Saturday, November 28, 2015

Egypt Says 90 Percent Chance Of Hidden Rooms In Tut Tomb


In this Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 file photo, the tomb of King Tut is displayed in a glass case at the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, Tuesday. On Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said there is a 90 percent chance that hidden chambers will be found within King Tutankhamun's tomb, based on the preliminary results of a new exploration of the 3,300-year-old mausoleum.

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) :- CAIRO — Egypt on Saturday said there is a 90 percent chance that hidden chambers will be found within King Tutankhamun's tomb, based on the preliminary results of a new exploration of the 3,300-year-old mausoleum.
Researchers say the discovery of a new chamber could shine new light on one of ancient Egypt's most turbulent times, and one prominent researcher has theorized that the remains of Queen Nefertiti might be inside.
Egypt began the search for the hidden chamber last week. Announcing the results of three days of testing in the southern city of Luxor, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said the findings will be sent to Japan for a monthlong analysis before the search is resumed.
Luxor, in southern Egypt, served as the pharaonic capital in ancient times, and is home to sprawling temples and several ancient tombs.
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves theorizes that Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb. Famed for her beauty, Nefertiti was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust.
Reeves reached his theory after high-resolution images discovered what he said were straight lines in King Tut's tomb. These lines, previously hidden by color and the stones' texture, indicate the presence of a sealed chamber, he said. The images were later broadcast live on national television last September.
Nefertiti was the primary wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who unsuccessfully attempted to switch Egypt to an early form of monotheism. Akhenaten was succeeded by a pharaoh referred to as Smenkhare and then Tut, who is widely believed to have been Akhenaten's son.
Tut, Nefertiti, and Akhenaten's family ruled Egypt during one of its most turbulent times, which ended with a military takeover by Egypt's top general at the time, Horemheb. The whole family's names were wiped out from official records later on.
Reeves believes that Smenkhare is actually Nefertiti.
This is the second find to be announced this week. On Tuesday, el-Damaty said the Austrian Archaeological Institute discovered a "giant fence" dating back over 3,500 years at the site of another ancient capital city, Avaris. The sandstone fence is least 500 meters (yards) long and 7 meters (yards) thick, antiquities official Mahmoud Afifi said.

Putin Orders Sanctions Against Turkey


Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 bomber at the Syrian border on Tuesday, insisting it had violated its airspace despite repeated warnings. The tanks are expected to be deployed to the border with Syria.(DHA agency via AP) TURKEY OUT

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) --Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane.
The decree published on the Kremlin's website Saturday came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was “truly saddened” by the event and wished it hadn’t occurred.
The decree includes a ban on some goods and forbids extensions of labor contracts for Turks working in Russia as of Jan. 1.. It doesn’t specify what goods are to be banned or give other details, but it also calls for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier in the week had ordered his cabinet to develop a list of goods to be sanctioned.
Putin’s decree also calls for ending visa-free travel between Russia and Turkey and orders the tightening of control over Turkish air carriers in Russia “for security reasons.” A Kremlin statement said the decree was issued “to protect Russian citizens from crimes.”
Erdogan’s expression of regret Saturday was the first since Tuesday’s incident in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian jet on grounds that it had violated Turkey’s airspace despite repeated warnings to change course. It was the first time in half a century that a NATO member shot down a Russian plane and drew a harsh response from Moscow.
“We are truly saddened by this incident,” Erdogan said. “We wish it hadn’t happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn’t occur again.”
Addressing supporters in the western city of Balikesir, Erdogan said neither country should allow the incident to escalate and take a destructive form that would lead to “saddening consequences.”
He renewed a call for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris next week, saying it would be an opportunity to overcome tensions.
Erdogan’s friendly overture however, came after he again vigorously defended Turkey’s action and criticized Russia for its operations in Syria.
“If we allow our sovereign rights to be violated ... then the territory would no longer be our territory,” Erdogan said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also said he hoped a meeting between Erdogan and Putin would take place in Paris.
“In such situations it is important to keep the channels of communication open,” he said.
Putin has denounced the Turkish action as a "treacherous stab in the back," and has insisted that the plane was downed over Syrian territory in violation of international law. He has also refused to take telephone calls from Erdogan. Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday that the Kremlin had received Erdogan's request for a meeting, but wouldn't say whether such a meeting is possible.
Asked why Putin hasn't picked up the phone to respond to Erdogan's two phone calls, he said that "we have seen that the Turkish side hasn't been ready to offer an elementary apology over the plane incident."
After the incident, Russia deployed long-range S-400 air defense missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria just 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the border with Turkey to help protect Russian warplanes, and the Russian military warned it would shoot down any aerial target that would pose a potential threat to its planes.
Russia has since also restricted tourist travel to Turkey, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border, confiscated large quantities of Turkish food imports and started preparing a raft of broader economic sanctions.
On Saturday Turkey issued a travel warning urging its nationals to delay non-urgent and unnecessary travel to Russia, saying Turkish travelers were facing "problems" in the country. It said Turks should delay travel plans until "the situation becomes clear."
Heintz reported from Moscow

