

(Africanews)

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Senegal's First Offshore Oil Project Begins Production

As the new administration of Senegal looks to increase earnings from natural resources, production has begun at the country's first offshore oil project, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Australian business Woodside Energy.


"This is a historic day for Woodside and Senegal," stated a statement from Meg O'Neill, the CEO of the business.


At the Sangomar oil fields, the oil-extracting vessel is moored around sixty miles (one hundred kilometers) offshore. According to the statement, the project wants to produce 100,000 barrels of oil every day.


When oil and gas were discovered off the coast of Senegal in 2014, expectations were high that the sector would bring in billions of dollars and revolutionize the economy of the underdeveloped nation. Nevertheless, the recently elected administration promised to review oil and gas contracts with foreign companies, which it described as unfavorable to Senegal.

"My administration will give special attention to the exploitation of our natural resources, which by the constitution belong to the people," President Bassirou Diomaye Faye declared in his inaugural speech to the country in April. "I will proceed with the disclosure of the effective ownership of extractive companies and with an audit of the mining, oil, and gas sectors."


Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko pledged that the nation's part will be guaranteed and reiterated his administration's commitment to evaluating the contracts during a rally in Dakar on Sunday.


He declared, "We will take on multinationals."


Petrosen, the state-owned energy business, owns the remaining 22% of the project, with Woodside Energy holding the remaining 82%. Senegal is not anticipated to produce as much fossil fuel as that of bigger producers such as Nigeria; Petrosen is expecting the sector to generate more than $1 billion per year over the next three decades.

According to the announcement, "First oil from the Sangomar field marks a new era not only for our country's industry and economy, but most importantly for our people," Thierno Ly, general manager of Petrosen, stated.


The production of liquified natural gas from the project is expected to start by the end of this year and is located near the country's border with Mauritania.


The goal of the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim LNG project, which is being carried out by Petrosen, the American company Kosmos Energy, the Mauritanian oil and gas company SHM, and the British energy giant BP, is to produce about 2.5 million tons of LNG annually.

(Africanews)

Recent
Sport
about 2 hours ago

Brighton Appoints Fabian Hurzeler As Roberto De Zerbi's Successor

Fabian Hurzeler succeeded Roberto De Zerbi, according to Brighton, after the German did amazing things at St. Pauli.

Hurzeler, 31, was appointed as the new manager of the Seagulls in an audacious and momentous move that made him the youngest full-time manager in Premier League history. Hurzeler became well-known for his outstanding performance at FC St. Pauli, as he led the team to the Bundesliga 2 championship in the most recent campaign. He led St. Pauli to victory in 20 out of 34 games, displaying both tactical skill and leadership ability.

Due to Hurzeler's achievements with the German team, Brighton selected him over other candidates, and he signed a deal that lasted until 2027. After obtaining his work permit, he will begin working with Brighton, joining the team in time for the July preseason. In order to ensure a seamless transfer and a successful Hurzeler is younger than a number of Brighton's more experienced players, such as Danny Welbeck, 33, Lewis Dunk, 32, and James Milner, 38, which creates a distinct dynamic. In premier league football, managers are usually older and have more experience; therefore, this is an unusual situation. Nonetheless, the team is anticipated to respond favorably to Hurzeler's contemporary coaching methods and novel viewpoint, which may help to close the age divide through respect and a sense of camaraderie on the job.

First-team coach Andrew Crofts and goalkeeping coach Jack Stern will stay in their roles to provide stability during this change. Hurzeler is the youngest full-time manager in Premier League history, and the manager's contemporary football philosophy is expected to mesh well with Brighton's culture, ensuring a bright future for the Seagulls. Hurzeler represents Brighton's forward-thinking approach.successful start to the new season, the team is keen to include him into their lineup.

"Fabian has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton & Hove Albion team to play, and I'm confident that our supporters will appreciate and enjoy it," chairman Tony Bloom stated. Fabian has worked with the German federation at different age group levels and has a strong coaching background. Actually, we are excited to start working with Fabian to prepare for the upcoming season.”

