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Eurasia Group: Buhari to win by 60%

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Going by the February 7 report of New York-based global research and political risk solutions firm Eurasia Group, President Muhammadu Buhari will win Saturday’s election by 60 percent.

The group, which undertakes investment partnerships, consultancy, and risk advisory responsibilities in about 100 countries, said the odds against Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have positioned the incumbent to retain his seat.

It identified the odds as the divided support being enjoyed by the former vice president from key elements in the rival party.

Such elements, according to the Eurasia Group, would rather exert their energies and resources on the battle to retain their seats in their various constituencies.

The group listed such actors as the governors in the PDP-controlled states and the Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Bukola Saraki, who is battling to retain his seat in the upper chamber as the representative of the Kwara Central Senatorial Zone.

The report said: “As we have previously noted, key actors in Atiku’s camp – including his campaign’s Director -General Bukola Saraki, key powerbroker Governor Nyesom Wike of the oil-rich Rivers State, and Southeast governors from his PDP – had been disengaged from his election campaign.

“Wike was annoyed by Atiku’s failure to consult him on key decisions, Saraki remains distracted by a tough Senate reelection battle in Kwara State, and the Southeast governors are hampered by many conflicting motivations, including their own lack of political clout (which makes them reluctant to overtly challenge the federal government) and their wariness of Atiku’s running mate Peter Obi, a former governor of the southeastern Anambra State who they view as a political outsider.

“The lack of enthusiasm on the part of some PDP governors is a problem for Atiku because these officials control significant discretionary funds at the state level (known as “security votes”) that are easier to access without triggering graft concerns.

“They can also leverage strong relationships with security, judicial, and election officers in their respective states. Governors are thus critical to mobilizing voter turnout on Election Day.

“With 23 in office compared to the PDP’s 12, the APC already has an edge; unmotivated PDP governors will only reinforce that advantage by making it harder for the opposition to mobilize and sustain voter support on Election Day.”

Two APC governors, Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Benue State counterpart Samuel Ortom, defected to the PDP last year. But the governors are battling to win their states for their new parties.

On the edge the incumbent has over Atiku, the Eurasia Group said President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) has a widespread political structure to boost voter mobilization and solidify Buhari’s advantage.

The group noted that the heightened anxiety triggered by the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Buhari was not enough to turn the table against the incumbent.
CJN Onnoghen was suspended by the President on January 25 following allegations on false declaration of assets against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The CCB has since charged the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Justice Onnoghen is expected to submit his response to the charges against him to the National Judicial Council (NJC) today.

The group ruled out the possibility of protests against Buhari’s victory.

It said: “These trends support our view that widespread violence is unlikely following the 16 February vote. We have repeatedly argued that Atiku’s voters do not match Buhari’s in passion and are unlikely to risk their lives on the streets for him.

“Though Buhari’s decision to suspend the Chief Justice triggered widespread criticism and stoked passions (along with fears about a more Buhari second term), many voters blame the judiciary for not moving quickly to force CJN Onnoghen’s resignation after he admitted he had violated rules regarding declaration of assets.

Thus should Atiku lose, as we expect, there will be few motivated stakeholders to encourage or instigate serious violence. Instead, we expect PDP governors to quickly turn their attention to fighting to retain their own jobs in the state elections on March 2.”

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Most marriages in Nigeria are illegal – Minister

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Most marriages conducted in religious houses in Nigeria could be deemed illegal as the Federal Government has disclosed that most worship centres conducting marriages in the country lack the license to do so under the statutory Marriage Act.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Barr. Georgina E. Ehuriah stated this Wednesday in Abuja while speaking at a one-day stakeholders’ conference on conduct of statutory marriages in accordance with the Marriage Act cap, M6, LFN 2004 as amended.

“At present, only about 4, 689 licensed places of worship in Nigeria have updated their records with the Ministry of Interior, of which only 314 have renewed their licenses.

