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WORLD POPULATION HITS 7 BILLION

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2011 at 9:47 am

The U.N. estimates that the world’s population will pass the 7 billion mark
on Monday.

Much of that growth has happened in Asia — in India and China. Those two
countries have been among the world’s most populous for centuries. But a
demographic shift is taking place as the countries have modernized and lowered
their fertility rates. Now, the biggest growth is taking place in sub-Saharan
Africa.

Due in part to that region’s extreme poverty, infant mortality rates are high
and access to family planning is low. The result is high birth rates and a
booming population of 900 million — a number that could triple by the end of the
century. Population expert Joel Cohen points out that, in 1950, there were
nearly three times as many Europeans as sub-Saharan Africans. If U.N. estimates
are correct, there will be nearly five sub-Saharan Africans for every European
by 2100.

As NPR’s Adam Cole reports, it was just over two centuries ago that the
global population was 1 billion — in 1804. But better medicine and improved
agriculture resulted in higher life expectancy for children, dramatically
increasing the world population, especially in the West.

As higher standards of living and better health care are reaching more parts
of the world, the rates of fertility — and population growth — have started to
slow down, though the population will continue to grow for the foreseeable
future.

U.N. forecasts suggest the world population could hit a peak of 10.1 billion
by 2100 before beginning to decline. But exact numbers are hard to come by —
just small variations in fertility rates could mean a population of 15 billion
by the end of the century.

NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED…part III

In ANYTHING on October 28, 2011 at 8:54 am

My mother would have been happier if she were a widow. But a woman with a husband, who was not there, she looked more like a bat surprised by sunlight.

* * * *

When you’re fifteen and in the full grip of adolescence, your mother’s nakedness is not the best thing to behold.

So, when my mother ran out of her room stark naked and screaming at the top of her lungs I’d felt a stirring that leaves me flush with shame when I recollect it.

I found her a wrapper then Meze and I tip-toed into her bedroom. Uncle John lay naked, his bulk filling up the bed.

He was naked save for the condom that covered his erection like a shroud. Meze had covered him up while I stood there shivering and sobbing.

And today, years later when I think of that scene I remember two things – his condom-ed manhood and the thought that occurred to me before grief settled over me – his erection looked really small.

* * * *

We left No 56 soon after.

There were too many sniggers tugging at our sleeves as we walked past and many eyes that suddenly began to look every where else but at us.

And then Uncle John’s wife came to see the woman who had fucked her husband to death. “Where’s your mother?” she asked.

“She’s not at home.”

“So, your mother is the ashewo who killed my husband?” she asked before I shut the door on her and the neighbours that had gathered.

We left No 56 soon after.

* * * *

Today, Meze is married and my mother is dead. When her bed stopped to creak, her heart began to slow.

I am not married but once a week I visit a widow and act as father to her only son.

I wear a bushy beard, I nurse a small paunch and I carry an old and bulging briefcase in memory of the only father I knew.

NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED…part II

In ANYTHING on October 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

I never met my father.

By the time I was old enough to recognise faces and tell one from the other my father had disappeared wherever vagabond husbands and vagrant fathers fade into. He was gone and my mother had wiped him off her mind.

She never spoke of him. She kept no pictures, no keep-sakes to remember him by. I was the only reminder that there had been such a man in her life.

People who say absence makes the heart fonder never knew the kind of absence I knew. It was absolute. One that did not seem to exist because the presence that had been looked vaguer than the absence I lived with. I know nothing about my father. And I can’t tell whether the bed used to creak when he went in with my mother!

* * * *

We lived at No. 56 for so many years that I came to see it as home and even after we moved, because my mother couldn’t stand the crowd of memories that assailed her, I came to see the other places we lived in as strange abodes. I felt and continue to feel like an alien in a foreign land: a radicle in search of its own clump of earth.

No 56 was large and like all big houses had it s fair share of gossips. We lived in front, in a two bedroom flat. A tenement building stretched out behind us like a tail.

Everyone saw us; Meze, my mother and I as the rich ones. We were the ones who had a garage and could park a car if we bought one. We were the ones who never missed school because of unpaid fees and we were the ones who always had light when others didn’t because we could afford to pay our NEPA bills on time.

Our neighbours had conceived a perfect life for us, one that was free from want or lack. They knew the truth had a different face but the over-bearing misery of their own lives had blinded them to that other reality. So, to explain it away and bear up under the burden of their own lack and want they concocted a lie which served as a palliative for what ailed them.

But it was a fragile reality. One that came crashing the moment we stepped out of line or deigned to live as citizens of that world they said we belonged to.

Unsheathing their tongues they would flagellate us with verbal strokes that left lasting scars.

Their anger, like Jehovah‘s rage kindled at the enemies of the Jews, burned against us at long intervals because linked closely to their awe was an incipient fear peculiar to all poor people, that sense of dread that leaves you feeling naked because you have nothing.

Then one day a neighbour’s wife had unsheathed her tongue and told my mother things that made her quake.

