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Nigerian women activists issue 7-day ultimatum to lawmakers over rejected gender bills

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A coalition of Nigerian women activist groups, Womanifesto, has given federal lawmakers a seven-day ultimatum to consider urgently “re-convening, reconsideration, and immediately passing an all-women/gender-related bills by the National Assembly.”

The women group which has been staging a daily protest at the National Assembly in the past 10 days to register their anger over the recent rejection of all gender bills by the Assembly, said if at the expiration of the ultimatum, the legislators still refuse to revisit the bills, they would have no option but to completely occupy the Assembly.

Over the years, Nigerian women, led by Senator Abiodun Olujimi, have continuously clamouerd for more inclusiveness in politics and governance, and recently, have been making demands for the immediate passage of an all women/gender-related bills, including a bill giving women more seats in the State Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

But sadly, the Bill was rejected by the Senate in December of 2021, leading the Senator to with draw it with a vow to represented a reworked version at a later date.

They are also seeking the passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities (GEOB) Bill, currently before the Senate, and the resuscitation and passage of a bill in support for “Women Participation in Elective and Appointive.”

The women also called for the immediate Domestication of the African Charters Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa,” which Nigeria ratified in 2004, the immediate domestication of the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Nigeria since 1985 and demanded to know the voting pattern on sensitive matters of citizen rights.

According to a 2019 report by a research outfit, Brookings, South Africa is the highest ranked African country when it comes to gender equality while Niger Republic ranks the lowest.

The report had also recommended that by 2025, other parts of Africa required an additional $316 billion to its GDP if every country is to improve its gender equality score to match the best performing country on each indicator.

In a statement at a press conference by one of the Coordinators of the protest, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the women coalition said:

“We acknowledge the efforts of Nigerian Women in occupying the National Assembly for ten days, the tenacity which they have demonstrated has shown that women can no longer be taken for a ride, and that we have decided to affirm our status as full citizens in this country and that our future cannot just be determined by few people who see us as lesser human beings.

“Our ten days’ occupation is a testament to our strength and our resilience; it is the emergence of a national movement.

“We can categorically say that the events in the last few weeks have played an important role in spotlighting these demands and demonstrated women’s optimism, motivation and resilience in leading positive changes through their dogged insistence.

“We also urge all Nigerians, especially its women, not to give up hope as we shall continue to apply pressure to persuade the NASS to act responsibly. We will continue to engage the media and state assemblies to vote in favour of the gender bill.

“While we await NASS to live up to its billing by reversing itself, we urge all citizens who want to see change to prepare to continue to stand against every form of injustice and contribute to the emergence of laws that will address the fundamental issues affecting all citizens.”

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Zambian agency issues flood alert around Lake Tanganyika areas, advises relocation

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The Zambian Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) has issued a flood alert on areas surrounding Lake Tanganyika in Northern Province, warning residents in the affected areas to relocate and move upland to avoid being caught unawares.

Acting Director General of WARMA, Frank Nyoni, who face the warning, said the authority had observed rising water levels in Lake Tanganyika which are likely to cause flooding in some areas of Mpulungu and Nsama Districts.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Saturday, Nyoni said the rise in the Lake water levels are due to intense rainfall received in the Northern parts of Zambia.

“The areas which are likely to be affected include Mpulungu Harbour, Kasaba Bay, Nsumbu Bay, Nkamba Bay, Chituta Bay, Mbete Bay and other areas along the shoreline,” Nyoni said in the statement.

The Acting DG stated that the Authority had observed that the water levels in “Lake Tanganyika had exceeded the long-term average with the highest lake water level of 4.36m which was recorded in 1964, exceeded by 0.53m as of 1 2th April, 2024, reaching a record high of 4.89m.”

“Furthermore, the Lake water levels are still rising and it is anticipated that the peak will be reached by June, 2024,” Nyoni added.

He therefore, advised that members of the public using the Lake and settlers along the lake shorelines in the affected areas should be on high alert and consider possibly moving upland as the Lake levels are still on the rise.