“The implication of this is that marriages conducted in unlicensed places of worship are not in line with the Marriage Act and cannot serve legal purposes when the need arises, and such unlicensed places of worship are operating contrary to Section 6(1) of the Marriage Act,” she said.

According to her, the decision to organize the stakeholders’ conference was necessitated by the ministry’s experience in the discharge of its duties “which pointed to the fact that there are extant issues which require the joint attention of key stakeholders”.

She added that while the ministry was already building a database of all statutory marriages conducted in Nigeria, it had also developed a database of all places of worship licensed for celebration of marriages, urging stakeholders to take advantage of the Conference to discuss the major challenges they face in complying with the provisions of the Act.

The Permanent Secretary said she had already put in place machinery to kick start the process for the amendment of the Marriage Act to adequately meet the needs of citizens in the 21st century. “Also, arrangements are on-going to give couples whose certificates were not issued in line with the Act the opportunity to bring them to conformity”.

Earlier, Director, Citizenship and Business in the ministry, Mr. Stephen Okon had said the conference was scheduled to hold in three major cities across the geo-political zones, adding that it would provide an avenue to educate the public and create awareness on the key requirements of the Marriage Act while also drawing the attention of stakeholders and the general public to the consequences of non-compliance with the Marriage Act.

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Vatican contemplating married men as priests

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The Vatican has formally opened debate on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics can go weeks or months without attending a Mass.

Pope Francis

The call for study on the proposal was contained in the working document, released on Monday, for an October meeting of South American bishops on the Amazon.

The document, prepared by the Vatican based on input from the region, affirmed that celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church.

But it suggested officials study “the possibility of priestly ordination for older men, preferably indigenous and respected and accepted by their communities, even if they have stable families, for the region’s most remote areas”.

The idea of ordaining so-called “viri probati” – married men of proven virtue – has been around for decades to cope with a priest shortage and decline in vocations overall.

But it has drawn fresh attention under Pope Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, thanks to his familiarity with the challenges facing the Amazon church.

The October 6-27 meeting on the sacramental and environmental needs of the Amazon will draw bishops from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Brazil’s bishops have long pushed for the Church to consider ordaining viri probati to minister in remote parts of the Amazon where by some estimates there is one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.

The celibacy question has been a mainstay in Catholic debate given it is a discipline, not a doctrine, and therefore can change.

The Church has had the tradition since the 11th century, imposed in part to spare the Church the financial burdens of providing for large families and to ensure that any assets of the priest would pass to the Church, not his heirs.

Proponents of a relaxation of the rule say more men would consider a vocation to the priesthood if they could marry, a surefire fix to the decline in priests globally.

Opponents say relaxing the rule for the Amazon will certainly fuel calls for it to be relaxed elsewhere.

Already, married men can be ordained in the Eastern rite Catholic Church and married men who convert from Protestant churches can be Catholic priests.

In addition to ordaining married men, the document called for the synod to identify “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women”.

It said women, who already play important roles in indigenous communities, must be guaranteed leadership roles.

But it stopped short of recommending debate on whether women could be ordained as deacons.

One of the organisers, Monsignor Fabio Fabene, said the female diaconate was essentially off the table since Francis has recently determined that the issue needs further discussion.

Overall, the synod bishops are expected to debate a host of measures to better minister to indigenous and migrant communities in the Amazon amid deforestation and exploitative industries and competition for souls from Pentecostal churches, which are more present in the region with indigenous, local leaders.

The Vatican’s working document acknowledged this competition, saying the Catholic Church must transition from being a church that merely visits vast regions to one that has a full-time presence with ministries, liturgies, sacraments and social services.

It called for a Church that has a more indigenous face, with local songs, dance, costumes and the Bible translated into various languages.

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Nigerians celebrate 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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As the world marks the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday, the Coalition for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has called on governments to address the welfare of older persons.

The group is asking for improved healthcare, social security and prompt payment of pensions and stipends for older persons in the country.

