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Blessed Iwene Tansi: The patron saint of Nigeria’s democracy @20

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BY FRANCIS ANEKWE OBORJI

The Nigerian Guardian Newspaper wrote in its editorial of May 11, 2011 (dedicated to the then newly Beatified John Paul II), that the journey to Sainthood in the Catholic Church is an effort many in humanity attest:
“In Nigeria, the Catholic Church is holding its breath for Blessed Michael Iwene Tansi who is on this same journey. We ask for progress in the matter too so long as it would propel our people to good conduct and love of neighbour. We congratulate Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church as it enthrones a model we can appreciate. It would be best to ask that his kind should increase in our world today and tarry to hurry into Heaven.” (Guardian Newspaper, “Editorial”, Wednesday, May 11, 2011).
Twenty years ago, when Pope St. John Paul II visited Nigeria for the second time, for the Beatification of Fr. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi of Aguleri, he made the theme of love of neighbor through “reconciliation and healing”, the central focus of all his preaching and speeches throughout the three-day Papal visit.
This Papal Visit of 21-23 March 1998, was the most singular and visible factor that prepared the ground for the return of democracy in Nigeria few months later in 1999. In fact, two months after the Papal Visit of 1998, events that led to the end of Abacha’s tyrannical regime began to unfold, and Nigeria’s return to democracy became a reality thereof in 1999.
Our aim in the present article is to present the theme of true healing and national reconciliation, highlighted by Pope St. John Paul II during his 1998 visit as a panacea for Nigeria’s rebirth and survival as a nation state today. The article presents Blessed Iwene Tansi as a model of reconciliation and spiritual Patron Saint Nigeria needs today in its struggle for survival as a nation state.
The theme of healing and national reconciliation goes hand-in-hand with the recent calls by some knowledgeable individuals and groups for political restructuring of Nigeria. This too needs a spiritual re-foundation of love of neighbor. In this regard, the nation should not forget to invoke the heavenly patronage and intercession of Blessed Iwene Tansi as Nigeria’s most visible celebrated Ancestral Guardian Saint at this time of our history.
As the country braces-up for the 2019 national elections, we should not lose sight of spiritual dimension in nation-building. Our political elites and those at the corridors of power will be doing the country no good should they fail to listen to the voice of reason calling us for love of neighbor, true healing, national reconciliation and political restructuring today.
How relevant is the Papal Visit of 1998 and Beatification of Fr. Tansi to our Nigerian situation today?

OUR POINT-OF DEPARTURE
It will amount to a denial of history to discuss today the return of democracy in 1999 without first, acknowledging the role played by the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to the country in 1998 and his Beatification of Nigeria’s first Blessed, Fr. Tansi during the visit. Many Nigerians believe that Pope St. John Paul II’s last visit to the country in 1998 and the Beatification of Fr. Tansi prepared the grounds for what is still accepted as divine intervention in Nigeria weeks after the Pope left the country.
In other words, the Papal Visit and Beatification of Fr. Tansi in 1998 formed the bedrock or rather spiritual foundation that made possible the return to democracy in Nigeria in 1999. Without sounding superstitious, however, it is obvious that without this spiritual dimension of that event and epoch, the gains of democratic rule we enjoy today in Nigeria could have been anything but a mirage. This is why we must not overlook the present calls by many for true healing and reconciliation as well as for political restructuring of Nigeria. These are foundational
ingredients, spiritual and political yearnings of the people towards building a new Nigeria of our dream.
They constitute the essence of the message of Pope St. John Paul II during his Pastoral Visit to Nigeria in 1998 for the Beatification of Fr. Tansi. In fact, love of neighbor, healing and reconciliation of the people dominated the life and pastoral ministry of Blessed Iwene Tansi.
This is why the Pope challenged all of us with those ideals as lived and preached by Blessed Iwene Tansi during his earthly existence.

