Below are the headlines found on The Daily Trust Online Newspaper for today,  Saturday, 3rd February, 2017.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
This year came with a lot of prospects on the political scene, with many first term governors who believe they have done enough already fixing the machinery for campaigns to get a second term, even as many other politicians are equally unrelenting in their efforts to upstage them.

Recent developments might reshape Ortom’s chances in Benue 
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State who is gradually rounding off his first term recently indicated interest to re-contest the governorship election in 2019 after he claimed to have received “divine leading” to do so at the end of a spiritual retreat.
Nobody from Ortom’s All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state has yet declared the intention to challenge him at the polls, but several people from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are believed to be warming up for the coveted seat.
Feelers are rife that Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, the PDP candidate who lost to Ortom in 2015 would make a big comeback to the political scene. Also, Dr. Steve Wande, the proprietor of First Fertility Hospital in Makurdi, is speculated to be rooting for the governorship position under the PDP alongside Tarzoor. The body language of Engr. Felix Atume, a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in 2015 general elections, suggests at the moment that he would still dive into the political terrain.
But a sacked member of the House of Representatives who represented Vandekiya and Konshisha federal constituency and an APC member, Herman Hembe, is rumoured to have started campaign in disguise for seat of power following series of stakeholders’ meetings he had held lately which tilted towards such direction as he continues to gather momentum at his locality.
Political watchers are however of the opinion that the names dropping so far are not likely to pose much threat to the incumbent governor’s ambition except, of course, things change, as they certainly would as election date draws closer.
In the thinking of these political observers, Ortom may survive the storm only when his administration surmounts the challenges of unpaid salaries to workers and surmount the current insecurity in the state.
While many from outside expect that the herders/farmers clashes in Benue might be Ortom’s undoing considering how he is championing the anti-grazing law, political analysts believe that the governor is now a “hero” among his people, with many who disliked him in the past for some reasons now seeing him as the man to beat.
However, the governor, at the wake of fresh killings by gunmen in parts of the state since new year day, announced suspension of political activities pending when peace returns to the state.
Before then, Ortom had on Thursday, November 9, 2017, told stakeholders from the Masev, Iharev, and  Nongov Development Association (MINDA) which comprises Gwer, Gwer West, Makurdi and Guma local government areas, that he was ready for re-election.
Subtle challenge in Sokoto
There is an impression in certain quarters that there would be less threat to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in case he makes up his mind to re-contest the governorship of Sokoto State,  but some analysts believe circumstances might alter cases.
Tambuwal has maintained cordial relationship with the two political gladiators and former governors of the state-Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and Alhaji Dalhatu Bafarawa, both who still hold sway in the state’s political arena.
The two are noted to have remained the determining factors on who becomes what in their respective political parties, the APC and PDP, and since coming on board, Tambuwal has maintained good relationship with both, visiting them at will and paying homage to them at festive periods.
It was said that Bafarawa, despite his long standing misunderstanding with Senator Wamakko, has resolved not to interfere in state affairs, and there are reports that he had cautioned his followers, particularly leaders of the PDP, to avoid criticizing Tambuwal’s government.
Similarly, Bafarawa has been shying away from granting media interviews on Tambuwal, whom he always calls “my son”, and with whom he would never join issues.
In 2015, Tambuwal on the platform of the APC contested against his in-law, Senator Abdallah Wali of the PDP.
Wali had contested two times for the position, once against his current political Godfather, Bafarawa in 2003 and the second against Tambuwal. It is not clear what will happen next year.
The second likely contestant is a two-time commissioner in the state, Faruk Malami Yabo, who was dislodged by a mutual arrangement that catapulted Tambuwal to be the APC flag bearer during the last election after a “gentleman’s” agreement.
To demonstrate that he was privy to the arrangement, Yabo took Tambuwal’s hand and presented him to the delegates despite the entrenched believe at the time that he (Yabo) was the anointed successor of Wamakko.
Yabo is said to be highly interested in contesting the governorship seat next year but it is too early to say under which platform. The success or otherwise of his bid for the candidature of the APC might depend heavily on where the Wamakko factor swings.
