ONE: On March 3, Arik Air began reinstating flights between Lagos and Johannesburg after earlier suspending flights between the two cities due to a dispute with South African health authorities over yellow fever vaccination cards presented at OR Tambo International Airport. This dispute resulted in a number of passengers being deported and led to a meeting between the Nigerian and South African governmnents to be scheduled for Monday last week.
Arik revealed that in recent months many passengers from Nigeria have been detained and refused entry into South Africa. This was apparently due to South African health authorities not recognising batch numbers on yellow fever vaccination cards presented by Nigerians at the border.
TWO: The detention and refusal of entry to Nigerian citizens in South Africa reached the government level when on Sunday last week, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs criticised the South African governmentfor deporting 125 Nigerians. Dabiri-Erewa claimed that the action, though not illegal, was done in an inhumane manner as the 125 were kept for 24 hours without food and water. She described the act as part of the “continuous unwarranted hostilities against Nigerians by the government of South Africa.”
This was followed by the deportation of 28 South Africans when they arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International airport the following day in what is believed to have been a retaliation. Finally on Thursday, Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, Deputy International Relations Minister came out to say that the South African government has sent a letter in apology to the Nigerian government. Ebrahim said he did not expect the Nigerian government to apologise in return and stressed that Nigerians were not being targeted.
It is still not known whether the yellow fever vaccination forms were indeed fraudulent.
THREE: Chris McManus, a British citizen and Franco Lamolinara, an Italian, both abducted by gunmen in Nigeria last year have died in a failed rescue attempt. Apparently they had been murdered by their captors before they could be rescued. The rescue attempt was led by a Nigerian team with support from British forces. The men, both engineers working on the construction of the state headquarters for the Central Bank of Nigeria, were abducted in Birnin Kebbi on 12 May, 2011.
FOUR: Market analysts and industry regulators have called Nigeria’s economic growth rate ‘exceptional’ at the 2012 Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference in Lagos. Stakeholders in the financial services industry praised the current government’s economic transformative agenda and said the prospects of the Nigeria attracting foreign investments has become brighter.
FIVE: MEND has claimed responsibility for killing four police officers last week while the officers were patrolling the Nember river in Bayelsa state on Thursday last week. This attack is MEND’s second assault in four weeks and comes a month after the group claimed responsibility for an oil pipeline operated by Italian firm Eni SpA.
SIX: In the middle of January, a major build-up of gas pressure from drilling caused an explosion which lead to a fire that killed two workers and destroyed a gas exploration rig off Nigeria’s south-east coast. The resulting fire has finally gone out after burning for 46 days. The fire was not stopped by authorities but rather by chance after rock fragments within the underground natural gas well sealed off the link. It is only now that the US oil and gas firm which operates the rig, Chevron said it would work to permanently plug the well. The firm said it will check for any new gas flow and abandon the well once it is declared safe. According to Chevron, the fire has not caused any oil spillage. In the meantime, tests are being conducted to see whether local food and water were contaminated by the gas.
SEVEN: Those living in the Niger Delta already face serious health consequences due to gas flaring, the burning of natural gas during oil extraction. Residents living near gas flares complain of respiratory problems, skin rashes, eye irritation and damage to agriculture due to acid rain. A report on the burning issue of gas flares in Nigeria, last week highlighted the problems gas flares continue to cause despite longstanding laws against the practice in Nigeria. A doctor in Port Harcourt has also associated long term diseases of the heart and lungs such as bronchitis, silicosis and sulphur poisoning of the blood to gas flares in the region.
EIGHT: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has given Liberian refugees in Nigeria till July, 2012 to leave the country and return to Liberia or be declared migrants thereby denying them of the legal status protecting them. The refugees are survivors of First and Second Liberian Civil Wars which claimed the lives of over 180,000 people and displaced millions more.
NINE: Countless migrants from Chad and Niger who came to Nigeria seeking opportunities are returning to their countries of birth. It is assumed that the reason for their dispersion is due to feelings of insecurity, raising questions over Nigeria’s well-being. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently reported that more than 1,000 Chadian migrants have left Nigeria while the High Council of Nigerians Abroad has claimed that around 10,000 Nigeriens have returned to Niger over the past six months. The failure by Nigerian authorities to curb the insecurity caused by Boko Haram and the rise in xenophobia and profiling after rumours that Chadian and Nigeriens are susceptible to joining the ranks of the group are posited as the main reasons former migrants are returning home.
TEN: 23 year old, Johny Akinyemi is set to be Nigeria’s first Olympic slalom canoeist at London 2012. Born to a Nigerian father from Lagos and a white British mother, Akinyemi grew up as part of the British slalom squad’s junior programmer. he switched to Nigeria in 2008. Apparently, no other African has participated in Olympic canoe slalom. Akinyemi believes this is due to a shortage of appropriate facilities and is determined to make a difference by promoting the sport once London 2012 is over.