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Nigerien Communication Minister, Mahamadou Zada sent to jail. Here’s why

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A judge of the economic and financial division of Niamey has sent Nigerien Minister of Communication, Mahamadou Zada to jail for his alleged involvement in a high-profile embezzlement case.

The Minister is believed to have mismanaged public funds when he was managing a public company (Société de patrimoine des mines du Niger) between 2013 and 2021. The misappropriated fund is said to be about three billion CFA francs (more than 4.5 million euros) according to a judicial source.

According to the Nigerien press, the scandal exploded when the management of Taanadi, a local micro-finance institution, wrote to Sopamin a year ago to say it had not found any trace in its books of a CFAF 3 billion deposit announced by Sopamin.

The state-owned company manages the Nigerien state’s holdings in mining companies operating in the country, including uranium had been implicated in a scandal linked to international trade in uranium organised by the French group Areva (now Orano) over the sale in autumn 2011 of a large quantity of uranium for $320 million.

60-year-old President Bazoum came into office last year as the first democratic transfer of power after the government says it thwarted an attempted coup by parts of the military. The president has made the fight against corruption one of his main priorities, and recently revealed that “some thirty senior state officials, guilty of embezzlement or misappropriation, are currently in prison and will remain there for a long time.”

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Ukraine’s donation of food aid to Nigeria a national disgrace— Peter Obi

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, has faulted the donation of 25,000 tons of wheat as food aid to Nigeria, describing the donation as a “national disgrace” stemming from years of leadership failure.

The Nigerian government had announced that the war-torn European country had made the donation as a part of its contribution to help Nigeria tackle the food crisis that has affected millions of people in the county, especially in the
northeast.

The government had stated that donation was to bolster the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) response in north-eastern Nigeria amidst inflation and food price spikes and part of Ukraine’s humanitarian “Grain from Ukraine” initiative launched by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

But while the government celebrated the donation, Obi, a former Governor, has condemned the development, insisting that if Nigeria governments at all level had embarked on an aggressive investment in agriculture as well as security and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), the embarrassment of the donation would not have come up.

Obi who expressed his disapproval of the donation in a statement he posted on his verified X account it was disheartening that a country like Nigeria with so much human and natural resources should celebrate such donations.

“As laudable as Ukraine’s kind gesture is, it speaks volumes for us as a people endowed with all needed human and natural resources, that a country officially prosecuting a brutal war of national survival with its powerful neighbour, Russia, is generous and kind enough with their food supplies to help us who are officially at peace,” Obi said.

“For the people of Ukraine, this act of human solidarity testifies to a rare generosity of spirit which should earn them greater global solidarity. It demonstrates our shared humanity.

“However, a situation like this underscores vigorously the importance of sound political leadership as the first concrete requirement for any nation desiring to develop and enhance the standard of living of its citizenry.

“It is disheartening that our once economically confident nation, blessed with vast arable land and abundant natural resources, now relies on a war-torn Ukraine for food assistance.

“This national disgrace stems from years of leadership failure, necessitating urgent reflection and a reordering of our national priorities and resource management and allocation.

“Instructively, Ukraine, with a population of 43 million on 603,728 km2, outshines Northern Nigeria, covering 744,249 km2 with a young, energetic population exceeding 100 million.

“In 2015, Ukraine’s GDP per capita was $2125, compared to Nigeria’s $2680. By 2022, despite being at war, Ukraine’s GDP per capita exceeded $4000, while Nigeria’s regressed to $2184.

“Ukraine cultivates over 60 per cent of its arable land, whereas Nigeria has over 60 per cent uncultivated arable land.

“Despite the conflict, Ukraine feeds itself, and exports agricultural products worth over $25 billion which is about the same value as our crude oil export earnings, and it serves as a strategic global food supplier, even providing aid to a peaceful yet unproductive Nigeria.

“To overcome this embarrassment, we must aggressively reorder our priorities by investing resources in productive sectors like agriculture. Addressing insecurity is crucial for farmers to return to their fields, enabling a productive manufacturing sector and supporting small businesses,” the former presidential hopeful said.

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Zambian opposition party LM demands sack of Agric Minister

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One of Zambia’s opposition parties, Leadership Movement (LM), has called for the immediate dismissal of the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Mtolo Phiri, over alleged incompetence and for misleading President Hakainde Hichilema.

LM Secretary-General, Jairos Ngoma, who addressed a press conference in Lusaka,
said Phiri had been lying to Hichilema over the status of the agriculture sector in the face of climate change.

Ngoma alleged that the minister lied to the president, claiming that farming inputs had been distributed on time countrywide when no such items had been distributed.

Ngoma stated that farmers had been sharing fertilizer distributed to them in various parts of the country and that the commodity was not distributed on time as promised.

“Mr. President, you are a farmer and people in Eastern Province who have been sharing fertilizer voted for you in numbers knowing that you understand them as you a farmer yourself,” Ngoma stated.

He went on to accuse the United Capital Fertiliser claiming that the company was exporting the commodity to Botswana instead of distributing it to farmers in line with an agreement it had with government.

He said as a result, farmers have resorted to sharing the fertilizer in “medas” across the country because what was meant for them was being sold.

“This company is a subsidiary of China; it’s taking fertiliser to Botswana, 15,000 metric tonnes and later it is taking it to Dar es Salaam,” he alleged.

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