(Goal)

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News
about 2 hours ago

Southern Gaza Attack Claims The Lives Of Eight Israeli Troops

The military reported on Saturday that an explosion in southern Gaza claimed the lives of eight Israeli troops, making it the bloodiest attack on Israeli forces in recent memory.


The bombing was certain to incite fresh cries for a cease-fire by Israeli protestors, who have been engaged in a grinding battle for more than eight months with no signs of an end in sight. It also coincided with the government's facing popular outrage over young, ultra-Orthodox men's exemptions from military duty.


In response to a cross-border attack by Hamas and other militants on October 7 that resulted in almost 1,200 deaths and the kidnapping of 250 more, Israel launched an air and ground invasion of Gaza. Local health professionals report that over 37,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the Israeli offensive; they do not distinguish between militants and civilians. It has also unleashed a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where over 80% of the population has been displaced, and Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered efforts to bring in humanitarian aid, fueling widespread hunger.

The explosion on Saturday happened in Rafah, a southern city that Israel has determined to be the final significant stronghold of Hamas. Early in May, it dispatched ground forces to the city; it has not stated when the operation will conclude.

"They did it so we could live in this nation, even though they knew they could have to risk their lives for it. In a tweet on X, the previous Twitter platform, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote, "I salute them and hug their families."



According to the military, the explosion occurred in Rafah's Tal al-Sultan neighborhood shortly after five in the morning. An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated that it was either caused by an anti-tank missile or an explosive planted by Hamas. 

The Israel-Hamas war has been a contentious issue, with both Israel and Hamas expressing their disapproval. President Joe Biden recently unveiled a new cease-fire proposal that seeks the release of the roughly 120 hostages who remain in Gaza and an end to the fighting. While the international community has broadly embraced the plan, both Israel and Hamas have expressed misgivings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he will not halt the war until he achieves the twin goals of destroying Hamas' military and governing capabilities.


The inconclusive war has divided the Israeli public, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets each Saturday night to call on the government to reach a deal that would bring the hostages home. The Israeli government has already pronounced over 40 of the hostages held by Hamas dead, and officials fear that number could grow the longer they remain in captivity.


At a rally Saturday evening, participants watched a video message from Andrey Kozlov, who was rescued from Hamas captivity a week ago. He asked them to bring the hostages home as soon as possible. The deadly explosion also comes days after Netanyahu’s coalition voted in favor of extending the controversial exemptions from the military draft given to ultra-Orthodox men.


Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered an end to government subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men who don’t serve in the army. However, Netanyahu’s government, which includes politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties, has found ways to keep money flowing to religious institutions. The government is still under orders to pass a new draft law.


Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, was the only member of Netanyahu’s coalition to vote against this week’s legislation. Gallant has insisted that all sectors of Israeli society contribute equally during its war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. If Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners leave the government, the country would be forced into new elections at a time when Netanyahu’s popularity is low and his re-election prospects are questionable.


Months of cease-fire negotiations have failed to find common ground between Israelis and Hamas. Hamas has continually called for a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza as part of any deal that would see the hostages released. While the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden includes these two provisions, Hamas has expressed concern about whether Israel will commit to them.

(AP)

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News
about 3 hours ago

Eid Al-Adha: Senegal's Impoverished Fisherman Are Not Particularly Cheered

In most of West Africa, Eid al-Adha is the biggest religious celebration of the year.


In Senegal, the religious celebration is referred to as Tabaski locally. It's a time when Muslims slaughter and consume sheep, which makes them highly sought-after in the days leading up to the celebration.


To commemorate the story found in the Quran about Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God, families save for months in advance to purchase a sheep to be slaughtered.


Living in the Thiaroye area of Dakar, Ibrahima Diouf is a fisherman who shares his village with other fishermen and their families.


