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Opinion: A Nation In Search Of Hope- Reuben Abati

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By Reuben Abati

“Where have you been, you this guy?”

“Omo, I no go deceive you. I just meet this girl wey dey turn my head. Shey you know, I no go deceive you. You don’t need to die to discover Heaven. Heaven is right here on earth, except you have not been lucky to discover it. This my new babe hen, I am convinced that she descended from Heaven at a special moment of the Lord’s intervention”

“I hope nobody has given you vegetable to eat. You sound like you are under a spell. I asked you where you have been and all you are telling me is how you met a girl as if you are in a trance. Well, I must assume you are talking about your wife”

“Which wife? That one? You don’t get it.”

“Ï don’t. Whatever has come over you, I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus will leave you. Because I don’t know why men will see danger and embrace it with their full chest.”

“Leave matter. Don’t Pastors also see women they love and desire, and they keep their Bible aside and obey the call of flesh, the evidence of their eyes and submit themselves to their own humanity and nature? Leave matter.”

“So, when are you going to introduce me to this your new woman that you are so ecstatic about? What is her name? When do I get to meet her?”

“Whenever you want to meet her. Almost a virgin. Fresh. Innocent. Her name is Chidinma.”

“Yeh! Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus!”

“Are you alright?”

“What did you say her name is, just now?”

“Chidinma”

“Oh Jesus!  Ore, why are you doing this to yourself? You wan die? One Chidinma has just been paraded by the police in Lagos in a homicide case. She has been accused of killing one of your type, a successful young man with a great future, an entrepreneur with skills and talent, who gave access to a young woman, and ended up dying through her. Such a tragic story, such a sad event, it should make every man run away from any woman that bears the name Chidinma”

“Are you okay? Are you listening to yourself? You run the risk of group defamation. Every Chidinma in Nigeria should sue you, individually and collectively.”

“Na you sabi. I beg. Ï am speaking for myself. Since that tragedy was reported, I have been thinking of the pains of Michael Usifo Ataga’s family. He was someone’s son, cousin, brother, husband and a father too. He had a whole world ahead of him. It was even a day to his birthday. His family was looking forward to celebrating him at 50. And then the devil showed up in the shape of Delilah, Cleopatra and Helen of Troy, and destroyed him. I feel the pain in my bone marrows. These days, when I hear the name Chidinma or Adaora, I break out in sweat.”

“You see, this is the problem with you people. You like conspiracy theories. So, because one Chidinma committed a crime, every Chidinma has now become a villain. For your information, Chidinma means “My God is beautiful”. And Adaora means “the daughter of all,” that is the people’s daughter. What is in a name?  When a crime is committed, it is for the police to do their work, and ensure justice. The case you are talking about has nothing to do with the name of the suspect. Candidly, I no longer understand how people reason in this country. Is it the poverty? Or the bad politics?”

“After what happened last week, if I hear Chidinma or Adaora, na race be that oh. A girl of 21 years, going out with a man of 50, and yet she killed him in such a gruesome manner. The whole story does not even make sense to me. It does not add up. It is a story about poverty, greed, peer influence, drug abuse, parental upbringing, infidelity, and frustration.  Yes, every man should be careful and avoid an amoral life, but that is no reason why the Chidinma, undergraduate of the University of Lagos should kill, drug, tie up and destroy.”

 “What if you hear Mary? You go run?”

“That is my mother’s name. Don’t bring my mother’s name into this matter.”

“You see yourself then? Are you aware that the alleged murderer had a fake identity with the name: Mary Johnson.? Will you now start running away from every Mary? What has happened is not funny? Nigerians should stop misbehaving, creating all kinds of theories and misinforming people. In case you don’t know, the Ataga family has issued a statement, appealing to the public to stop turning a family tragedy into a material for malice and mischief. I think their feelings should be respected. The police should be allowed to do their work. All self-appointed detectives should be told: Enough! And that should be enough”

“Since you know all of that, then people like you should learn your lesson. Stay with your wife. If you must have a girlfriend, then Know Your Customer. It is called KYC. Stay away from girls from problematic backgrounds. Don’t get carried away by young girls with so-called innocent looks. Mata Hari had innocent looks but she was evil. Every femme fatale is a vamp. Delilah. Helen of Troy. Cleopatra. And above all, don’t play around with drugs.”

