The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, says the Federal Government lacks the capacity to address the security challenges confronting the nation.

He said this in a statement by his communication adviser, Phrank Shaibu, on Tuesday while reacting to the latest report by Amnesty International which accused the government of impunity.

The former vice president decried that thousands of people have been either killed or injured, a situation he said has discouraged foreign investors.

“It is now very clear, like Amnesty International said in its report, that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has displayed gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population, which has witnessed many preventable deaths and lost many good hands,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The global human rights organisation had indicated in its report that the herdsmen and farmers crisis has claimed about 3,641 lives in the last three years and 57 per cent of the deaths were recorded in 2018.

In its response, the government said the operations of Amnesty International in the country appeared to be aimed at frustrating the efforts of the military.

Why Atiku Was Absent At Signing Of Peace Accord – PDP
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (file)

Atiku, on his part, described the government’s response as “tepid”.

He then called on Nigerians to vote out the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in 2019, as a means of addressing the security challenges.

The PDP candidate said, “After every attack, either by herdsmen or by kidnappers, the government will vow to get the culprits and punish them. Then more deaths will occur, and the government will repeat its vow.”

“This is not reassuring to the people of Nigeria as well as foreigners who may want to do business in the country. Therefore, it is now clear that, in spite of its best efforts, the Buhari and his party, the APC cannot stop the herdsmen and other criminal elements currently terrorising the country,” he alleged.

Atiku further accused the present administration of “not doing anything” even in the face of a purported report which condemned the rate of under-age deaths in the country.

According to him, the herdsmen-farmers crisis has recently been concentrated in some parts of the country and can lead to ethno-religious conflicts there.

The former vice president, however, assured Nigerians that he would apply proven and tested strategies to insecurity if voted into office.

He also vowed to pursue quality collaborative measures with local and international partners in a bid to completely wipe out insurgency from the country.

Atiku hinted at his policy document which he said has a detailed plan on how to ensure the security of lives and property as well as promote businesses, improved power generation, transmission and distribution, among others

Source channels

Donald Trump has agreed to shut down his personal charity, the Trump Foundation.

Trump’s charity has been accused of engaging in “persistently illegal conduct,” the New York attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the Foundation would be dissolved and its remaining assets distributed to other charities.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood said in a statement

AFP

The French government was on Sunday hoping the sharp drop in “yellow vest” demonstrators signalled an end to the biggest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, but conceded “mistakes” had been made.

Around 66,000 people turned out again on Saturday across France for the fifth round of protests which sprung up over fuel tax hikes last month before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron — half the number of the previous weekend.

In an interview with Les Echos newspaper published online Sunday evening, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had “made mistakes” and “not listened enough to the French people”.

He added that there would be a debate on the holding of referendums to help decide government policy — one of the protesters’ key demands — saying they could be a “good tool of democracy”.

“One stage is behind us, certainly,” added Education Minister Michel Blanquer. “And I think that that is in everybody’s interest, including the yellow vests.”

Although the drop in protesters suggested the momentum of the “yellow vest” movement was waning, sociologist Herve Le Bras from the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) warned they would leave a bitter legacy.

“It is calming down but what remains of it all is a strong feeling of hatred towards Macron,” he said.

Many of the protesters have targeted Macron personally, calling on him to resign or attacking his background as an investment banker.

Le Bras said the protests had underlined the depth of dislike for the president’s personality and style of governing, which critics see as arrogant and too distant.

A major poll by the Ifop group published in Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed Macron’s approval rating had slipped another two points in the last month, to 23 per cent.

The proportion of people who declared themselves “very dissatisfied” by his leadership jumped by six points to 45 per cent.

An Opinionway poll for LCI television, however, registered a two-point increase to 31 per cent overall. The poll was carried out in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market.

‘Context has changed’

Until last week, a clear majority of French people backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron.

In a bid to end the standoff, he announced a package of measures for low-income workers on Monday in a televised address, estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

The 40-year-old also acknowledged widespread animosity towards him and came close to apologising for a series of verbal gaffes seen as dismissive of the poor or jobless.

Two polls published last Tuesday — in the wake of Macron’s concessions — suggested the country was now split broadly 50-50 on whether the protests should continue.

“It’s a movement that has succeeded in forcing back what looked like a strong government,” Pollingvox’s Sainte-Marie said.