His father was a fisherman, and he was born into the trade, much like his neighbors.

He claims that when his father killed three or four sheep for Tabaski, they would distribute the meat to the less fortunate.


However, in recent times, Senegalese fishermen have had to contend with competition from huge fishing vessels hailing from China, Europe, and Russia. These vessels have overfished the coastal seas, leaving the local fishermen with a meager amount of catch.


Diouf claims he has been struggling to make ends meet and hasn't been able to purchase a single sheep this year.


Tabaski is the only thing on my mind. Not even sleep is an option for me. He spoke from his one-room house beside the shore, "I'm helpless.


Oumar Mbeye began fishing as a youngster, just like the majority of fishermen in Thiaroye.


"If you visited the sea, you would come back quickly with fish. But right now, the sea is ruined. You lose more than you gain. You put your money into it, you go to sea and come back with nothing,” he said.

Thriving villages, such as those in Thiaroye, provided overwhelming support to President Bassirou Diomaye Faye and his running mate, the now-prime minister, Ousmane Sonko.


Under former president Macky Sall, Sonko and Faye were both imprisoned; their release, just weeks before the March election, sparked wild celebrations in the nation's capital.


Running on a platform of change, the two pledged to assist Senegalese fishermen in competing with giant trawlers while operating tiny wooden boats.


Senegal's seas were open to European vessels thanks to fishing accords that the former president's government had struck with the EU.


According to Diouf, it's too soon to tell if Faye's president will live up to the hype.


"We were quite hopeful and supportive of them, and we hope that we will not be disappointed. We want them to change things,” he said.


(Africanews)

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Civil Society
about 7 hours ago

‘Be mindful of the environment to avoid nuisance’ – Rt. Hon. Garo

Ismail Garba Gwammaja


The Kano State Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change Rt Hon. Nasiru Sule Garo urged people in the state to be conscious of their immediate environment, especially during the Sallah festivities where people slaughter their animals for sacrifice, hence the need to ensure proper handling of the animals waste to avoid polluting the environment.


Garo made this known through the Director of Public Enlightenment of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Malan Ismail Garba Gwammaja.


The Commissioner further explained that the call became imperative because some people committed indiscriminate slaughter and dumped animal waste anywhere sometimes through waterways and eventually May caused flooding, especially now that we're in the rainy season period, he pointed out.


He advised that animal waste be dumped in holes to avoid polluting the environment with all unwanted remnants.


The Commissioner also enjoined those engaged in using tyres for drying animal skin or any part of the animal to desist because of the environmental and health hazard, in place of this they should use charcoal or firewood for the time being.


Meanwhile, Rt. Hon. Garo used the occasion to congratulate Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, Deputy Governor Comrade Aminu Abdulsalam Gwarzo, Speaker Kano State House of Assembly Hon. Ismail Falgoreg and other members, Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II and all Muslims ummah a hitch-free Sallah celebration.

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News
about 7 hours ago

Ganduje Felicitates Muslim Umma on Eid-al-Adha

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has extended his warmest congratulations to Muslim Umma in Nigeria on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.


A statement by Edwin Olofu, the Chief Press Secretary to the National Chairman of APC that was made available to newsmen stated that the  "Festival of Sacrifice" is a celebration of faith, obedience, and devotion.


Olofu quoted his principal to describe the important festival as a day to commemorate the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to Allah's command.


"As we mark this significant event in the Islamic calendar, Nigerians should acknowledge the values of sacrifice, compassion, and generosity that are embodied in the spirit of Eid al-Adha.


Ganduje said: "We recognize the importance of this occasion in promoting unity, love, and harmony among all Nigerians, regardless of their religious beliefs or backgrounds, and these lessons should bring us closer together in our march to attain nationhood."


He charged Nigerians to come together at this auspicious time to "celebrate our diversity and strengthen our bonds as one nation."


 "As we celebrate Eid al-Adha, we should also remember those who are less fortunate and those affected by the current challenges in our country by extending love in solidarity and support for one another."


