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Ramaphosa Becomes AU Chairman, Pledges to End Era of Colonialism, Imperialism in Africa

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to lead a revolution into infrastructure development across Africa, a challenge he said if realised would see an end to all manifestations of colonialism and imperialism on the continent.

Mr Ramaphosa took over on Sunday as the new chairperson of the African Union in Addis Ababa, using his acceptance speech to rail against decades of neglect that had rendered Africa a minor player in world trade and notorious dumping ground for substandard goods.

“The era of colonialism and imperialism under which Africa is a pit stop in the global assembly line has passed,” Mr Ramaphosa declared as he took over from Egypt’s Abdel Fatah El-Sisi for the one-year tenure on Sunday afternoon.

The South African leader expressed high expectations of the recently-adopted African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). He said its implementation would mark the beginning of prosperity in a continent that has had its potential suppressed for too long.

“We are a continent that is rich in natural resources but also in history, intellectual output, culture in its sense of humanity,” he said, adding that he would use his leadership to kickstart a process that would guarantee an “Africa connected through a vast network of roads and railways, enabling the free movement of goods, people and services.”

Driving force

The 33rd Summit of the African Union that got underway earlier this week has been packed with discussions around urgent implementation of AfCFTA, a continent-wide trade treaty adopted in 2018. Fifty-two out of 54 countries and territories that make up the African Union have endorsed the treaty. Legislative bodies of all the countries have already commenced ratification processes.

African leaders believe the agreement would spur intra-continental trade amongst the member states, which is currently very low, notwithstanding their common borders and shared cultural heritage.

“The success of the AfCTA depends on infrastructure development,” Mr Ramaphosa said, adding that a road would be constructed between Cape Town and Cairo as part of the agenda. A slew of “outstanding issues” around AfCFTA, especially on the definition of what constitutes an ‘African good or service’ would be finalised before the official commencement of the policy, he added.

Women and youth would also play a major role in driving AfCFTA implementation due to their indispensable potentials for economic mobility, Mr Ramaphosa said.

He promised to reduce gender-based violence that has become a key impediment to social development and technological breakthrough on the continent.

“We have heard the calls of the women and the girls of Africa for liberation from the shackles of patriarchy, violence and economic exclusion,” Mr Ramaphosa said. “Africa must drive a skills revolution and an Africa intelligence forum must be established to include those in the diaspora.”

This year’s AU summit, which has non-African leaders like Antonio Guterres and Canada’s Justin Trudeau in attendance, focused on silencing the guns to foster economic development on the continent. It would wrap up on Monday after consideration of all pending policy initiatives that were presented to the leaders of the 54 member states.

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Miyetti Allah Dares Akeredolu, Says ‘No One Can Send Us Out of Ondo Forests’

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Bello Bodejo, the national president of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, says nobody can chase herdsmen away from the forest reserves in Ondo state.

On Monday, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo, ordered herders to vacate the forest reserves over rising insecurity in the state.

Akeredolu had said “bad elements” have turned the forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.

The governor’s directive sparked mixed reactions, with Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, saying Akeredolu cannot unilaterally oust thousands of herders “who have lived all their lives in the state”.

The Northern Elders Forum also asked the herders in the state to disregard Akeredolu’s order.

In an interview with The Sun Newspaper, Bodejo said the herders will not obey Akeredolu’s directive because he has no right to issue such orders, as the Fulanis have been in the area for over 250 years.

He said the herders do not need anybody’s permission to use a forest for grazing so far as it provides the nutrients needed by their cattle.

“The Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, doesn’t have any right to give such ultimatum to our people. People, including Fulani, voted for him to be the governor; so he should be the governor of everybody in the state,” he said.

“Fulani have been in the forests he is talking about even before he was born; they have been there for over 250 years. After staying there for a long time and their cow dung turns the place fertile, people would begin to come there to farm and to settle and from then, they begin to make claims that our cattle were destroying their farms.

“We are suing the governor and seeking injunction restraining him and others from carrying out his threat. But even at that, nobody, no power can send the herdsmen out of Ondo state.