Another possible candidate is a veteran politician and one time Commissioner for Industry in the old Sokoto State and a former chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Umaru Dahiru Tambuwal. He had equally aspired to become governor in 2015 under the banner of APC but could not secure the ticket.For now, his posters are seen in Sokoto metropolis with words of praise. One of such posters read:  “A patient man will one day secure victory.”
PDP the challenger in Plateau
Popular politicians in Plateau State such as Sen. Jeremiah Useni, Sen. Victor Lar, Eng. Jimmy Cheto and Hon. Kemi Nshe all have one thing in common-they, alongside many others in the PDP, want to tackle Governor Simon Bako Lalong for the number one seat in the state.
Most of those eyeing Lalong’s seat are members of the main opposition party and hail from his southern Senatorial zone, giving an indication that the PDP may likely zone its governorship seat to the zone as a way of accosting Lalong from the home front.
But Lalong is seen by many as one man with a “thick shell” which cannot be easily cracked. Despite his gentle posture which many take for granted, the governor survived as the state’s longest serving speaker in the past and was even the chairman of the Conference of Speakers in Nigeria twice.
However, the likes of Sen. Jeremiah Useni, the oldest among those eyeing Lalong’s job, are trying to prove that the governor’s legendary simplicity and humility which endears him to the masses can be challenged.
Useni’s ambition is becoming more pronounced by the day and insiders say rumours about the senator’s state of health will not deter the army general turned politician.
Useni, now a senator representing the southern senatorial zone, is also braving speculations that his age is a factor as his media aide, Abubakar Ateeku, recently said the senator was “strong and capable”.
However, before he thinks of tackling Lalong, Useni has to device ways of convincing his majority Tarok ethnic group to support him against a much younger Sen. Victor Lar, who vacated the senate seat for him in 2015.
With Lar already making his mark among the youths who see him as vibrant, many say he is better shaped to be used by the PDP to upstage Lalong.
 Lar’s ambition to become governor is not new as he had contested the governorship seat in 2007 on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) but lost to a former governor, Jonah Jang. The former senator had traded his senatorial seat to grab the PDP governorship ticket in the build-up to the 2015 general elections but with Jang at the helm of affairs, the ticket eluded him, depicting a classic case of what many call “Two zero.”
Eng. Jimmy Cheto also of Tarok extraction made three failedattempts to become governor. In 2015, Cheto was so angered by Jang’s choice of the late Gyang Pwajok that he supported Lalong’s candidacy.
Unlike Useni, Lar and Cheto, Nicholas Kemi Nshe is not only from Lalong’s local government area but is also of his Goemai tribe. Nshe’s name came up more often than most at the twilight of the PDP primaries in 2015 as many had thought Jang would reconsider anointing Gyang Pwajok from his northern zone for Nshe, his then close ally and chairman of Shendam LGA.
Even with the PDP consistently mocking the governor’s achievements as only completing projects started by them, there are those who have risen to the governor’s defence that he is never one that brags, and has kept to his promise of executing existing projects and  ensuring a conducive environment for investors. By that, they say, he has fulfilled his campaign promises.  Most importantly, the peace which Plateau has enjoyed for nearly three years now outshines whatever the PDP had put on ground, an edge which many say would count for the governor.
Masari suppressing threats in Katsina
In Katsina, Governor Aminu Masari’s perceived threats to re-election seem to be coming from the APC splinter group called the APC-Akida comprising people like MT Liman, Sadiq Yaradua, Sada Ilu and Usman Bugaje among others.
While the PDP has people like Garba Faskari, Musa Nashuni, Umar Tata and Muttaka Rabe, Masari feels more threat from within.
But obviously, emerging political developments, especially from the governor’s camp,are suppressing the threat.
Recently, some supporters of two former gubernatorial aspirants that took part in the 2015 elections crossed over to the Masari camp.  These include the structure left behind by the late Senator Kanti Bello and Sada Ilu.
Masari was also able to win the hearts of over 250 former councilors who served under the past government. They were publicly received into Masari’s camp at an elaborate ceremony.
Another recent event was the decamping of some prominent PDP personalities like the former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Yau Gwajo Gwajo, his deputy, Bilya Rimi, Ibrahim Ida, Sabiu Mai Jamaa, Abdul Isa and Musa Adamu, among others. These were strong political pillars in the PDP before their departure.