He enjoined Nigerians to reflect on the lesson of the festival by sustaining its values and principles in support of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu's administration in his steady steps to make Nigeria great.


Ganduje assured Nigerians that the President is making the right decisions to revamp the economy and curtail the insecurity in the country, pleading with Nigerians to give the government time.


Again, I congratulate all Nigerians on this auspicious occasion and wish everyone a happy Eid al-Adha

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News
about 7 hours ago

Benin Pipeline Dispute: Niger Stops Oil Exports to China

Niger has stopped exporting oil to China through its pipeline to Benin’s coast.

Oil Minister, Mahamane Moustapha Bako, disclosed this on Thursday, escalating an ongoing standoff between the West African neighbours.

At the Agadem oilfield in eastern Niger, Bako supervised the shutdown of a section of the 2,000-km (1,243-mile) pipeline, which was meant to transport oil to China as part of a $400 million agreement with China National Petroleum Corp, according to Africabriefing.

Relations between Niger and Benin have been tense since May when Benin blocked crude exports through its port, insisting that Niger’s junta reopen the border to Beninese goods and restore normal relations.

 Earlier in the month, Benin authorities detained five Niger nationals for allegedly entering the Seme-Kpodji pipeline terminal under false pretenses—a charge Niger rejected, stating the group was supervising crude loading per their agreement with Benin.

“We can’t just sit back while our oil is stolen by other people, because we’re not there where it’s loaded,” Minister Barke Bako told workers, justifying the halt in oil flows, according to a state television broadcast.

Tensions stem from a coup in Niger in July 2023, which prompted the regional bloc ECOWAS to impose strict sanctions for over six months. Although trade was expected to normalize after ECOWAS lifted the sanctions, Niger has continued to keep its borders closed to goods from Benin.

Punch

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Sport
about 7 hours ago

I Have Lost Respect For Finidi - Osimhen

Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, has lashed out at coach Finidi George, stating that he has lost respect for him, over some comments on his attitude towards the national team.

Finidi, who is said to have also resigned as the head coach of the Super Eagles on Saturday, was quoted to have said he can’t beg Osimhen to play for the national team after the player withdrew from their last two 2026 World Cup qualifiers due to injury.

The striker was said to have been ruled out by a four-week injury and was replaced by Enugu Rangers defender, Kenneth Igboke.

But following the Super Eagles wobbling performances against South Africa and Benin Republic, the narrative of Osimhen’s absence changed as an online medium (not The PUNCH) reported that Finidi used Osimhen’s absence as a poser for the players’ bad attitude towards the national team when he and the Nigeria Football Federation chiefs met with the Sports Minister, John Enoh, in Abuja on Wednesday.

 Osimhen was apparently infuriated by the comments and, in a live Instagram video on Saturday opened up on the circumstances that led to his withdrawal from the Super Eagles last two World Cup qualifiers, adding that Finidi was adequately briefed by him and his doctor.

“I knew things like these would happen and that’s why I have the videos and screenshots of when I called Finidi while I was with the doctor in Germany,” Osimhen said.

 “I got injured in our (Napoli’s) last game against Lecce and I went to the MRI scan. And I called Finidi there for him to listen to the doctor too.

“I called him (Finidi) and asked him to allow me to come to the camp to be with the boys and I spoke to some of my teammates too but he said I have to be with my family.

“I’m not addressing anything, everybody knows I play my heart out whenever I’m playing for the club or national team. I’ll share the screenshot and videos of my conversation with Finidi for the sake of those believing what Finidi said.

“I’ve lost respect for that man because before I disrespect anybody, I always respect them,” the player added

In Finidi’s first game in charge of the Super Eagles, Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, last Friday and a 2-1 defeat against Benin Republic in Abidjan compounded the Super Eagles fate in Group C of the qualifying series, leaving them with just three points after four games.