Her child had taken ill at a bad time (not that there is a good time for falling sick). Doctors were on strike, which meant that government hospitals were shut.

The lab diagnosed typhoid fever and the doctor at the private clinic demanded a deposit of two thousand naira. It was evening and rushing home from the hospital it was our door she knocked on first.

“Your mama, nko?” She asked.

“She’s not back from the shop,” I said and she had sighed, a drawn out expiration of air that seemed to drain the life out of her.

“What’s wrong?” I asked watching the tears escape her lids and slither down her face. “No worry,” she said and turned.

By the time my mother came in, her trip round the fourteen rooms in the compound had dredged up a miserly five hundred and twenty – four naira. She needed more if her child was to live.

Then my mother came back laden with provisions and food stuff.

Her plea was desperate and when my mother said she had no money her eyes had turned to blazing coals rescued from a smithy.

“My son dey for hospital. If I no carry dis money go, the boy go die. Abeg, help me.”

“Mama Chisco, I have no money on me. I have just finished shopping. I have only two hundred naira left.” My mother explained but her words only served to fan the embers of our neighbour’s desperation.

“Abeg, Mama Andrew. I take God beg you, save my pikin.” The woman cried.

“I can’t. I have no money, true.”

As we watched a change came over Mama Chisco. She took a step backwards. She dabbed at her eyes and then she loosened her tongue and spoke words that sent sharp darts into my heart and almost killed my mother. Words that echoed Damian’s words at the play ground. Words that spoke of old scorn curdled to hate. But it was her final words that packed the most bile.

“Okay, make I ask you one question, wetin you go do if that man wey you dey fuck, if im wife come here come catch you, eh Mama Andy? My pikin dey die and you no wan help me, eh. Why?” The woman wailed and crumpled to the floor.

My mother looked across at me. Our eyes met and I could read fear and desperation and shame in her’s. Then without a single word she walked out of the compound.

She was gone for less than ten minutes and when she returned she gave the woman a wad of naira notes; five thousand naira in all.

Her child survived but she never forgave herself. It took them six months to raise the money but my mother refused it and for years until we left they took to giving me money, small change, at well chosen intervals. They hadn’t become rich, they were merely making expiation for that sin.

And it was from them that I learnt that, some times, the verbal pains we inflict on others can scar us for life.

NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED…part 1

In ANYTHING on October 26, 2011 at 7:08 am

By Toni Kan Onwordi

My mother was a kept woman.

It was something we knew. We – my cousin Meze and I. It was something we knew without being told, the sort of knowledge that creeps up on you and without announcing itself makes your acquaintance.

We knew and even though we didn’t deny it it wasn’t something we went screaming from the roof-tops.

And we preferred that those who had gained this knowledge kept it to themselves .

I got my first black eye the day Damian bared the naked rump of my secret before the whole school.

“Your mother is fucking somebody’s husband!”

It was enough to bring the bile to my tongue, the rage to the fore of my being and my fist slamming into his mouth.

When Damian saw a pre-molar fall out with the blood he spat out he’d screamed and turned my left eye into a camera flash bulb. I saw stars.

It was all my fault: the secret that had bared its rump; the premolar in the sand, the new milky way.

It was my fault. I’d just seen The Omen and for days I’d been needling Damian and calling him the anti-Christ.

How he tried to fend me off, to make me stop. But I was like an airplane drunk on Jet A-1. I wouldn’t stop.

And fed up, he had dredged up from the pit of his rage a sentence that ensured that I never looked my mates’ in the eye again.

“Your mother is fucking somebody’s husband!”

And it was all my fault!

 

* * * *

 

Somebody’s husband” was Uncle John to Meze and I. Tall, dark, pot bellied and heavily bearded he cut the picture of a burglar.

But Uncle John was a gentle giant. Mild mannered and ever polite he gave the impression that he was somehow sorry for being so big. He never screamed and he never sent you on an errand without saying please.

He came to see my Mom twice a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays. He would come in at about 6.30pm. He would park his car in the garage we had and never used because my mother didn’t have a car. Then he would lift his bulk out of the car and walk into the house refusing to let me carry his bulging briefcase.

I would serve him water and he would ask about school if schools were in session or about the holiday if I was home.

“Evening Captain!” He would hail Meze.

He called my cousin captain because according to him he had served under a captain called Meze during the war.

“Good evening, Uncle John,” Meze would greet.

“I remain loyal,” Uncle John would say then rise to join my mother in the kitchen where she would be busy preparing a delicacy for his pleasure.

With Uncle John around my mother was a woman transformed. Flush with excitement she would sing old songs made new by the passion with which she sang them. Her laughter rang loud and was like music even to ears for which it was not meant and there was a bounce to her gait that slashed off years from her age.

There was magic in those heady, fun-filled moments they spent those two nights of the week.

And you could smell her despair even before you saw her the next day when Uncle John would leave. She would be grouchy and tetchy, snapping at nothing and speaking to herself even as she stared out into space.