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Child Brides In Africa To More Than Double By 2050

Should the reduction in underage marriages accelerate in the coming decades, as UNICEF hopes, then population growth would lead to 150 million child brides by 2050 – 25 million more than today.
Africa will overtake South Asia as the region with the largest number of child brides, their number soaring to 310 million, more than 40 percent of the global total, in 2050, from 125 million, 25 percent of the total, today.
The two-day meeting in Lusaka is the African Union’s first conference on “Ending Child Marriage in Africa”, gathering representatives from member states as well as first ladies, United Nations officials and civil society groups.
My parents married me off when I was 13.
In South Sudan, girls from the wealthiest households are almost as likely to be married by age 18 as girls from the poorest households. UNICEF said that rapid population growth and limited social change across the African continent were key factors contributing to their prediction. Currently, 34% of young women were married as children, down from 44% in 1990.
Though the rates of child marriage are on the decline in most parts of the world, the number of girls married as children in Africa is expected to increase by 250 percent by the year 2050.
“The total number of child brides will rise from 125 million to 310 million by 2050… if we do not do something now”, UNICEF deputy executive director Fatoumata Ndiaye told AFP.
The report highlights slow rates of reduction, combined with rapid population growth, as major causes for the projected increase.
Africa’s population of girls is expected to balloon from the current 275 million to 465 million within 35 years.
It is also important to increase girls’ access to reproductive health services so that they have fewer, safer pregnancies and can break the cycle of poverty, UNICEF said.
Young girls married early face higher risks of health complications from childbirth, and their children are more likely to be stillborn or die shortly after birth than those born to older mothers. Girls who are married as children or teenagers are less likely to finish school, and more likely to experience violence or contract HIV.
Lake said as a result of the number of girls affected, lost childhood and shattered future, there was urgency of banning the practice once and for all. Each child bride is an individual tragedy. Moreover, UNICEF says that child brides often lack the skills needed for employment. “It is a harmful practice which severely affects the rights of a child”.
More than 700 million women alive today were married as children and one in three girls in the developing world were married before they turned 18, according to Girls Not Brides, a nonprofit working to end child marriage. In the Central African Republic and some other regions, the practice of boys being married off while underage was also rated disproportionately high.

NIGERIA: 718 Pregnant Women Tested Positive For HIV In Ogun In 2014

By Kehinde Akinyemi, Daily Trust Nigeria

Abeokuta — A total of 718 out of 50,209 pregnant women screened for HIV tested positive in the year 2014, the state commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye has disclosed.
Ipaye, who was briefing newsmen on the 2015 World AIDS day in Abeokuta, said the a total of 1022 HIV positive pregnant women received ARV prophylaxis for PMTCT.
He said there were 488 live births by HIV positive women with 639 HIV exposed infants receiving first dose of Nevirapine.
The Commissioner also hinted that in the year under review a total of 140,904 were counseled, tested and received results in 2014 with 4693 persons testing positive. Out this figure, 2207 persons were initiated on ART in the state.
On the possibility of eradicating AIDs epidemic by 2030, Ipaye said there is need to close the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind to make the eradication possible.
He noted that such barriers, which include stigma and discrimination, false beliefs and poor domestic funding among others should be looked into, suggesting further that, "government will take a lead by supporting mobilization of resources to expand and improve access to treatment as well as engaging all members of society especially those who are most vulnerable which is key to a unified and comprehensive HIV/AIDs response."

