Category Archives: West Africa

George Weah; from football pitch to State House

MONROVIA (LIBERIA) – Former football star George Weah has made probably the greatest political landmark in his political career after winning Liberia’s presidential run-off with a projected 61.5% of the vote, the country’s election commission said on Thursday.


Liberia’s President-Elect George Weah

Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995 he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.

In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as “the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today”.

In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.

After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy and England. Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League. He signed for Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, winning Serie A twice.

His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, winning the FA Cup at the former, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003. At international level, he represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasion, winning 60 caps and scoring 22 goals for his country.

A sporting idol in Africa, Weah became heavily involved in politics in his homeland of Liberia following his retirement from football. He formed the Congress for Democratic Change and ran unsuccessfully for President in the 2005 election, losing to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In the 2011 election, he ran unsuccessfully as Vice President alongside Winston Tubman. Weah was subsequently elected to the Liberian Senate for Montserrado County in the 2014 elections.

Weah was elected President of Liberia in the 2017 election, defeating the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai.

Source: Wikipedia

Ghana: “Quality Education A Key Component Of Free SHS Policy” – President Akufo-Addo

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured that a key component of the Free Senior High School policy must be the provision of quality education.


Ghanaians celebrate free schooling at the senior high school level.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “Government is collaborating with various partners to implement major programmes and interventions such as the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), the expansion of physical infrastructure, and free supply of core subject text books to students.”

Central, too, to the prospects of the Free SHS policy, the President added, is the teacher.

“A well-trained, confident and contented teacher is essential in the delivery of quality education. If we are to succeed as a nation, and if we accept that education is central to national development, then it is clear that quality teacher training is vital to our nation’s development,” he said.

Government, the President indicated, is committed to teacher professional development through schemes such as Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL), at a cost of 17 million pounds sterling.

T-Tel is a four-year Government of Ghana programme supported by the UK’s Department for International Department (DFID). It seeks to transform the delivery of pre-service teacher education in Ghana, by improving the quality of teacher education and learning through support to all public Colleges of Education from 2014 to 2018. The programme will enhance quality education delivery in the Colleges of Education, with government looking forward to its continuous implementation after 2018.

“The restoration of the teacher trainee allowance, which also begins today, is part of the comprehensive policy of engendering the production of quality teachers,” the President added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Tuesday, 12th September, 2017, when he launched the Free SHS policy at the West Africa Senior High School.

Gambia: At least 1 dead after Jammeh supporters clash with W African troops

Banjul – A Gambian protester died of gunshot wounds Saturday, the day after being shot as supporters of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh clashed with West African forces.


Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Gambian information minister, Demba Ali Jawo, told AFP that a group of people had protested on Friday in Jammeh’s home village of Kanilai, 100km east of the capital Banjul, over the presence of West African ECOMIG forces in the area.

“They were blocking roads and burning tyres in the streets,” said Jawo.

“They clashed with ECOMIG Forces who opened fire at them. One of the protesters that sustained injuries died today.”

Local resident Lamin Tamba named the dead man as Haruna Jatta and said he was one of six protesters shot on Friday by ECOMIG forces stationed in Kanilai.

The protesters had gathered from surrounding districts to call for the West African troops to leave the area because “they consider ECOMIG to be an occupying force”, said Tamba.

Observers said that the antipathy to the West African forces stemmed from the presence of troops from neighbouring Senegal among them.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) was launched on January 19, shortly after President Adama Barrow took the oath of office in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

Barrow had taken refuge in Senegal fearing for his safety after his predecessor Jammeh reversed his acceptance of the election result and sought for six weeks to cling to power.

Jammeh eventually agreed to leave for exile in Equatorial Guinea after 22 years in power.

News24 reports.

Buhari’s democratic govt worse than his military dictatorship says critics

Abuja – The critics of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari have said that his current administration is more brutal than when he was a military dictator in the early 80s.


Muhammadu Buhari – the president of Nigeria

Before assuming power in democratic elections in 2015, Buhari come to power through a coup in 1983 and ruled until 1985.

According to SABC, the criticism against Buhari  comes as three activists were languishing in jail on various charges.

Nnamdi Kanu, the head of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, Sambo Dasuki a former national security adviser, and head of Islamic Movement of Nigeria Ibrahim el Zakzaky are detained for alleged treason, corruption, and agitating for the overthrow of government respectively.

In recent months the trio have been granted bail, but they were still languishing in jail.