“Thank you, preacher. Let he who is innocent cast the first stone.”

“Very sad the way tragedy occurs in this country unabated. It can get to somebody, you know, and it is beginning to get to me. I was reading the newspapers the other day, just going through an accumulated pile. I was depressed. If Chidinma is not murdering Michael, Maryam is killing Abubakar, Funke kills Femi, one husband kills his wife because of N2, 000, one fellow accuses his mother of being a witch and decides to kill her,  a jealous step-mother throws her step son into a well, someone abducts another man’s wife and rapes her for five months, herdsmen kill farmers, farmers kill cows and herders and their kinsmen, a group of avengers claim they will ensure the permanent recession of Nigeria and humiliate the government, some other groups want to secede.. Is there hope? Tell me, where does our hope lie, those of us who fought for this democracy? Can someone help me make sense of this unending deluge of sad news?”

“Oh come on, there is hope. This is the way it has always been with Nigeria since independence. Things go wrong. But just when you think the country will collapse, it suddenly bounces back. What we need is Love. Unity. Understanding. The problem is that too many of our people are quick to imagine the worst. But I can tell you, Nigeria will survive.”

“But some prophets have said the country will break up. I know one or two Pastors who insist that Nigeria has come to an end.”

“You must stop listening to those spellbinders, futurologists and shamanists. Most of them do not know what they do.”

“It is the word of God. Can’t you see the signs?”

“What signs?”

“Are you not aware that a group of Southern and Middle Belt leaders have approached the African Union, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF that they must no longer do business with Nigeria, and must never give the country any loans, because the sovereignty of the country is now being disputed?”

“Don’t worry yourself. Nothing will come out of it. I can assure you that all of those institutions you have mentioned will continue to do business with Nigeria and even grant more loans.”

“But what of the restive youths of the Niger Delta who are threatening to humiliate the entire country? There is Operation Humble by the Niger Delta Avengers which is even led by a woman, former Field Commander of Operation Red of 2016 now Brigadier General Tu-ere, also known as Queen of the Creeks. A woman! There is also the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, leading Operation No Mercy Alpha Piper Zero Oil. We also have the Niger Delta Liberators. They all want to cripple Nigeria.”

“No worry yourself. Na today?”

“There are separatist groups everywhere. In the East. In the West. In the South South.”

 “Na so e dey be any time a major election is around the corner. Everything na hustle. Nobody dey go anywhere. Is it not this same Nigeria all of us dey inside?”

“Ï think it is different this time around. People are genuinely aggrieved and upset. Nigeria is at a breaking point. You make everything sound so light.”

“Too much grammar. That is our problem. And I keep saying do not focus on the moment, do a trend analysis of Nigerian politics over the years.  When people need something, they will make noise, agitate, threaten to pull down the roof but when you speak to them in the language they understand, they will calm down and Nigeria will move on”

“Of course. That is exactly how Nigerian leaders keep postponing the evil day until one day, monkey will go market he no go return. This is the root cause of the civil war, the June 12 crisis, the menace of military autocracy, the #EndSARS protests, the thinking that some people can seize the reins of power and treat the people shabbily, refuse to listen to them and simply assume that nothing will happen. But I think we are dealing with a new Nigeria. There is a new generation that has emerged that can no longer be taken for granted the way their parents were. They are fighting back in all ways, from rented slaughter beds, short-time joints, to the streets.”

“That is what you think.”

“That is what I know. The dynamics have changed. This new generation is on drugs, they are high on all kinds of substances, they don’t care, they are not afraid of any authority figures. On top of it all, they are educated and outspoken, and they have access to technological means of instant communication. My advice is that the political elite should stop daring them. They will kill and maim, and look innocent. Nigeria has created demons, waiting to strike.”

