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2022 and Landmark Events that Shaped History

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By Eric Elezuo

Like previous years, the year 2022, can also qualify as a watershed in global history, with special emphasis to Nigeria, for which it was a prelude to the much anticipated 2023 political change over as President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration draws to a conclusive end.

To many, the year was an avatar, and to many others, it was simply an albatross. It all depends on the side of the divide one is.

RUSSIA INTERVENE IN KAZAKHSTAN CRISIS

The signs that 2022 was going to be a clear cut marathon began to manifest as early as the second day of the month when protests erupted in Kazakhstan following the government’s lifting of price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, took a drastic of inviting Russia to help in quelling the unrest (both countries as well as several other former Soviet republics are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, or CSTO). Four days later, the so called and Russian “peacekeepers” arrived, and their brief resulted not only in the arrests of thousands and killing of hundreds, but also planted dangerous acquisition scheme in the mind of the world power.

ASUU STRIKE

Back in Nigeria, the centre was not holding in the academic sector as the Academic Staff Universities Union (ASUU) was in a logjam with Federal Government over previous agreements yet to be implemented by the government. On February 14, 2022, the body embarked on strike action after many warnings to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues. The strike kept students at home for 10 months, where in-between, the federal government floated two other academic groups to decimate the body just as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, after what he described as “failed negotiations” dragged the striking lecturers before the National Industrial Court.

BUHARI SIGNED ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law in February 2022 after rejecting it five times – citing reasons that ranged from the cost of election, insecurity, and drafting errors to proximity to the date of elections.

The legislation allows INEC to review results made under duress or financial inducement, extends the time for campaigns from 90 to 150 days, and provides for the use of technology to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results. Pundits believe the law can help manage situations where inaccurate results are returned, expand the opportunity for politicians to visit the nooks and crannies of the country if they so desire and cure the chaotic and vulnerable process of aggregating results.

The Electoral Act requires that parties submit the names of their candidates 180 days before the elections, thereby allowing for the legal resolution of fractious primaries ahead of the voting day. In signing the Electoral Act, Mr Buhari also requested the section that precludes political office holders from participating in party primaries and voting during congresses be deleted, as it breaches participation rights. However, the National Assembly refused to make this amendment. This meant that several of Buhari’s ministers were unable to contest for elective office until they first resigned from their positions.

RUSSIA INVASION OF UKRAINE

Events in late 2021 had suggested a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces as predicted by U.S. and British officials. Much as these predictions were not taking seriously by many European leaders, including Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, on February 24, 2022, Russia launched a “special military operation” that it said was needed to force the “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.” To the surprise of the Kremlin and most military experts, Ukraine withstood the initial onslaught and then began to turn back Russian forces. The war still rages with cities like Mariupol falling and massive war casualties recorded as in the case of the Bucha massacre. The case was treated as outcome of war situation

ABUJA-KADUNA TRAIN ATTACK

A major terrorist attack occurred on March 28, 2022 when heavily armed men emerged from the Kateri-Rijana forest of Kaduna State, setting off explosives to derail an Abuja-Kaduna train with 362 passengers. After the attack, punctuated by sporadic shootings, which lasted for hours, the attackers abducted over 100 of the passengers, killing at least eight people.

The rail axis has been reopened after many months of closure while the last batch of the abductees have just been released.

EMERGENCE OF NIGERIA’S POLITICAL ERA

As the world to find a suitable resolution to Russia/Ukraine crises without causing a world war, the Nigerian environment was heated with political maneuvers to ascertain who flags the major parties, and other parties flags in various elective positions as the 2023 gets closer. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were riding high as the party of choice with 40 aspirants picking up the APC presidential forms at a whopping N100 million while 17 aspirants picked the PDP’s which cost N40 million, among other equally exorbitant positions.