“The Authority will continue to monitor the Lake water levels and will keep the public informed of any changes in the situation,” he promised.

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Yoruba secessionist group seeks exit from Nigeria, writes open letter to Tinubu

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A secessionist group known as the Yoruba Self-Determination Movement (YSDM) has written an open letter to Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu seeking to break away from the country.

The group, which describes itself as a leading figure in the self-determination struggle for a Yoruba sovereign state separate from Nigeria, said it was demanding to pull the Yoruba nation out of the present Nigeria through peaceful negotiations.

In the letter addressed to the President on Saturday, the group said it was prepared to negotiate terms of the secession from Nigeria due to the activities of suspected Fulani herdsmen in their region and in Nigeria as a whole.

The letter jointly signed by leaders of prominent Yoruba advocacy groups including Prof. Banji Akintoye, the national leader of the YSDM; Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho, leader of the Yoruba National Defence and Otunba Ola Ademola, Vice-Chairman Yoruba Self-determination Movement, said:

“We have the honour to send to Your Excellency this important letter on behalf of the many millions of Yoruba people at home in Yorubaland in Nigeria and in the Yoruba Diaspora in almost all countries across the world.

“We send this letter most respectfully to Your Excellency as a follow-up to our earlier letter, dated August 06, 2022, which we delivered to your predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his exalted position then as President of Nigeria.

“Since 2015, the Fulani have been killing widely among the other peoples of Nigeria, including us Yoruba, destroying farms, villages and other assets, kidnapping men, women and children, extorting large amounts of money as ransom from friends and family of the kidnapped, and repeatedly asserting their intention to seize the homelands of all the indigenous peoples of Nigeria for the purpose of turning all into a Fulani homeland.

“In our Yoruba homeland, our people are resisting somewhat better, but the Fulani attacks and killings and kidnappings are unrelenting and are coming daily, leading to horrific instability, and forcing most of our farmers to abandon farming altogether, thereby dooming Yoruba people to years and years of famine. According to an unofficial estimate, the Fulani have killed as many as 29,000 Yoruba people in the years since 2015.

“And our reason is that we know that restructuring cannot keep the Fulani marauders away from our homeland – since, after restructuring, the Fulani would still be Nigerians like us, and would still have full citizens’ rights to come in large numbers, and with weapons and intent to kill and destroy and seize land, to our homeland.

“Their spokespersons have said again and again unambiguously that their Fulani nation has prepared all its citizens to fight their current war of subjugation and land seizure for decades and even centuries to come.

“We Yoruba must not underestimate the Fulani; we must not condemn our people to Fulani killings, destruction, raping, kidnapping and extortion of ransom for decades or centuries to come. Our Yoruba nation may not survive such prolonged battering.

“Your Excellency, we Yoruba Self-determination Movement, acting for and on behalf of our 60-million Yoruba people of the Ekiti State, Lagos State, Ogun State, Ondo State, Osun State, and Oyo State, plus the Yoruba Local Government Areas of Kogi State and Kwara State, and plus the Itshekiri homeland of Delta State, all together constituting the Yorubalnd in Nigeria, hereby most humbly place our crowning request before Your Excellency as follows:

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall, within the next two months, but not later than June 15, 2024, inform us Yoruba Self-determination Movement that the Nigerian Federal Government have graciously agreed to our proposal for negotiation and that they have set up a negotiation team that will meet and dialogue with our Yoruba nation’s negotiation team.

“That as soon as we receive the communication from the Nigerian Federal Government, in response to this request of ours for negotiation; we shall forward the list of our negotiation team to the Nigerian Federal Government.

“That the Nigerian Federal Government’s negotiation team and our negotiation team shall meet to appoint co-chair persons, to agree on a date for the first negotiation meeting, to the negotiation venue, and to the negotiation agenda and process.

“That the Nigerian Federal Government shall invite the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, to send observers to the negotiation meetings.

“Your Excellency, please accept the best assurance of our highest regards and our best wishes.”

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