“Can I make some predictions?”

“Ï thought you just condemned prophets and pastors a while ago”

“Yes, I did. But I want to speak as a pragmatist. Stop giving yourself hypertension. Nigeria is this. Nigeria is that. For example, have you not seen the desperation with which politicians have been fighting over party primaries in all the major political parties in Anambra State? The desperation. The theatre. PDP. APC. APGA. Does that give you the impression that everyone has given up on this country? No. All the gladiators have followership. They are all convinced that there is still something of value in this country. After their crisis-ridden political primaries, they have all rushed to Abuja to take instructions from the centre.”

“The Igbo political elite do not represent their people”

“Who told you that? So do the Yoruba or Fulani political elite represent their people?”

“Ï don’t know”

“My friend, wake up. Stop getting sick over Nigeria’s problems. Spread love. Get yourself one young girl who can make you happy, and drive away your sorrows.”

“God forbid. I choose to be on the level.”

“Everything God. God. Have you forgotten that everything good and ugly, the Lord makes them? It is the way of the universe. It is the way the Grand Architect has made it all.”

“No. I am okay. And you have not answered my original question before you went off on a tangent about how Nigeria is in a safe and secure place and how the obvious signs of implosion mean nothing to you”

“What was your question again?”

“Is there something to hope for? I no longer feel safe in this country. I can just pack my bags now, take my children and relocate to Canada with all my frustrations! Arrrgh!”

“And I told you to stop panicking”

“When even a nationalist and stateman like Baba Olusegun Obasanjo is panicking. He says population explosion is a ticking time bomb in Nigeria. By the year 2050, Nigeria could be the third most populated country in the world. A time could come when Nigeria could be the country with the largest population. Imagine the crisis that will occur. There will be an explosion of poverty, criminals, separatists, decayed infrastructure and too many useful idiots in high and low places.”

“Are you sure you the former President made that statement?”

“Yes. He was very factual, analytical and on point. Brilliant submission as always.”

“Of course. But I recall once reading a book by the same Baba Obasanjo in which he listed his biological and adopted children. I believe I saw more than 20 names, his direct personal contribution to the Nigerian population, not to add an emergent family tree that includes grandchildren and great grandchildren. Baba is my role model. I will like to be like him, and when we get to that stage, can we then discuss the population of Nigeria?”

“You always like to twist people’s thoughts.”

“Listen to me, don’t let anybody give you headache in this country. Get smart. Niger Delta Avengers claim they will humiliate Nigeria. I hope they have heard that electric cars are now in Nigeria, even at the University of Lagos, and that the same Nigeria has accidentally discovered about 206 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to another 600 billion cubic feet. Accidentally! And the man that disclosed that information is a son of the Niger Delta, Minister of State, Timipre Sylva”

“The gas belongs to the people of the Niger Delta. That is the elephant in the room. The accidental discovery does not change anything.”

“You still don’t get the language. Okay. Okay.”  

“Nothing is okay”

“Okay then”

 

  

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Kwibuka 30: Rwanda Commemorates 30th Anniversary of 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi

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By Dolapo Aina

The 30th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi commenced in Rwanda on April 7, 2024. Sunday, April 7th 2024 was a solemn and quiet day in Rwanda. The day was coupled with intermittent rain showers. This year, Rwanda planned a series of memorial events with the theme ‘Remember-Unite-Renew’. As the commemoration week begins on 7 April 2024, similar ceremonies will take place throughout the globe. The commemoration activities included a flame of remembrance which was lit by the President of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gizosi (one of four memorial sites which the Government of Rwanda had been presented with certificates; confirming that the monuments of the Genocide against The Tutsi have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.) The others are the Genocide Memorials in Nyamata, Bisesero and Murambi. The flame will burn for the next 100 days as Rwanda commemorates the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi.

The commencement of this year’s 30th commemoration was quite different from previous commencements which this writer had witnessed since 2014. The significance of the 30th year of the Genocide Against The Tutsi was not lost on anyone who attended the official events, who partook in one form or the other and those who watched from home or online.