The coming of these men led to the formation of the APC Consultative Forum that has strong support of the party and government. They are now convincing more people to join the APC to support Masari.
At present, Masari has absolute control of the party which in turn has endorsed him as the sole candidate for the 2019 election.
Kogi’s political waters full of uncertainty
Gladiators eyeing the Kogi governorship seat have begun to make underground moves and consultations on how to wrestle power from Governor Yahaya Bello.
Bello is believed to be gunning for another term according to his associates and supporters. Nearly 30 aspirants vied for the APC ticket which was won by the late Prince Abubakar Audu in 2015 but eventually went to Bello. Many of the aspirants are reportedly bracing up for another trial. Although many of such gladiators are yet to declare their interests publicly, some names of likely contenders who are set to give the incumbent governor a run for his money have started emerging even as more are expected in the weeks ahead.
One of them is Aliyu Aku, a PDP chieftain and  current member representing Omala Constituency in the state House of Assembly. Aku who is a second term member, was also a deputy speaker in the 6th assembly before he resigned in the wake of a leadership crisis that rocked the assembly.
He was also a personal assistant to former governor Ibrahim Idris from whom he still enjoys good support. Aku is well respected for his show of courage and integrity while the crisis in the assembly lasted. His decision to stay faithful to his party, the PDP, when other colleagues crossed to the APC for alleged personal gains, seems to have endeared him more to the people.
A former governor, Ibrahim Idris, recently said they would wrestle power from the “non- performing” APC-led government and many are suggesting that he may support Aku.
Another contender is Chief Dr. Joseph Ameh Erico, a security expert. He is said to be one of the front line contenders in the governorship race and has been making wide consultations with critical stakeholders ahead of the election.
Dr. Idris Omede is the current president, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN). He was a Commissioner for Health in the state and a one time National President, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). He hails from Dekina Local Government Area of the state and is said to be among those that would pose a threat to the governor if he contests.
Senator Alex Kadiri who represented Kogi East Senatorial District in the National Assembly at a time is also said to be warming up to contest  the governorship election.

The   crane is a regal bird ,but it is doing poorly in Nigeria, given the fact  of ‘over hunting’, hunger for ‘bushmeat’ ,and the effect  of dams, which distort its habitat, pushing its population to the brink, and triggering questions as to how national is this ‘national bird’.
Costly bird  
‘A live crowned crane costs one hundred and fifty thousand naira’, says Bashiru Sani, Chairman, Bird Sellers Association, Abuja, who informs me that he has not set eyes on the bird for the past two years. He sits by a junction close to the National Mosque, Abuja where he and a group of young men sell live birds in cages, and there is a monkey too .They watch the passing cars as eagerly as they guard their birds, and there is the hope that a door may open and an occupant express interest in a bird. The young men look and they wait. Most of the birds are in cages, and Sani adds that the wildlife trade is good business in the federal capital. This is also true of Ibadan where late last year, this reporter saw several   shrunken baby elephant heads with a single one selling for fifty thousand Naira .Sani’s clients include Nigerians as well as foreigners, he points out emphasizing that two  Nigerian Eagles sell for fifty thousand Naira, while the American Eagle is sold for three hundred thousand Naira. The Hadejia -Nguru wetlands in Jigawa and Yobe  states  once played host to the  black crowned crane, which has been referred to as  Nigeria’s national bird, and ‘ It’s crown of stiff, golden feathers atop the head’ make it beautiful and unique .In Hadejia, it is locally known as ‘Borin Tunke,’Daily Trust Saturday is told, and the bird  seems to have been the choice of some if they wished to give a gift to royalty in the north, especially  as a gift to the King (Emir) .It is still not very clear which government declared the crowned crane as Nigeria’s  preeminent bird. But it was pointed out that the crowned crane was only proposed as a national bird about the year 1985, but that the position was actually later given to the Eagle which features on our coat of arms. However, why there are still many references to the crowned crane as Nigeria’s national bird on the internet, is something of a puzzle. The Eagle too, if it is our national bird, has suffered neglect, and is today classified as critically endangered. If a bird is declared a national bird, it should receive special attention from the state. Both the eagle and the crowned crane are endangered, on account of a variety of reasons which are largely similar for both.