WHO IS BLESSED IWENE TANSI?
One remarkable thing about Iwene Tansi (1903-1964) was that he was a child of destiny, especially, in the area of reconciling people with God, with oneself, with one another and with the created reality. He was born of humble parents who were followers of African Traditional Religion (ATR) in its Igbo cultural colouring, the farmer Tabansi and his wife, Ejikwevi of Igboezunu Aguleri, Anambra State.
The birth of Iwene Tansi occurred at a very critical and trial period of his hometown Aguleri, when the people of the town were having serious frictions with the British Royal Niger Company (R.N.C.), operating at the banks of Anambra River. The livelihood of Aguleri people was and is still dependent on the agricultural activities they do along the banks of the Anambra River. However, with the colonial overlords controlling the Anambra River banks and its environs, the people of Aguleri had never had it easy with the officers and army of the Royal Niger Company (R.N.C.) throughout the colonial era. The birth of Blessed Iwene Tansi occurred precisely when this unease relationship between the natives and the colonial R.N.C. was at its lowest ebb.
Born at Aguleri and educated at the mission school at the Christian Village in his hometown Aguleri, Iwene Tansi became a teacher in his alma mater at the age of 16. Thereafter, he studied for the Catholic Priests and was ordained in 1937. Immediately after ordination, Father Tansi worked as a Parish Vicar under Father John Cross Anyogu (who was later consecrated a Bishop of Enugu), at Nnewi for three years (1938 to 1940). His laudable performance at Nnewi mission encouraged his Archbishop to transfer him to Dunukofia to open that station. This he
did creditably too.
After five years at Dunukofia (1940-1945), Fr. Tansi, again, was transferred to Ufesiodo (Orumba Aguata region) to build up the Mission. He worked satisfactorily as well in this field, from 1945 to 1949. Finally, he was posted to his hometown Aguleri in 1949. It was while at Aguleri that Father Tansi expressed for the first time in writing to his Archbishop his wish to become a Trappist monk. Consequently, from Aguleri he departed for the Monastery in Leicester England in 1950.
As a pastor, Father Tansi dedicated himself not only to daily contemplative prayer but also to active ministry. He evangelized the youth, prepared couples for marriage, visited the sick, was a very good confessor, promoted vocations to priesthood and religious life, and provided for the needs of the poor. He travelled extensively throughout the parish environs to meet and serve his people. An active and busy pastor suddenly developed interest for a monastic life! After thirteen years as a diocesan priest, Archbishop Charles Heerey selected him as the most appropriate candidate to receive, incorporate, and share the Trappist spirituality.
Not a young man at age forty-seven, the parish priest left his native land and travelled to the distant land to prepare himself professionally. En route to England, Father Tansi made a pilgrimage to Rome. In 1950, he arrived at the Abbey of Mount St. Bernard in Leicestershire. Six years later, he took the religious name Cyprian (in honour of that great third-century African ascetic theologian, St. Cyprian of Carthage).
Unfortunately, after Cyprian had begun his formation program, the Trappists reviewed the proposed location of their foundation in Africa and changed the site from Nigeria to neighbouring Cameroon. Although disappointed at this change of location, Cyprian nevertheless continued his formation and dedication to the Trappist spirituality. Early in 1964, however, Cyprian was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. Within a few weeks, he died. Originally buried at the monastery in Leicestershire, his remains were transferred in 1988 to Onitsha and then to be buried finally at Aguleri his hometown, which had been also his last parochial assignment in Nigeria before moving to England.
The saintliness that Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi manifested to others had been a part of him throughout his whole life, beginning even in his youth. Commenting on his whole life during his beatification at Onitsha in 1998, Pope St. John Paul II said, “He proved himself endowed with virtue, devoted to responsibility, and given over to piety, prayer and studies.”
Beatified in Nigeria in 1998 by the Pope St. John Paul II, what now remains is his canonization, which is the final stage in proclaiming someone a Saint in the Catholic Church.
BLESSED IWENE TANSI: THE APOSTLE OF RECONCILIATION
Iwene Tansi was born, precisely at that time in Aguleri history, when one middle-aged man from the town, by name Onwuerume came to the Royal Niger Company palm oil depot at the company’s headquarters in Aguleri after work and mistakenly caused an oil spillage along the Anambra River bank. Onwuerume had a roasted yam, which he wanted to eat but there was no palm oil. Probably out of curiosity, he wanted to puncture one of the R.N.C. oil drums to obtain a little quantity of oil for his piece of yam. He did it but the oil spilled and even drenched him. In a deep terror, he made his escape leaving behind his hoe, piece of yam and spilling oil.
However, the company’s workers easily detected him and detained him. His detention rang a bell and the Ivite Aguleri village where he hailed from, a community, which were used to protracted war, ran to his rescue and released him. In the process, some rascals looted the properties of the R.N.C. on the argument that they will never brook oppression in their own fatherland especially by strangers. The Company’s chief at Aguleri raised alarm, sent for military re-enforcement from the Company’s headquarters at Asaba. The Company’s military forces came in full force. The soldiers marched to the Christian Village Aguleri, which was the only well organized and inhabited spot around.
At the Christian Village, the colonial soldiers arrested the famous traditional ruler and first baptized Christian of the town, Chief Onyekomeli Idigo. From there the soldiers went to ‘war’. The whole of Aguleri-Uno was attacked. Houses were burnt and domestic animals were shot. People were beaten up, wounded, but not killed intentionally even
though there were some deaths.
However, the Catholic missionaries at Aguleri were outraged that a matter that would have been settled in an hour’s discussion meant that three important villages were pillaged and burnt, the inhabitants put to flight, and Chief Idigo as well as 12 of other leading chiefs, who had come to negotiate, were taken away as hostages.
ONE OF THE HOSTAGES WAS THE FATHER OF BLESSED IWENE TANSI
The hostages were imprisoned at the R.N.C. headquarters at Asaba. The profound impact of this imprisonment of prominent Aguleri men on the people of the town was tremendous. For instance, the father of Blessed Iwene Tansi, when they were eventually released from prison after almost a year in Whiteman’s captivity, gave the name IWEGBUNAM (IWENE) to his newly born child (that is, the would be Blessed Iwene Tansi). This Igbo name, Iwegbunam, literally means, “May revenge (or anger) not consume (or rather overpower) me.”
Thus, when the young Iwene reached school age, his father took him to his uncle Orekyie who was a teacher at the Catholic mission school at Aguleri, so that boy when he eventually graduates from school would be equipped with the education to revenge what the White people had done to the father. However, things did not go as Iwene’s father had wished. For while in school the young man, Iwene Tansi met his vocation to the Catholic Priesthood. This changed his life forever.
Instead of toeing the path of revenge as his father had wished for him, God had another plan for the young man, Iwene Tansi. He was to become a Catholic Priest in the order of a new reconciliation, love and forgiveness as taught and lived by the Master, Jesus Christ. Little wonder then that from the moment he was ordained a priest at Onitsha in 1937, Fr. Tansi made reconciliation the focal point of his priestly ministry and life.
In fact, in contrast to the wishes of his father, Fr. Tansi as one of the pioneer indigenous priests in Eastern Nigeria, became number one collaborator of the White missionaries. In the seminary, for instance, he studied under the supervision of the expatriate priests. There, he was entrusted with the most delicate function, the procurator, which he discharged creditably to the admiration of his superiors and fellow students.
Both in active and contemplative life, be it as a busy Parish Priest in Nigeria or a contemplative Cistercian monk in England, Fr. Tansi spent his himself entirely for God through the ministry of reconciliation in the church and society in all the places he had worked as Parish Priest. He spent hours and hours in the ‘Confessional”, helping the people and reconciling them. He helped many people who were experiencing difficulties in living together whether as husband and wife or as neighbours, to reconcile, first with God, with oneself, among themselves and with the created reality.