More than twenty current and past Heads of State from across the globe, African Union and European Union leaders, Ambassadors and many more prominent leaders were in Rwanda for the commemoration and in attendance.

A survivor Mrs Marie Louise Ayinkamiye, who gave a testimony of her ordeal as an eleven year old child. Her ordeal was harrowing to have been experienced and harrowing to listen to. The practising Christian, a mother of five was 11 years old in 1994 and as a child who is also 11 years old. When she concluded her story, the auditorium at the arena was silent and you could see teary eyes.

Something about this commemoration was different. At the 30th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against The Tutsi, Genocide survivors recalled the atrocities they experienced with their family members and loved ones. And when you interact with people, they remember everything that occurred during the 100 days like they happened just yesterday.

Some dignitaries were on the podium to speak. President Paul Kagame in his speech stated that Rwanda learnt three key lessons from its experience: “First, only we as Rwandans and Africans can give full value to our lives. After all, we cannot ask others to value African lives more highly than we ourselves do. That is the root of our duty to preserve memory and tell our history as we lived it. Second, never wait for rescue, or ask for permission to do what is right to protect people. That is why some people must be joking when they threaten us with all kinds of things, they don’t know what they are talking about. In any case, that is why Rwanda participates proudly in peacekeeping operations today, and also extends assistance to African brothers and sisters bilaterally when asked. Third, stand firm against the politics of ethnic populism in any form. Genocide is populism in its purified form.”

As stated by Kwibuka’s site: “This year’s historic anniversary is an opportunity for Rwandans and the rest of the world to honour victims, comfort survivors, and reflect on Rwanda’s journey of recovery, reconciliation, and resilience, with national unity at the core of the country’s stability and progress.”

The full excerpts of the speech by President Paul Kagame

Today, our hearts are filled with grief and gratitude in equal measure. We remember our dead, and are also grateful for what Rwanda has become. To the survivors among us, we are in your debt. We asked you to do the impossible by carrying the burden of reconciliation on your shoulders. And you continue to do the impossible for our nation, every single day, and we thank you. As the years pass, the descendants of survivors increasingly struggle with the quiet loneliness of longing for relatives they never met, or never even got the chance to be born. Today, we are thinking of you as well. Our tears flow inward, but we carry on, as a family. Countless Rwandans also resisted the call to genocide. Some paid the ultimate price for that courage, and we honour their memory.

Our journey has been long and tough. Rwanda was completely humbled by the magnitude of our loss, and the lessons we learned are engraved in blood. But the tremendous progress of our country is plain to see, and it is the result of the choices we made together to resurrect our nation.
The foundation of everything is unity. That was the first choice: to believe in the idea of a reunited Rwanda, and live accordingly. The second choice was to reverse the arrow of accountability, which used to point outwards, beyond our borders. Now, we are accountable to each other, above all. Most importantly, we chose to think beyond the horizon of tragedy, and become a people with a future.

Today, we also feel a particular gratitude to all the friends and representatives here with us from around the world. We are deeply honoured by your presence alongside us on this very heavy day. The contributions you have made to Rwanda’s rebirth are enormous, and have helped us to stand where we are now. I want to recognize a few, while also asking for forgiveness for not being able to mention all who deserve it.
For example, Uganda, which carried the burden of Rwanda’s internal problems for so many years, and was even blamed for that. The leadership and the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea helped us in starting to rebuild at that time. In fact, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is here, even served as a young peacekeeper in the immediate aftermath of the Genocide Against The Tutsi. Kenya, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo hosted large numbers of Rwandan refugees, and gave them a home. Tanzania did as well, and also played a unique role at many critical points, including hosting and facilitating the Arusha peace process. And here I must single out the late President Julius Nyerere who embodied the spirit which laid that foundation. The Republic of Congo has been a productive partner in rebuilding, and more. Many of the countries represented here today also sent their sons and daughters to serve as peacekeepers in Rwanda. Those soldiers did not fail Rwanda; it was the international community which failed all of us, whether from contempt or cowardice.

