KADUNA—The Sultan of Sokoto and President, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Dr. Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday said that the present security and developmental challenges facing Northern Nigeria was self inflicted by northerners themselves.

The Sultan spoke at the Northern Nigeria Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee meeting in Kaduna, blaming northerners for inflicting heavy pains on themselves.

His words, “Let us sit and talk freely and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we put ourselves. It is important that religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together, so that each and everyone of us will talk freely for us to articulate a position as the way out of this problem we find ourselves.

We northerners have put ourselves in a quagmire, because whatever that is happening in the North is our own doing. This was because we did not do what we are supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up.

Sultan, Onaiyekan sue for peaceful co-existence

“We wrote a memo of about nine pages or thereabout covering various issues affecting the country and the north in particular to the then Acting President and now President. Goodluck Jonathan, through the Nigeria Inter Religious Council, NIREC, where we suggested solutions to the problems.’’

In his own remarks, the Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, attributed the security challenges facing the North and the country in general to high level of poverty in the country and the region in particular.

Onaiyekan further said that another aspect of the problem was associated with religion, saying that, bad image of the country has spread to the outside world and there was need for the stakeholders to address the issue with a view to putting a permanent end to the problems.

Bad governance

He stressed that, Christianity and Islam in Nigeria should not be seen as an accident of history, but God’s design that cannot be changed by anyone.

According to him, the main problem in the country was bad governance and once that is addressed headlong, all other problems would be tackled too.

Kukah hails Sultan, Onaiyekan

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Mathew Kukah, in his remarks lauded the participation of both Sultan Abubakar and Cardinal Onaiyekan saying, “With the Sultan and our amiable Cardinal as members of this committee, we should have the confidence that all sides will be well represented and every view honestly put down with suggested solutions. We also hope that the government would play its own parts when this assignment is finished.”


There certainly are advantages in being a Ghanaian. Of course, there are challenges as well, but for the moment, I am concentrating on the advantages.

There is an advert in a recent issue of the Spectator magazine, for "a Spectator Events Exclusive" at which "the famous S-G is appearing" and a "renowned writer and broadcaster, will lead the discussion of Mr Annan's new book Interventions, A Life in War and Peace".
I am not sure that I would describe Mr Annan as oozing with charisma as one of the speakers claimed, but I would certainly agree he is cool”

Now I just went to the launch of this book at the University of Ghana and the great man himself was there, the famous former secretary-general in the advert that is, and he told the assembled hall why he wrote the book and he went to great lengths to tell his side of the Rwanda genocide story, probably the biggest catastrophe he presided over.

He took questions from the audience and he signed copies of the book which were offered to us at a huge discount.

I did say there are advantages in being Ghanaian, remember?

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, is probably the most famous living Ghanaian and the University of Ghana, of which he is chancellor, organised the launch of the book.

The launch did not go the way book launches normally go in these parts.

Nobody auctioned the first copy for an outrageous sum of money and, indeed, somebody suggested during the question and answer session that the book should be made available for free online.

'Goose pimples'
I was not quite sure if this was to be just for us Ghanaians or for the whole world.

It was impressive that all the speakers at the launch managed to find something interesting to say about the book and its well-known author.

Mr Annan was criticised for the UN's failure to stop the Rwandan genocide
I am not sure, though, that I would describe Mr Annan as oozing with charisma as one of the speakers claimed, but I would certainly agree he is cool.

By the way, he is apparently called "Mr Cool" by his colleagues.

I had heard some of the anecdotes that have found their way into the book, but the story about the meeting with the imprisoned Nigerian opposition leader Moshood Abiola still gives me goose pimples.

I am African... I reserve the right to criticise Africa and Africans and I will keep on doing this ”

Kofi Annan
Mr Annan tells the story about being taken to see Chief Abiola in the middle of the night (the description of the journey there alone would justify whatever you pay for the book).

A few minutes into the conversation, as Mr Annan was negotiating the terms of his release, Chief Abiola suddenly asks: "But who are you?"

When he is told he is speaking with Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the UN, he asks: "What happened to the other one? The Egyptian?"

Suddenly you got an insight into the conditions under which Chief Abiola - the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential elections - was detained by Nigeria's then-military regime.

Chief Abiola did not know that Boutros Boutros Ghali was no longer the UN secretary-general.

Then there is the anecdote about the press conference in Gabon with a group of African journalists.

Why, Mr Annan was asked, did he so often criticize Africa and African governments?
Part of his answer to this question is music to my ears and makes me proud to call Mr Annan my compatriot.
I really must borrow this answer whenever I am taken to task for criticising African leaders.

The Spectator magazine called their event - which takes place on 17 January - with Mr Annan the perfect Christmas gift. The tickets cost $32 (£20) plus value added tax.

Well, I just had the perfect gift and I did not pay a penny for it.

There are advantages in being Ghanaian.

If you would like to comment on Elizabeth Ohene's column, please do so below.


