Tinubu writes Oyegun, accuses him of sabotaging his reconciliation efforts

Ebun Francis || Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader of All Progressive Congress, recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile aggrieved members of the party has accused the national chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, of sabotage.

Tinubu made the allegation in a seven-page letter written to Oyegun with copies to the president, vice-president, senate president and speaker of the house of representatives and dated February 21, 2018.

Tinubu’s letter read in part, “Disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of APC”.

Tinubu also accused Odigie-Oyegun of thwarting his presidential assignment in Kogi, Kaduna and Adamawa states.

He noted, specifically, that Odigie-Oyegun had rushed to Kogi without due consultation with him to unilaterally inaugurate officials “parallel to the officials already heading the state chapter of the party”.

Tinubu said Odigie-Oyegun apparently seeks “to undermine my mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics for the most part. When forced to act, you do so in an arbitrary and capricious manner”.

He directed Odigie-Oyegun to, without delay, “make available to me the status reports and all the pertinent information regarding the state chapters without further delay”

FG not sure of true situation of missing schoolgirls – Lai Mohammed

Ebun Francis || Four days after suspected Boko Haram insurgents reportedly attacked and abducted some student’s from government girls Science and Technical college, Dapchi, Yobe State, the government still does not have the full picture of events that transpired on the school premises that fateful Monday night and the whereabouts of the missing girls.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, leading a federal government delegation to the state, on Thursday said the Nigerian government would need more time to assess the situation.

“On the issue of the number of missing girls, we cannot give what we are not sure of, until we hear from their parents, we cannot say this is the number,” Mr. Mohammed told reporters shortly after he arrived at Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Thursday afternoon. “Give us a few more time please”.

The minister arrived at the community with Khadijat Bukar-Ibrahim, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on Thursday afternoon and were received by Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Geidam, and the Theatre Commander, Operations Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas.

They were briefed by the governor and the General Officer Commanding 3 Division, Damaturu.

After the briefing, the minister informed newsmen that he was delegated by the president to visit the attacked community and commiserate with the victims and to also to find out the true situation about the missing schoolgirls.

He said that it too early to determine the whereabouts of the missing school girls as some who fled to neighbouring towns and communities are still returning home.

The minister said, “We are still monitoring the situation and what I want people to understand is that since two days ago some of the students who fled to neighbouring towns and communities had returned and more have been returning.

“When we arrived here we have been briefed by the governor and the GOC about the situation of the students. We know there are few students who are yet accounted for, but we don’t want to manufacture stories on this issue. But give us few days, we will be able to tell you exactly the real situation of things.

“But you can see response of the military, the response of the state government is quite commendable. Since four days now we have been following the efforts being made to arrest the situation,” he said.

The minister described the attack by Boko Haram as the antics of a dying group craving media attention.

He said, “But we must understand that these are they dying days of the Boko Haram and what they intend to do is to embarrass the government because they have been degraded, they have been pushed out of Sambisa forest.

“They have been starved out of oxygen and the oxygen they feed on is publicity so that they can grab the world’s attention. But I can assure you that with the determination of our gallant military, the days of Boko Haram are numbered.”

Yobe governor, Army, Police deny report of rescued Dapchi  school girls

Ebun Francis || Almost 24 hours after the Yobe state government claimed in a statement that some of the abducted school girls from Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi has been rescued neither the state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, the police nor the Army could confirm the development.

The suspected Boko Haram insurgents raided the school on Monday and abducted some of the students.

The government in a statement late Wednesday confirmed the abduction but said the army had been able to secure the release some of the girls.

“The Yobe state government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them,” the governor had said in a statement which Abdullahi Bego, his spokesman, issued on his behalf.

“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army. We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course.”

But speaking when he visited community on Thursday, the governor told family members of the students to keep praying that the girls should be found.

The Defence Headquarters has also said it has no such information on the rescue of the girls.

“We cannot confirm” the statement by Yobe State that some of the girls have been rescued, Defence spokesperson, John Agim, said on Thursday morning.

The brigadier-general refused to give further details about the military’s intervention in the situation as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

One of the aides to Yobe state police commissioner, Sunmonu Abdulmaliki, also said that the police had no information on the matter.

“There’s nothing we can confirm,” the aide said in answer to questions from newsmen.

According to him, the police would be working with a team  President Muhammadu Buhari sent to Yobe.

“We hope that after the visit by the delegation, the picture would be clearer,” he added.

Army rescues Dapchi schoolgirls

Some of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents at Government Girls Secondary School Dapchi in Yobe on Monday have been rescued by the army.

Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, Director General to Yobe governor on Press affairs, disclosed this in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

“The Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.

“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.

“We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course.

“His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who is very grateful for the gallantry and hard work of the officers and men of the Nigerian Army involved in the operation, is monitoring the situation closely and will make a statement in due course,” the statement said.