Among those here with us today, I salute the widow and daughter of the late Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, who died a hero as he rescued many Rwandans from death. At the United Nations Security Council in 1994, moral clarity came from Nigeria, the Czech Republic, and even as far away as New Zealand. Their ambassadors had the courage to call the Genocide by its rightful name, and resist political pressure from more powerful countries to hide the truth. Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria and Czech Ambassador Karel Kovanda are here with us today, and we applaud you. Even in countries where government policy was on the wrong side of history, both during the Genocide and even afterwards, there were always individuals who stood out for their honesty and humanity. We shall always be grateful.

We also appreciate the tangible support we have received from partners beyond our Continent over the past thirty years, in Europe, the United States, Asia, and many international organizations and philanthropies. A notable example of solidarity came to us from South Africa, one among many. Indeed, the entire arc of our Continent’s hopes and agonies could be seen in those few months of 1994. As South Africa ended apartheid and elected Nelson Mandela president, in Rwanda the last genocide of the 20th century was being carried out. The new South Africa paid for Cuban doctors to help rebuild our shattered health system, and opened up its universities to Rwandan students, paying only local fees. Among the hundreds of students who benefitted from South Africa’s generosity, some were orphaned survivors; others were the children of perpetrators; and many were neither. Most have gone on to become leaders in our country in different fields. Today, they live a completely new life.

What lessons have really been learned about the nature of Genocide, and the value of life? I want to share a personal story which I usually keep to myself.

My cousin, in fact a sister, Florence, worked for the United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda for more than fifteen years. After the Genocide started, she was trapped in her house near the Camp Kigali army barracks, with her niece, and other children and neighbours, around a dozen people in total. The telephone in Florence’s house still worked, and I called her several times using my satellite phone. Each time we spoke, she was more desperate. But our forces could not reach the area. When the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, General Dallaire, visited me where I was in Mulindi, I asked him to rescue Florence. He said he would try. The last time I talked to her, I asked her if anyone had come. She said no, and started crying. Then she said, “Paul, you should stop trying to save us. We don’t want to live anymore anyway.” And she hung up.

At that time, I had a very strong heart. But it weakened a bit, because I understood what she was trying to tell me. On the morning of May 16th, following a month of torture, they were all killed, except for one niece, who managed to escape, thanks to a good neighbour. It later emerged that a Rwandan working at the UNDP betrayed his Tutsi colleagues to the killers. Witnesses remember him celebrating Florence’s murder the night after the attack. He continued his career with the United Nations for many years, even after evidence implicating him emerged. He is still a free man, now living in France. I asked General Dallaire what had happened. He said that his soldiers encountered a militia roadblock near the house, and so they turned back, just like that.

Meanwhile, he conveyed to me an order from the United States ambassador to protect diplomats and foreign civilians evacuating by road to Burundi from attack by the militias. These two things happened at the same time. I did not need to be instructed to do something that goes without saying. That’s what I was going to do. I do not blame General Dallaire. He is a good man who did the best that could be done in the worst conditions imaginable, and who has consistently borne witness to the truth, despite the personal cost. Nevertheless, in the contrast between the two cases, I took note of the value that is attached to different shades of life.

In 1994, all Tutsi were supposed to be completely exterminated, once and for all, because the killings that had forced me, and hundreds of thousands of others, into exile three decades before, had not been sufficiently thorough. That is why even babies were systematically murdered, so they would not grow up to become fighters. Rwandans will never understand why any country would remain intentionally vague about who was targeted in the Genocide. I don’t understand that. Such ambiguity is, in fact, a form of denial, which is a crime in and of itself, and Rwanda will always challenge it.