During the season, a lot of intrigues unfolded as politicians struggle to out do one another. Some of them include:

ATIKU’S VICTORY, CRISES IN PDP AND G5 GOVERNORS

Prior to the presidential primaries of the two major political parties, Nigerians, including members of the political class, had clamoured for a southern president to replace Buhari, who is of northern stock. Consequently, the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, and the manner of his emergence, created a hole in the party leading to the withdrawal of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike from supporting the party. Wike’s lost prompted him to demand the resignation of the party chairman, Iyorchia Ayu as both the candidate and chairman were from the same region. His principles berthed the Group of Five Governors (G5 Governors), which later metamorphosed into Integrity Group as it accommodated much more than the five governors of Rivers, Abia (Okezie Ikpeazu), Benue (Samuel Ortom), Enugu (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) and Oyo (Seyi Makinde).

Wike has denied that his reason for the protest is beyond the announcement of Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate, but the need to maintain equity and fairness in the party structure.

But with the refusal of Ayu to step down from his position, Wike has not ceased to open several Pandora boxes, taking Ayu and the PDP leadership to the cleaners. But the party had maintained a dignified silence

The G5 governors have been meeting within and outside the country on political matters. While peace moves have been made in the past by the party and its presidential candidate, the group have blatantly refused to let go. However, they have failed to name their presidential candidate till date.

POLITICAL RETIREMENT OF OSINBAJO, AMAECHI, LAWAN

With the emergence of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential flag bearer of the ruling APC during the June 6 primary that appeared orchestrated with many presidential aspirants (Kayode Fayemi, Ibikunle Amosun etc) stepping down, the likes of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan seem to kiss goodbye to politics, at least for the time being. Their attempt to try their luck at clinching the APC presidential ticket came with a huge cost. Osinbajo lost his friendship to his his erstwhile boss and political godfather, and his supporters; Amaechi lost his ministerial position, and has not been heard ever since while Lawan lost his senatorial seat. These men, and many others in their shoes may likely remain irrelevant in the next dispensation, especially if Tinubu emerges winner. but lost to Tinubu. Many political analysts and opinion leaders believed that the Vice President shouldn’t have contested against his erstwhile boss and political godfather.

EMEGERCE OF PETER OBI AND ‘OBIDIENT’ MOVEMENT

The year 2022 unmasked a new challenge to the dominance of APC and PDP in the political space of Nigeria. The former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi had announced his resignation in a letter titled, “Resignation From PDP and Withdrawal from the Presidential Contest” addressed to the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, dated May 24. Obi, who was the party’s running mate to Atiku in the 2015 presidential election, attributed the decision to recent developments within the PDP. He later joined the Labour Party amid speculations of teaming with Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). and emerged as the presidential candidate in May 2022. Before then, Obi, who was a presidential aspirant under the PDP, resigned from the main opposition party and also withdrew from the presidential race on the platform of the party on May 25.

Obi’s emergence as the LP flagbearer created a sort of third force as his popularity and LP grew sporadically, and creating a large turn out of followers, tagged ‘Obidients’ online and offline. His choice of a technocrat in the person of Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, further upgraded his reception.

EMILOKAN AND APC’S MUSLIM/MUSLIM TICKET

The choice of a Muslim as the running mate of Tinubu, whose emilokan (it’s my turn) slogan, has become his identity, was another hallmark of the political climate of 2022. Prior to the announcement of former Borno State governor Hashim Shettima as Tinubu’s presidential running mate, discourses had been held warning against the move. When it eventually came, most Nigerians, especially the Christian community felt slighted with the likes of former Secretary to the Federal Government, David Babachir, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, abandoning the party, taking their followers with them. Tinubu and the APC did not renege in the decision, claiming inability at finding a strong northern Christian to take up the challenge.

ADEMOLA ADELEKE DANCED HIS WAY INTO OSUN GOVERNMENT HOUSE

A major landmark in the political intrigues of 2022 was the defeat of incumbent governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola by PDP’s Ademola Adeleke, known as the dancing Senator in the July 2022 governorship election. Adeleke polled a total of 403,371 votes, to beat Oyetola who garnered 375,027 votes in the keenly contested race. The PDP won 17 of the LGAs, while the APC recorded more votes in the remaining 13. The campaign era saw popular singer, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, playing a major role to see his uncle emerged victorious.