Coat of Arms
This leads one to take a second look at our coat of arms, of which one of its parts, the eagle as a bird in Nigeria, is endangered and not very visible today. It may then be right to say that the coat of arms as a symbol is weak, because one of its members, famous for its strength, keen vision and ability to soar, is endangered. Reviving Nigeria’s population of Eagles, is also part of the delicate process of rebuilding Nigeria, some would say  for Nigeria needs strength, versatility ,and an ability to fly to high levels which should be the aspiration of any human community. Any human being should  aspire to rise to the highest, just as the eagle would soar aloft in the air. Then the other half of the coat of arms, the horse, is an animal facing serious threat, because it is being killed in great numbers   and eaten as a delicacy every day, in many parts of Nigeria.  One half of the coat of arms, the horse, is being decimated every day in Nigeria.
National bird?
Isa Suleiman, an Ornithologist with the Kano University of science and Technology, Wudil, comments “If a bird is a national bird, this entails that in addition to other normal routine protection it enjoys, the country has an extra concern on the species. We have failed in terms of the extra concern on the species, since we can find it being sold by the roadside.” He describes the crowned crane in the following words “It used to be very popular in the north east, and it’s a semi-arid bird dominating fresh water flood plains, not marshy ocean water, which is salty.” Bashir Garba, of the Black Crowned Crane Coordinating Centre, Kano, in an article, argues “In the 1960’s and 1970’s cranes were sighted frequently, mostly around grasslands, rice fields ,and groundnut farms in our local villages, but now they are rarely seen in their former ranges. Where sightings once were made in their thousands, now hardly a pair can be sighted.”
The crowned crane which inhabits the vast tract of land between Senegal and Chad , featured on  stamps issued in Nigeria at one time ,and this confirms that the bird had a pride of place in the public consciousness . An online check by this reporter revealed postage stamps of 1966 proudly bearing the head of the blue crowned crane. Aminu Beli, Manager, National Childrens Park & Zoo, Abuja, tells Daily Trust Saturday, that in 1992 an international conference on the black crowned crane, held at the Bagauda Lake Hotel, Kano attended by participants from Senegal, Sudan, Mali and many other countries.
‘Critically endangered’
But  the  elegant bird  with ‘dark slaty-grey to black plumage’, cannot be found in places that were  its favourite nesting grounds, most notably the 320 kilometer  long  Baturiya bird sanctuary ,within the Hadejia -Nguru wetlands .Fifty thousand migratory birds converge on Baturiya annually ,made up of 370 species of birds, and there are more than one hundred water bodies in the locality . As mentioned earlier, it is now a critically endangered bird, and a ‘relic population’ of the species can be found in Cameroon .Anyone who wishes to see the crowned crane flourishing in a natural environment, should travel to Banki and cross into Cameroon, or perhaps head into Chad ,or Niger republic .The  Hadejia -Nguru wetlands  may not be of much use in the search for the crane .You will meet farmers, fishermen and many who saw the bird many years ago, but you won’t see the bird. It would seem  that this bird, has by reason of neglect , ‘overhunting ’within the wetlands, dam construction,  growth of typha grass ,and other factors ,become critically endangered. In parts of Nigeria, you may find a few cranes on sale by the roadside, and the Abuja National Childrens Park & Zoo has some. In addition, Suleiman informs me that both Makurdi and Maiduguri zoos have black cranes in their possession.