As a curate (assistant parish priest) at Nnewi, Fr. Tansi lived in the company of both African and European priests. He hadn’t any problem with any of them nor did he manifest any sign of animosity against the expatriate missionaries. He mixed up very well with his fellow African priests as well as the expatriates with whom they shared the presbytery at Nnewi.
Again, in the pastoral ministry, he spent himself entirely, to helping the people in the area of penitential reconciliation in the “Confessional.” Fr. Tansi is also highly remembered for having helped neighbouring towns that share the same Parish to accept a common name and center for their Parishes. This he did especially, at Dunukofia and Ufesiodo (Orumba Aguata) Parihes. The names and choice of Parish centers of these two large Parishes were as result of Fr. Tansi’s effort to promote good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence among the people of different towns and villages that make up the Parishes.
In addition, Fr. Tansi had a great sense of respect to Nigeria’s diverse ethnic, cultural and religious identities. Imbued with cultural sensitivity, he never spoke ill of other people, their cultures, religions or ethnic identity. For instance, in 1946 he visited Kaduna in Northern Nigeria for holidays. During the Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, when he was about to preach, knowing that the bulk of the congregation was made up of Igbos, he asked permission of the others to address his people in their own mother tongue. He told his people to respect their hosts as well as every other person, irrespective of our differences in ethnic, cultural or religious identities.
Furthermore, addressing the entire congregation in English later, he said the same thing, while charging them to respect also the White people. Jokingly, he said to the congregation, “Do not be imitating the Whites in everything, strive hard to gain the Kingdom of God. The Whites are already in heaven in this world, but you are suffering every want. Are you going to suffer also in the next world?” Moreover, as a Cistercian monk in England, Father Tansi was at the beginning of his sojourn there, the only African amidst the large community of European monks. He never had problem of living together with the White folks at the monastery.
BLESSED TANSI AND THE RETURN OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA @20
Speaking in a homily to over three million faithful that gathered for the Papal Mass at Onitsha for the Beatification of Fr. Tansi on 22 March 1998, the visiting Pope St. John Paul II said:
“Today I wish to proclaim [to Nigerians] the importance of reconciliation: reconciliation with God and reconciliation of people among themselves… When we see others as brothers and sisters, it is possible to begin healing the divisions within society. This is the reconciliation, which is the path to true peace and authentic progress for Nigeria and for Africa.”
Continuing, the Pope said:
Today, one of Nigeria’s own sons, Fr. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, has been proclaimed “blessed” in the very land where he preached the Good News of salvation and sought to reconcile fellow countrymen and women with God and with one another. (Pope St. John Paul II, Homily at Onitsha, 22 March 1998 (see, “L’Osservatore Romano” (Weekly English Edition), 25 March 1998).
The Papal Visit in 1998 was very significant in many ways to Nigeria as a nation-state. In the first place, the 1998 Papal Visit was the second time a Pope was visiting the country, and Nigeria was to get her own first “Blessed”, in the person of Fr. Tansi. The first time Pope visited Nigeria was in 1982 during the civilian and democratic regime of Shagari/Ekwueme (1979-1983).
However, the second Papal Visit to Nigeria in 1998 became a catalyst that changed everything for good for a nation caught-up by the worst military dictatorship and tyrannical regime in her recent history. If the first Papal Visit of 1982 took place under a democratic elected civilian government of Shagari/Ekwueme, 12 years after the Nigeria-Biafra War, the second Papal Visit of 1998 took place when Nigeria was under her most brutal military dictatorship of General Abacha, and after the cancellation of the famous June 12, 1993 national elections.
In fact, many international media outlets did not hide their sentiments in reporting the enthusiasm with which many Nigerians welcomed and embraced the 1998 Papal Visit. Nigerians of all creeds, cultures andlanguages turned en masse to welcome Pope St. John Paul II to the country, and with him, prayed to God to deliver the nation from the tyrannical regime of Abacha’s military junta. God, of course, heard the prayer of his people in Nigeria during the Papal Visit. This is because, few months after the Papal Visit, things began to change for better so much so that in 1999, the country had returned to a democratic rule.
In addition, in international media, Nigeria was a laughing-stock of the world. Human rights abuses under Abacha regime were reported on daily basis in the international media. This was especially, after the Abacha regime had executed and killed the nine Ogoni environmental activists led by Sara-Wiwa, the famous Niger Delta writer.
Already there was the M.K.O Abiola case, the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 national elections by former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola, died in prison and one of his wives, was mysteriously killed during the Abacha regime. Also during this period, many other prominent Nigerians were remanded in prison by the same regime for political reasons. This included General Obasanjo, among others.
What all these meant is that under Abacha regime, Nigeria was really charged, and in a state of anarchy. In fact, by the time, Pope St. John Paul II visited the country in 1998, majority of world powers and Western countries had cut-off diplomatic ties with Nigeria. The Papal Visit and beatification of Fr. Tansi, became therefore, a saving grace for the country. Again, the event of the Papal Visit in 1998 prepared the ground for the restoration of democratic rule in the country. It signaled the end of the tyrannical dictatorship of General Abacha.
Unfortunately, after the return to a democratic rule in 1999, the nation’s political class and those in corridors of power forgot this event of the Papal Visit that restored democracy in the country.
Nigerian leaders, once democratic rule was restored in 1999 after the Papal Visit, decided to forget this spiritual dimension of our journey as a nation-state. Furthermore, Nigerian political class and leaders who took over the mantle of leadership of the country when democracy
returned to the country in 1999, forgot to address the theme of reconciliation and healing that the Pope had challenged the country with during his Pastoral Visit.
Most painfully, our political elites and leaders forgot also to appeal to the heavenly patronage of Blessed Iwene Tansi. Till date, no politician of note from Abuja had cared to know where the Shrine or remains of this extraordinary man of God is located. Moreover, the country forgot to choose Blessed Tansi and honor him as the Guardian Saint or rather, Spiritual Ancestral Guardian of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
In other words, Nigerian political class and leadership, immediately the democratic rule was restored in 1999, decided to relegate to the background, the spiritual role played by Blessed Iwene Tansi for the return of democracy in the country. Till date, the country and its political class are still behaving and pretending as if he never existed or mattered so much for our national rebirth. The Saint whose Beatification, exemplary life of reconciliation and totally given of oneself to God and love of neighbor, made the Pope to visit Nigeria in 1998 as a witness and pilgrim, is yet to be honored at the nation’s capital and by those at the corridors of power.
The theme of reconciliation and healing, which formed the focal point of the Papal Visit in 1998, and the powerful heavenly intercession of Blessed Iwene Tansi, that won us back the democratic rule in 1999, were all thrown away and forgotten by the nation’s leadership and political
class. Today, most of our political leaders at the center do not remember again, who Blessed Iwene Tansi is! None of our political leaders at the center since 1999 till date is interested in recalling how, through the Blessed Iwene Tansi’s intercession and beatification in 1998, democratic rule returned to Nigeria in 1999. Nobody recalls again the Pope’s teaching on reconciliation and about Blessed Tansi’s preaching on the same theme.
In other words, since Pope’s visit in 1998 till date, no serious effort has been made in Nigeria to imbibe the spirituality and praxis of national reconciliation and healing as practiced by Blessed Tansi and preached by John Paul II during the 1998 Papal Visit. What this means is that Nigeria remains a nation without a “spiritual” fibre and motivation. We are a country that has refused to recognize our only national “Guardian” Spiritual Ancestor (or Patron ‘Saint’) today.