Nigeria Naira Firmer On Unofficial Market As C.Bank Tightens Forex Rules

(Adds quotes, details, background)
Nov 26 The Nigerian naira strengthened 2.1 percent to 235 per dollar on the unofficial market on Thursday after the central bank moved to enforce documentation requirements on bureau de change operators prior to dollar sales, traders said.
In a circular seen by Reuters on Thursday, the central bank asked all bureau de change (BDCs) operators to submit accounts showing their dollar usage at the start of each week before they can access future sales, a move traders say was aimed at curbing speculation.
The naira had fallen sharply on Wednesday, a day after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates to stimulate lending in Africa's biggest economy, traders said.
The currency was quoted at the pegged rate of 197 naira on the official interbank market on Thursday.
"It has been observed that a good number of bureaux de change purchased foreign exchange from the central bank without rendering returns on their utilisation," the bank said
The central bank has introduced currency controls to stop the naira weakening, defying calls to further devalue the currency hard hit by the plunge in global crude prices.
The bank asked BDCs to immediately return all forex bought at its Wednesday auction without documents to show how they used previous purchases. It cut dollar supply to BDCs last week to conserve its dwindling foreign exchange reserves. (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Dominic Evans)

100 Women Die Daily In Northern Nigeria During Childbirth, Says UNFPA

Ms Ratidzai Ndhlovu, Nigeria Country Director of United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA), says no fewer than 100 women die daily across Northern Nigeria during childbirth.
She spoke on Thursday in Sokoto at a consultative meeting with the theme: “Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal Deaths in Northern Nigeria: The Role of the Traditional and Religious Leaders.”
Ndhlovu decried the high maternal mortality figure, and stressed that collective efforts must be stepped up to redress the ugly trend.
” No pregnant woman should be allowed to die while bringing a life into the world and they should be adequately protected.
” Traditional rulers, community and religious leaders should take census of all pregnant women in their areas, with a view to tracking the exact figure of maternal mortality.
” This would help in gingering all of us to step up measures to reduce the menace and save more pregnant mothers and their children from dying during childbirth.
” This would certainly help in reducing maternal mortality and even help to reduce it to a zero-level across the North,” she said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, who spoke called for the building of capacities of more traditional birth attendants in the region.
Abubakar said that the action would complement the efforts of the skilled midwives in health facilities.
He suggested that the traditional birth attendants ” should be recruited by the three tiers of government and deployed to health facilities, to boost manpower provision.’’
Dr Ado Mohammed, the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency , reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to provide good health facilities for women across the country.
Sokoto State Health Commissioner, Dr Shehu Kakale, who spoke, said government had set up a committee to see to the reduction of maternal mortality in the state. ( NAN)

Thousands Of Children Crossed US-Mexico Border In October

© Provided by Associated Press 16, 2015, aerial file photo, a U.S. border patrol vehicle appears near the border wall near Abram, Texas, from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter. Nearly 5,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were…