10 years ago
“I last saw cranes six years ago in the bush around my farm in the wetlands .Their numbers have fallen today,” says Datti Madamawa, a farmer who mentions that his village is located within the wetlands, and that the area has a number of islands .He explains the factors that led to the drop in numbers “The hunters set traps for them. They catch them and take to the market to sell. Then there are chemicals they apply on bushes along the regular path which the birds follow .They poison the birds, catch them and take to the market, and this resulted in the decline of the crane.” Abdullahi Ahamad works with the Komadugu Yobe Basin Wetland Development Initiatives (K.Y.B W.D.I.) an NGO active in Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe states “I last saw the bird five years ago, but now if you go to the wetlands, you won’t even see one. Formerly, it was a place where the crowned crane was seen in great numbers. “On the reasons for the decline in the population of the bird   “When the crane lays an egg, the reptiles in the wetlands normally eat the eggs. Even the fishermen, if they see the eggs, they would take them away. Under these circumstances, the birds would become scarce.”Garba Ibrahim, a retired civil servant, speaks on the decline of the bird “In 1973 there was a serious drought when Yakubu Gowon was the head of state, and it affected the whole area. Rainfall ceased. We recovered and then there was the construction of the Tiga dam in Kano, which was later followed by the construction of the Bagauda dam. The river flow in the area reduced. This affected the wetlands, which in turn, affected all the birds. The number of people living in the area has increased, and this population affects not only the cranes, but the birds too, because people began to see wildlife as a source of food, as bushmeat as they call it .”Abbas Muhammad, another retired civil servant and resident of Hadejia, goes down memory lane “As population grows, there are more mouths to feed, and more lands to be allocated for agriculture. Of course, there is some hunting here and there. The natural habitat for these birds is affected by these environmental and climactic factors.” Ibrahim Muhammad is with the Nature Conservation department, Ministry of Environment, Jigawa state “In the last decade I have not seen even one in the area, and this is because of the problems in the wetland zone .For instance, there are the aquatic plants that dominate most of the water surface, and sixty percent of the wetlands is covered by typha grass. This type of bird prefers marshy grassland, and rice fields for feeding. Now, most of the water surface is covered by the typha grass. But before the coming of this typha grass, there was the obstruction of the free flow of water towards the wetland area, on account of the construction of dams along the river Hadejia, and this made the volume of water in the area to shrink.”
Like many other birds, taboos and beliefs  ring the crowned crane .For instance, as Garba captures in the paper referred to above, in one  Nigerian city, ‘the people feel it is unlucky for anyone to carry a crowned crane through their town.’ In some towns others feel that anyone who captures and eats a crane will soon start to behave like an insane person. In parts of the world cranes are signs of ‘good luck.’ 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Hadiza Isma El-Rufai is the first lady of Kaduna State, and founder of Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation, a non-profit literary organization. With a BSc and MSc in Architecture, as well as a Masters in Creative Writing, she decided to write a novel, a lifelong dream of hers. ‘An Abundance of Scorpions’, published by Ouida Books, has been garnering rave reviews, and was launched at a star-studded event in Abuja last Thursday. We caught up with her for a chat, and herewith, are excerpts:
Daily Trust: Your book, ‘An Abundance of Scorpions,’ is told from the perspective of a young northern Nigerian woman. Why did you decide to go this route?

Hadiza Isma El-Rufai: I don’t know why you call her a young northern Nigerian woman. Really, where does ‘young’ end and ‘old’ start? When the story opens, she is like 40, so I guess you can say she’s a young woman (laughter). I decided to tell the story from her perspective because I think we need to tell more stories about northern Nigerian women. I don’t think we’ve had a lot of stories told from that perspective, so I felt it would be a good idea. 
DT: When did the spark of the idea first show up, and how long did it take you, from beginning to end? 
El-Rufai: It’s really a bit difficult for me to say, because this book that has now been published is actually not the first one I started writing. It came as a result of a story I was writing about a boy growing up in an orphanage, and I needed to tell the back story of the matron for people to understand why she did something she did. So I started writing the back story within the main story, and then I realized the back story was also interesting, and it took on a life of its own. 
Regarding the time span, I started writing that first story when I was doing my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, in the UK. I had gone like maybe halfway into the story when I decided to start writing the back story, which is the one that turned out to be the story now. So it’s really difficult for me to say, but I’d say this novel, ‘An Abundance Of Scorpions’ took me five years to write, from the beginning to the end. 
DT: Are you working on your next book? 
El-Rufai: Yes, I am. The next book, of course being the first book I started writing. That’s what I’m working on now, and I just have about 10,000 words, so there’s still a lot of work to be done.
DT: Can you give us a hint on what it’s about?
El-Rufai: No, I’d rather not, because if I say this is what it’s about, in the process of writing, it could turn out to be about something else. You know how the writing process is, you can start writing something and as you go along, other ideas come up and you find you’re writing a totally different story. Of course, that’s the interesting part about it. 
But really, the best way, I think, is to have an open mind and let the story just flow. So the important thing is to have an open mind, and let it go from there.
DT: What books influenced you as a young reader? 