Earlier the government had said about 50 of the girls were yet to report to the school since the attack by Boko Haram gunmen.

With NAN reports

Billy Graham, preacher to millions, adviser to U.S. presidents, dies at 99

U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died on Wednesday at the age of 99, a spokesman said.

Graham died at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

According to his ministry, he preached Christianity to more people than anyone else in history, reaching hundreds of millions of people either in person or via TV and satellite links.

Graham became the de facto White House chaplain to several U.S. presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.

“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.” “No more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, came close to what he achieved.”

Graham found himself at times in controversy over his disapproving stand on gay rights, as well as a over a secretly recorded conversation with Nixon in which the cleric complained that Jews had too much influence on the U.S. media. In the later years of his career, he intentionally muted his political beliefs to focus on the Gospel.

Graham was no longer a close associate of presidents in recent years but many former U.S. leaders paid tribute on Wednesday. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”

In a rare trip away from his home in his later years, Graham had celebrated his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, 2013, at a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, where some 800 guests, including Trump, business magnate Rupert Murdoch, and television hostess Kathie Lee Gifford paid tribute.

The event featured a video of a sermon that his son Franklin said was Graham’s last message to the nation. Graham had been working for a year on the video, which was aired on Fox News. In it, he said America was “in great need of a spiritual awakening.”

With his steely features and piercing blue eyes, Graham was a powerful figure when he preached in his prime, roaming the stage and hoisting a Bible as he declared Jesus Christ to be the only solution to humanity’s problems.

In his heyday, Graham had a thunderous, quick-burst speaking style that earned him the nickname “God’s Machine Gun.” Through his “Crusades for Christ,” Graham sowed fields of devotion across the American heartland that would become fertile ground for the growth of the religious right’s conservative political movement.

MEDIA MASTERY
His influence was fueled by an organization that carefully planned his religious campaigns, putting on international conferences and training seminars for evangelical leaders, Martin said.

Graham’s mastery of the media was ground-breaking. In addition to radio and publishing, he used telephone lines, television and satellites to deliver his message to homes, churches, and theaters around the world.

Some 77 million saw him preach in person while nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television or through satellite link-ups, a Graham spokeswoman said.

Graham started meeting with presidents during the tenure of Harry Truman. He played golf with Gerald Ford, skinny-dipped in the White House pool with Lyndon Johnson, vacationed with George H.W. Bush and spent the night in the White House on Nixon’s first day in office.

George W. Bush gave Graham credit for helping him rediscover his faith and in 2010, when it was difficult for Graham to travel, Barack Obama made the trip to the preacher’s log cabin home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Graham’s ties to the White House were mutually beneficial. His reputation was enhanced as preacher to the presidents, while the politicians boosted their standing with religiously inclined voters.

“Their personal lives – some of them – were difficult,” Graham, a registered Democrat, told Time magazine in 2007 of his political acquaintances. “But I loved them all. I admired them all. I knew that they had burdens beyond anything I could ever know or understand.”

Graham’s reputation took a hit because of Nixon after the release of 1972 White House tapes in which the two were heard making anti-Semitic comments. Graham later said he did not remember the conversation and apologized.

In the early half of his career, Graham often spoke his mind on social and political issues of the day, including his strong anti-communist sentiments. He dismissed Vietnam War protesters as attention-seekers and, while he eventually refused to hold segregated revival meetings, he did not take an active role in the 1960s civil rights movement.

But Graham’s politics were not as overt as those of some religious leaders who came after him, such as Pat Robertson, who ran for president in 1988, and Jerry Falwell, co-founder of the Moral Majority, an organization whose purpose was to promote Christian-oriented politics.

As he grew older, Graham said he felt he had become too involved in some issues and shifted to a middle-of-the-road position in order to reach more people. He did, however, dive into the gay marriage issue in 2012 when he came out in support of a state amendment to ban same-sex marriages in North Carolina. He also met with Republican Mitt Romney in October 2012 and told him he supported Romney’s run for the presidency.

FROM FARM TO PULPIT
William Franklin Graham was born on Nov. 7, 1918, into a Presbyterian family and was known as Billy Frank while growing up on a farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. As a teenager, he said he was mostly preoccupied with baseball and girls until he was moved by God after hearing a fiery revivalist in Charlotte.

After attending Bob Jones College, Graham ended up at a Bible school in Florida, where he would preach at his first revival, and was ordained in 1939 by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention. He received a scholarship to Wheaton College near Chicago, where he met Ruth Bell, whose parents were missionaries in China. They married in 1943.

Rather than work from a home church, Graham went on the road, preaching in tents and building a following. His breakthrough came with a 1949 Los Angeles tent crusade that was scheduled for three weeks but extended to eight because of the overflow crowds he attracted.