HONORING BLESSED IWENE TANSI IN NIGERIA
Our neglect of the spiritual dimension of nation-building accounts for the reason why till today, no national monument of major significance is erected in the nation’s capital Abuja, in remembrance and in honor of Blessed Iwene Tansi since his Beatification 20 years ago. This is also why the country is yet to declare him, the Patron Saint or rather Nigeria’s national Spiritual Guardian Saint of our nascent democracy.
The 20th January every year that the Church celebrates Blessed Iwene Tansi feast day, is not even known as such by many Nigerians, not to talk of declaring it a national holiday by the government. In developed countries, feast days of Saints of national significance in the caliber of Blessed Iwene Tansi, are celebrated as national holiday with all the meaning attached to it. If not at the national level, at least in some states, the feast day of such a Saint is celebrated in some countries as a public holiday.
This is independent of whatever religious affiliation one may claim to profess. The fact is that, as is always the case wherever the Pope visits, the two Papal Visits to Nigeria in 1982 and 1998 respectively, were national events of great magnitude to all Nigerians, individually and as a nation. For instance, the first Papal Visit in 1982 happened exactly at the time the country had just returned to a democratic rule after the Nigeria-Biafra War and many years of military dictatorship thereof. In 1982 Pope St. John Paul II came to congratulate the country in its efforts towards consolidating democracy and in overcoming the traumas of the Civil War that devastated, in particular, the people of the former Eastern region of Nigeria, the Biafran enclave.
Secondly the Pope’s visit in 1982 inspired the Nigerian federal government of Shehu Shagari and Alex Ekwueme to work for achieving reconciliation through granting ‘State Pardon’ to the two key actors of the Civil War, then living in exile, that is, General Yakubu Gowon and General Dim Chukwuemeka Odimmegwu Ojukwu. The two returned to the country as free men within the time the Pope visited in 1982.
Moreover, the second Papal Visit of 1998 is of particular significance. It signaled the end of a tyrannical regime of Abacha and the ushered in a democratic rule in the country in 1999. In other words, the history of the present-day democracy in Nigeria will be incomplete without acknowledging the contribution of the 1998 Papal Visit and Beatification of Fr. Tansi by Pope St. John Paul II.
It is for this reason that we have emphasized in this article the importance of this spiritual aspect of our history as nation, its significance for Nigeria’s rebirth today. This is necessary considering the fact that Nigerian politicians are already gearing up for national elections in 2019, without truly, addressing the fundamental issues of healing, reconciliation and political restructuring that are crucial for the survival of Nigeria as a united nation state today. The eye of majority of Nigerian politicians today are fixed already towards winning the 2019 elections. The politicians have already started to campaign for their elections and re-elections, without however, paying any attention to these issues the Pope challenged us with during his Pastoral Visit in 1998.
The question of creating an enabling environment in the nation’spolitical landscape that could enthrone a culture of free and fair elections for political stability in the country to emerge, has continued to elude Nigeria’s political discourse. Our politicians are still aloof in reading the handwritings on the wall about the need to embrace true healing, national reconciliation and of course, the restructuring of our political system, that is, if we mean to build a stable and united multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation-state in Nigeria! The fact that our politicians have already started to campaign for 2019 elections without sincerely addressing these issues, should be a source of great concern to all of us.
This is because, Nigeria’s present-day political climate, the disturbing political tension and violent atmosphere reigning in the country today, do not speak good for anybody. As some knowledgeable people are already voicing out, any elections conducted today under this volatile atmosphere and without addressing the issues mentioned above, will be effort in futility.
This is why the country should not fold its arms, and pretend as if everything is alright, or think that ours is a ‘peace time.’ As things are today, the country needs, first, to get healed, reconciled and restructured for any national elections to be meaningful. This is the significance of the Papal message to Nigeria during the Pope’s Visit to the country in 1998 for the Beatification of Fr. Tansi.

