Press zooms in on video confirming death of Boko Haram leader, others

The confirmation by the Boko Haram jihadist group of the death of its leader Abubakar Shekau and the move by…

The confirmation by the Boko Haram jihadist group of the death of its leader Abubakar Shekau and the move by the Nigerian government to regulate the social media are some of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Guardian reports that Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist group has confirmed the death of its chief Abubakar Shekau, who sources say died during infighting with a rival Islamic State-allied faction, according to a video message from its presumed new commander.

In the short video in Arabic, top Boko Haram commander Bakura Modu, also known as Sahaba, urged his faction’s commanders to remain loyal despite the loss of their historic commander.

Shekau’s death was seen a major shift in Nigeria’s conflict, though Islamic State in West Africa Province or ISWAP has recently emerged as the dominant force in the more than decade-long Islamist insurgency in the country’s northeast.

The video, provided to AFP by a source close to Boko Haram and confirmed to be Bakura Modu by another local source, illustrates that jihadist infighting is far from over in Africa’s most populous nation.

Shekau, who gained notoriety after kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014, killed himself last month rather than surrender after IS-allied rivals attacked his base camp in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state, security sources said.

In an audio, ISWAP commander Abu Musab Al-Barnawi had already claimed Shekau killed himself while on the run from ISWAP fighters.

The newspaper says that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has restated the need for the country to regulate the social media.

He disclosed this at the House of Representatives during a public hearing organised by the Mr. Odebunmi Dokun-led committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, saying it would be in the best interest of the citizenry to monitor social media contents.

The minister, who spoke against the backdrop of the controversy trailing the ban on the use of Twitter in the country enjoined the lawmakers to grant full regulatory powers to government over Internet broadcasting and all online media outfits.

He asserted that the country’s laws must not be subservient to international telecommunication union treaties in view of the need to protect peculiar situations in our country.

He also faulted moves to compel the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to pay all the money accruing to it into the federation account in accordance with Section 162 of the constitution.

The minister said: “We have a problem with this because it is not in line with the thinking of the executive. Very soon, the NBC will exit the number of parastatals whose salaries are paid by the federal government. In other words, the NBC would need to be paying its own salaries, paying for its overheads and operations.”

The Vanguard reports that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has announced that Nigeria is to receive 3.92 million additional doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX, by the end of July 2021.

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made the announcement at a press briefing on Tuesday, in Abuja.

It recalled that Nigeria received its first consignment of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility, COVAX, on March 2, 2021.

COVAX, an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low and middle-income countries.

The facility promises access to vaccines for up to 20 percent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year, to immunise three per cent of their populations.

“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca by the end of July or early August, 2021,” he said.

The Punch says that Nigeria’s external reserves fell by $1.4bn in two months, the latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Wednesday.

The reserves, which stood at $35.25bn as of April 16, fell to $34.23bn as of May 31 and $33.85bn as of June 15. Speaking on the decline in external reserves at the recent Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said,

“This reflects sales to the foreign exchange market and third-party payments.” In March, the reserves lost $178m after dropping from $34.99bn as of March 1 to $34.82bn as of March 31. In February, the reserves dropped by $1.1bn, falling from $36.19bn as of February 1 to $35.09bn on February 26.

The CBN, in its January economic report, said, “As a consequence of the lower foreign exchange receipts, the official external reserves declined. “External reserves stood at $35.44bn at the end-January 2021, a decrease of 2.8 percent and 3.5 percent from $36.46bn in December 2020 and $36.73bn in January 2020.”

Meanwhile, the naira fell to 500 against the dollar at the parallel market on Wednesday from 495 last week.

The newspaper reports that the Federal Government has borrowed a total of N1.3tn since 2017 to ensure that generation companies and gas suppliers received enough payments to continue generating electricity, the World Bank has said.

The bank said this in its ‘Resilience through Reforms’ report. According to the report, the power sector in Nigeria will cost the Federal Government an additional N3.08tn through 2023, if current performance levels and low tariffs persist.

The report said, “To ensure that Gencos and gas suppliers receive enough payments to continue generating electricity, since 2017 the FGN has borrowed a total of N1.3tn ($4.2bn).

“In 2019 total FGN support reached N524bn ($1.7bn), 0.4 per cent of GDP – higher than the N428bn budget for health and just 20 per cent less than the N650bn budgeted for education.”

Even though all the six generation companies, and eleven distribution companies have been privatised, the Federal Government through the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company buys electricity from the GENCOs and independent power producers before reselling to the Discos, the bank said.

ThisDay reports that weighing the economic implications of the suspension of Twitter’s operations in Nigeria by the federal government, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), has called on government to rescind its decision over the suspension in order to restore investors’ confidence and guarantee economic stability.

NCS gave the advice in a communique it released recently after a meeting in Lagos. The federal government had penultimate week, suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria for deleting the tweet of President Muhammadu Buhari, which he sent to address the agitators of South-east extraction.

But the NCS in a communique stated: “We appeal to the federal government to lift the suspension forthwith. This will restore investors’ confidence and business growth and guarantee economic stability.

The 70 percent youth population of this country will once again have confidence in the digital economic policy being canvassed by the present administration.

“This will also guarantee their freedom of expressions as contained in the constitution. After all, 2016 United Nations resolution affirms that the rights that citizens have offline must apply online. Coincidentally, this resolution was co-sponsored by Nigeria with others.

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