SAN ANTONIO — Nearly 5,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were caught illegally crossing the U.S. border with Mexico in October, almost double the number from October 2014, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
Also, in the figures released Tuesday, the number of family members crossing together nearly tripled from October 2014 — from 2,162 to 6,029.
The numbers spiked despite expectations of lower numbers due to the colder winter months coming, better enforcement along the border and efforts by Mexican authorities to stem the stream of Central American migrants to the U.S. Though tens of thousands of women and children from Central America were caught at the border in summer 2014, it had dropped by nearly half during the 2015 federal fiscal that ended Sept. 30.
The 4,973 unaccompanied children caught at the border last month is the highest number that Washington, D.C.-based think tank Washington Office on Latin America has recorded for October since their records began in 2009, said Adam Isacson, a border expert and senior analyst.
The high numbers buck the typical trends of crossings peaking in spring then declining through summer and fall, Isacson said. But there was an uptick in families and children crossing in July, and the numbers have stayed over 4,000 each month since.
"Rather than a big jump, it's been a steady burn," he said. "I think we are almost in crisis mode with this many months of sustained arrivals."
Most children and families trying to cross the border in October were from El Salvador. Increased violence in the tiny country, which averaged 30 murders a day in August, is likely partly to blame, Isacson said. Previously, Guatemala had the most families and children apprehended at the border.
While the Rio Grande Valley remains the center of migration flows in Texas, immigrants are starting to venture farther west. The number of unaccompanied children caught in Del Rio sector jumped from 120 to 237, while 187 children were apprehended in the remote Big Bend area, up from just 13 a year ago.
According to internal intelligence files from the Homeland Security Department, most families interviewed told Customs and Border Protection officials that smugglers decided where they would try to cross. They reported that the cost ranged from about $5,000 to cross the border near Matamoros or Reynosa, Mexico, across the border from the Rio Grande Valley, but was about $1,500 to $2,000 to cross near Ciudad Acuna, across the river from Del Rio.
The administration was caught off guard by the sudden surge of children and families in 2014 and made several efforts to curb the flow of people crossing the border illegally, including media campaigns in Central America to scare people out of attempting the dangerous journey.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement this week that the campaigns are still in place and highlight that "those attempting to come here illegally are a top priority for removal."
Immigrant families caught illegally crossing the border between July and September told U.S. immigration agents they made the dangerous trip in part because they felt they were likely to succeed, according to the intelligence files. Immigrants spoke of "permisos," or passes, that they believed would allow them to remain in the United States.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report. Follow Seth Robbins on Twitter at:

Obama: Syrian Refugees Are Like Pilgrims On The Mayflower

By Bradford Richardson, The Hill

© Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Syrian refugees and community leaders join together for a #RefugeesWelcome Thanksgiving dinner hosted by on November 20, 2015 in Evanston, Illinois.

This Thanksgiving, President Obama is calling for Americans to lend a helping hand to another group of pilgrims fleeing persecution.
“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” Obama said in his weekly address Thursday. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance.”
The president praised Americans who have offered to open their homes to refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.
“One woman from Pennsylvania wrote to me to say, ‘Money is tight for us in my household. … But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this,’ ” Obama said.
“Another woman from Florida told me her family’s history dates back to the Mayflower — and she said that welcoming others is part of ‘what it means to be an American,’ ” he added.
Obama called for citizens to put the “generosity” of America on full display by welcoming refugees into the country with arms wide open.
“I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by loved ones and full of joy and gratitude,” he said. “And together, may we all play our own small part in the American story, and write a next chapter that future generations can be thankful for.”
The House passed a measure earlier this month making it more difficult for Syrian refugees fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to enter the country.
Republicans have cast doubt on whether refugees can be properly vetted to ensure that they are not terrorists.
At least one assailant in the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attack, in which 130 people were killed, is suspected of entering France posed as a migrant.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Agitation For Biafra