And then I would sit and watch her and marvel at how something that brought her so much joy could sire such misery and dejection in its wake.

When they had played all the LPs and danced to all the songs, they’d rise and retire to my mother’s room. And once the key turned in the lock the bed would begin to creak.

The Man Who Left Apple

In ANYTHING on October 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

SIRI CO-FOUNDER KITTLAUS LEAVES APPLE

Now that the iPhone 4S is on store shelves, Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus, who headed up Apple’s development of the service, has left the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, a new report claims.

Citing sources, All Things Digital is reporting that Kittlaus decided to leave Apple to spend time with his family in Chicago, take time off, and establish new start-ups. According to All Things Digital, Kittlaus left Apple just after the iPhone 4S launched earlier this month.

Kittlaus co-founded Siri in 2007. The company quickly gained notoriety and was acquired by Apple in 2010 for a rumored $121 million. Since then, Kittlaus worked at Apple to lead the development of Siri for its eventual launch on iOS.

Siri is the cornerstone of Apple’s iPhone 4S. The application allows users to give voice commands to the iPhone, which are then carried out by the service. Siri helps users send e-mails, place calls, and search the Web, among many other functions. CNET’s Kent German said in his review of the iPhone 4S, “Siri is a fun and useful feature.”

Although the Siri team at Apple has lost its leader, according to All Things Digital, other executives that played an integral role in the development of the application are still at Apple and will remain there.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for confirmation that Kittlaus has left the company.

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has written about everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Don is a member of the CNET Blog Network, posting at The Digital Home. He is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

THE OBITUARY: MUAMMAR GADAFFI

In ESSAY on October 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

AS THE rebel insurgency flowed and ebbed across Libya this year, it passed through most of the staging posts in Muammar Qaddafi’s life. Sirte, where he was born in a Bedouin tent in the sand-wastes and died amid the crackle of sniper fire; Misrata, where he went to a private tutor to learn history; Benghazi, where at military college he began to plot revolution; and Tripoli, where in the sprawling half-bombed barracks at Bab el-Aziziya he pitched his tent again, the Brother-Leader, insisting he would never leave until he had fired the last bullet he possessed.

When death overtook him, he had ruled Libya for 42 years. The handsome, magnetic army captain who had overthrown King Idris in 1969 had become a robed buffoon, with a surgically smoothed face, a mop of dyed black hair and, until she scuttled home, a blonde Ukrainian nurse on his arm. Yet he was no less cunning. Behind the designer shades his eyes were those of a fox. By sheer imposition of the cult of himself, he had held his tribally fractious country together.

He ruled unsparingly. In his Libya, dissent was punishable by death. A private press was forbidden, and political parties banned. Several dozen deaths a year of political opponents were attributed to his secret police, acting on tip-offs from the surveillance committees to which around 10% of Libyans belonged. In Abu Salim prison, on one night in 1996, 1,200 political prisoners died. If his enemies fled abroad, his hired assassins found these “scum” and killed them. The colonel’s writ, as recorded in his “Green Book” of rambling political philosophy, replaced the rule of law.

His rule had begun better. Like Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, a rare ally, he came to power determined to secure oil revenues for his people rather than for foreign corporations. Having renegotiated the oil contracts, he redistributed wealth and saw Libya grow rich—though no one grew rich faster than his own clan, with billions invested abroad. Oil gave him power far beyond the confines of his dilapidated state. He began to see himself as the leader of the Third World, the voice of the world’s poor, the King of Africa (when, in 2009, he chaired the Organisation of African Unity) and the patron of world revolution. He invited to Libya for military training such bloodstained luminaries as Liberia’s Charles Taylor and Sierra Leone’s rebel leader, Foday Sankoh. He gave money to Colombia’s FARC and the IRA, and tried to radicalise even the Maoris of New Zealand. Wherever anti-Western or anti-parliamentary feelings stirred, he was there, sowing trouble; for as he said in the “Green Book”, the only true democracy was the direct, even violent, expression of the will of the people—except in Libya.

Around this figure the West, for four decades, prevaricated. The young colonel’s “Third Mystery of Socialism”, a middle way between capitalism and communism which, in his words, solved all the contradictions of either system, seemed unthreatening enough. His people’s communes were blatantly powerless, his own “brotherly” power absolute, but then absolutism was common enough in oil-producing states. He was not a Marxist, at least: Egypt’s nationalist hero, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was his model, rather than Lenin. And he had oil.

He never forgot his origins among the desert wanderers and cattlemen. Despite the gilded mermaids and white pianos of his ludicrous quarters in Tripoli, he preferred to live in a tent, and always travelled abroad with one. When not in uniform, he wore flowing robes. His grandest project, the Great Man-Made River, brought water from southern aquifers to the northern cities. Precious green was his colour, in flags, Book and billboards. His socialism, at root, was based in desert customs of shared property and grazing land. His deep devotion to the army was the gratitude of a poor boy who had used it as a ladder to higher social rank and more grandiose ambitions.

