ABUJA Seven months after Muhammadu Buhari was elected president on a promise to "fix" Nigeria, a policy vacuum has brought decision-making to a halt, hampering everything from national budget planning to new roads and art exhibitions.
Late on Thursday, the Senate ended yet another session screening Buhari's ministerial candidates without giving its approval, leaving Africa's biggest economy with no government since the former military ruler took office on May 29.
With political wrangling in full swing, lawmakers will need at least another week for more vetting. After three weeks, only half of Buhari's 36-strong lineup has got the green light.
ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigeria's government is ruling out an exchange of more than 270 kidnapped schoolgirls for detained Islamic militants, Britain's top official for Africa said Wednesday.
President Goodluck Jonathan has "made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners," Mark Simmonds, British foreign office minister, told journalists in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
But Nigeria's government will talk to the militants on reconciliation, Simmonds said, after a meeting with Jonathan.
"The point that also was made very clear to me is that the president was keen to continue and facilitate ongoing dialogue to find a structure and architecture of delivering lasting solution to the conflict and the cause of conflict in northern Nigeria," Simmonds said.
He spoke before Nigeria's Defense Ministry announced that extremists had again attacked the remote northeastern town of Chibok, from which the schoolgirls were abducted on April 15.
The ministry said several insurgents and four soldiers were killed in the firefight Tuesday.
Soldiers who were there told The Associated Press that at least 12 soldiers were killed, and that angry soldiers later fired at the car carrying a senior officer who came to a review of the bodies Wednesday. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because they want to keep their jobs.
The ministry said the soldiers fired into the air in protest.
Boko Haram abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok in the northeastern state of Borno on April 15. At least 276 of the girls are still being held captive by militants who have threatened to sell them into slavery, sparking outrage at home and abroad over the government's apparent failure to rescue then.
In a video released on Monday, Boko Haram's leader says he will free the girls only if the government releases jailed members of his group. The footage was verified as authentic by Nigerian authorities, who said 54 of the girls had been identified by relatives, teachers and classmates who watched the video late Tuesday.
Nigerian government officials have given conflicting responses to Boko Haram's offer of a swap.
One senior official said on Tuesday that "all options" are now open - including negotiations or a possible military operation with foreign help - in efforts find the missing girls.
It was not immediately possible to confirm Simmonds' comments with Nigerian officials.
A student wears red ribbons to express solidarity with the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls from Chibok, as she does a math exercise at the Regent Secondary School in Abuja, May 14, 2014.
JOE PENNEY, REUTERS
Reuben Abati, a spokesman for the Nigerian presidency, said in a statement late Wednesday that Jonathan met with Simmonds at the presidential palace in Abuja to discuss the missing girls and Britain's role in trying to rescue them. The statement said Simmonds "reassured President Jonathan of Britain's commitment to giving Nigeria all required assistance to find and safely rescue the abducted girls."
Britain and the U.S. are actively helping Nigeria's government to find and rescue the girls.
The British government has said a team of security experts sent to Nigeria will consider "not just the recent incidents but also longer-term counter-terrorism solutions to prevent such attacks in the future and defeat Boko Haram."
Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people this year in a campaign of bombings, massacres and mass kidnappings.
2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
14 Dec. 1999
Stuttgart, Germany - FDR
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (L) is driven in the first Mercedes Benz car from the year 1886 by employee Uwe Rebmann during his visit at the Daimler Chrysler plant in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart, December 14. The president and a delegation of 60 members were especially interested in the company's passenger car production activities and the vocational training systems in Germany.
Vinciane Jacquet/AP Photo
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A commercial bus driver was yesterday killed by an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority , LASTMA, at Brown Bus stop in Oshodi, around 6.30a.m. Narrating what led to the death of 54-year-old Isaac Popoola, his 56-year-old conductor, Aremu Salau, said that they loaded the bus with 17 passengers from Isheri heading towards Oshodi, when about seven LASTMA , officials double crossed their bus. Salau said Popoola asked the LASTMA officials, why they wanted him to come down since he didn't contravene any traffic law. But the LASTMA officials kept insisting that he should get down from the bus. The conductor, added that the passengers in the vehicle also intervened by asking what the driver did, but when the LASTMA officials did not listen to them and it didn't look as if it was going to be settled easily, they all had to get down and go their different ways. According to Salau, the LASTMA officials continued to struggle with Popoola, and in the process, they started beating him on the head with the iron of the vehicle's seat belt. They also began hitting his head against the bus and in the process, the driver fainted. When they saw that he had fainted the LASTMA officials ran away one after the other, but the people in the area caught one of them, who said that it was his commandant that asked them to go after the driver. The conductor said that while he was looking for people to help him convey the driver to the hospital he found out that people had already held one of the LASTMA officials and they had taken him to Isheri Police Station. Reacting to the allegation, the public relations officer of LASTMA, Bola Ajao said that the Management of LASTMA, has dissociated itself from incident that led to the death of a commercial bus driver at Oshodi-Isale, Lagos. According to a statement released by the General Manager of the agency, Engr. Babatunde Edu at LASTMA Headquarters, Oshodi, the alleged officers -Adesanya Olatunde and Ogunride Oludele- acted on their own contrary to the operational guidelines of the agency. Edu noted that Adesanya was identified by the Provost Marshall of the agency and handed over to the police while Oludele who was reported to be off-duty as at the time of the incident was still at large. He re-affirmed that the duo, were operating illegally at Oshodi this morning when the deceased driver slumped. VN
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