The former Enyimba coach was said to have resigned from the national team as well, two days after the NFF said they were going to hire a foreign technical adviser.


Punch


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News
about 7 hours ago

Rising Costs Dampening Sallah Spirit in Kano

Stephen Enoch


In the bustling markets of Kano, the usual festive excitement of Sallah is noticeably subdued this year.


Traders and customers are feeling the pinch of rising inflation, which has significantly reduced purchasing power and left many struggling to afford basic commodities.


Stallion Times visited Tarauni, Yankaba, and the Muhammad Abubakar Rimi Market aka Yankura or Sabon Gari markets in the Kano metropolis.  


Zayyan Mohammed, a vegetable seller at Tarauni market, expresses his frustration with the current situation.


 "Things are not the same anymore, I don’t get customers like before,” he said standing in his stall surrounded by potatoes, yams, and various vegetables.


He pointed out the emptiness of the market. 


"You can see that the market is dry and only a few commercial activities are going on here. Most customers don’t buy in large quantities but in little."


Oga Desmond is a rice, beans, maize, and other grains merchant in the market.


He said the impact of inflation is evident, and lays the blame squarely on the political class.


"The rising cost of commodities in the country has reduced the purchasing power of residents and hiked the cost of living," he states. 


He reminisces about better times, noting that just two years ago, a small milk tin-sized cup of gari sold for about N50. Today, the same quantity costs around N200–250. 


"During festivities like this, people used to buy rice in large quantities, but now, one Mudu of Rice is N5,500, while local rice is N4,500. Most of my customers now buy just one or half of a Mudu.


“The drastic price increase has made it difficult for families to stock up for the festive season as they traditionally would.” 


At the axis of Hadejia Road is the Yankaba Market. Here, the scene is similarly bleak. Activity levels are low, and the market is far from bustling. 


Hajiya Salma, a shopper, shared her distress as she navigated the market in search of affordable foodstuffs for the Sallah celebration.


"This is a trying time and I hope we will come out of this hardship soon," she sighs.


According to Salma, her search for cheaper options has been fruitless.


Mrs. Bola, another shopper in the same market, recounts her struggle with rising prices. 


She lamented: "I bought N5,000 worth of tomatoes, which used to get me two baskets. Now, it barely filled a hand wash basin," 


"I used to buy one basket for about N2,500 or N3,000, but now, it’s much more expensive. If it is this expensive in Kano, I wonder how people in the southern part are surviving." 


At the Sabon Gari market, last-minute Sallah shoppers engage in bargaining for a lower price with traders. 


Like their counterparts at Tarauni and Yankaba, Sabon Gari traders also lament the low patronage. 


Hafsat Lawan, one of the shoppers, noted the difficulty in securing affordable goods. 


"Every purchase comes with a lot of haggling, and even then, the prices are still high.


“I have long killed the idea of buying Sallah clothes for my children because where is the money? 


“I just want to get something for my family to eat and be happy despite this economic situation." 


The economic hardship is starkly evident in Kano's markets, casting a shadow over a time of joy and celebration.


As families prepare for Sallah, the rising costs and reduced buying power serve as a harsh reminder of the broader economic challenges facing the region.

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News
about 8 hours ago

NDLEA Intercepts 230,600 Tablets Of Tramadol, Arrests 106 In Kano

Editor


The Kano State Command of the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) announced that its operatives intercepted 230,600 tablets of Tramadol along the Zaria-Kano Road.


Spokesperson of the Command, Sadiq Maigatari, in a statement on Saturday stated that the Command has also arrested 106 suspected drug peddlers at several notorious drug joints in the state during a three-day operation in preparation for the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.


Maigatari added that the Command’s targeted locations included Sani Abacha Stadium, Karkasara Area, Sani Abacha Youth Center, Dorayi Area, Dan Agundi graveyard, Brigade Mini Stadium and the infamous Filin Idi drug den.