“People have confidence in themselves now, so things won’t return to how they were on November 15” before the protests started, he said.

“The context in which Emmanuel Macron holds power has changed.”

The president had until now styled himself as a determined pro-business reformer who would not yield to pressure from protests like his predecessors.

The government has announced however a six-month consultation with civil society groups, mayors, businesses and the “yellow vests” to discuss tax and other economic reforms.

Hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, as well as tougher emissions controls on old vehicles — justified on the grounds of environmental protection — were what initially sparked the “yellow vest” movement.

Calls for calm

Premier Philippe said in Sunday’s interview that the deficit was expected to increase slightly in 2018 to reach 3.2 per cent of GDP, taking into account the measures taken in the face of the crisis.

To mitigate this, the government would limit the reduction in the corporate income tax rate to companies with a turnover of fewer than 250 million euros ($226 million) next year, he added.

Eight people have died since the start of the protests, the authorities said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner earlier called on protesters to halt their blockades across the country which have disrupted traffic and businesses.

“Everyone’s safety has to become the rule again,” he tweeted.

“Dialogue now needs to unite all those who want to transform France.”

Around 69,000 security forces were mobilised across France on Saturday, down from 89,000 the previous weekend, when 2,000 people were detained.

AFP

President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the Lake Chad Basin countries are currently in a meeting in Abuja.

Presidents of Chad, Niger, Central African Republic and Cameroon are in attendance at the meeting and President Buhari is the chairman.

The leaders during the meeting considered the report of the Defence and Security committee set up by the leaders in Ndjamena, Chad earlier in December.

The committee’s report is expected to overhaul strategies to counter Boko Haram and other security threat in order to stabilise the region.

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President Buhari during the opening ceremony of the meeting said he believes that military strategy must be complemented by the mobilisation and deployment of adequate resources.

According to him, this will ensure reconstruction, rehabilitation, and rebuilding of civil authority and provision of relief to affected persons.

The meeting holds a month after President Buhari traveled to N’djamena Chad to convene a similar meeting to review the security situation and intensify the efforts to end the insurgency in the region.

Source channels

https://www.channelstv.com/2018/12/15/insurgency-buhari-other-lake-chad-basin-leaders-meet-in-abuja/

The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) on Friday organised a debate for vice-presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections

The five candidates who participated in the intriguing debate outlined their plans for the country and answered critical questions about the state of the nation and its future.

They were Ganiyu Galadima – ACPN, Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya – ANN, Yemi Osinbajo – APC, Peter Obi – PDP, and Umma Getso – YPP.

An independently administered multi-stage process led to the selection of the political parties that partook in the debate.

Channels Television has compiled 20 of the top quotes from the vice-presidential candidates, comprising four from each person.



Read the quotes below;

Ganiyu Galadima – ACPN

We are at a critical stage in the life of this country. We should open our eyes and Nigerians should vote for candidates based on the manifestoes that they are presenting to them.

Unemployment is becoming higher and this is because of the wrong policy of government. The Nigerian economy now is vulnerable and can collapse at any time.

By continuing with subsidy, we are killing the economy of this country and we are killing the people.

The issue of Ajaokuta (steel company) has been there for a very long time and it has been fraught with corruption, and now a drain pipe to the nation’s economy.

Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya – ANN

I believe that we should all be concerned about the plight of children in Nigeria and that is basically securing the future of our children, our future.

Poverty has become endemic in every aspect. Despite all the efforts the government has put in, we are doing a complete overhaul.

The decisions we have to make in 2019 is whether we want more of the last four years or a departure from the last four years.

We all have experienced first-hand the pains of the last four years brought upon us by that runs a government. What Nigeria needs is freedom from this bondage called the cabal.

Yemi Osinbajo – APC

If you say investments haven’t taken place in years, who has been in office these last 16 years. Why we are where we are today is because of 16 years of mismanagement of resources.

If you allow criminals to steal all the inventories in the shop, there will be no shop.

let me say that there is no way we can minimise what has happened; you can’t minimise corruption. If you minimise it, we run the risk of completely.

We cannot do what we want to do unless we are able to minimise corruption or eradicate it completely.

Peter Obi – PDP

You are not creating jobs, you are not doing the right thing, and you are just fighting corruption. You can’t shut down your shop and be chasing criminals.

