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Cameroon separatist forces enforce curfew in English-speaking northwest region

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Separatist forces in Cameroon on Monday, enforced a curfew in the English-speaking Northwest region districts of Oku, Kumbo and Kakiri after President Paul Biya announced he had ordered troops to move to the region and crush the rebellion.

In a statement, Cameroon’s military said it deployed scores of troops to the troubled region where the Ambazonia separatists declared independence and have been fighting for self determination.

In the statement, the military said armed gangs sealed markets, chased people and vehicles from the streets and abducted scores of civilians who did not comply with their orders.

A resident who fled the conflict told reporters that there has been serious gun firing between the Ambazonia rebels and federal forces from Saturday to Monday while the towns have become ghost-towns with empty streets as many residents were forced to flee to safety in neighbouring Nigeria.

He said the situation, especially in Kumbo for the past two days “has been very, very precarious,” he said.

The resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said battles between troops and rebels intensified after President Biya’s New Year’s Eve speech where he said many rebel groups have been crushed and the threat from separatists has been significantly reduced.

A deputy defense chief for the Ambazonia Defence Forces, Capo Daniel, however, dismissed Biya’s claims that their forces have been significantly reduced.

“That Paul Biya mentioned that peace is returning is laughable. Ambazonia-controlled areas have largely increased. Nineteen Cameroon military men were targeted in Bui and some of them were airlifted for treatment.

“There have been some arson attacks by the Cameroon military in Bui as well as in Oku. Ambazonia will not give up their fight until we have achieved our goal of independence,” Daniel said.

Separatist groups in the English-speaking Cameroon launched their rebellion in 2017 after what they said was years of discrimination by the country’s French-speaking majority, with the United Nations saying the conflict has killed more than 3,500 people and displaced over 750,000.

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Despite hardship in Nigeria, Tinubu insists on harsh economic reforms

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Despite the hues and cries of agony by Nigerians over the excruciating high cost of living and economic challenges occasioned by the policies of the present administration, President Bola Tinubu says his administration remains steadfast in implementing his economic reforms that he believes will facilitate business growth and create investment opportunities that support Nigeria’s growing population.

The Nigerian President, who made the pledge on Thursday when he recieved a delegation from the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) led by Florizelle Liser, its President and Chief Executive Officer, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, further expressed his administration’s
unwavering commitment to Nigeria’s economic growth and stability, emphasizing that he was not relenting until his vision for Nigeria was achieved.

Tinubu emphasized that though he is not oblivious of the fact that a large percentage of Nigerians are currently going through unbearable conditions, his bold reforms will, in the long run, come good and Nigerians will be better off.

While addressing the delegation, the President said he would not relent until his vision for Nigeria was achieved.

”I am happy that the Council is interested in various segments of Nigeria’s economy. We are right in the middle of a challenging stage of our reforms. We have headwinds, no doubt, but we are not going back,” he said.

”We are challenged, and we believe we will overcome the challenges. I have a can-do attitude that must be translated into a must-do attitude. We have a good team, and we must remain focused to get the goal accomplished,” he reiterated.

President Tinubu also reaffirmed his commitment to creating an enabling environment for business to thrive, emphasizing that his administration’s focus on investing in key sectors, such as agriculture, solid minerals, energy, health, physical infrastructure, trade promotion, financial services, digital enterprise, and the creative economy is underpinned by the need to ensure the welfare and prosperity of citizens.

”We are going to do more on security and investing in education, as we believe that education is the greatest weapon against poverty. We welcome partners like CCA, and we will strengthen our partnership to achieve our goals,” he added.

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Zambia: Opposition FDD calls for creation of agric bank

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Zambian opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), has called on the government to re-establish an agricultural bank in the country.

The party’s Information and Publicity Secretary, Caeser Liteta, who made the call in a statement on Wednesday, said it was important that government to set up an agricultural bank to provide financing for farmers to invest in irrigation facilities as a result of the drought being experienced in the country.

Liteta added that government should take stock of affected small scale farmers through the extension officers under the Ministry of Agriculture and ensure that a true reflection of affected small scale farmers was captured and prioritised as beneficiaries of farming inputs during the 2024 – 2025 farming season

“The UPND government must consider re-establishing a farmers’ bank similar to the defunct Lima Bank Limited to provide financing need to invest in irrigation facilities,” Liteta said.

He noted that the effects of climate change had become visible and more pronounced and it was high time President Hakainde Hichilema and his Cabinet considered re-establishing the farmers’ bank to help mitigate effects of climate change in the agricultural sector.

“The current Super El Nino being experienced in the country has devastating effects on the rainfall pattern and going by media reports, we may only have a few days of rainfall in the next five weeks, but sustained rainfall is finished for the 2023 – 2024 farming season, especially for farmers in Lusaka, Central, Eastern and Southern Provinces,” Liteta said.

Liteta stated that the FDD as a party, had taken effects of climate change seriously and, as a policy matter, had developed the soon to be adopted Environmental Strategic Plan that was centred on Agriculture, health and water and sanitation respectively.

“Through the programmes, our party hopes to mitigate effects of climate change in areas of agriculture, associated diseases and challenges in depleting sources of clean water both, rivers and boreholes.”

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