A FACT of Nigeria’s democratic experience in the last 16 years is that every new political administration springs forth a new uprising from disenchanted interest groups. Such seems to be the case of the Muhammadu Buhari administration and the recent series of protests by youths of South eastern extraction seeking secession from Nigeria and demanding the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kalu, the detained director of the pirate Radio Biafra.
But contrary to the position of some informed commentaries denouncing the ongoing agitation for secession or self-determination as a rally of miscreants, the obviously expanding Biafran factions are gradually crystallising into a global clamour for the actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra. Whatever the motives of this agitation, it must not be taken lightly.
Whilst, at face value, the wave of protests dotting south eastern cities and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, may be construed as another activity of unscrupulous, business-minded men exploiting gullible youths, the motivations for such uprising rest on the skewed nature of the Nigerian society.
For many years, successive administrations have maintained a portentous imbalance and inequitable structure that disfavours meritocracy. They have glossed over the continuous capitulation of the political class in a progressive fashion to a point of disaffection. And by so doing they have fostered a forced unanimity.
With this groundswell of protests, the unity of Nigeria, for want of a suitable metaphor, seems to be held at gunpoint. Perhaps, this agitation points to issues that have not been resolved. It is noteworthy that while these protests persist, a section of the Igbo elite have either only dismissed the agitation in the fashion of President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, or continually recycled the narratives of Nigeria’s skewed political economic structuring. What they should do instead is that, they, with well-meaning Nigerians, should find a midway and a basis for which the nation’s diversity can be respected, and a sense of belonging maintained. Standards have to be respected and established constitutional rights must be protected without making others feel any loss of their identities.
While the unity of Nigeria should be discussed, the agitators must be strongly cautioned to channel their grievances without perpetrating acts that could be interpreted as an attempt to enthrone instability and dismember the country.
Concerning the substance of the agitation, the veracity of a unified Biafran agenda is already being called to question by the absence of a clear-cut philosophy or any articulated strategy of effective social mobilisation; the result of which is the emergence of various factions in the Biafra cause. Following allegations of sabotage, intimidation, pecuniary conflicts, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is said to have broken into Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), led by one Benjamin Onwuka, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu, and the United Eastern Congress led by Sam Ike, all of which work at cross-purposes.
The disorganised manner of this agitation, the indecorous, offensive, and irreverent verbiage coming from their spokespersons make a mockery of any claim they may lay to a legitimate cause. It should be borne in mind also that every part of the country has one thing or another to agitate for. If every aggrieved company were to carry on the way these aspiring Biafrans are going, the chaos the nation would face can only be imagined. This is a bad signal to the dissatisfied others. It is for this reason the secessionist tendencies of the leader of MASSOB, Ralph Uwazuruike, who is set to present an alleged 2016 budget “to actualise Biafra and liberate the people of former Eastern region,” is condemnable.
Those in the streets, whose only political education comes from misguided verbiage of clannish role models, should be cautious not to become cannon fodders for mischief-making. Whilst it is part of democracy that people should air their views, however jaundiced, they should, all the same, not translate grievances into violence and bloodshed.
Just as it is true for the agitating pro-Biafra demonstrators, the army should not be provoked into violence-inciting utterances as the response of the Deputy-Director, Army Public Realtions, 82 Division, Enugu, Col. Hamza Gambo, portrayed the other day. It is not the business of the army to tell Nigerians what to say or what not to say in a democracy. The role of advising the presidency on when to use force in its reaction to the Biafran protests rests on the National Assembly.
Notwithstanding, it is simplistic to view the agitation for Biafra as an event orchestrated by disgruntled elements reliving a frightful reverie from the Civil War, or some business experiment. Although it may seem like exuberant Igbo youths excitedly seeking avenues to vent, the deeper import of the Biafra agitation transcends its narrow-minded Igbo agenda. It is as one commentator suggested, a living philosophy of justice that appears wherever and whenever oppression, impunity, injustice and structural violence rear their heads. What is going on is symbolic of the discontent experienced by many ethno-political interests for whom the Nigeria question remains unanswered. Nigeria tends to be living a lie. It wants to be a prosperous and politically stable country, yet it is holding down this potential for prosperity and stability by maintaining a supercilious unitary government, whilst paying lip service to federalism.
In the event, any government carrying on this way should not feel that all is well with the national political configuration. For too long, successive governments have undermined the essential differences in the various interests of the Nigerian people; and so unresolved matters about the aspirations of Nigeria’s heterogeneous interests have become an ongoing concern. To assume that these do not exist, or to gloss over them even when we are aware of them, is to play the ostrich.
So, rather than shout down at agitators and wish them away with a wave of the hand, this government should find answers to the thorny issues that created this monstrosity in the first place. Fortunately, the answers to many of these problems are contained in the report of the National Conference. It was with patient expectation of good fortunes that Nigerians committed themselves to the National Conference convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan. True to Nigerians’ expectations, the report of the Conference made recommendations that should augur well for this country’s future.
The Muhammadu Buhari government should look into the report if it is to make any headway in addressing the renewed agitations across the nation. Nigerians must press for the implementation of the National Conference Report as an answer to the renewed agitation for Biafra.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cash-Strapped U Of R Students 'Abandoned' By Nigerian Scholarship Program

Nigerian Students Fear Lack Of Funding Will Lead To Deportation

Wisdom Eji, a University of Regina student who's on a scholarship from a Rivers State government agency in Nigeria, says he feels 'abandoned' by the program that brought him to study in Canada. (Geoff Leo)

Wisdom Eji says he and his fellow Nigerians, here on scholarships for underprivileged students, have been left to fend for themselves after the government-funded program that brought them to Canada has failed to pay.