Some 80 years after its first launch, the iconic board game of Monopoly has finally released its first African city edition.

A Lagos-themed version of the popular real estate game was unveiled earlier this week, making Nigeria's bustling economic capital the first city in the continent to have a dedicated Monopoly edition.
"Lagos is special, it's a megacity, one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa," says Nimi Akinkugbe, head of Bestman Games which is distributing the Lagos edition.
"But apart from that, Lagos also holds a very special place for Nigerians all over the world. There are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora who are very nostalgic about Lagos; it's not just for Lagosians but for people all over the world," she adds.
The affluent Banana Island, a man-made waterfront community boasting multi-million dollar mansions and manicured lawns, was revealed as the game's most expensive property, joining Boardwalk in the standard U.S. edition and Mayfair in the London version.
Many of the squares for the game's upmarket locations feature sponsorship from banks, radio stations and shopping centers. In contrast, the square dedicated to the floating shantytown of Makoko, which is the cheapest piece of real estate in the Lagos edition of the game, was left unsponsored.

monoLocal officials were heavily involved in bringing Monopoly to the sprawling metropolis of some 15 million people. Their goal was partly to promote the city's rich history and landmark sites but also to encourage responsible behavior and inform citizens about laws that are often overlooked.
"You've been caught driving against traffic. Report for psychiatric evaluation," is the message on one Chance card, which issues a fine -- in line with the laws introduced recently by the local government to deal with the city's major traffic problem.
Read related: Africa's daily commuting grind
Another card reads: "For using the overhead pedestrian bridge on Worodu Road, move forward three spaces." Akinkugbe explains that many lives have been lost as people tend to cross the express highway by running across the road. "By rewarding the person that uses the overhead bridge by moving forwards three spaces, slowly it begins to sink in," she says.
And there are also references to Nigeria's corruption problem: "For attempting to bribe a law enforcement agent, pay a fine," says another card.
"This gives us an opportunity to educate the public about those things," says Akinkugbe. "[It's about] penalizing negative behavior and rewarding good behavior but in a fun and enjoyable way. We all know that learning through play is one of the most powerful forms of learning because it is not forced but is done in a relaxed, easy way."
Akinkugbe says that two other African countries -- South Africa and Morocco -- have a version of Monopoly, but Lagos is the only city in the continent to have its own edition. She says that the Lagos game was sold out within 24 hours of its release, as about 4,000 people got their hands on it.
mono1"Thousands of Nigerian families they are going to be playing Monopoly over Christmas, having a good laugh and learning at the same time, and just appreciating the city," she says.
The first patented version of Monopoly was launched in the United States in 1935 at the height of Great Depression. It has since become arguably the most popular board game in the world, with several localized editions released over the years.


A Kenyan man has been charged after allegedly pretending to be an assistant commissioner of police for five years. Joshua Waiganjo is said to have sacked and recruited police officers in Rift Valley province during this time.

He denied two counts of impersonating a police office, one of illegal possession of police uniforms and one of robbery with violence.

He was reportedly uncovered after flying on a police helicopter to investigate a massacre of officers.

In November, at least 42 police officers were killed by cattle rustlers in the Suguta valley - the most deadly attack on police in the East African nation's history.

After pleading not guilty on all four charges, the case was adjourned to allow Mr Waiganjo to seek medical treatment for diabetes, local media report.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told Nairobi's Capital FM that Mr Waiganjo had not been paid a salary by the police service.

State funeral' for hundreds of Kenyan lawmakers
Throngs of Kenyans wearing black marched down the streets, coffins perched on their shoulders, crooning altered dirges in a mock funeral for lawmakers.