Almost to the last, too, he tried to pose as one of his people. When protesters first erupted on the streets of Tripoli this year, he offered to protest along with them. Surely, after years of venomous pabulum from his “Green Book”, they would have learned to think as he did. But they were beginning to dare to think differently—about Libya, and about him.

 

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AGAIN IN NIGERIA

In ANYTHING on October 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

At least 15 persons, including pregnant women and children died and 60 houses burnt during a fracas that broke out between rival political parties in northern Benue state of Nigeria today. Supporters of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) clashed at Ugba community when the latter learnt of the killing of their two party leaders. Police spokesman, Ejike Alaribe confirmed the incident adding that the situation has been brought under control with investigation launched to find out the cause of the fight. The state has witness several politically motivated violence in recent times and was fingered by security agents as being targeted for further violence after the post-election attacks that saw more than 500 people killed in northern Nigeria. Riots broke out in the north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared winner on in April after a landmark vote that exposed regional tensions and led to deadly rioting. Meanwhile, two men who were picked up by soldiers in Nigeria”s restive city of Jos during a raid that followed the killing of an officer were found dead with cuts on their body. The two men, a community leader, Ahmadu Ali Kazaure and Babangida Ibrahim Yusuf were traced to mortuary of the Jos University Teaching Hospital by relatives. An elder in the community, Shehu Masalla said the body of Kazaure, a retired soldier, had deep cuts on the head. Soldiers arrested people at random when their colleague, Sergeant Baba Wuya was hacked to death by an unknown assailant in Kazaure Ward in Jos. Military unit in the area has refused to comment on the incident but later issued a statement confirming the death of the soldier. Eyewitnesses said the men dumped at the mortuary died before they reached the military cantonment where they were being taken to due to injury they sustained during repeated beating by the army officers. Jos, the capital of Plateau state in central Nigeria has been bedevilled by internecine clashes causing the country”s government to send a Special Task Force (STF) to police the area. More than 2,000 have died in these clashes since since last year. Late January, a raid carried out by assailants suspected to be from Fulani ethnic on Bere village led to the death 18 persons including the alleged leader of the attackers.

ACROSS THE WORLD

In ANYTHING on October 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

NATO’s 90-Day Air Campaign

NATO allies have agreed to extend their air campaign in Libya by
another 90 days, diplomats said, as forces loyal to ousted leader
Moamar Gadhafi maintain resistance.

“NATO agreed to extend mandate for Libya operation,” the US ambassador
to NATO, Ivo Daalder, wrote on Twitter. The mission “will continue for
as long as necessary; end as soon as possible.”

An alliance diplomat said that NATO ambassadors agreed on a third
90-day mandate, but the operation could be terminated “at any time” if
military commanders deem that civilians are finally safe.

The new mandate was accepted “without any disagreements,” the diplomat
said, adding that NATO military authorities would provide an update on
the situation on the ground every month.

The current 90-day mandate was due to expire on September 27, but
Western leaders have made clear their intention to continue flying
NATO warplanes as long as Gadhafi forces harm civilians.

“So long as the Libyan people are being threatened, the NATO-led
mission to protect them will continue,” US President Barack Obama said
at a United Nations meeting on Libya welcoming the country’s new
leadership.

“And those still holding out must understand the old regime is over,
and it is time to lay down your arms and join the new Libya,” Obama
said.

Libya’s National Transitional Council took control of Tripoli in
August, but Gadhafi forces still control some towns, putting up a
fierce resistance in the deposed despot’s hometown of Sirte after
seven months of fighting.

The new rulers declared victory in the battle for the key southern
desert city of Sabha.

But anti-Gadhafi forces have taken heavy losses in the battle for
Sirte. Medics say at least 45 NTC fighters have been killed and more
than 200 wounded since they launched an offensive early September.

A coalition led by the United States, France and Britain launched the
first air strikes against Gadhafi forces on March 19, under a UN
mandate to protect civilians from attack. NATO took over the mission
on March 31 after allies ironed out internal divisions.

Germany refused to back the UN resolution that authorised the
operation, while France initially refused to hand over command of the
mission to NATO. Only seven nations from the 28-nation alliance are
taking part in the air strikes — the United States, France, Britain,
Canada, Denmark, Italy and Belgium. Norway’s bombers dropped out of
the mission in August.

NATO aircraft have conducted 8,751 missions aimed at idenfifying or
hitting targets, according to the alliance’s latest figures.

U.S.Back in Tripoli

The U.S. ambassador to Libya has returned to Tripoli to lead a newly
reopened American Embassy in a post-Moammar Gadhafi era.

Ambassador Gene Cretz arrived in Tripoli late in September, a day
before plans to raise the U.S. flag over the embassy building in the
Libyan capital.

Cretz left for consultations in Washington in January after WikiLeaks
posted his assessments of Gadhafi’s personal life and habits in a
classified 2009 diplomatic cable.

He returns to a country much changed since revolutionary forces seized
control of Tripoli and forced the longtime leader into hiding.