He added that the operations resulted in the arrest of 106 suspects, among which 11 were identified as major drug dealers even as illicit substances comprising Cannabis Sativa, Rubber Solution, ‘Suck and Die,’ Exol tablets, codeine syrup and some others were recovered.


“These illicit substances were intended for distribution and use during the Eid-Alkhabir celebrations,” the statement said.


While urging the public to report any drug-related activity to the nearest NDLEA office, Maigatari pointed out that the Command under the leadership of Abubakar Ahmad is commitment to eradicating the scourge of drug abuse and trafficking in Kano state.


He noted that the successful operations conducted ahead of the Sallah celebrations are testaments to the Agency’s dedication and determination in curbing the menace of drug abuse under the leadership of the the NDLEA’s Chairman/CEO, Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd).

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World News
World
about 2 hours ago

Southern Gaza Attack Claims The Lives Of Eight Israeli Troops

The military reported on Saturday that an explosion in southern Gaza claimed the lives of eight Israeli troops, making it the bloodiest attack on Israeli forces in recent memory.


The bombing was certain to incite fresh cries for a cease-fire by Israeli protestors, who have been engaged in a grinding battle for more than eight months with no signs of an end in sight. It also coincided with the government's facing popular outrage over young, ultra-Orthodox men's exemptions from military duty.


In response to a cross-border attack by Hamas and other militants on October 7 that resulted in almost 1,200 deaths and the kidnapping of 250 more, Israel launched an air and ground invasion of Gaza. Local health professionals report that over 37,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the Israeli offensive; they do not distinguish between militants and civilians. It has also unleashed a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where over 80% of the population has been displaced, and Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered efforts to bring in humanitarian aid, fueling widespread hunger.

The explosion on Saturday happened in Rafah, a southern city that Israel has determined to be the final significant stronghold of Hamas. Early in May, it dispatched ground forces to the city; it has not stated when the operation will conclude.

"They did it so we could live in this nation, even though they knew they could have to risk their lives for it. In a tweet on X, the previous Twitter platform, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote, "I salute them and hug their families."



According to the military, the explosion occurred in Rafah's Tal al-Sultan neighborhood shortly after five in the morning. An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated that it was either caused by an anti-tank missile or an explosive planted by Hamas. 

The Israel-Hamas war has been a contentious issue, with both Israel and Hamas expressing their disapproval. President Joe Biden recently unveiled a new cease-fire proposal that seeks the release of the roughly 120 hostages who remain in Gaza and an end to the fighting. While the international community has broadly embraced the plan, both Israel and Hamas have expressed misgivings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he will not halt the war until he achieves the twin goals of destroying Hamas' military and governing capabilities.


The inconclusive war has divided the Israeli public, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets each Saturday night to call on the government to reach a deal that would bring the hostages home. The Israeli government has already pronounced over 40 of the hostages held by Hamas dead, and officials fear that number could grow the longer they remain in captivity.


At a rally Saturday evening, participants watched a video message from Andrey Kozlov, who was rescued from Hamas captivity a week ago. He asked them to bring the hostages home as soon as possible. The deadly explosion also comes days after Netanyahu’s coalition voted in favor of extending the controversial exemptions from the military draft given to ultra-Orthodox men.


Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered an end to government subsidies for ultra-Orthodox men who don’t serve in the army. However, Netanyahu’s government, which includes politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties, has found ways to keep money flowing to religious institutions. The government is still under orders to pass a new draft law.


Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, was the only member of Netanyahu’s coalition to vote against this week’s legislation. Gallant has insisted that all sectors of Israeli society contribute equally during its war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. If Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners leave the government, the country would be forced into new elections at a time when Netanyahu’s popularity is low and his re-election prospects are questionable.


Months of cease-fire negotiations have failed to find common ground between Israelis and Hamas. Hamas has continually called for a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza as part of any deal that would see the hostages released. While the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden includes these two provisions, Hamas has expressed concern about whether Israel will commit to them.

