Society - The murder of nine female health workers deployed to an anti-polio campaign, Super Eagles' qualification for the final of the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, Opposition merger and the new import duty regime on rice and other commodities were the major stories in Nigeria this week.
"Polio vaccination tragedy: Gunmen kill nine women in Kano" was the headline, on Saturday, of the NATION which reported that an anti-polio campaign turned bloody in Kano Friday as no fewer than nine health workers, all of them women, deployed for the routine inoculation of children in the metropolis were gunned down by terrorists.
The killings, which occurred in two areas of the city, appeared co-ordinated and came three weeks after gunmen attacked the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.
Saturday SUN headlined its story "Boko Haram kills 9 female health workers in Kano", reporting that gunmen, suspected to be members of the violent Boko Haram sect, Friday resumed hostilities in Kano State, killing a total of nine female polio immunization staffers in separate attacks in the state capital.
The twin attacks also left four additional female workers injured, the paper quoted shocked witnesses as saying.
THISDAY newspaper also ran the story under the headline "Kano: Gunmen Kill Nine Female Health Workers".
Polio vaccination programme has been a subject of dispute in the state and the latest tragedy has sparked a rage of anger and pain in the state capital as families of the victims make arrangements for the funeral. This is the second incident of attacks of polio immunisation personnel in the state by suspected insurgents.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the killings, Kano has been the hotbed of the Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has killed over 3,000 people in gun and bomb attacks in the predominantly-Muslim norther Nigeria since 2009.
Some Islamic groups in the north are opposed to polio vaccination, saying it could prevent those administered with the vaccine not to be able to bear children.
Nigeria is one of the world's last bastions of the wild polio virus, which paralyses its victims upon infection.
On AFCON, the papers celebrated the Super Eagles' qualification for the final in South Africa with a galaxy of stories from the Nigerian camp.
The INDEPENDENT headlined its story on the tournament as "AFCON: Nigeria beats Mali 4-1, qualifies for final". It said the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday booked a place in the final of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament after thrashing its Malian counterpart 4-1 in the first semi-final match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa.
The qualification lines Nigeria up for a clash with Burkina Faso in the final this Sunday in Johannesburg. The Burkinabes went through on 3-2 penalties against the Black Stars of Ghana.
Ghana and Mali will Saturday "fight" for the bronze medal.
The 4-1 scoreline equals Nigeria’s biggest win in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations, which was the 4-0 win over South Africa in 2004.
The paper said Coach Stephen Keshi could not hold back his joy while speaking at a post-match conference. Keshi noted that the players’ discipline, tactics and the condition in camp were responsible for the victory.
''Super Eagles thrash Mali 4-1'' is the front page headline of the NATIONAL MIRROR, which featured a picture of the Super Eagles celebrating their victory over Mali.
''It's Nigeria, Burkina Faso for final'', according to the VANGUARD, which also used a picture of celebratory Super Eagles on its front page while the NATION newspaper's report on the match is headlined: ''Eagles Maul Mali to make final''.
Other headlines were ''Nigeria mauls Mali, reaches final'' (the SUN); ''Eagles destroy Mali to reach final'' (PUNCH) and ''Eagles thrash Mali 4-1 to zoom into final'' (GUARDIAN).
This week's formation of a party by a group of opposition parties to challenge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party's domination at the national level got prominent placements in all the papers.
"New party emerges to challenge PDP in 2015" was the headline in the daily INDEPENDENT which Thursday reported that after several months of consultations, deliberations and horse-trading, a new leap was taken towards the 2015 Presidential election Wednesday with emergence of a new political party, named the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It said the APC, formed by the coalition of leaderships of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), was unveiled in Abuja.
However, the new party’s logo, motto and other details described as “internal details” still remained in close wraps as at the time of the presentation of the party’s name.
In a four-paragraph communiqué read at the presentation ceremony by former Foreign Affairs Minister and ACN chieftain, Tom Ikimi, the new party said it was formed to restore Nigeria’s dignity.
The SUN, with the headline "Merger: A new party is born", reported that the move was a was a consummation of the merger talks which have been going on among the main opposition parties.
It said that Chief Ikimi, Alhaji Garba Mohammed Gadi and former Kano State governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, all chairmen of the merger committees, announced the formation of APC at a ceremony attended by governors, federal lawmakers and chieftains of the parties involved.
But the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, dismissed the merger, saying it is a sign of weakness by the opposition parties.
"2015: Why we want to rescue Nigeria – Opposition govs", screamed the VANGUARD on Thursday. It said that that 10 governors drawn from four leading opposition parties Wednesday rose from a meeting in Lagos vowing to rescue Nigeria from the abyss it had been flung into by the ruling PDP.
The governors, elected on the platform of the ACN, the ANPP, APGA and the CPC, said rescuing Nigeria was a mission that must be accomplished and the surest way of achieving this was through a merger of the opposition parties to beat PDP at the 2015 polls.
The GUARDIAN headlined its story "INEC welcomes new party, opposition lawmakers split", saying while reactions continued to trail the emergence of a new political party that was floated on Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Thursday offered to register it as long as it met required conditions.
The electoral body said that the decision of the parties was not out of place.
The NATION, under the headline "They can’t beat us, says PDP chair Tukur", quoted the PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as saying that a merger of opposition parties cannot defeat the PDP in the 2015 general elections,
Tukur said the merger does not constitute any threat to the ruling party in future elections, describing it as “beautiful”. He said: “the more the merrier”.
In another story with the headline "Govt imposes 10% duty on rice", the NATION reported that the Federal Government has imposed a 10 per cent import duty on rice, a 100 per cent levy on the commodity with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saying, in a circular released Wednesday, that the measure will take immediate effect.
The decision is believed to have been taken as government’s way to drive Nigerians to eat locally -produced rice and discourage the mass importation of rice into the country.
The circular, signed by CBN Director, Trade and Exchange, W.D Gotring, said: “Husked brown rice, semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed, will attract an import duty rate of 10 per cent plus a levy of 100 per cent”.
It also said all commercial aircraft, aircraft spare parts, solid minerals equipment imported into the country, will henceforth, attract zero per cent import duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) rates.
Gotring said the policy, effective from 1 January, 2013, stipulates that sugar cane to sugar value chain investors will enjoy five-year tax holiday while raw sugar will attract an import duty rate of 10 per cent plus levy of 50 per cent. Refined sugar will, however, attract an import duty rate of 20 per cent plus a levy of 60 per cent.
The Federal Government also reduced import duty rate on Completely Knocked Down (CKD) components for Mass Transit Buses of at least 40-seater capacity from five per cent to zero to encourage the production of mass transit vehicles in Nigeria.
Gotring said Polymers of polyethylene and polypropylene will attract an import duty rate of five per cent and a levy to encourage import substitution.
However, amorphous polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) chips which are raw materials will attract an import duty rate of zero per cent and zero per cent import VAT, and should be re-classified by the Nigerian Customs Service to differentiate it from PET resin.