President Barack Obama announced last month that the ambassador would
return, telling Libyans: “This is your chance. And today the world is
saying, with one unmistakable voice, we will stand with you.”

Iran Releases Jailed American Hikers

Two American hikers detained in Iran for more than two years have been
released on bail of $1 million and handed over to Omani authorities,
according to Iran’s state news agency .

Their lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, said he was heading to the Tehran jail
where Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29 years old, were detained,
after Iranian courts approved the $1 million bail arrangement.

The two have been jailed in Iran since July 2009 and were sentenced in
August to eight years in prison each for espionage and illegally
crossing Iran’s border. They have denied the espionage charges.

“I can say that they will be free today,” Shafiei said . “I am going
to the jail, and after that I think the Swiss embassy will decide when
and how they will go out of Iran.” The Swiss Embassy protects U.S.
interests and citizen affairs in Iran, since the U.S. and Iran severed
diplomatic ties after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The Sultanate of Oman, an ally of the U.S. in the Gulf, paid the bail
for the hikers’ release, although Shafiei said he didn’t know why.

“I signed a paper that said Oman paid,” he said. In the fall of
August, an Iranian appeals court had agreed to set bail for the hikers
at $500,000 each.

The expected release of the two hikers coincided with a visit to New
York by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s for the United Nations
General Assembly. This time last year, again as Ahmadinejad was
traveling to New York, a third American hiker, Sarah Shourd, was also
released on a $500,000 bail posted by Oman. Her case remains open.

The three Americans were arrested along the Iran-Iraq border in July
2009 when Iran was roiling in post-election unrest. The hikers say
they are innocent and were hiking along the unmarked border area when
they were detained.

Obama Opposes Palestinian Statehood

President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s
bid for statehood in the Security Council, throwing the weight of the
United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even
as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken
hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,”
Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General
Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by
now.”

Instead, Obama said, the international community should continue to
push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable
“final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979:
the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of
Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in
Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their
capital.

The Arab Spring quandary, in particular, has been enormously
troublesome for Obama. White House officials say that he has long been
keenly aware that he, like no other American president, stood as a
potential beacon to the Arab street as the ultimate symbol of the
hopes and rewards of democracy. But since he is, first and foremost,
the president of the United States, he has had to put American
interests first.

So Obama’s entire 47-minute address appeared, at times, an effort to
thread the needle meant to balance his efforts in support of
democratic movements against his efforts to stand behind Israel,
America’s foremost ally. From the moment he stepped behind the podium
and began talking, everything he said seemed directed to one point.

“Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and
gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like
to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United
Nations—the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.”

Obama called this year “a time of transformation.” This year alone, he
said, “more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in
freedom and dignity.”

He hailed the democratic movements in the Ivory Coast, in Tunisia, in
South Sudan. Of Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak fell after 30
years, Mr. Obama said, “we saw in those protesters the moral force of
non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw; from Selma
to South Arica—and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the
Arab world.”

He hailed the Libyan toppling of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and threw
his weight behind the protesters in Syria.

But, he said, Palestinians must make peace with Israel before gaining
statehood themselves. Both Israelis and Palestinians, he said, have
legitimate grievances that should be addressed.

“The deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in
each other’s shoes,” Obama said. And he issued an oblique challenge to
the United Nations itself as an institution which has long been
accused of being anti-Israel.

Somalia in the Throes of Deaths

Drought and famine-blighted Somalia is at a “turning point” as
conditions decline with hundreds of thousands more people likely to
die in coming months, 20 aid agencies warned .

The situation was the worst ever seen by the group of international
and Somali non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and was expected to
deteriorate further, they said.

“As NGOs who have worked in Somalia for decades, we are accustomed to
the daily struggle to survive that is the reality for most Somalis,”
they said in a letter released late last month, warning upcoming rains
would add to the misery.

“However, never before have we faced such acute suffering with so many
lives at stake. Somalia is at a turning point.”

International agencies that signed the letter included Oxfam,
International Rescue Committee, ACF International, Caritas
Switzerland, World Vison, Medecins du Monde France, Danish Refugee
Council and Mines Advisory Group.

The United Nations has declared six regions in south Somalia famine zones.

The letter also repeated an earlier United Nations’ warning that
750,000 people faced death from starvation in the next four months.

“It is hard to imagine that the suffering in Somalia could get any
worse,” the letter by the aid agencies added.

Yet rains expected in October “will result in increased suffering and
lead to the deaths of many more weak and vulnerable Somalis in
communities already decimated by famine,” it said.

“The spread of cholera, measles and malaria will have a devastating
effect on malnourished men, women and children.”

Restrictions on the emergency aid delivering is blocking efforts to
support those in need in Somalia, the aid agencies added, calling for
“free passage of assistance.”

Extremist Shebab fighters pulled out of positions in the war-torn
capital Mogadishu in August but still control swathes of south and
central Somalia.

Their draconian aid restrictions are blamed for exacerbating harsh
drought into famine in areas they control.

Drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia has increased the
number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of
Africa to 13.3 million, according to the UN.