When the genocidal forces fled to Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in July 1994, with the support of their external backers, they vowed to reorganize and return to complete the Genocide. They conducted hundreds of cross-border terrorist attacks inside Rwanda over the next five years, targeting not only survivors, but also other Rwandans who had refused to go into exile, claiming thousands more lives. The remnants of those forces are still in eastern Congo today, where they enjoy state support, in full view of the United Nations peacekeepers. Their objectives have not changed, and the only reason this group, today known as FDLR, has not been disbanded, is because their continued existence serves some unspoken interest. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Congolese Tutsi refugees live here in our country in Rwanda, and beyond, completely forgotten, with no programme of action for their safe return.

Have we really learned any lessons? We see too many actors, even some from Africa, getting directly involved as tribal politics is given renewed prominence, and ethnic cleansing is prepared and practiced. What has happened to us? Is this the Africa we want to live in? Is this the kind of world we want? Rwanda’s tragedy is a warning. The process of division and extremism which leads to Genocide can happen anywhere, if left unchecked.

Throughout history, survivors of mass atrocities are always expected to be quiet, to censor themselves, or else be erased and even blamed for their own misfortune. Their testimony is living evidence of complicity, and it unsettles the fictions which comfort the enablers and the bystanders. The more Rwanda takes full responsibility for its own safety and dignity, the more intensely the established truth about the Genocide is questioned and revised. Over time, in the media controlled by the powerful in this world, victims are rebranded as villains, and even this very moment of commemoration is derided as a mere political tactic.

It is not. It never has been. Our reaction to such hypocrisy is pure disgust. We commemorate because those lives mattered to us. Rwandans cannot afford to be indifferent to the root causes of Genocide. We will always pay maximum attention, even if we are alone. But what we are seeking is solidarity and partnership to recognize and confront these threats together, as a global community.

I will tell you another story. One night, in the latter days of the Genocide, I received a surprise visit past midnight from General Dallaire. He brought a written message, of which I still have a copy, from the French general commanding the force that France had just deployed in the western part of our country, Operation Turquoise. The message said that we would pay a heavy price if our forces dared to try to capture the town of Butare, in the southern part of our country. General Dallaire gave me some additional advice, in fact he warned me that the French had attack helicopters, and every kind of heavy weapon you can imagine, and therefore were prepared to use them against us if we did not comply. I asked Dallaire whether French soldiers bleed the same way ours do; whether we have blood in our bodies. Then I thanked him, and told him he should just go and get some rest and sleep, after informing the French that our response would follow.

And it did. I immediately radioed the commander of the forces we had in that area, he is called Fred Ibingira, and told him to get ready to move. And move to fight. We took Butare at dawn. Within weeks, the entire country had been secured, and we began rebuilding. We did not have the kind of arms that were being used to threaten us, but I reminded some people that this is our land, this is our country. Those who bleed will bleed on it. We had lost all fear. Each challenge or indignity just made us stronger. After the Genocide, we faced the puzzle of how to prevent it from recurring. There were three broad lessons we learned as result of our experiences.

First, only we as Rwandans and Africans can give full value to our lives. After all, we cannot ask others to value African lives more highly than we ourselves do. That is the root of our duty to preserve memory and tell our history as we lived it.
Second, never wait for rescue, or ask for permission to do what is right to protect people. That is why some people must be joking when they threaten us with all kinds of things, they don’t know what they are talking about. In any case, that is why Rwanda participates proudly in peacekeeping operations today, and also extends assistance to African brothers and sisters bilaterally when asked.

Third, stand firm against the politics of ethnic populism in any form. Genocide is populism in its purified form. Because the causes are political, the remedies must be as well. For that reason, our politics is not organized on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and it never will be again.
The life of my generation has been a recurring cycle of Genocidal violence in thirty-year intervals, from the early 1960s, to 1994, to the signs we see in our region today in 2024. Only a new generation of young people has the ability to renew and redeem a nation after a Genocide. Our job was to provide the space and the tools for them to break the cycle.

And they have. What gives us hope and confidence are the children we saw in the performance earlier, or the youth who created the tradition of Walk to Remember that will occur later today. Nearly three-quarters of Rwandans today are under age 35. They either have no memory of the Genocide, or were not yet born. Our youth are the guardians of our future and the foundation of our unity, with a mindset that is totally different from the generation before. Today, it is all Rwandans who have conquered fear. Nothing can be worse than what we have already experienced. This is a nation of 14 million people, who are ready to confront any attempt to take us backwards.