CONCLUSION
Thus, as Nigeria celebrates the “Democracy Day” this year 2018, marking the 20th anniversary of the end of Abacha’s tyrannical regime, and prepares for next year’s 20th anniversary of the return to civilian rule in 1999, we must not lose sight of this aspect of our national history, its political and spiritual implications for a new Nigeria of our dream. In fact, one of the mistakes many people have been making in discussing the roadmap to Nigeria’s rebirth is the neglect of the role of spiritual dimension in nation-building.
Perhaps, this is why the country is yet to embrace the trajectories of healing and national reconciliation many years after the Nigeria-Biafra War. It is also the reason the country is yet to atone for the blood of innocent citizens killed and being killed on daily basis today by both the Boko-Haram Islamist extremists and their Fulani Herdsmen counterparts, who are marauding all over the country, killing people and destroying their farmlands and houses. They do all these things freely, without any apprehension from the government or security agencies.
The question is, how prepared is Nigeria today for the forthcoming 2019 elections? Will the 2019 elections achieve the desired aim of Nigeria’s rebirth without our first, addressing those issues of true healing and national reconciliation as well as restructuring which the Pope challenged us with when he visited the country in 1998
Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I together can’t handle. (Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi of Aguleri (Nigeria).

FRANCIS ANEKWE OBORJI, a Roman Catholic Priest, is Professor Ordinarius of Contextual Theology, Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome.