LATEST ON ACROSS THE NATION

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

ENUGU
Chime Still In The Cold?

The National leadership of organised labour has directed striking
civil servants in Enugu State to commence work immediately, just as it
gave Governor Sullivan Chime a 21-day ultimatum to implement the N18,
000.00 minimum wage.

Announcing the suspension of the strike and the ultimatum at the NLC
secretariat in Enugu, the National vice Chairman of NLC, Emma Ajoku,
explained that the decision to suspend the indefinite strike was to
enable labour negotiate with the state government.

He added that the decision to suspend the strike for the time being
was in line with the industrial court ruling in Abuja. Ajoku assured
that no worker would be victimised in any way because of his or her
involvement in the strike, stressing that to do so would incur the
wrath of the organised labour against the government.

BORNO
Govt House Under Prostitutes Siege

SECURITY personnel at the Borno Government House, Mai-duguri, are
worried over the influx of women hovering around government officials.

Nigerian Tribune learnt that the daily influx of these women to the
Government House, since the inception of this administration on May
29, had constituted serious headache for security operatives manning
the gates.

Unlike in the past, when security men on duty at the gate had to
contend with male political thugs, who always insisted they had right
to the office of the governor, the men in uniform now had nightmares
controlling the prostitutes who flooded the gate daily.

A visitor to Government House in the recent weeks likely encounter the
scene in which angry security operatives guarding the gates were
exchanging words with women, who flaunt their assets at will.

In most cases, the women were at the Government House to seek hajj
slots from the state government and were normally granted entry after
a phone call with some of the government officials.

This development was worrisome for the security details, who were
instructed to keep an eagle eye on every person seeking to enter the
house, because of the level of security threat in the state.

The development, it was learnt, had stirred anger and bitterness among
the male political thugs, who see themselves as core political foot
soldiers, saying that they were being denied access to the governor.

LAGOS
Let’s Organise Rather Than Agonise– Fashola

As Nigeria marks her 51st Independence Anniversary, Lagos State
Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Saturday restated that it will
require the common efforts of every citizen deployed in a peaceful
atmosphere to build the collectively desired country.

Governor Fashola who spoke at the Police College, Ikeja venue of the
march past and parade ceremony which involved the Police, voluntary
organizations, school children and para military agencies added that
“nobody will do it except ourselves”.

“We can of course continue to agonize without organizing, and in that
sense betray the responsibility of our generation. Conversely, we can
resolve from today to be part of the solution rather than the
problem”, he explained.

He recalled that during his 50th Anniversary address, he had cause to
assert that Nigeria’s good days are ahead of her and not behind her,
stating that: “Today, inspite of the challenges that we face, my
belief is unshaken; that our better days lie ahead of us, but it is
more important to also say that we must earn it by working hard,
probably harder than we have ever done before”.

“We must earn it by promoting our common humanity and embracing peace,
probably more than we have ever done before. We must aspire to those
better days which lie ahead of us by exercising the greatest restrain
that we can muster when things are not going the way we expect”.

The Governor who explained that he should not be misunderstood to be
suggesting that Nigerians must remain docile in the face of want,
hunger, poverty and insecurity noted that options and choices must be
considered to redress those wrongs without aggravating its already
difficult situation.

Governor Fashola emphasized that the nation cannot solve the problem
of poverty, unemployment and hunger by continuous resort to strikes or
the pursuit of violence.

RIVERS
The N200B—Loan State

THE Rivers State government has said it has, so far, accessed about
N40 billion out of the N200 billion loan approved by the State House
of Assembly two months ago.

Governor Rotimi Ama-echi made the disclosure at a three-day retreat
tagged, “Effective Governance: The Role of the Legislature,” organised
by the state assembly for its members, at Tinapa Resort, Calabar,
Cross River State, on Tuesday.

He noted that the government had earlier hesitated to take the loan
but observed that so far, it had fast track  the execution of some
ongoing projects, adding that “if you didn’t approve that loan by now,
we would have been struggling with the federal allocation to execute
our projects.”

The governor, therefore, assured the state legislature that the loan
would be utilised effectively, as the sum of N5 billion had been paid
to service the facility, while promising that his administration would
not leave any debt for the next administration.

Also from the loan, Governor Amaechi said he would direct the
disbursement of N10 billion for the completion of some of the model
schools, adding that so far, about 476 had been completed out of the
750 billed to be built across the state.

He challenged the assembly on promoting good economic governance in
the lawmaking process.

Later in his remarks, Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke,
commended the assembly for choosing the state as venue for the
retreat, as he expressed hope that the cordial relationship between
the states would be maintained.

ABIA
Tit For Tat

Special Adviser to Abia State Governor on Electronic Media Ugochukwu
Emezue has advised Imo State government to absorb their indigenes
being transferred back to their State, rather than chasing shadows.

Mr. Emezue was reacting to the recent comment by Imo State
Commissioner for Information, Dr. Obinna Duruji, where he described
Abia State government action as irrational, reprehensible and
obsolete.