“Unfortunately, the Buhari administration does not seem to appreciate that we are operating a democratic dispensation, otherwise, once a court has ordered that somebody be released on bail as in the case of Colonel Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, the government cannot dance around it,” a public affairs analyst, Haruna Elbinawi was quoted as saying.

Reports have indicated the government has refused to release Kanu on bail, despite court rulings from at least three judges, including a regional tribunal.

Fifty years ago a unilateral declaration of an independent Republic of Biafra led to a brutal civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead, mainly from starvation and disease.

The conflict ended in 1970.

Meanwhile, West Africa’s regional court last year ordered the immediate release of Dasuki, saying that his detention in 2015 was “unlawful” and “arbitrary”.

In its judgement, the three-member court held that his arrest and detention “without charge or judicial order after having been granted bail by three different domestic courts is unlawful, arbitrary and violates international laws.”

Dasuki allegedly oversaw a sprawling embezzlement scheme that saw “phantom contracts” awarded for personal gain, as under-equipped and demoralised troops fought better-armed militants.

The above story was originally published here

2 Turkish nationals kidnapped in Nigeria – police

Port Harcourt – Gunmen kidnapped two Turkish nationals from their hotel in southern Nigeria’s oil-rich Akwa Ibom state, police said on Tuesday in the latest unrest to hit the restive Niger Delta.

Man with a black hood over his head and his hands tied behind his back.

“Two Turkish nationals working for a construction company in the Onna local government area were abducted from their hotel rooms”, said state police spokesperson Chukwu Okechukwu.

He said the men, who work for BKS Construction Company which is based in Onna, were seized by gunmen from a hotel in Eket, an industrial city which is home to Mobil, the Nigerian subsidiary of US oil giant Exxon.

He said efforts were under way to free the pair

A Turkish teacher was abducted from a school just outside Lagos along with two other staff members and five students in January, police said, indicating that they were freed two weeks later.

Kidnapping for ransom was rife in the Niger delta until a 2009 government amnesty drastically reduced unrest in the region.

Most kidnap victims were released unhurt after ransom payments.

News24 reports.

Fire kills three at Nigeria camp for Boko Haram displaced

Maiduguri – Three people have died in northeast Nigeria after a fire broke out in a building housing people displaced by Boko Haram Islamists, emergency officials said on Thursday.

Huge flames coming from a factory on fire in an industrial area.

The National Emergency Management Agency said the blaze happened at the College of Business and Management Studies site in Konduga, which houses more than 6 200 internally displaced people (IDPs).

“The fire started at about 09:40 GMT from the cooking area leading to the death of three people and six others injured,” NEMA spokesperson Abdulkadir Ibrahim said in a statement.

Konduga is some 35km from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed at least 20 000 people and forced more than 2.6 million others from their homes since it began in 2009.

As the military opens up areas formerly in the hands of the jihadists, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to the safety of camps and host communities across Borno.

People in the camps live in makeshift tents, often made of woven dried grass draped over tree branches. Cooking is done outside over wood fires.

More stories on News24

Gambia’s new leader Barrow fires armed forces chief

Banjul – Gambia’s president Adama Barrow has fired the head of the armed forces, General Ousman Badjie, as he continues a clear-out of senior officials linked to the despotic rule of his predecessor, military and government sources said on Monday.


Gambian president – Adama Barrow

Badjie has been replaced by General Masanneh Kinteh, a special military adviser to Barrow since January, according to the military source.

Barrow retook his oath of office on February 18, a month after he was sworn in across the border in neighbouring Senegal during a tense power struggle with his predecessor Yahya Jammeh.

Jammeh had refused to step down following his defeat in December elections, but agreed to leave for exile on January 21 following negotiations with other west African leaders.

Barrow told the crowd at the swearing-in he would probe human rights abuses under Jammeh’s iron-fisted rule spanning 22 years.

Killings and torture 

“A Human Rights Commission will be established without delay,” to track people who went missing or disappeared after being arrested, Barrow said. “Orders have already been given for all those detained without trial to be released”.

The United Nations and rights groups repeatedly condemned The Gambia’s security services under Jammeh, blaming them for arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings and torture.

Last week Barrow removed the chief of the country’s feared intelligence agency, Yankuba Badjie, and the head of the national prison system, David Colley.

A government source confirmed Ousman Badjie’s dismissal, and said the handover to Kinteh would take place within hours.

Ousman Badjie, a Jammeh loyalist, had pledged allegiance to Barrow along with top defence, civil service and security chiefs on January 20, one day before the former president fled the country.