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Nigeria’s president Buhari said economy in “bad shape” -State Governor

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said the country’s economy was in “bad shape”, the governor of a northwestern state told reporters on Friday after a meeting with governors from across the country.
Buhari will seek a second term in an election to be held in February in which the economy is likely to be a campaign issue. Africa’s top oil producer last year emerged from its first recession in 25 years, caused by low crude prices, but growth remains sluggish.
“Mr President, as usual, responded by telling us that the economy is in a bad shape and we have to come together and think and rethink on way forward,” Abdulaziz Yari, who chairs the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, told reporters when asked how Buhari answered requests for a bailout to some states.

“Mr President talked to us in the manner that we have a task ahead of us. So, we should tighten our belts and see how we can put the Nigerian economy in the right direction,” said Yari, who is Zamfara state governor. He spoke to journalists in the capital, Abuja.
The main opposition candidate, businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar has criticised Buhari’s handling of the economy and said that, if elected, he would aim to double the size of the economy to $900 billion by 2025.
Nigeria’s economy grew by 1.81 percent in the third quarter of this year, the statistics office said on Monday. And on Friday it said the inflation rate rose slightly in November to 11.28 percent compared with a year ago.

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Nigerian lawsuit-Lawyers for the Nigerian government said they had filed a $1.1bn lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London on Thursday in relation to a 2011 oilfield deal.

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– Lawyers for the Nigerian government said they had filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London on Thursday in relation to a 2011 oilfield deal.
The OPL 245 oilfield is also at the heart of an ongoing corruption trial in Milan in which former and current Shell and Eni officials are on the bench.
“It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through to a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian minister of petroleum, and used for, amongst other things, bribes and kickbacks,” the statement said.

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Nigeria’s economy grew 1.81 pct in Q3, driven by non-oil sector, stats office says

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Nigeria’s economy grew 1.81 percent in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, pushed higher by the non-oil sector, the statistics office said on Monday.

The figures are a slight improvement from the previous quarter, when a slowdown in growth sparked fears that Africa’s biggest oil producer might enter recession for the second time in three years.

But a sluggish recovery since 2017 could bode poorly for President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in February 2019 elections and for whom economic rejuvenation has been a key pillar of policy.

The non-oil sector grew 2.32 percent in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, adding that information and communication services were the main driver of the expansion.
Oil production rose slightly to 1.94 million barrels per day (mbpd) in the period, from 1.84 mbpd in the previous quarter, yet the sector’s growth contracted 2.91 percent from the previous year when production was at 2.02 mbpd, the statistics office said.

 

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Ugandan crowned 2018 Miss World Africa

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Miss Uganda, Quiin Abenakyo was crowned Miss World Africa at the Miss World 2018 finals in Sanya city, China.
The world’s oldest running international beauty pageant, Miss World brings together beauty queens from all over the world.