The Governors media aide hinted that Imo State was the first to sack
Abia indigenes few years back without recourse to the Governor of Abia
State.

According to Emezue, it was this action of Imo State that forced other
neigbouring States to off load Abia indigenes, who were subsequently
absorbed by Abia State government.
It is on record also that in the twilight of Chief Ikedi Ohakems
administration, files of Abia pensioners were sent back to the State,
Emezue added.

Speaking further, Mr Emezue Stated that Governor T.A.Orji on his part
took time to discuss with his Colleagues before taking this action
which is a mark of respect for the Governors involved.

“It is rather unbecoming of a State Commissioner of Information to go
on the pages of newspapers to cast aspersion on the person of Governor
T.A. Orji”

AKWA IBOM
Akpabio Pledges Road Projects Completion

The Akwa Ibom state government has pledged to complete the roads under
construction in Abak Local Government Area at the end of this year.

The state governor, His Excellency Chief Godswill Akpabio, gave the
assurance at an award ceremony in his honour by the Anglican Diocese
of Uyo.

Governor Akpabio who was honoured with the Joshua award at the diocese
in recognition of his contribution to the development of the church
appreciated the church for their prayers for his success in the last
general election, He also advised Christians to show love and
compassion for one another irrespective of tribe.

The service which marked the dedication and inauguration of Saint
Peters Anglican church Abak in Abak Missionary Archdeaconry also
witnessed the conferment of ITI EKA on the wife of the governor.

According to the bishop, diocese of Uyo Anglican Communion, The Rt Rvd
Isaac Orama, Governor Akpabio has tried to attain the destiny designed
for him by God to be the governor; he called on all to support him to
further develop the state rather than strive to distract the progress
of the administration.

He reasoned that the more people struggle for positions of leadership,
the more the devil will seek to destroy the destiny already designed
for the state.

JIGAWA
The N400M House of Assembly

The Jigawa state government has awarded contract worth about four
hundred million Naira for the construction of offices and a conference
hall at the state House of Assembly premises.

Speaking while signing the contract on behalf of the government, the
chairman of Dutse Capital Development Authority (DCDA) Alhaji Bashir
Aminu said the award of the contract worth N382, 608,330.67 followed
the approval of the state executive council and was for the building
of offices and a conference hall within the premises of the
legislature in order to provide a conducive working atmosphere for the
Honourable members and improving the standard of the legislative House
for effective discharge of duties.

The Chairman added that, the completion period of the project is nine
months and urged the constructing firm Rollsman Tech Ltd to work
towards completing the project as scheduled, assuring that Government
will on its part not fail in meeting its obligations.

EKITI
Fayemi Sets Up Trust Fund

The Ekiti state government has established the Education Trust Fund to
reposition the education sector.

The Body which is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring all
projects funded from the Education Trust Fund is also to oversee the
remittance of the Trust Fund from Local Governments, Ministries,
Parastatals and mobilize the people to donate to the fund.

The Chairman of the Board, Rt. Honourable Friday Aderemi who disclosed
this at its inaugural meeting held in ado, said the State government
is determined to revamp the education sector through protective and
pragmatic measures.

Honourable Aderemi called on indigenes of the state at home and abroad
as well as corporate organizations based in the State to contribute to
the fund.

He lauded the State Government for the reduction in tuition fees in
the State higher institutions of learning and provision of free
Education from Primary to Secondary School level.

Earlier, Secretary of the Board, Mr. Bolu Ogundare had acquainted the
members with the law establishing the education Trust fund.

Other members in attendance were Chief Oyeniran Osuolale, Chief
Ogundeji Olukayode, Hon. Omotayo Nelson, Hon. Oyeyemi Sunday, Dr.
Bello Saka and Dr. Awopetu Olayinka.

OSUN
Aregbesola Gives Farmers 72, 000 Bags of Fertilizers

Determined to achieve the target of bumper harvest during the late
planting season, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has
ordered immediate distribution of 72,000 bags of fertilizers to
farmers across the state.

This was disclosed at the weekend during the inauguration of a ten-man
Fertilizers Distribution and Monitoring Committee headed by the
Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Prince Wale Adedoyin
who explained that the fertilizers were procured from the Federal
Government to aid the food security target of the state.

Performing the inauguration on behalf of the governor in Osogbo, the
commissioner, Prince Wale Adedoyin, explained that the governor, in
his wisdom, ordered the fertilizers distribution so as to eradicate
past sharp practices associated with fertilizers distribution in the
state.

The distribution is to take place at the headquarters of the Osun
State Agricultural Development Programme (OSSADEP), Iwo and other
designated points so as to reach farmers in their localities. Adedoyin
frowned at how some greedy individuals, selfish politicians and fake
farmers collected fertilizers from government at subsidised rates in
the past which they go to hoard and returned to sell to the right
farmers at exorbitant prices.

This development had been posing difficulties to farmers across the
state, stated the commissioner who promised that the problems
associated with fertilizer distribution would be tackled and resolved
without fail.