As long as we don’t create jobs and have the number of unemployed youths in their productive age that we have today, we are going to have crisis.

Fighting corruption is not an economic policy, it is not that you can’t fight corruption, but you can fight it more aggressively while addressing economic issues.

The number one problem of this country today is its economy. The vice president is in charge of rebuilding the economy to where it can create jobs.

Umma Getso – YPP

To be candid, subsidy to a typical Nigerian is just a scam. That’s how I will call it, the way President Buhari once said in the Newspaper.

I have a passion for the girl child education and I spent the early years of my adulthood in the development of a common Nigeria.

In my party (YPP), we so much believe in a new Nigeria, where every Nigerian will have equal rights and will have a story to tell tomorrow.

There is no other party in Nigeria that has given priority to women. Professor Kingsley Moghalu’s Presidency is about giving 50-50 opportunity to women to participate in his government at all levels

Source channels

https://www.channelstv.com/2018/12/15/20-key-quotes-from-2019debate/

I Can’t Wait For Presidential Debate, Says Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar says he cannot wait for the 2019 presidential debate.

Atiku said this on Friday after his running mate took on four other vice presidential candidates at the vice presidential debate put together by Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).

He also commended Obi for “laying out our vision to get Nigeria working again”.

Other candidates who were present at the debate include Ganiyu Galadima of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya of Alliance For New Nigeria (ANN), Professor Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Umma Getso of Young Progressives Party (YPP).

The presidential debate is scheduled for January 19

The Nigerian Army has buried 19 of the 23 soldiers it said were killed by Boko Haram during the November 18 attack on Metele, Abadam Local Government Area of Borno State.

At a solemn ceremony, held at the military cemetery of the Maimalari Cantonment in Maiduguri, the state capital, the fallen heroes were buried in the presence of their families.

Among those buried on Friday amid tears, prayers and emotional speeches was the Commanding Officer of the 157 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, the battalion attacked.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, was represented at the ceremony by the Chief of Training Operations, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, who warned that fake news could undermine the effort of the Army and dampening the morale of troops.

Deputy Governor of Borno State Usman Durkwa was also at the ceremony to commiserate with the grieving families and the army.

Soldiers had occupied Metele in 2017 for clearance operations after they recaptured it from terrorists who had displaced the civilian population from the area.

Although the Nigerian Army was shaken by the attack, it insists it remains determined in its goal of eliminating all threats to the nations territorial integrity.

Source channels

https://www.channelstv.com/2018/12/14/nigerian-army-buries-fallen-metele-heroes/

federal judge in Texas ruled late Friday that the US health care law known as Obamacare is unconstitutional — a ruling that opposition Democrats vowed to appeal.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor’s 55-page ruling came in a lawsuit filed by several Republican state attorneys general opposed to the federal government health plan, known officially as the Affordable Care Act.

Conservative Republicans have long opposed the plan, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

The case is likely to reach the US Supreme Court, where the five justices in the nine-judge court who voted to uphold Obamacare in a separate case in 2012 are still on the bench.

O’Connor’s ruling said that the full Obamacare program was unconstitutional because in last year’s tax overhaul, Congress eliminated a penalty for people who failed to sign up for the program if they did not already have their own health insurance.

The 2012 Supreme Court case was over whether such a penalty was legal — but now that it is gone, O’Connor says the whole Affordable Care Act should be stricken down because the provision is “the keystone” of the program.

President Donald Trump, who has long criticised Obamacare and vowed to repeal the program, lost no time in tweeting his opinion.

“Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” Trump wrote.

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” he said.

Trump urged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and likely incoming Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and to “pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare.”

‘Monstrous endgame’

Angry Democrats blamed Republicans for what they see as a debacle that will leave millions of Americans without healthcare and vowed to fight back in court.

The ruling “exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care,” Pelosi said in a statement.

While the court’s “absurd ruling will be immediately appealed, Republicans are fully responsible for this cruel decision,” she said.

For Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the ruling “seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully, it will be overturned.”

However, if this “awful ruling is upheld in the higher courts, it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families,” he said.

Opposing the lawsuit are 17 Democratic attorneys general led by Xavier Becerra of California.

They argue that the tax law changes do not mean that the whole Affordable Care Act becomes unconstitutional.