El-Rufai: As a young reader, the books that I read and my generation read were not Nigerian ones. Mostly, they’re the classics, written by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or Charles Dickens. In secondary school, we studied those. But fortunately, we also studied some African writers, like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and so on. 
I’d say most of the books that I read when I was younger were by foreign writers. Not necessarily the ones that we studied in school, like James Hadley Chase, Mills & Boon, and Barbara Cartland; they’re all foreign writers. But I’m happy to say that these days, we’re beginning to have more Nigerian writers, and honestly, I find Nigerian writers so much more interesting. Some of my favorites include ‘Season of Crimson Blossoms’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Easy Motion Tourist’, and so many more. 
DT: What’s the best time of the day, for you to write?
El-Rufai: I’m a morning person. Usually, by 10:00pm, my brain starts to go into shutdown mode, so I sleep rather early because I’m an early riser. So I like to write very early in the morning. And if the writing is going well, I can go on and on. I’ve tried to get into a particular structure or habit. Like some writers say, ‘try and write a thousand words a day’. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that, so I’m more flexible. It just all depends on whether that day the writing is flowing well, or not.
DT: Your book has been hailed for vivid narration. Have any moviemakers shown interest in doing a film version?
El-Rufai: No, not yet. It would be exciting and interesting though. Some people who have read the book say ‘Oh, this will make a good movie’. But I don’t know. I’m open to it if I can have a filmmaker who understands the material.  Sometimes, filmmakers change the whole thing; so, as much as I would like to see made into a film, I would like it to be faithful to the book.
DT: Have any of your children shown more than a passing interest in writing?
El-Rufai: My son Bashir writes, and my last born, Ibrahim, writes poetry which is quite good for his age. He has a book of poetry that he wrote like six years ago and he’s going to be 18 on the third of February. So, that’s like when he was 12, and it was quite interesting. I let him do his thing. I only tell him to drop the poetry and go and play football so that one day maybe he’ll become a David Beckham (laughter). 
DT: Speaking of family, between writing, and your work as the first lady of Kaduna State, how do you find time for family? 
El-Rufai: A long time ago, I realized that time is never enough. You want to do something and you keep saying you don’t have the time to do it, or when you finish this you’ll do it. You have to create the time for the things that interest you. So I’ve had to try to balance things. I don’t try too many activities, but of course, you know there are certain things you cannot run away from. But I am very jealous of my time and my privacy and I try to get as much time for myself as possible.
Writing and politics are two different things. Politics is about people, crowds, and noise. Writing, for me, is a key thing, and I need to be able to do it in solitude. And when you are really into politics, solitude is not one of the things you have.
DT: As the first lady of Kaduna State, what was the first thing you set out to achieve, and have you?
El-Rufai: Actually, it’s not just as first lady. I have this NGO, which is the Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation, which I named after my late daughter, and we’re doing two key things; trying to help young people with creativity, because what I’ve realized is that in the North, we don’t put much value to things like creative writing, theatre arts, painting, those kinds of things. It’s mostly just schoolwork, so I want to create that environment where young people can come and explore their creative abilities. So we have a Creative Writing Programme, and a host of other activities, as well. We also have the Women Literacy Programme which is targeted at young women, giving them a second chance for those who have dropped out of school and even those who have finished school, because you know  what the standard of education is like.
We’ve opened literacy centres in four communities in Kaduna, where we teach women. It’s not particularly for women who have never had an education, it’s like an enhancement. We’re not taking women who do not know the alphabet at all. We take those that have had an education and really take them through so that they can be very articulate in the use of English and also, to build their self confidence so that whatever they do, they can express themselves very well so that by the end of the programme, they can choose a skill. 
DT: Last year, there was the first Kaduna Book & Arts Festival (KABAFEST). Were you involved, and will there be another one this year? 
El-Rufai: Yes, I was involved, and I think it was very successful. The state government has decided that they’re going to do it every year. It’s going to be an annual thing, so very soon, you’ll hear about KABAFEST 2. There’s a need to look at ways to make it sustainable because you can have a government that’s interested, but then governments change and someone else can come and not be interested in it. We’re very much aware of that. So, toward that end, we’re trying to see how we can make it sustainable, that government does not have to be involved.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Nigerians received another big shock last week when another $44million was reported to have vanished from the vaults of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Daily Trust on Sunday reported, quoting top security sources, that $44million in cash kept in NIA’s vaults in Abuja was removed to an unknown destination two days after Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar was appointed as its new Director General.   