The coalition noted that the senior citizens have contributed to national progress in their prime and consequently deserve attention now that they are less active.

Sen. Eze Ajoku, former senator representing Imo East, who is the President of COSROPIN, made the appeal at an event to mark the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Abuja.

The event had its motto as: “Lifting up your voices’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

It represents the one-day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.

Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.

The theme for 2019 Elder Abuse Awareness Day is: “Access to Justice: Legal, Social and Economic Services for Older Victims of Sexual, Physical and Financial Crimes”.

Ajoku said: “Government has done very little to ameliorate the plight of older persons either through policies or legislation.

“We are asking the Federal Government, among other things, to fast track the Social Security Act which is a poverty safety net for older persons in order to reduce their sufferings.’’

He said the healthcare system at the rural levels should be improved upon for the benefit of this set of people.

Ajoku also said that government at all levels must facilitate the payment of pensions and stipends to older persons as well as create day care facilities for them.

According to him, there is no national policy on ageing that is why COSROPIN has come up with a draft bill which will be forwarded to the ninth National Assembly with strong hope of passage.

“Elderly people suffer several societal ills ranging from neglect to verbal, physical, emotional, material and financial abuses.

“Older Nigerians are vital as contributing members of the society, hence their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us.’’

He noted that the Elder Abuse Awareness Day should remind every Nigerian that each one has a role to play by focusing attention on “elder justice’’.

He said with this year’s motto of “Lifting Up Your Voices,’’ COSROPIN wants all Nigerians to say no to elder abuse.

Ajoku added that in a society where cultural values of respect for elders are firmly rooted, it is disheartening that older persons are still treated with disdain.

He also advocated for improved public sensitisation on the role of Nigerians towards “senior citizens’’.

The president of COSROPIN charged religious leaders to use their platforms to orientate their members on according right treatments to older persons.

The UN said millions of seniors have been falling victim to some form of elder abuse, neglect or monetary manipulation around the world.

Around one in six older people experience some form of abuse, a figure higher than previously estimated and predicted to rise as populations age worldwide, the noted.

Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, it emphasised.

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#DidYouKnow Nigerians are the smartest people to walk the earth?

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Nigerians are smart, adaptation to hardship coupled with the intense ‘survival of the fittest’ situation we face due to a peculiarly high population density made us smart. We are undoubtedly the smartest people in the world.

Well, smartness is a mental state, a response to environmental conditions. Basically, smartness is an adaptation for tolerance, the capacity to endure continued subjection to the uniquely challenging Nigerian state made us who we are, smart! Adaptation definitely still occurs in humans, and at a different rate proportional to environmental factors.

In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a phenotypic or adaptive trait, with a functional role in each individual organism, that is maintained and has evolved through natural selection.

Generally, organisms face a succession of environmental challenges as they grow, and show adaptive plasticity as traits develop in response to the imposed conditions. Therefore, if this index does not exist already, I would state that the Gross Adaptive Plasticity (GAP) of a Nation is a measure of the smartness of a Nation: that’s what we are talking about here.

Consequently, this index is a direct reflection of the degree of enhanced evolutionary fitness, and it seems imperative that this factor correlates to population growth. The evidence of this can be attributed to the ever-increasing population of people in Nations with smart people.

It is projected that Nigeria will surpass the US population sometime around 2050 to hit 500m despite the prevailing circumstances. Yes, of course, the next generation of Nigerians would need to find ways to support this growth, by finding value in population growth. Certainly the smart once would thrive in the midst of this and even become smarter at surviving.

Thus all the peculiarities and unique challenges as Nigerians have allowed us to develop tolerance and resilience to varying environments across the world. The agility and swiftness towards this success facilitating adaptation is what we basically regard as smartness. Undoubtedly far more Nigerians tend to be on top of this than any other Nationality today.

Ultimately, smartness is a strength, and “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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