Arrests and detentions 

The general was also spotted among revellers on the streets of Banjul celebrating Barrow’s inauguration in Senegal.

The military source said Badjie would be redeployed to a foreign mission, but has yet to be told which one.

Kinteh was first named as armed forces chief in October 2009 following the removal and arrest of his predecessor, General Lang Tombong Tamba.

He was subsequently dismissed in July 2012 and appointed Gambia’s ambassador to Cuba, and replaced by Badjie.

Amnesty International said that under Jammeh, “Gambia’s climate of fear was sustained for years through regular arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as routine torture.

Since effectively taking power late last month, Barrow has rushed to uphold pledges to overhaul the military and security services.

Read more on this on News24

Logistics nightmare: Helping the Boko Haram displaced

Dikwa – Not a single car remains in the town of Dikwa in northeast Nigeria and there’s no way to communicate to the outside world, as all the telephone lines have been blown up.

File: AFP

But it is here that humanitarian groups are trying to bring aid to at least 57 000 people forced out of their homes by Boko Haram Islamists, whose insurgency has devastated the remote region since 2009.

“On average, 200 to 300 people arrive per day,” one soldier posted in the town said. “They left their village because there’s no protection, no food there, and they can’t farm.”

Abubakar Gambo Adam, a consultant in a clinic run by Unicef, said the new arrivals are often in a bad way. Some are severely dehydrated, others have trauma injuries or gunshots.

Many have walked for three or four days to get to Dikwa, he added.

‘A lot has changed’

In a tent outside the field hospital, Maimuna Alhazi Kalo waited her turn with about 20 other young mothers, her one-year-old son in her arms.

He has already been on an emergency feeding programme for seven months of his short life, but still weighs little more than a newborn.

But Gambo says the boy is over the worst because he has received high-energy nutrition supplements and because sanitary conditions for the displaced have improved.

“Since I arrived in Dikwa in July 2016, a lot has changed,” he told AFP.

“We were located in a camp outside the town, we couldn’t enter the city. There were so many hygienic problems, diarrhoea, malaria. We admitted at least 10 severely malnourished children every day.”

One senior Nigerian government official involved in the relief effort described the crowds of hungry and desperate people at Dikwa last year as “biblical”.

Aid agencies have gradually been reaching liberated towns since last April, and it is only then that the scale of the humanitarian crisis has become apparent.

In July, the UN’s regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, told AFP that the food situation in Dikwa, Monguno and other towns was comparable to the worst crises in Darfur and South Sudan.

Reports emerged of multiple deaths from severe acute malnutrition; dire warnings were issued about what would happen if nothing was done.

From Bama, Monguno and Dikwa to Gwoza, Rann and Damboa, international NGOs and national bodies began sending food and medicine for tens of thousands of people as soon as the army made the towns safe.

In the warehouses of the World Food Programme, 10,700 tonnes of rice, beans, sugar and corn lies waiting to be distributed across Borno State for some 1.3 million people.

That is already 350 percent more than five months ago, and the figure should soon reach two million.

The cost of security 

At a donors conference in Norway’s capital, Oslo, on Thursday and Friday, the UN will ask for financial aid totalling $1bn for Nigeria and its neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The enormous sum reflects the huge logistical challenges.

For security reasons, no team can stay in Dikwa for more than a day, two in case of emergency. Travel from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, is exclusively by helicopter as the roads remain too dangerous.

Humanitarian organisations contracted by other, bigger NGOs to work in Dikwa are effectively cut off between visits of their partners.

Because of the lack of cars, everyone depends on the army to get around the town and even to bring in the 50 trucks of food a month for the displaced.

But without proper supervision, the food rations often fail to reach everyone.

“As humanitarians we have to go against a lot of basic principles by working here,” one worker told AFP.

“But we simply don’t have the choice at the moment. The situation is too critical.”

Every little helps 

In one of Dikwa’s overcrowded camps, Amina Mohammed, contracted to work by the International Organization for Migration, does her best to get the message across about sanitation.

“I tell them to keep a clean place, to wash themselves, but I know they haven’t seen soap for month. There is not even enough water to drink,” she said.

Hundreds of children, most of them in dirty clothes with holes, are kept entertained as she sings a rhyme, teaching them to “Kill, kill mosquitoes!”

She slaps herself comically in the arm and the children fall about laughing.

“We try to achieve a bit with what we have,” she said with a smile.

In Dikwa, that’s not much.

Read original story here.