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Nigeria rebels threaten more attacks if Buhari is reelected | Nigeria News





Abuja, Nigeria – Armed rebels from Nigeria‘s oil-rich southern Niger Delta region have vowed to cripple the country’s economy if President Muhammadu Buhari is reelected.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) said in a statement on Thursday that it hoped to change Buhari’s rule through elections on Saturday.

Analysts say the threat should not be dismissed given the group’s pedigree.

“The threat may be very real, considering the fact that the group has carried out such acts in the past,” Amaechi Nwaokolo, a security analyst, told Al Jazeera.

“The government must ensure that the election is credible. That must not be manipulated,” he said.

The armed group said its preferred candidate is the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Faction endorsement

A faction of NDA in the southern region had on Wednesday endorsed Buhari for reelection.

Ebikabowie Ben, the group’s spokesman, said their decision to back the president for reelection was because of his resolve to develop the oil-producing area.

“The government has engaged strategically by empowering the local economy by protecting it from the harmful effects of illegal refining to executing agreements to invest in modular refineries in the Niger Delta region. This is the right way to go,” Ben said.

Cheta Nwanze, a security analyst, told Al Jazeera that the endorsements are not good for the country’s democratic process.

“We are in a very interesting situation where armed men are endorsing (candidates),” Nwanze said. 

Security fears

Analysts warn that the presidential and legislative elections might be one of the bloodiest in the country’s history.

In 2011, election violence claimed nearly 1,000 lives in the country’s north following the defeat of Buhari by acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

But Nwanze feels the decisions by the armed groups may not affect the polls.

“I don’t think that this endorsement and counter-endorsements are a threat to the conduct of the elections, but going forward, especially as the NDA have shown their capabilities in the past, they could be in a position to cause havoc,” he said.

Oil crisis

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and oil accounts for the bulk of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

NDA was behind a 2016 wave of violence that helped push Nigeria into recession.

The armed group’s attacks cut the OPEC member’s oil production.

In 2016, NDA sabotaged Nigeria’s oil infrastructure for months in bombings that forced production to drop from 2.2 million barrels a day to 20-year lows of 1.4 million barrels a day according to the country’s national bureau of statistics, seriously crippling the country’s economy. 

Can Nigeria’s next president revive the country’s economy? | UpFront


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister





Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa





OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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