(AP)

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World
about 16 hours ago

Federal Prohibition On Gun "Bump Stocks" Is Rejected By The US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected yet another firearms prohibition on Friday, this time one that was put in place by Republican former President Donald Trump. The ruling declared illegal a federal ban on "bump stock" devices, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices upheld the decision of a lower court that had sided with Austin, Texas, gun rights activist and gun shop owner Michael Cargill. Cargill had challenged the ban, arguing that a federal law prohibiting machine guns had been improperly interpreted by a U.S. agency to include bump stocks. The liberal justices dissented, leaving the conservative justices in the majority.

Following the use of the devices in a 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead, the Trump administration implemented the rule in 2019.

The ruling, according to Democratic President Joe Biden, "strikes down an important gun safety regulation." His administration had defended the legislation in court.

"Americans should not have to live in fear of this mass devastation," Biden stated, adding that he has "used every tool in my administration to stamp out gun violence."

"I call on Congress to ban bump stocks, pass an assault weapon ban, and take additional action to save lives. Send me a bill, and I will sign it immediately," Biden stated.


In the US election on November 5th, Trump is running against Biden. Karoline, the spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said after the ruling, "The court has spoken, and their decision should be respected," and called him a "fierce defender" of gun rights.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a "machine gun" because it cannot fire more than one shot "by a single function of the trigger." The ruling, which was issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), overstepped its authority by classifying bump stocks as machine guns. Federal law prohibits the sale or possession of machine guns, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


The ruling has been criticized by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who believes it would have "deadly consequences," as it cast aside Congress's will to embrace an "artificially narrow definition" of a machine gun, allowing gun users and manufacturers to circumvent the law. The court's majority focused heavily on the internal mechanisms of the firearm and used six diagrams and an animation to reach its conclusion when bump stock-equipped firearms are clearly machine guns.


The Supreme Court has taken an expansive view of gun rights, striking down gun restrictions in major cases in 2008, 2010, and 2022. In 2022, the court set a tough new standard for determining the legality of gun regulations, striking down New York state's limits on carrying concealed handguns outside the home. Mark Chenoweth, president of the conservative legal group New Civil Liberties Alliance that represented Cargill, hailed the ruling, while John Feinblatt, president of the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, urged Congress to outlaw bump stocks.


The United States is deeply divided over how to address gun violence, with Democrats favoring tougher gun restrictions and Republicans often opposing them. The justices are expected to rule by the end of June in another gun rights case.

(Reuters)

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World
1 day ago

In The Midst Of The Horrific Israel-Hamas Conflict, Muslims Begin The Hajj

Friday marked the official beginning of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage as Muslim pilgrims from the Saudi city of Mecca gathered at a sizable tent camp in the desert, despite the intense heat. They had already circled the Grand Mosque, the holiest place in Islam, which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba.


Since more pilgrims from Saudi Arabia joined the ranks, the number of pilgrims gathering in and around Mecca for the Hajj has surpassed 1.5 million from all over the world. This year, authorities anticipated that the number would surpass two million.

The fierce Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, which has brought the Middle East dangerously close to a wider confrontation, is the backdrop against which this year's Hajj is taking place.




Due to the siege, Palestinians in Gaza were unable to visit Mecca this year at the Rafah crossing in May, when Israel expanded its ground offensive to the coastal strip’s southern city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a significant spiritual experience for Muslims who believe it absolves sins and brings them closer to God. This year's Hajj saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Mecca on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade, as part of an ongoing thaw in relations between Saudi Arabia and conflict-stricken Syria. The pilgrims have been circling around the cube-shaped Kaaba in the seven-minaret Grand Mosque since arriving in Mecca in recent days.


Saudi authorities have adopted security restrictions in and around Mecca, with checkpoints on roads leading to the city, to prevent those who don't have Hajj permits from reaching the holy sites. Many who attempted to take pilgrims without Hajj permits have been arrested; most were expelled from the country, while travel agents face up to six months in prison. More than 256,000 visitors were not allowed to reach the holy sites because they lacked Hajj permits, and others whose incomplete papers paid fines were allowed into Mecca.