“No herdsman will obey the governor. The herdsmen will not step an inch out of Ondo forests; they are going nowhere. We won’t obey the governor; it is only the constitution of Nigeria that we obey.

“All the lands in this country belong to the Fulani, but we don’t have any business to do with land if it doesn’t have areas for grazing. If the land doesn’t have cow food, we won’t have any business with it.

“What we consider are the areas that have cow food. If the place is good for grazing, we don’t need anybody’s permission to go there.

“Fulani can settle in any bush or forest they want the moment they have cows. Any person who thinks he owns any forest should be taken to psychiatric hospital. Nobody owns any forest; forests are for Nigerians.”

Bodejo said the governor just needed an excuse to drive out the Fulanis from the state since the criminals are not from the ethnic group.

He alleged that Akeredolu’s “ulterior motive” could be for his 2023 political ambition.

“People are using propaganda to spoil Fulani name, and desperate politicians are in the forefront,” he said.

“The Ondo state governor has a secret agenda for asking our people to leave his state, not the reasons he stated. It is possible that Akeredolu is fighting a political battle. It may be 2023 election, and that is why he is playing up this Fulani herdsmen issue.”

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Zamfara Gov Accuses Traditional Rulers of Sabotaging Peace Efforts

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The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, has accused some unnamed traditional rulers of sabotaging his government’s peace efforts in the state.

The governor, at a meeting with the heads of security agencies in the state on Thursday, said the traditional rulers were not playing their expected roles in the fight against banditry.

He said this has led to the recent deterioration of insecurity in the state.

The meeting was also attended by religious clerics, traditional rulers and journalists at the Government House in Gusau.

Mr Matawalle said some traditional rulers were aiding the illegal activities of outlawed vigilante groups in their domains, which he said was provoking reprisal attacks by bandits.

The governor also condemned a statement by the chairman of the state’s traditional rulers’ council, the Emir of Anka, Attahiru Ahmad, in which he challenged the state government to allow citizens to bear arms for self defence, since the government had failed in protecting the citizens.

The governor said “it is discouraging to have a respected personality like the state chairman Council of Chiefs to grant an interview with journalists to challenge the efforts of the government and security operatives.”

Mr Matawalle said security is a collective responsibility and not that of the government alone.

He said if the residents and traditional leaders are not interested in his administration’s dialogue with the bandits, he would withdraw from it.

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Ondo Monarchs Urge South West Governors to Cage Killer Herdsmen

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The Ondo State Council of Obas, on Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his aides who comment on security of the country.

The traditional rulers, who reacted over the comments made by some aides of the President on the order of Akeredolu ejecting the herdsmen from all the forest reserves in the state, said the move was not to chase out the Fulani in the state but to save it from the activities of the bandits.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of meeting of the monarchs in Akure, which was read by a former Chairman of the council and the Olukare of Ikareland, Oba Akadiri Momoh.

The monarchs said, “We are calling on President Buhari to show to the world that he is a father of all irrespective of ethnic affiliation as well as cautioned his aides to exercise restraints on issues that border on insecurity in the country.”

The obas urged “the governors in the South-West region, the South-West caucus in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to use constitutional means to rein the rampaging criminals masquerading as herdsmen across the region.”

The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Charles Titiloye, declared that the state had no plan to send anti-open grazing bill to the state House of Assembly at the moment.

He said what was on ground in the state currently was the order of the governor to be complied with within seven days.

Titiloye said, “I may not be able to reply whether the state is planning to send the anti-grazing bill or not because the governor has given an order and after the seven days ultimatum and there is no compliance, then we shall know what to do next.”

Reacting to the claim by the Northern Elders Forum that the herdsmen had freedom of movement, the commissioner explained that the governor’s order had not restrained anybody’s movement, but to flush out criminal elements among herdsmen in the state.

He said, “We are not restraining any movement. Forests have been turned to hideouts of criminals and in order to identify the real herdsmen and the criminal ones; that is why the order of the governor came.

“We know that after seven days, the criminal ones would not leave the forest reserves; and until then we shall know what step to take next.”

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