THE TRAVAILS OF SENATOR IKE EKWEREMADU 

A scene from a movie, Senator representing Enugu East in the upper legislative chamber, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, in June, were nabbed by the Specialist Crime Team of the Metropolitan Police in London. They were arrested for alleged conspiracy to harvest the organs of a child to cure the senator’s daughter, who needed an organ transplant.

Ekweremadu and his wife were arrested at Heathrow Airport in London en route to Istanbul in Turkey. While Beatrice has been released, Ekweremadu is currently facing a legal battle in the UK. If convicted, the lawmaker may get a maximum of a life sentence or 12 months imprisonment or a fine, or both on summary conviction under the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015. Ekweremadu has since said that his travails in the UK since June has political undertone, pointing accusing fingers at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has confiscated his property while in detention.

ASSASINATION OF FORMER JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER

On July 7, 2022, former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was shot at and killed while campaigning sending shock waves down the spines of the political world. His killing led to the reshuffling of the newly elected cabinet.

BRITAIN’S THREE PRIME MINISTERS IN THREE MONTHS

Britain made more history as the country produced three Prime Ministers in a space of to months. With the resignation of Boris Johnson of July 7 as a fallout of the ‘partygate’ crisis, Liz Truss was elected to replace him as the new PM. However, Truss administration couldn’t stand the test of time as the cabinet packed up within two months as Liz resigned, paving the way for Rishi Sunak to take over

FLOODS IN PAKISTAN, NIGERIA

With the impact of climate change fast affecting the world, countries like Pakistan and Nigeria were worse hit. In Nigeria, states like Anambra, Bayelsa, Kogi, Benue among many others were submerged leading to deaths and wanton loss of property and revenue.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II DIED AND PRINCE CHARLES BECOMES KING

On September 8, 2022, official statement from the Queen’s Court announced that Queen Elizabeth II was ‘comfortable’, signifying that she had died, bringing an end to the longest ever reign in the history of the world. She was the longest reining British monarch, having held sway for 70 years. Consequently, Prince Charles was pronounced King, and he supervised the burial of his mother.

MAHSA AMINI KILLED SPARKING RIOTS IN IRAN, OTHERS

For “inappropriate dress”. 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman was arrested by the Police, only to die a few hours later on September 16. The death erupted protests unknown to Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which toppled the Shah and established the Islamic Republic. The riots have not abated till date, drawing sympathy across the world. Much as death toll continues to rise, the Iranians are not giving up until the theocratic experiment of over 40 years ends.

ISLAMIC COUNTRY HOSTS WORLD CUP FOR FIRST TIME

An Islamic nation, Qatar, for the first time in the history of the World Cup, hosted the world’s most watched fiesta. The event that lasted between November 20 and December 18 saw Argentina beating France in a penalty shootout after a three all draw.

KILLING OF BOLANLE RAHEEM BY TRIGGER-HAPPY COP

The nation was jolted on Christmas day as news of the killing of a Lagos-based lawyer,  Mrs Omobolanle Raheem, made the rounds. She was shot at and killed instantly by a policeman, ASP Drambi Vandi, at a roundabout in the Aja area of Lagos. The killing sparked controversy, necessitating in the Commissioner of Lagos, Abiodun Alabi, deploying all men and officers of the Ajiwe Police Station.

THE DEATH OF SOCCER LEGEND, PELE

After battling cancer for a few years, world’s greatest of all times in footbal, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele bowed to death on December 29, 2022. His body laid in state on Monday, January 2 and Tuesday, January 3 for the world to pay final respects before he was interred on the ninth floor of a cemetery.