"We have been abandoned," said Eji, a University of Regina (U of R) engineering student. "We live right now like we don't have sponsors."

Across Canada, 246 Nigerian students, in 14 universities were promised their tuition and living expenses would be covered during their four-year degree program.

However, they haven't received their living allowance for the past 11 months and their tuition is millions of dollars in arrears.

"You just wish you didn't even have the scholarship in the first place," Eji said. "Like things get bad — I just wish I didn't even come here. I just wish I was at home."

Eji is one of 40-50 students enrolled at the U of R under a scholarship paid for by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA); an organization owned and funded by the Rivers State government in Nigeria.

The organization sponsors hundreds of poor but academically gifted students to study at universities in 14 countries, including Canada.

The students were promised tuition and a living allowance of $1,100 a month to cover their rent, food and other expenses.

"Before we left Nigeria they are like, 'Don't even work,'" Eji recalled. "''We'll give you everything you need.'"

The RSSDA owes Canadian students about $3 million in living allowance, forcing many like Eji to find jobs. He is working part-time while continuing his full-time studies.

He said he's behind on his rent and other bills, is often hungry, stressed and sleepless. He said as a result his marks have dropped 15-20 percentage points.

In addition to what it owes in living allowances, the RSSDA admits it also owes $2.5 million in tuition to 14 Canadian universities. More than half of that, $1.3 million, is owed to the U of R for the 2014/15 academic year, during which 124 RSSDA sponsored students studied at the institution.

Vanessa Ikeogu, an RSSDA student who's studying criminology at the U of R, said she's angered by the behaviour of her government and sponsoring agency.

"Ignorant, reluctant, irresponsible government officials," Ikeogu said. "I just feel like I have been lied to."

However, the acting executive director of the RSSDA, Godwin Poi, said the government-owned agency will keep its promises.

"It is absolutely correct to do so. It's a government, and we can't afford government obligations and responsibilities to fail," Poi told CBC's iTeam.

Nigeria has fallen on hard financial times because of the collapse of the price of oil, he said, pleading for patience.

"It is tragic and sad that we're in the situation we are in. To the best of my knowledge all the governments have done their best to fund the situation for them," Poi said. "We have gone through a very very serious phase of funding for the country and the state."

The U of R has admitted more Nigerian students through this program than any other university in Canada. At its peak, during the 2012/13 academic year, there were 155 RSSDA sponsored students at the U of R.

The director of executive reporting services at the U of R, Lamont Stradeski, says the university's relationship with the RSSDA dates back to 2008. And he fully expects the university will be paid.

"I guess the recourse the university has is we can stop students from registering further.," he said. "However, we wouldn't do that unless we had serious concerns that we would not receive payment, which at this point we don't."

The RSSDA owes more than $250,000 to the University of Manitoba (U of M) and that institution appears to be taking a harder line.

Gift Ahmadi is sponsored by the agency to pursue a political science degree at the U of M, but his tuition bill is past due, and the university is asking him to pay.

"The school is saying you have just about 30 days left to pay what's left for this term," Ahmadi said. "If not I won't be able to register for the winter term."

He said the lack of scholarship funding has been "very devastating."

"Right now I'm taking classes and I'm thinking of feeding. I haven't eaten since morning and I'm in class," Ahmadi told CBC's iTeam, when reached in the evening at the U of M.

The associate VP of Outreach and Engagement at the U of M, Leah Janzen, said she's sympathetic.

"I know some of them have accessed our student food bank," Janzen explained. "It's a very difficult situation."

She said the university is working with the students to develop payment plans and find other funding.

Some RSSDA students have paid their own tuition, borrowing money from friends, family or churches. But for others, time is clearly running out.