By Saturday morning, Abenakyo had made the top 12 finalists in the competition. The other competitors were from Belarus, France, Scotland, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand and Thailand.
Born in eastern Uganda, the 22 year old is a graduate of business computing. She is the first Ugandan to win the Miss World Africa crown.

During the 2018 Miss Uganda competition, Abenakyo beat 21 other contestants to win the crown.
In the days leading to the final vote, Ugandans had been mobilising over social media to build support for Abenakyo.

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We Can’t Expect People Who Destroyed Our Past To Improve Our Future – YPP’s Getso

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The Vice-Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Umma Getso, has warned that it will be a mistake to expect those who have governed Nigeria before to solve its problems.
She said this on Friday during the NEDG/BON Vice-Presidential Debate, which was held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
“To be candid, YPP is a party that is here to bring a new thing,” she said.
“It is a party that is founded with the new ideology to bring a new set of politicians because we cannot expect people who destroyed our past to come and improve our future tomorrow.”
According to her, her party will, among other things, focus on girl-child education if voted into power.
“I have a passion for the girl-child education and I spent the early part of my adulthood in the development of the common Nigerian,” she said.
Getso who briefly introduced herself as the daughter of a former Senator from Bauchi State stated that her background had equipped her to serve people well.
She explained that her belief that Nigeria would get better prompted her to join the race with YPP’s presidential candidate, Professor Kingsley Moghalu.
While stressing that Nigerians were yearning for better leadership, Getso stated that the YPP was committed to creating that paradigm shift in leadership styles.
She added, “As a mother of three, I have been through the lowest level of Nigeria’s standard of living and I know how Nigerians are suffering. I know that there is no substantial thing from 1999 till date that a typical Nigerian will show today.”

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Salah wins BBC African Footballer of the Year award

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Mohamed Salah has won the 2018 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.

The Liverpool and Egypt forward, who was the top choice from a five-man shortlist in an online vote of supporters, retains the prize he also won a year ago.
Salah finished ahead of Reds teammate Sadio Mane in the poll, as well as Medhi Benatia (Morocco), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal) and Thomas Partey (Ghana).
The No.11 enjoyed one of the greatest debut seasons in Liverpool history, scoring 44 goals to help the club reach the Champions League final, and then represented his country at the World Cup.
And his form has continued into the current campaign; his winner against Napoli in Tuesday’s Champions League tie increased his tally for the season to 13 strikes.

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Nigeria suffered major infrastructural deficits in 16 years of PDP rule, Osinbajo says

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The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria suffered major infrastructural deficits in the 16 years of the Peoples Democraty Party’s (PDP) rule.
Prof. Osinbajo said this on Friday in Abuja at the 2019 Vice Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group in collaboration with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Civil Society Organisations.
The debate featured Ganiyu Galadima of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN); Khadija Abdullahi-Iya of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and incumbent Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The other two were Peter Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Umma Getso of the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
Vice President Osinbajo noted that corruption was the major cause of the country`s current challenges and must be tackled head-on.
He said the country`s Gross Domestic Product had consistently gone up under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration which he added was building the country`s infrastructure, especially the road and rail sector.
While acknowledging issues of poverty in the county, Osinbajo said the administration’s social investment programmes were put in place to address poverty in the country.
He said the administration was investing heavily in power distribution to address the problem of electricity supply in the country
Dr Peter Obi, PDP Vice Presidential Candidate, however said that job creation remained the key to address insecurity and other anti-social vices in the country.
He decried inequality, poverty and high crime rate in the country which he said was caused by unemployment.
Obi stressed that the country`s main problem remained its economy which he said was under the purview of the Vice President.
According to him, if his party is voted into office in 2019, he will do all it takes to set the country’s economy on the right footing.
“The vice president has a role to build the economy and make the country work, fighting corruption is not a policy,” he said.
Obi gave assurance that he would remain loyal to the President and Nigerians, adding that he had never had issues working with people.
Also speaking at the debate, Mrs Umma Getso, Young Progressives Party Vice Presidential Candidate said girl-child education and women empowerment was her priority.
According to Getso, subsidy in petroleum products was a scam and should be removed completely.
She emphasised the need to rebuild the country`s economy which she said is all encompassing, adding that her party would ensure constitutional restructuring and electricity redistribution.
Alliance for New Nigeria Vice Presidential Candidate, Khadijah Abudullahi-Iya said her party, if voted into office, would ensure transparency in government`s institutions, diversification of the economy and address issues surrounding petroleum subsidy.
She also said that her party had in place policies that would address unemployment, and encourage free trade to grow the economy.
Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria Vice Presidential Candidate said his party would work with technocrats to develop the country`s economy and make her the envy of other nations.
He said his party would privatise all government businesses to make them more productive.