The ruling “is an assault on 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the A.C.A.’s consumer protections for health care, on America’s faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans,” Becerra said in a statement.

“Our fight to save Obamacare is far from over. We will continue to fight these efforts to take Americans’ healthcare away,” he tweeted.

The ruling came one day before the Saturday deadline to sign up for ACA coverage in 2019.

The White House said in a statement it expects the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court. “Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place,” the statement said.

AFP

France Set For More ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Despite Macron Concessions

The number of protesters who turn out could determine the fate of the movement, five days after Macron announced a series of tax and wage concessions in a bid to end the unrest.

The last three Saturdays have been marked by violent demonstrations, with barricades being set on fire on the Champs-Elysees.

Until now, however, the nation-wide grassroots movement has been backed by a majority of French people, but two polls published on Tuesday — in the wake of Macron’s concessions — found the country was now split broadly 50-50 on whether protests should continue.

Demonstrations started on November 17 in opposition to hikes in fuel taxes, but have since snowballed into a broader opposition to Macron’s pro-business agenda and style of government.

Images of road blocks, massive traffic jams and mobs rioting on the streets of Paris have dented France’s image, as well as Macron’s hopes of forcing through more business-friendly reforms.

Many of the movement’s figureheads, along with leaders of the far-left Unbowed France party, have urged protesters to turn out, particularly in Paris, to pressure the government into making further concessions.

Need for calm

Others have suggested that the mostly small town and rural protesters should show resolve by rallying in the regions rather than heading for the capital where large numbers of security forces are being deployed in the expectation of violence fomented by many far-right and far-left agitators.

France “needs calm, order and to go back to its normal functioning,” Macron said Friday. But he refrained from directly calling for protesters to stay at home.

Speaking in the wake of a terrorist attack Tuesday in the eastern city of Strasbourg, which left four dead and 12 wounded, Interior minister Christophe Castaner criticised “yellow vests” who clashed with police in southern France Thursday night at a time when hundreds of security forces were involved in tracking the fugitive killer who was later shot dead.

“I find it inadmissable that today we are applauding our police and then tomorrow some people think it’s ok to go and throw stones at them,” Castaner said Friday morning, referring to how people in Strasbourg clapped to thank the police after news of the suspect’s death.

In a bid to end the protests, Macron has cancelled the planned fuel tax hikes and offered a rise in the minimum wage, tax relief for pensioners and tax-free overtime for workers in 2019.

The total package has been estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion), which is expected to be financed mostly by government borrowing.

But some protesters think they should capitalise on the concessions.

“What Macron did on Monday, was a call to carry on because he has started to give ground, which is unusual for him,” a senior figure in the “yellow vest” movement, Eric Drouet, said in a video posted on Facebook.

Around 8,000 police will be on duty in Paris on Saturday, the same number as last weekend, backed up by 14 armoured vehicles, water cannon and horses.

Around 90,000 security forces were mobilised last Saturday across France and 2,000 people detained, around half of them in Paris.

Six people have died in the protests — most as a result of traffic-related accidents — and hundreds have been injured.

AFP

Trump’s Son-In-Law Kushner May Be Appointed US Chief Of Staff – Report

Kushner, an influential White House adviser and husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, met with the Republican leader to discuss the job, according to the Huffington Post, which first reported the story.

“I am not aware that he is under consideration but, as I think all of us here would recognize, he would be great in any role that the president chooses to put him in,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the news, which was also reported by CBS.

The president has been searching in vain for a new chief of staff after announcing that John Kelly, a retired general he had reportedly fallen out with, was to leave by the end of the year.

Nick Ayres, the 36-year-old chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, had been touted as favorite to get the job but announced he was taking himself out of the running, dealing a blow to the president.

Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who heads the hard-right Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, showed more interest — but also ultimately withdrew his candidacy.

Kushner was a key player in negotiations with Canada and Mexico to preserve a free trade pact between the North American countries.

He has also led efforts to draft a Middle East peace plan that the Trump administration said it will unveil in early 2019.

The 37-year-old has also cultivated close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is accused of playing a role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a case that has rattled the kingdom’s ties with the West.

The news is sure to set off warnings of nepotism, however, especially considering that Kushner had no prior experience in government before Trump’s election.

Like his father-in-law, he left New York real estate to become one of Washington’s most powerful political players.

AFP