According to the story, the Jonathan administration released $260million to NIA as General Intervention Fund. At the time the Federal Government launched an investigation into the funds last year, only the cash discovered in Lagos and the $44million lying in the Abuja vault remained to be expended out of the original $260million. It said certain powerful forces mounted pressure on NIA’s acting DG, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda to use the money since it is the property of the NIA but he refused.  Two days after President Buhari replaced Dauda with a substantive NIA DG, a black bullion van arrived at NIA’s premises at around 6am on Friday and removed the money to an unknown destination 

The recent removal of money was greeted with outrage from Nigerians because it came at a time citizens were yet to recover from the shock of an earlier recovery of $43.4 million at an apartment in Ikoyi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. NIA said the money belonged to it and that it was meant for undercover operations.
The matter was investigated by a three-member presidential panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and in October last year, Ayo Oke was fired from his job as Director General, six months after he was handed an indefinite suspension. Shortly after the recent story broke, senior government officials issued a response which failed to justify the movement of the money from the NIA vault. Based on the inability of the agency to issue a denial or a viable explanation for the action, the House of Representatives resolved following a motion sponsored by Diri Duoye to investigate the issue. The House resolution said the issue “paints a poor picture of our national security and diminishes the reputation of the agency in the eyes of the general public and the international community.” 
We commend the lawmakers for the decision and urge that they investigate the matter thoroughly and ensure that anyone found to have violated the law is dealt with to serve as a deterrent to others. The findings of the committee saddled with the job should also be made public. Already, there are reports that EFCC has started grilling some officials in connection with the money. All efforts should be made to get to the root of the matter. NIA is a highly respected organisation but recent reports emanating from that agency are anything but respectable. In fact, they are very embarrassing and do not speak well of a security agency, especially one so highly placed.  
We are aware of the fact that NIA is usually involved in covert operations and that most of its activities are not publicised due to their sensitive nature. However, there is a law setting up the agency and it is imperative for that law to be obeyed at all times and in all its operations.  Negative reports like the ones that have been associated with the agency in the past months are making Nigerians to lose confidence in it. Government officials should not treat NIA as a cash cow as any money that is given to the agency is for a specific purpose and it should be used for that purpose. 
 This terrible attitude of diversion of funds that characterises other government agencies cannot be extended to such a sensitive agency. NIA cannot afford to be associated with stories that will impugn on its integrity. It is a security agency and as such should be exemplary in its actions.  We, therefore, urge the operatives to retrace their steps and ensure that things are done in tandem with the law.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The recent gas explosions in Lagos that saw the loss of seven lives is unfortunate, which perhaps with adherence to certain safety measures could have been prevented. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The 2018 Daily Trust Dialogue, the 15th in the series, was held on Thursday, January 18, 2018. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Sustainable National Party (SNP), one of the 21 newly registered political parties, yesterday, threw its weight behind those clamouring for restructuring and resource control by states. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Last week the Senate began deliberating on a bill that seeks to address many problems in this countrys annual budget cycle that have almost made the budget a laughing matter.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});12345 News by states Click on a state to view related news var $m=jQuery.noConflict(); $m(document).ready(function() { $m('#myimage').mapster({ showToolTip: true, singleSelect : true, clickNavigate : true, scaleMap: true, fillOpacity: 0.3, fillColor: 'd40e01&#0 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The FCT police command has arrested three suspects who lurk around traffic lights and speed bumps to attack and rob unsuspecting members of the public of their bags and other valuables. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Secretary for Education, FCTA, Senator Isa Maina, has charged members of the newly inaugurated boards of the FCT Secondary Education Board and the FCT Universal Basic Education Board to follow due process and extant rules and regulations in all their official assignments and financial transactions. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Two men have been found dead at separate locations in Utako and Jabi areas of Abuja. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
A Director of Finance in the Lagos State Public Works Department, Mr Jamiu Anifowoshe, yesterday forfeited the sum N28. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The National Human Rights Commission has sensitized vulnerable groups in Osun State, particularly people with special needs, women and children, on their rights. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
A ghastly auto crash that occurred along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway yesterday claimed the life of four persons, including a three-year-old boy.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