When the march came to a halt outside parliament offices in downtown Nairobi, hundreds of caskets lay charred, a defiant message against a recent hefty retirement package lawmakers passed for themselves.
The Kenyan president rejected the package, which included a bonus of $110,000 each and a state funeral for lawmakers, an honor reserved for presidents and high achievers.
The mock caskets were a spoof on the state funerals.
Major newspapers in the nation heaped praises on the president and criticized the lawmakers, who had attempted to pass another retirement package in October.
"Africa's big men behaving badly," an editorial in the Daily Nation newspaper screamed.
"Drama as civil society members bury greedy MPs," a story in the Standard read.
Good news for Mubarak
Former President Hosni Mubarak, once a powerful figure in Egyptian politics, will get a new trial after an appeals court tossed out his life sentence.
A judge overturned his conviction for failing to stop the killing of hundreds during the uprising in 2011. He will remain in prison as he awaits his next court date, likely in April.
Compared to the defiant riots that erupted during his trial in June, Egyptians appeared to welcome the news Sunday with shrugged shoulders. During the trial, both sides lunged at one another in court as fiery supporters and foes clashed outside.
The nation has spent the last year mired in protests, prompting the Economist to describe it as a "Dilemocracy."
20 years and over $1B later, U.S. recognizes Somalia
After pouring more than $1 billion in aid to Somalia, the United States officially recognized the nation's government for the first time in more than two decades.
American officials have not recognized it since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Clan warlords and militants battled for control, sparking a civil war and mayhem nationwide.
Two years later, militants shot down Black Hawk helicopters and killed American forces attempting to raid a warlord in the capital of Mogadishu.
U.S. applauded Somalia's progress, citing its first democratically-elected government and its successful efforts to push out al Qaeda-linked militants.
"We provided more than $650 million in assistance to the African Union Mission in Somalia, more than $130 million to Somalia's security forces," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "In the past two years, we've given nearly $360 million in emergency humanitarian assistance and more than $45 million in development-related assistance to help rebuild Somalia's economy. "
Global uncertainty amid Algerian hostage crisis
Algerian forces stormed a gas facility to free foreign hostages without warning other governments, leaving leaders in a series of capitals scrambling to get information on their citizens' fates.
Heavily armed fighters attacked the remote BP facility in the desert this week, holding workers from various nations hostages. Attackers said the raid was a result of the French offensive against Islamist militants in northern Mali.
Captives included Americans, Japanese and Britons.
Hours after the raid, it was unclear how many hostages had been let go, killed or still held captive.
Analysts say Algeria raided the complex to salvage its tough military's reputation after militants attacked with security forces nearby.
"The temptation to show its strength first and foremost must have been overwhelming for a regime that showed as little weakness in the face of the Arab Spring," the Telegraph's Richard Spencer said.
The nation has a massive military budget, which makes it influential in stabilizing the region, Anouar Boukhars, a scholar in the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East program, said in an editorial in The New York Times.
Roaring success for South African musician
Your African culture may be your ticket to Hollywood, according to a famous South African musician.
Lebo M put his stamp on "The Lion King," his powerful opening vocal sequence contributing to its appeal as a popular culture phenomenon.
More than two decades later, the singer and songwriter still has a passion for what he does.
His arrangements captured the spirit of Africa -- and the politics in his home country at the time.
"That's the hardest thing to do right now -- to tell young people in Nigeria, in Johannesburg, in Ghana that the African in you is your ticket to Hollywood," he said this week.
Before he got the gig, the movie's producers scoured his hometown of Soweto, looking for him.
"They looked all over," Lebo said. "At the time, there was no iPhone ... to find somebody in Soweto, good luck!"



Ghanaian President John Mahama is due to be sworn into office following a disputed election victory last month. Mr Mahama, who became acting president in July, has called for unity ahead of the inauguration, appealing to rivals who contested the 7 December result.

Official results gave Mr Mahama 50.7% of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off against opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, who won 47.7%.

The biggest opposition group is expected to boycott Monday's ceremony.

Mr Mahama was Ghana's vice-president until the unexpected death of President John Atta Mills in July.

He has served since then as acting president.

Ghana is regarded as one of Africa's most stable democracies and is one of its fastest growing economies.

Ahead of his inauguration, Mr Mahama appealed to members of parliament to work together.
"For the long-term survival of our nation, we must agree and commit to a multi-partisan process," he told them on Friday.

"Whatever our differences, whatever our politics, we must pull together and rise to meet these challenges."

Mr Mahama is due to be sworn in before 11 African heads of state, the BBC's Sammy Darko reports from the capital, Accra. Officials from the US, China and the UK will also be there.

But Mr Akufo-Addo's New Patriotic Party (NPP) is expected to boycott the ceremony.

The NPP filed a petition over the election result at the Supreme Court in late December, saying it had found irregularities including unregistered voters casting ballots.

Mr Mahama's National Democratic Congress (NDC) said the elections were the most transparent the country had seen.

International election observers described the 7 December poll as free and fair. Ghana's government says the presence of international leaders at Monday's ceremony is an endorsement of the vote.

At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said. One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire

Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

They were the latest strikes against Christians in the region. More than 30 people died in a wave of Christmas Day attacks in the north last year, blamed on Boko Haram, a militant group that has targeted Christians and Muslims it considered insufficiently Islamist.

Pope Benedict XVI referred to the northern Nigerian violence in his traditional Christmas message from Vatican City on Tuesday.

"Savage acts of terrorism" in the region, he said, "continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians."

In October, a report from Human Rights Watch also addressed violence in northern Nigeria, particularly from Boko Haram.

"Suspected members of the group have bombed or opened fire on worshipers in at least 18 churches across eight northern and central states since 2010. In Maiduguri, the group also forced Christian men to convert to Islam on penalty of death," it said.

It is not immediately known whether the group was behind the latest attacks.

The Christmas attacks came as families whose kin died in last year's killings delivered graveside prayers for a peaceful holiday period. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement promising better days next year, including better security.

"Sometimes, challenges make people doubt the sincerity of government, but I am confident that God knows everything," he said Sunday.

But residents told CNN that despite assurances of security, they have been attacked again.




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