DEATH OF THE POPE THAT RESIGNED, BENEDICT XVI

The events of 2022 ended on a note of gloom as the announcement of the death Pope Benedict XVI, the first Bishop of Rome to retire in six centuries, was made. The successor of Pope John Paul II retired from the Throne of Peter in 2013, but remained a revered presence in the Roman Catholic Church and served as a support to his successor, Pope Francis. He has been buried.

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Akpabio Lied, No State Received N30bn from FIRS – Makinde

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Oyo State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that there was no truth in the claim by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations, to address food insecurity in their states.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Suleiman Olarenwaju in Ibadan, the state capital, said the state has not received any N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or the Federal Government, and that his administration has been and will always be open and transparent to the people of the state.

The Governor, who added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effects of the economic hardship on the people, warned that leaders should instill confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde stated this in Iseyin where he commissioned the newly-renovated multi-billion naira Iseyin Central Mosque facilitated by a legal icon, Ahmed Raji, SAN, hailing the religious harmony in the state as being exemplary.

The Governor decried Akpabio’s reliance on unverified reports, clarifying that states couldn’t get funds from the FIRS, since all revenues go into the Federation Account and belong to the FG, states and local governments.

“The only fund that Oyo State got from the Federal Government outside of statutory allocation was N2 billion out of the N5 billion promised to all states in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy, adding that the Federal Government had even been asking for the refund of the N2 billion,” he stated.

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery.

He said, “This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAFER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time.”

Makinde cautioned that “this is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.”

The Governor added, “Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government.  The FG does not give states money. The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government.

“So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.”

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it? Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land?” he queried.

“Let me say it clearly, as for Oyo State and for most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now.

“We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, appreciated Makinde for attending the event and for speaking passionately as expected of leaders, saying the state governor is on the right track.

Earlier, the facilitator of the Iseyin Central Mosque renovation project, Raji, appreciated the governor for his presence, urging citizens of the country to continue to pray for its leaders and to pray to God to lessen the burden of the people.

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Enough is Enough, PDP Governors Tell Tinubu

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By Eric Elezuo

The government of President Bola Tinubu has continued to come under serious knocks across Nigeria’s geo-political zones, sectors, individuals and political parties. The latest of the knocks is coming from the main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is serving a red card the administration, saying enough is enough.

The knocks and barefaced condemnation are not unconnected with the economic hardship in the country, which is a direct consequence of very unpopular economic decisions the administration has taken so far, ranging from the removal of petroleum subsidy and floating of the naira to removal of tariffs on electricity and other essential services.

As at date, the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is floating between N617 and N650 depending on the part of the country. In the same vein, the dollar is worth a whopping N1600 as at date. The ripple effect has resulted in the exorbitant rise in the prices of essential food items such as rice, garri, beans, flour, sugar, tomato and other household items, and families are groaning in excruciating agony.

As a result, angry and hungry Nigerians have denounced the emilokun (meaning it’s my turn) slogan, and chose ebi mpawa (meaning we are hungry) in exchange.

Consequently, rising from a one day retreat on the state of the nation, the PDP Governors Forum, also found faults and looming loopholes in the nine months old administration of Tinubu, thereby asking the president to step aside as the challenges confronting the nation seems to have overwhelmed him and his team. The Forum advised the APC-administration headed by Tinubu to as a matter to ‘Throw in the towel if you can’t govern Nigeria anymore’.

The governors, who were elected on the platform of the PDP, noted that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, has failed woefully, and should graciously throw in the towel if it cannot mobilise Nigerians as well as all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions to the various problems plaguing the nation.

The governors specifically noted that the hardship and suffering being faced by Nigerians have no tribal, religious or party colouration, stressing that “a hungry man is an angry man”.

They further reminded the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of the need to be guided by the fact that it is (APC) that sought power to solve the problems of Nigeria, not to compound them or shift blame and use propaganda to confuse issues.

The PDP Governors Forum’s advice is contained in a statement signed by its Director-General, Hon CID Maduabum in Abuja.