In the last few weeks, Nigeria has gone through a lot following bloodbaths in rural communities, involving farmers and cattle herders across Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Penultimate week of the new year, a historic visit by the leadership of Qadiriyya Movement of Africa under its revered spiritual head, Sheikh (Dr. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
It happened between neatly stacked rows of shampoo and organic baby food: A teenage boy walked up to his ex-girlfriend in the local drugstore, pulled out a kitchen knife with an eight-inch blade and stabbed her in the heart. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Maishanu family from Yabo local government area of Sokoto state stands out as one of great erudition. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The crunching sound of hundreds of horse and camel hooves galloping and trampling in Kaduna at the weekend at a durbar to mark the citys centenary reminded me to get a birthday card for a city that I consider to be my second home. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Only Latin American soldiers once rivalled those of Africa in coup making expertise. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
I am [or was] a fish biologist by training and every now and then, Kaduna State Governor Nasiru el-Rufai reminds me of a fish called the muckraker. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Broad and specific hints dropped by President Muhammadu Buhari last week that he is about to reshuffle his cabinet have created speculation about all aspects of the impending shuffle. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Kachikwu/Baru feud story has so many angles, so many dimensions, so many implications and so many consequences that a columnist is not sure where to begin or to stop. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Veteran column readers will remember that I told many of these stories for the benefit of our youngsters back in 2010 when we marked 50 years of Nigerias independence. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
To be on leave from work for one month while ones salary is still flowing is one of the brightest ideas that the Whiteman ever brought to this country.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});12 News by states Click on a state to view related news var $m=jQuery.noConflict(); $m(document).ready(function() { $m('#myimage').mapster({ showToolTip: true, singleSelect : true, clickNavigate : true, scaleMap: true, fillOpacity: 0.3, fillColor: 'd40e01', strokeWidth: 2, mapKe 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Irrigation farming system has been identified as one of the sure methods for all year round rice production, the Executive Director, National Cereals Research Institute, Dr Samuel Agboire, has observed. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Investment One Funds Management Limited has described the Memorandum listing of 50 million units of Abacus Money Market Fund on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as a way of providing Nigerian retail investors with an array of investment opportunities. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Federal Government has assured that the launch of African single trade market would not affect Nigerian economy as it has put measures in place to safeguard the economy from unfair trading practices. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Pensioners and experts have greeted the birth of the National Senior Citizens Centre Act, 2018 with excitement. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
We take our smartphones everywhere we go, and with constant advances made in mobile technology, students, businesses, writers and others can take advantage of these phones and make them to become indispensable personal assistants. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The confidence of consumers in the Nigerian economy has increased due to improvements in various areas of the countrys financial sectors, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other sources have shown.

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has said Nigeria is making efforts to become an industrial hub in Africa through the deployment of Science and Technology. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has condemned the illegal shut down of 10 Base Transmission Stations (BTS) in Taraba. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
I remember about fourteen years or so, ago as a member of my institutions senate library committee when a fellow colleague of mine suggested, rather strongly, the need for our university to stop the subscriptions to print-journals, and switch instead to e-journals. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
By the time you read this column you will be familiar with which players moved to new clubs on the richest January transfer day in history with over 450 million being spent. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Technical Director of Yobe Desert Stars, Mustapha Audu is praying for his son, Ibrahim Mustapha to score the goal that would give the CHAN Super Eagles victory in tomorrows final of the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
France embark upon the defence of their Davis Cup title without the services of their star player, the injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, when they face the Netherlands this weekend. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
A misty-eyed Usain Bolt sat in a cramped, poorly ventilated room in Johannesburg this week and battled to hold back the tears as a recap of his career played on a screen in front of journalists. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
Borussia Dortmund have a proven track record in recent seasons of replacing a departing top striker with an equally efficient forward and the Ruhr valley club is hoping to continue this run with the arrival of Michy Batshuayi. 

Sat, 03 Feb 2018
The Home-based Super Eagles will tomorrow tread tackles with host Morocco in the final match of this years Africa Cup of Nations. 
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