The success of the Los Angeles campaign and the fame it brought Graham was attributed to media magnate William Randolph Hearst, who had liked Graham’s style and anti-communist stance so much that he ordered his newspapers to give Graham a boost.

Graham eventually outgrew tent revivals and would preach at some of the most famous venues in the world, such as Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden in New York and London’s Wembley Stadium. He delivered sermons around the globe, including in remote African villages, China, North Korea, the Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Liberals accused him of giving credibility to abusive governments while fundamentalist Christians criticized him for going to godless countries and promoting peaceful relations with them. Graham said he simply saw the trips as apolitical opportunities to win souls for Christ.

Graham concluded his career of religious campaigns in June 2005 in New York with a three-day stand that attracted more than 230,000 people, his organization said. He turned over his evangelical association to his son Franklin, who did not shy away from politics and frequently praised Trump once he became president.

Graham’s other four children were also evangelists.

REPUTATION
Graham managed to maintain his public integrity even as other TV star evangelists such as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart were hit in the 1980s by financial and sex scandals. To keep his reputation pristine, Graham had a policy of never being alone with any woman other than Ruth.

Graham’s closest presidential relationship was with Nixon, who offered him any government job he wanted – including ambassador to Israel. It turned out to be a painful relationship for Graham, who said Nixon and his circle misled him on the Watergate scandal.

Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman first mentioned Graham’s anti-Semitic remarks in a 1994 book, which Graham strongly denied. But when audio tapes from the Nixon White House were released in 2002, Graham could be heard referring to Jews as pornographers and agreeing with Nixon that the U.S. media was dominated by liberal Jews and could send the United States “down the drain.”

Graham, who had a long history of supporting Israel, apologized again after the tapes’ release and said he had no recollection of the conversation.

“If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it,” Graham told Newsweek. “I guess I was trying to please. I felt so badly about myself – I couldn’t believe it. I went to a meeting with Jewish leaders and I told them I would crawl to them to ask their forgiveness.”

The author of more than two dozen books with titles such as “How to Be Born Again,” Graham also ran the weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program broadcast around the world on Sundays for more than 50 years.

Graham helped bring religion into the television age. He first put together a television show, which was eventually syndicated, in 1951 and began live broadcasts of his revival meetings in 1957 from New York’s Madison Square Garden.

In a 2011 Fox News interview, Graham was asked what he would do differently in his career.

“I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements,” he said. “I took too many of them in too many places around the world. If I had it to do over again I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love him.”

In addition to suffering with Parkinson’s disease for many years, Graham’s health problems in his later years included a broken hip, a broken pelvis, prostate cancer and installation of a shunt in his brain to control excess fluid. He was hospitalized in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for respiratory problems.

Graham and his wife, Ruth, who died June 14, 2007, had two sons and three daughters.

Reuters

Corruption getting worse in Nigeria- Transparency International

Ebun Francis || Transparency International on Wednesday said that corruption is alive in Nigeria and even getting worse, going by the latest corruption perception index (CPI) released by the anti-corruption agency.

Whereas the country was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank of No. 148 out of 180 countries surveyed —  this is 12 places below where it was in 2016.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

The analysis of the report shows that Kenya, which was rated more corrupt than Nigeria in 2016, has now ahead of the country, climbing to 143 from 145.

Other sub-Saharan African countries ranked higher than Nigeria are Botswana — ranked 34 and the best in Africa — as well as Rwanda ( 48) and Nambia ( 53).

Nigeria is ranked 148 along with Guinea and Comoros.

Nigeria’s abysmal ranking is a blow to the President Muhammadu Buhari who was elected into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential.

 

Buhari orders military to take charge over missing Yobe school girls

Chidi Samuel || President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military and other security agencies to take control in Government Girls Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, headquarters of Bursari Local Government area of Yobe State.

The directive followed the attack on the school on Monday by elements believed to be Boko Haram insurgents and the report, confirmed by Yobe state government that over 50 students of the school were still missing.

The President in reaction to the attack, on Wednesday, directed the military to take over the situation.

He also directed the Minister of Defence leads a delegation for on the ground assessment of the situation on Thursday.

Others members of the delegation include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed stated this while briefing newsmen at the end of the FEC meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

Lai said, “In respect of the unfortunate incident of Monday in Government Girls College in Dapchi Yobe State when Boko Haram insurgents attacked the school.

“Mr. President has directed the military and other security agencies to take immediate charge and control and inform him of developments,” the minister continued.

“He (Buhari) has released a delegation led by the Minister of Defence to Dapchi, to get first-hand information as to what is happening there tomorrow (Thursday) morning.”