Two frontline scientists, Professors Olu Odeyemi and Olasupo Oladipo
who are also members of the 10-man committee commended Governor
Aregbesola for having the good initiative to make fertilizers
available to farmers.

OGUN
First Female Chief Judge Sworn in

The governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has sworn in the
first female Chief Judge of the State, Honourable Justice Olatokunbo
Oduyinka Olopade, charging her “to provide the right kind of
leadership for the State Judiciary and come up with innovative ways of
improving the delivery and administration of justice in the State.”

While commending the sterling qualities of the new Chief Judge,
Senator Amosun reminded her that “as the very first female Chief Judge
of Ogun State, she has become a pioneer and an ambassador to a segment
of our population that she cannot afford to disappoint.” He said Hon.
Justice Olopade had inherited from other renowned legal practitioners
and jurists a tradition of eminence which she must sustain. He
commended the meritorious service of the former Chief Judge, Hon.
Justice Oluremi Jacobs, to the state and promised to strengthen the
independence of the third arm of the government in the interest of the
citizens.

Governor Amosun expressed concern over the recent happenings in the
Judiciary at the highest level, saying that they had had “far-reaching
implications on the confidence of the average Nigerian in our
judiciary.” He called on members of the Bar, journalists, Civil
Society Organizations, religious bodies and other stakeholders to
“rise in the defence of a strong and virile judiciary that will stand
the test of time.”

Senator Amosun used the opportunity of the inauguration to clarify the
position of the government on the mission schools and alleged tax rise
in the state. He reiterated that he had no intention to take over any
school but to ensure that every child in the state had access to
education.

BE A LION, PLEASE PRESIDENT JONATHAN!

In ESSAY on October 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

CONVERSATION

Gbenga Ogundare, Editor, National Standard Magazine
Some Nigerians still want the President of this country to be a lion
or a tiger, somebody that has that kind of strength and force and
agility to make things happen the way they think. Some others will
want the President to operate like an army general, like my Chief of
Army Staff commanding his troops…Somebody will want the President to
operate like the kings of Syria, Babylon, Egypt, the Pharaoh,
all-powerful people that you read about in the Bible. Unfortunately, I
am not one of those.” —President Goodluck Jonathan.

Haba, Jona! You mean to tell me you’re the exact opposite of the kind of
leader Nigerians expect and need. Are you sure you’re bereft of the
kind of strength and force and agility to make things happen the way
Nigerians want? What manner of president you come be?! OK, wait a
minute: is this some kind of national joke at prime-time? Or, an
excessive display of modesty? I think you’ll need some more explaining
to do here.

To operate like an army general is an honour; for such a general
operates with precision, target, strategy and purpose…but none of
these describe you Mr. Jona? Who the heck has been helping you with
your speech? Oh, you got the message through christendom-inspired holy
ghost! I see. You must have some anointing then.

You said you were no Syrian king, Babylonian emperor nor were you the
Pharaoh of Egypt– all powerful statesmen with enviable charisma as
leaders; men who led prosperous nations. These were men gifted with
fiscal genius and military perspicacity. They were those who built cities to
nation-states. Mr. Jona, and you were comfortable to tell millions of
people who believe in you that you cared not to aspire to such great
level of achievement.

Please Jona, recant.

But, wait a minute. Did you also say you were not a Goliath -that
grotesque Philistine guy? Sure, not even my youngest son finds the
Bible character inspiring. However, Jona, there’s something even more
disturbing about your proclamation-confession. You’re a David, aren’t
you? I guess your answer would be yes. But don’t mistake humility for
timidity. The humility of a cat (read David) isn’t a sign of his
timidity. David was a brave boy…barely half your age when he bravely
killed a bear in defence of his sheep. David was merely a boy when he
struck down that loathsome gigantic Goliath.

You aren’t a boy. Where’s your valour? Where’s your decisiveness,
Jona? Where’s the inspiring aura of leadership in you? By your words
and actions you force Nigerians to snore in premature sleep of
resignation of “e go better”.

Faced with TOTAL INSECURITY, Nigerians can hardly yearn for a better
tomorrow. Life, property, investment, career, morals, law, are all
languishing in the dungeon of insecurity. How gratifying does it feel
to preside over a bunch of rogues as politicians, militants,
terrorists, state-patronised corrupt businessmen, kidnappers and
morally bankrupt youths?
Nigerians need you to be a lion to scare wolves; and a fox to
recognise traps. Nigerians need you to be lion-hearted to exorcise the
demons tormenting the national soul. Don’t you think you can do it?

Oh dear! I know how it feels not to want to be a hero in the face of
oddly adversity. It is especially understandable in the case of a man
who has excelled, not on GOOD WORK, but on GOOD LUCK. Chance has
thrust greatness unto your path. And in a panicky frenzy Jona, you’ve
called out to us – your national neighbours- informing us how helpless
you feel in the heat of the kitchen called Naija.

But if you can’t stand the heat, shouldn’t you get out of that kitchen?

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