The Rwandan story shows how much power human beings have within them. Whatever power you do have, you might as well use it to tell the truth and do what is right. During the Genocide, people were sometimes given the option of paying for a less painful death. There is another story I learned about at the time, which always sticks in my mind, about a woman at a roadblock, in her final moments. She left us a lesson that every African should live by. When asked by the killers how she wanted to die, she looked them in the eye, and spat in their face.

Today, because of the accident of survival, our only choice is what life we want to live. Our people will never and I mean, never be left for dead again. I thank you.

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Adelabu Makes U-turn, Apologises to Nigerians over Deep Freezer Comment

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The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has apologised over his comment criticising Nigerians who usually keep their freezers and air conditioners on when they are not at home.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, Adelabu said the comment was not intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

Last Thursday, the minister of power said Nigerians lacked the culture of power consumption management due to the affordability of electricity supply.

“A lot of people will come back from work, they want to have dinner, or they want to see their colleagues down the road, they switch on the AC for the room to be cooling before they come back,” Adelabu had said.

“Some people will be going to work in the morning, a freezer that you left on for days, they will still leave it on when all the items in the freezer are frozen and five, six, eight hours of their absence will not make it to defreeze, they will still leave it to be consuming power just because we are not paying enough.”

The comment did not go down well with many Nigerians who criticised the minister for his handling of the ministry of power.

Speaking on the comment, Adelabu said the statement was borne out of his passion for a change in the power sector.

He added that the remark was directed at customers in the Band A category, who are expected to enjoy 20 hours of electricity supply in a day.

“It was never intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians in any way. I never said people should switch off their freezers,” Adelabu said.

“It was actually innocent advice with regard to energy consumption management, which we believe will go a long way in reducing people’s energy bills.

“The example of the freezer, it might not have gone down well with the majority of Nigerians. I will say sorry about that. It was never my intention to insult anybody.

“It was out of my passion and eagerness to ensure that we make a change in the sector, which has suffered a lot of setbacks for some years.

“We said we need to cultivate the culture of energy consumption management. It was just a comical illustration.”

Recently, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an increase in electricity tariff for customers under the Band A classification.

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Tinubu’s Govt Borrows $750m from World Bank to Boost Power Supply

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The Federal government has secured a $750 million loan from the World Bank to provide subsidy to developers and operators of solar mini-grids in the country.

The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, signed the loan agreement on March 31 and February 19 respectively.

The loan, according to a document made available to journalists on Thursday, is aimed at augmenting the supply of electricity to both households and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through a surge in private sector-led distributed renewable energy initiatives.

It read: “The loan will be partly used to provide support to the development and operation of privately owned and operated solar hybrid mini grids in unserved and underserved areas through:

1.1. Minimum Subsidy Tender Carrying out of Minimum Subsidy Tender processes and provision of Minimum Capital Cost Subsidies to selected developers/operators of (a) Isolated mini- grids; (b) Interconnected mini-grids; or (c) Solar rooftop solutions in Participating States.”

Aside from providing the subsidy, the Federal government plans to also provide performance-based grants.

“There will be a provision of Performance-Based Grants to eligible mini-grid operators based on new customer connections for isolated mini-grids and percentage of capital expenditures for interconnected mini-grid projects.

“The grant will also cover Standalone Solar (SAS) Systems for Households, MSMEs, and Agribusinesses. This grant will provide “Support to the expansion of SAS systems for households, MSMEs, and agribusinesses in rural areas through:

2.1. Performance Based Grants for Standalone Solar Provision of Performance Based Grants (“PBGs”) to eligible companies to rapidly deploy SAS solutions in rural and underserved areas, through supply and demand side support and based on independently verified outputs, and to support deployment of solar productive use of electricity (PUE) equipment to MSMEs, agribusinesses and commercial customers.”

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