The PDP Governors expressly pointed out that the buck ultimately stops at the President’s table as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Chief Salesman and leader of Nigeria.

The PDP-GF, nonetheless, assured that as stakeholders in governance, it would continue to work collaboratively with the President in finding lasting solutions to “a very difficult situation created or exacerbated by the APC since 2015”.

The PDP Governors frowned at the Minister of Information, APC Governors’ Forum and other officials of the APC-led Federal Government who criticised the the PDP-GF for their suggestions, advice and patriotic intervention on the way forward for the country in a communique issued at the end of their recent meeting in Abuja.

The Forum categorically declared, “It must be noted that though Nigeria is a Federation, there is indeed only one economy.

Accordingly, the governors said while all tiers of government have a role to play, the APC led Federal Government has a disproportionate role to mobilise Nigerians and all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions, adding that “If it cannot do so or is unable to do so, it should graciously throw in the towel.”

The statement reads in details:

“Hardship and suffering being faced by Nigerians have no tribal, religious or party colouration. A hungry man is an angry man.

“While all tiers of government have a role to play, the APC led Federal Government has a disproportionate role to play in mobilising Nigerians and all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions.

“If it can not do so or is unable to do so, it should graciously throw in the towel.

“Attempts by the Honourable Minister of Information, APC Governors’ Forum and other officials of the Federal Government who criticised the PDP Governors’ Forum for their patriotic intervention should be guided by the fact that the APC sought power to solve the problems of Nigeria not to compound them or shift blame, or grandstand or use propaganda to obfuscate or confuse issues.

“PDP governed States are comparatively the best in Nigeria in terms of developmental policies, programmes, and projects that benefit their States positively, regular payment of salaries, pensions, gratuities, and minimum wage to their workforce.
“State governments that are delinquent on these issues are not of PDP extraction. It is false to say so.

“Even the food crises are exacerbated by insecurity and high exchange rate issues, among others, which are largely federal subjects.

“The PDP Governors as stakeholders in governance would continue to work collaboratively with Mr. President to find lasting solutions to a very difficult situation created or exacerbated by the APC since 2015. We believe in co-operative Federalism.

“The buck ultimately stops at Mr. Presidents table as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Chief Salesman and leader of Nigeria.

“We are not in doubt that he is trying his best. We only hope and pray that his best is good enough to take Nigeria out of the woods in the shortest possible time.”

The PDP, like every other Nigerian, has continued to lend its voice to what a major cross section of the nation has termed ‘total mismanagement’ of the economic fabric of the nation.

“Nigerians have not had a day of peace since Tinubu was sworn in on May 29, 2023,” a respondent told The Boss, echoing the lord complaints of majority of the citizens.

It would be recalled that Tinubu, on inauguration day, on inauguration ground, waved away petroleum subsidy, thereby throwing the nation into the darkness of hardship that has refused to ease nine months after.

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‘Bwala, Not Ex-Aide to Atiku Abubakar’

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The Atiku Abubakar Media Organisation has said that Mr Daniel Bwala, who worked for the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation during the 2023 elections, was never an aide of the former Vice President, warning that the media and members of the public should desist from addressing him as such.

A statement from the Atiku media office clarified that Bwala offered his services as a spokesperson for the campaign organization, and never an aide to the former VP, adding that he moved on with his career after the elections.

The statement reads:

Bwala is a former spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation and not a former aide to the former Vice President

It is important that the media and the general public take corrective note of defining Mr. Daniel Bwala as an aide to His Excellency Atiku Abubakar.

Bwala offered his services and support to the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization as a spokesperson – and it was a position he held during the last presidential campaign.

Subsequently, and after the election, the need for a campaign spokesperson has terminated, and Bwala has moved on with his career.

This, therefore, serves as notice to the media and the interested public to desist from defining Bwala as an ex-aide of Atiku Abubakar.

We duly urge the public to henceforth recognize, introduce, and define Daniel Bwala by his current vocation and alliance.

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