Yobe state govt confirms over 50 Schoolgirls missing after Boko Haram attack

Ebun Francis || The government of Yobe State on Wednesday confirmed that over 50 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) located in Dapchi, Headquarters of Bursari Local Government area of the state are yet to be accounted for following Monday’s attack on their school by elements suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents.

The confirmation of the possible abduction of the girls was contained in a statement by the state governor Ibrahim Gaidam.

Part of the statement read, “Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for as of the time of this statement.

“As the public is aware, the students were helped by their teachers to escape through the night to the surrounding bush and villages as the terrorists stormed the town last Monday,” Gaidam said.

The statement said information was received about some of the girls being found in the general area to which they escaped.

The Yobe State Government, the statement further stated, has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls were taken hostage by the terrorists but is currently working with the army and law enforcement to ensure that the missing girls are returned safely.

“The Yobe State Government is working with the Nigerian Army and other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all students in the school are fully accounted for,” Gaidam said in the statement.

The governor, however, expresses sadness over the incident. He has since directed all relevant personnel and agencies to work closely with the army and other security organisations.

He, therefore, assured parents and the school community that the state government will do everything necessary to ensure that all the missing schoolgirls are found and returned to their school and families and that security is improved in the area.

Yusuf Buhari is alive- Presidency

Ebun Francis || Yusuf, the son of President Muhammadu Buhari is alive, the Presidency has said.

The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie debunked rumours claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari’s only son was dead.

Yusuf was involved in a bike accident on Tuesday December 26,2017 .

After he was treated at Cedarcrest Hospital in Abuja and later flown to Germany for further treatment, according to reports.

Onochie described as fake news reports about Yusuf’s death.

She tweeted: “The news making the rounds regarding Yusuf Buhari, son of Pres. Buhari & Aisha Buhari is Fake.

“He is very alive, to their shame.”

The rumour began on the number one Nigerian online platform, Nairaland with a story credited to a Mohammed Ogundele. The fake news was published on 20 February.

Yobe school Boko Haram attack: ‘Many girls are missing’ – Escapee schoolgirl

Aishatu Abdullahi, one of the schoolgirls that escaped Boko Haram’s Monday night attack on Dapchi town of Yobe State, has said it was not all of the students that were so lucky, according to a report on PT.

According to her, some of the girls may have been taken away by the armed insurgents.

The Yobe State police commissioner, Sunmonu Abdulmaliki, confirmed to the publication that the school was attacked, but no immediate confirmation that any of the schoolgirls were abducted.”

“Quite alright, the school was attacked,” Mr. Abdulmaliki said by telephone. “As at today, both the parents and the school authorities are doing a headcount.”

“The school has up to 900 students, some of them are on farms, some of them have not resumed,” he added. “I am sure by morning tomorrow, I should get the details from the ministry to know whether there are missing children or not.”

Dapchi town came under heavy attack of the Boko Haram on Monday night leading to residents including students of Government Girls Secondary school, Dapchi, fleeing into the bush.

The seemingly traumatised girl said the attackers came with the intention of abducting students ”before many of us took to the bushes by scaling the perimeter fence of the school.”

The girl spoke while on her way out of Daphi town following the announced one-week break declared by the school. She said she saw some of the girls ”being forced away by the armed gunmen.”

Her words (translated):

“My name is Aishatu Abdullahi. I am a Senior Secondary (SS) student of GGSS Dapchi.

“I was in the school when the Boko Haram insurgents came at exactly the time we were preparing to break our usual Monday fast. They were shooting guns and everyone was confused; then we started running helter skelter but they were able to. We saw some people pushing some of the students to enter their vehicles.

“There were no soldiers at the time of the invasion. It was later after the principal placed a call that some soldiers came and then we began to see helicopter hovering around the village.

”We were in the mosque when the Boko Haram gunmen came into the town. According to the accounts of some of my mates, the Boko Haram told those that were caught in the mosque to sit on the floor, including our teachers. One of our teacher was injured in his leg and hand – I don’t know if it was from gunshot. We don’t know what later happened, the gunmen later left the people in the mosque.

“They came in three trucks. But they didn’t cart away food from our store as claimed.

“Some of the other schoolgirls ran with some of our teachers to a house near the school. We saw the women in the house running away, but we had to enter and hide inside the house. All of us that escaped including our school principal, the vice principal and some other teachers stayed in the deserted house till morning.

”I cannot say how many of us (were involved) but I know that our game master was able to escape with about 60 students into the bush.

“Many students cannot be accounted for till this moment, some classes are empty, some classes had less than 15 students; some said ten could not be accounted for; mostly all of the classes have missing students.

“Many of us are traumatised; many were even fainting upon hearing any unusual sounds due to the experience.

”The school has given us one week to go home for a break; but in all honesty, I am not willing to come back here because we are scared of what could happen to us in the future.”