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War drums, changes at the Central Bank, anti-smoking law highlighted in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria - A State governor's 'war drums', sudden changes at the apex bank and the anti-smoking law in Lagos State were the major stories this week in Nigeria. 'We can't win Boko Haram - Shettima' was the headline of the SUN newspaper on Tuesday, with the story saying that a frustrated Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, was in Abuja Monday to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the latest attack by suspected Boko Haram members, admitting that the Islamist sect parades more sophisticated weapons and are better motivated by their backers to continue to unleash terror on the northeastern part of the country.

The insurgents were reported to have killed over 100 people in Izge village, in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, last Saturday. The attack came three days after gunmen stormed the same village and killed dozens of people, including nine soldiers, in a shoot-out.

Fielding questions from State House correspondents, Shettima, who was visibly shaken by the development in the last few days, said political leaders should be held responsible for the failure to halt deadly attacks.

Shettima said that the north-east in particular was in a state of war and it was high time political leaders stopped playing the ostrich, pulling out all available resources to tackle the menace.

Asked what would stop Boko Haram, Shettima said: “Well, in a nutshell, what we are being confronted with is that we are in a state of war. It is what I came to update Mr. President with, the sooner we stop playing the ostrich and rise up to the challenges of the day, and marshall all resources towards neutralising the antics of Boko Haram, the better for all of us.'

The PUNCH, with the headline 'B’Haram better armed than soldiers – Borno gov.', reported that the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Monday declared that Boko Haram members were better armed and motivated than Nigerian troops.

He spoke just as the Northern States Governors’ Forum said the onslaughts by the sect had  gone beyond the traditional pattern of attacks.

Jonathan summoned his service chiefs immediately Shettima arrived at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, from Lagos where he held private meetings and consultations over the weekend.

Pointing out that the Federal Government might not be able to defeat the Boko Haram Islamists, Shettima said more resources must be committed to the anti-terror war if the government really desired victory.

“I made it emphatically clear to Mr. President that the Boko Haram members are better armed and better motivated than our own troops. Anybody who is following events in this country, can attest to the fact that they have a very smooth sail overrunning communities, and killing people.'

In another story, the PUNCH, with the caption 'Let’s battle Boko Haram now, says Gowon', said the Boko Haram insurgency took centre stage in the polity on Monday, dominating discussions at the inauguration of the new leadership of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in Kaduna.

The inauguration of the Ibrahim Coomasie-led ACF leadership attracted the north’s political leaders, including Vice President Namadi Sambo.

At the conference, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, called for serious action against the insurgency, while in Abuja, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that the Army Headquarters should move to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State – the epicentre of the Boko Haram activities.

Gen. Gowon expressed concern about the growing hype of ethnic nationalism and ethno-religious activism, saying there was the need for all Nigerians “to come together and unleash their synergy against the security challenges and other national malaise, be it Boko Haram, ethno-religious crisis, kidnapping, militant activism, armed robbery or piracy or any other such act that disrupts the peace and harmony and threatens the economic and social development of the country'.

“We believe the situation is not beyond redemption and so, should not be allowed to set a national agenda of reconsideration of our unity and nationhood,' Gowon said.

The pro-opposition NATION newspaper reported the story under the headline 'Boko Haram: Nigeria at war, says governor' while the NIGERIAN TRIBUNE called it 'NIGERIA CAN’T DEFEAT BOKO HARAM - BORNO GOV'.

On the changes at the apex Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the papers were awash with President Goodluck Jonathan's sudden directive, suspending Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Governor, in the culmination of the strained relationship between him and the presidency.

In a statement on Thursday, the presidency said Jonathan had ordered that Sanusi should hand over to the most senior Deputy Governor of the CBN, Dr Sarah Alade, who will serve as Acting Governor 'until the conclusion of ongoing investigations into breaches of enabling laws, due process and mandate of the CBN'.

The president later nominated the Chief Executive Officer of the private Zenith Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for screening at the Senate for the post of CBN Governor.

The NATION screamed 'Jonathan suspends Sanusi, appoints acting CBN governor', reporting that President Jonathan on Thursday ordered the immediate suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the CBN Governor.

According to a statement from presidential aide, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President took the decision, having taken special notice of reports of financial recklessness and misconduct which characterized Sanusi’s tenure.

Here are the other headlines on the story -- the PUNCH - 'Jonathan suspends Sanusi as CBN gov'; the VANGUARD - 'Jonathan suspends Lamido Sanusi as CBN gov'; the GUARDIAN - 'Changes in apex bank won’t affect economic stability' and 'A quintessential banker takes the helm'.

In its first story, the GUARDIAN reported that the presidency and the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, have given the assurance that the suspension of Sanusi as the CBN Governor was intended to re-engineer strong and viable economy.

Okonjo-Iweala declared the preparedness of the Federal Government to manage the post-Sanusi economy in such a way that it would continue to be the envy of all stakeholders.

Analysts believe the suspension of Sanusi will weaken the autonomy of the CBN governor and the domestic and foreign investors’ confidence in the Nigerian financial markets.

Under the headline 'A quintessential banker takes the helm', the GUARDIAN said: 'From all available records, the newly-appointed CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has, among others, manifested intellectual and managerial qualifications for his latest office.'

With a banking experience spanning over 26 years, Emefiele was until his appointment the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, a position he has held since August 2010. Until then, he was the bank’s Deputy Managing Director, having been so appointed in 2001.   

Under his leadership, Zenith Bank has strengthened its position as a leading financial institution in Africa, winning recognition and getting endorsement at home and abroad for giant strides in key performance areas like corporate governance, service delivery and deployment of cutting-edge ICT, as well as impact in the bank’s numerous spheres of operations.

Still on the CBN, the DAILY INDEPENDENT, with the headline 'Missing $20bn; Deziani, others, will go to jail if indicted says – says FG'.

According to the paper, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke and other chief executive of parastatals in her ministry would be booted out and recommended for prosecution if she or any of her subordinates was indicted by the ongoing probe into the alleged missing $20 billion from the account of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The assurance was given by the presidency while explaining reasons for the removal of Sanusi from office as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The president, who spoke through a statement issued in Abuja by his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, denied allegations of witch-hunt against Sanusi in his removal from office which has continued to generate divergent response and opinions.

The FG said that it was wrong for anyone to think that the removal of Sanusi was a punitive measure against the Kano Prince over the allegations he raised against the NNPC and the ministry of petroleum resources whom he said had cheated the nation of proceeds of crude oil sale to the tune of $20 billion.

The assurance was, however, given that no one, no matter how highly placed, would be allowed to go free if eventually indicted to have had a hand in the sleaze.

'Public smokers face imprisonment as Fashola assents to Bill', the VANGUARD reported on Tuesday, saying that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, on Monday assented to a bill prohibiting smoking in schools, hotels, and other public places in the state. Fashola’s assent followed the passage of the bill by the state House of Assembly on 20 January, 2014.

The law prescribes between one month and three months imprisonment or a fine of between 10,000 (about US$ 67 and 15,000 Naira (US$ 100) for offending smokers.

Any person who repeatedly violates the law risks six months imprisonment or a fine of 50,000 (about US$ 350) or both.

In his remarks, Fashola said the new law spoke of the commitment of the state government to the promotion of public health and public safety.

He said the overall objective of the new law was to protect lives and safeguard the rights of residents of the state.

The NATION captioned its story on smoking 'Light up in public and pay N10,000 or go to jail for three months.'

It said that the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) had been empowered to enforce the law.

Fashola expressed optimism that the laws would further strengthen the state’s commitment to protecting lives and property of the citizens.

Pana 23/02/2014