On Friday, the pilgrims made their way to Mina to officially start the Hajj. They will then move for a daylong vigil on Saturday on Mount Arafat, a desert hill where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final speech. Healthy pilgrims make the trip on foot; others use a bus or train. The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, as it's set for five days in the second week of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade, and when it falls in the summer, temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).


Many pilgrims carry umbrellas for protection from the burning sun, and in Mina, charities handed out cold water. Cooling stations sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down. The faithful set up in their tents, resting and praying together to prepare for the coming rituals. After Saturday's warship in Arafat, pilgrims travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles to use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.


Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor. Afterward, they return to Mecca for a final circumambulation. In recent years, the annual pilgrimage has returned to its monumental scale after three years of heavy restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. In 2023, more than 1.8 million pilgrims performed the Hajj, approaching the 2019 level, when more than 2.4 million participated.

(AP)

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World
1 day ago

Pope Francis Is Scheduled To Deliver The Opening Remarks At A G7 Meeting

Pope Francis is not new to artificial intelligence; in fact, a deepfake image of him wearing a white puffer jacket went viral last year. However, his worries about the technology have grown beyond this embarrassing image, and they are now the main topic of discussion at the Group of Seven summit.


It will be Francis's first speech as pope to the G7 leaders at their annual meeting in southern Italy on Friday. He plans to take advantage of the opportunity to join the chorus of nations and international organizations calling for more regulations on artificial intelligence in the wake of the explosion in generative AI, which was sparked by OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot.


This year, the Argentine pope called for an international treaty to guarantee that artificial intelligence be developed and used ethnically in his yearly message of peace. He contends that a technology lacking human values of compassion, mercy, morality, and forgiveness is too perilous to develop unchecked.

Giorgia Meloni, the premier of Italy, invited Francis and made his presence known despite the possible consequences of his John Kirton, the director of the G7 Research Group think tank at the University of Toronto and a political scientist, described the pope as "a very special kind of celebrity."


Kirton noted that the last summit with star power of this caliber took place in 2005 at Gleneagles, Scotland, where participants resolved to waive the $40 billion in debt that eighteen of the world's poorest nations owed the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


charismatic power and moral authority to combine his values of social justice and peace with a widely held worry about artificial intelligence.

Prior to that meeting, nearly a million people attended the Live8 event in London, which was organized in solidarity against famine and poverty in Africa and featured Sting, The Who, and a reformed Pink Floyd.


According to Kirton, "Gleneagles really hit a home run and for some, it's one of the most successful summits."

In the Italian city of Puglia, the G7 leaders are not subject to the same public pressure, but Francis is anticipated to use his own moral authority to reiterate his calls for AI safety measures and draw attention to the dangers AI poses to society and peace.



The ability of generative AI technology to generate reactions that resemble those of a human has astounded the globe, but it has also raised concerns about AI safety and resulted in disorganized global efforts to rein it in.

Francis echoed concerns about the potential risks of AI, including creating new bioweapons and supercharging disinformation, and its impact on everyday life through algorithmic bias and job loss.

He emphasized the importance of ensuring fundamental human rights, promoting peace, and guarding against disinformation, discrimination, and distortion. The G7 members have been at the forefront of the debate on AI oversight, with Japan launching its Hiroshima AI process and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida revealing a framework for global regulation of generative AI.

The European Union has introduced its wide-ranging AI Act, targeting AI products or services in 27 nations. In the US, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on AI safeguards and called for legislation to strengthen them. Antitrust enforcers have been scrutinizing big AI companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and OpenAI over whether their dominant positions stifle competition.

Britain initiated a global dialogue on reining in AI's extreme dangers with a summit last fall, and France is set to host another meeting in the series.

(AP)

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