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Knocks for Peter Obi for quoting dubious statistics

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Fact checkers went to work Friday night to puncture some of the statistics quoted by Peter Obi, the vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party at the live TV debate at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
In arguing that petrol subsidy that he estimated to be a trillion naira a year was a waste, Obi said there are only two million vehicles in Nigeria.
Fact-checking revealed otherwise. According to National Bureau of Statistics(NBS), Nigeria has over 11.5million vehicles on the road, as at 2017.
Obi also claimed that intra-African trade is just a mere 9 per cent. He was proven wrong. Intra-African trade, according to Afreximbank Africa Trade Report 2018, is estimated at 15 per cent. In 2016, this was estimated at 18 per cent of its total exports and imports. IMF even gave an estimate of 20 per cent of the total trade volume of about one trillion dollars.
Obi was correct when he said oil exports still accounts for 80 per cent of Nigeria’s dollar revenue. However, oil contribution to GDP has dwindled to about 10 per cent, according to NBS.
But he was caught out when he claimed that his administration as governor of Anambra state was the first to buy up to 30,000 computers for schools. Twitterati said Governor Kayode Fayemi bought more in his first term in Ekiti State. He reportedly bought 48,000 Samsung laptops, 30,000 for students and 18,000 for teachers.
Despite the statistical goofs, Obi was praised by many PDP sympathisers for his performance during the debate.
Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state, who had not tweeted for a long time, wrote:

 

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Linda Ikeji dumps baby daddy, then she gets lashed on Twitter

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Controversial blogger, Linda Ikeji triggered derision from fellow Nigerians on Twitter on Friday after she disclosed that she and her baby Daddy, Sholaye Jeremi have parted ways.
The 38 year old blogger had taken to her blog to give reasons why her relationship with her son’s father whom she met in Dec. 2015, didn’t work out as she had expected.
Instead of attracting sympathy, she was rebuked for her hypocrisy, of living the life of those she had criticised in the past, over issues such as pre-marital sex and single motherhood.
Ikeji, who welcomed her son, Jayce on Sept. 17 in Atlanta, Georgia, has had many Nigerians, before now, wondering the real story behind her and Jeremi.
In her `epistle,’ she shared the strength and shortcomings in her relationship with Jeremi which eventually ended after she got pregnant for their son.
” By mid-2017, we were both still single and we started seeing each other again quietly. There were times it was very intense and we talked about a future together, and there were times that I couldn’t figure out what exactly I was doing with this guy.
” We were not suited for each other. Totally different lifestyles and there was the problem of my fame so I walked away from this man a million times and he came after me a million and one times.
” No matter how much I pushed him away, he kept coming back to me, because I couldn’t find anyone else, I kept going back. Lol! So I was basically going back to my ex because I couldn’t find anyone else,” she said.
According to her, after she got pregnant everything became extremely weird between them.
“We went from talking about the pregnancy and being okay with it, to literally not talking to each other anymore.
“When I was about three months pregnant, he did come to see my parents and actually became very cool with my dad. They were literally exchanging WhatsApp messages every day.
“He later agreed to a traditional wedding which he didn’t follow through and then he switched. He began to treat me with so much hate and aggression that I and my family had to cut him off completely.
“To be honest if anybody had told me when we met three years ago, considering how deeply we cared for each other that I would fall pregnant two years later and he would completely turn his back on me for most part of my pregnancy, I never would have believed it but that’s what happened.
“I thought God sent him as my life partner but I guess he just used him as a vessel for my greatest blessing. Now his part in my story is over.This one is done and dusted,” she said.
Here are some Twitter reactions to Linda’s story:

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Election Debate : I’m delighted with Peter Obi – Fayose

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Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has commended the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi for an outstanding performance during the Vice presidential debate held on Friday night in Abuja.
He said that Obi demonstrated a high level of understanding of issues relating to the economy compared to other candidates.
Fayose in his twitter handle said he was delighted with Obi’s performance and his level of intelligence.
He wrote on his official Twitter Page, “Delighted that our VP candidate, Peter Obi demonstrated high level of understanding of issues relating to the economy of this country.
“In PDP, we have brains in abundance, while in the other party, they have lies in abundance. We will surely get Nigeria working again.”
It will be recalled that on Friday night, five candidates contesting for the vice presidency, engaged in a debate.

Those who participated were, Yemi Osinbajo (APC) Peter Obi (PDP) Umma Getso (YPP) Alhaji Abdulganiyu Galadima (ACPN) Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya (ANN)
Their responses and opinions drew mixed reactions from Nigerians.

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