For about a dozen students, tuition hasn't been paid for the summer or fall term, putting their stay at the university in jeopardy.

​"Our policy is you can't go into a third term having not been able to pay for the previous two terms in their entirety," Janzen said. "So we don't want to get to that position with these students."

If an international student on a visa is no longer registered at an educational institution, they aren't able to stay in Canada, according to immigration rules.

Recently, 19 RSSDA-sponsored students had to flee the U.K. in order to avoid deportation from that country because their tuition had not been paid by the agency.

Many students in Canada worry they may end up in the same situation.

"Terrified — because you don't know if you're the next," Eji said. "I can't get that money, so if I don't have that money the only option is going back to Nigeria."

Ahmadi says ongoing political instability in Nigeria has made it easy for politicians there to ignore this problem, so he and the other students have decided to take action.

They've formed a committee to mobilize friends, family and the media to pressure the Nigerian government.

He said students are worried they may face retaliation by speaking out about this issue, but added his political science studies have taught him that sometimes it's necessary to take calculated risks.

"It may not be convenient, it may not be comfortable for you, but someone has got to stand to say 'OK, this is the right thing and we can do it if we stand for what is right and we speak up about it.'"

He said it's ironic that his government sent him to Canada on a scholarship to study political science, the knowledge he's now using to pressure that same government to keep its word.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Facebook Activates Safety Feature After Nigeria Bombing

© Provided by AFP Facebook has activated its "Safety Check" feature for the first time in Nigeria, after a bombing likely carried out by Boko Haram killed more than 30


Facebook has activated its "Safety Check" feature for the first time in Nigeria, after a bombing likely carried out by Boko Haram killed more than 30 late on Tuesday.
"We've activated Safety Check again after the bombing in Nigeria this evening," co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the site.
The social network had come under criticism from those caught up in last Thursday's blasts in Beirut that they were not offered the service but those in Friday's Paris attacks were.
The tool allows users to check whether friends are safe after attacks or natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Zuckerberg said at the weekend the feature would be used more widely in the future.
Tuesday night's bombing at a crowded lorry park in Yola, northeast Nigeria, was the first attack this month and left at least 32 dead and some 80 others injured.
The explosion bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram Islamists, who have repeatedly hit civilian "soft targets" in their six-year insurgency.
At least 17,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million made homeless by the violence in that period, with suicide and bomb attacks an almost daily occurrence in the northeast.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Republicans On Paris: What Happened To US Shock And Awe?

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks in Orlando, Fla. Republicans are using the latest attacks in Paris to appeal to U.S. voters jittery about terrorism. Several Republicans, including presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and former candidate Mitt Romney, appeared on the television networks Monday to decry President Barack Obama's policies as half-hearted and to suggest that a U.S. ground war against the Islamic State may be inevitable.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Monday tried to appeal to U.S. voters jittery about terrorism by decrying President Barack Obama's policies as half-hearted and suggesting that a U.S. ground war against the Islamic State may be inevitable.

The tough-talk is a political gamble. Obama was elected by war-weary voters in 2008 after promising to end the U.S. presence in Iraq. But U.S. sentiment can be fickle and the GOP's message might appeal to many Americans much as President George Bush's vow of "shock and awe" did following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Returning to the work week for the first time since the Paris attacks, Republicans took to U.S. television networks demanding a new military strategy. "We can't negotiate with this threat," GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush told Fox News. "We should have no empathy for our enemies. We should destroy them."

Added another GOP presidential hopeful, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "I want to fight them in their backyard, so we don't fight them in our backyard." Graham appeared on MSNBC alongside Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said Obama should bring back retired Gen. David Petraeus to lead the fight against the Islamic State.

"Frankly I'm not overwhelmed with 20 airstrikes by the French," he said. "I think it's wonderful but ... more of the same is not going to stop this virus and this disease, which will lead to a threat in the united States' national security."

Mitt Romney, Obama's presidential rival in 2012, said another Democratic president would be dangerous. "There's no question Hillary Clinton has a lot of experience, it's just bad experience.... She's just been wrong time and time again," he told MSNBC.

Romney said he has no intention of running for president in 2016 and declined to endorse any one GOP candidate.