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African press review 21 March 2018


Dozens of Nigerian Dapchi school girls are freed but the nation is unsure if the rest are alive. Kenyan experts measure the ripple effect of the Raila-Uhuru handshake.

We begin in Nigeria where the papers are reporting scenes of jubilation in Dapchi town following the alleged return of some of the schoolgirls abducted in February.

Saharareporters quotes eyewitnesses as saying that the Boko Haram insurgents drove into the town in nine vehicles early today to drop off 76 of the girls.The Nigerian Tribune says the circumstances of their return are still unclear.

The Sun says it has had confirmation from the Presidency in Abuja about the good news. The paper claims that it spoke to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who thanked God for the children’s safety and promised to give further details on the development later.

According to the Sun, the girls’ release came exactly one week after President Muhammadu Buhari visited the school where they were kidnapped. It claims that during the visit last Wednesday Buhari reassured parents of the girls that his Government will not rest on its oars, until they are safely brought back home.

Also in Nigeria, the country's anti-graft agency has announced the discovery of bank notes amounting to 7.32 million euros at the Abuja residence of the Niger Delta Brigadier General Tarelah Boroh. ThisDay says he was sacked last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, following complaints about corruption at the Presidential Amnesty Program.

ThisDay reports that it was able to find out in its own investigations that scholarships for Niger Delta students in universities across the United States, the United Kingdom and Nigeria, had not been paid for up to two years, despite Boroh receiving over N70 billion or 158 million euros released for the purpose.

In Kenya, political scientists have been weighing the political miracle worked out by last week's handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Tom Mboya, a political science lecturer at Maseno University tells today's Daily Nation that the handshake broke the ice in ways that could create a soft landing for the President and may have turned Raila into the ally Uhuru lacked in some opposition strongholds.

The academic spoke to the paper as Raila Odinga toured parts of Nyanza last week to sell the peace pact sealed with the President and to discuss what he called a myriad of issues aimed at fostering unity among the country's communities.

These according to Daily Nation include compensation for relatives of people killed and maimed following last year's elections and other injustices.

The paper describes Nyanza has been the bedrock of Raila Odinga's political support underlining that violence merchants in the region targeted electoral commission officials, welding doors to polling centers or erecting barriers across main highways to ensure voting materials were not delivered.

According to the publication, the March 9 handshake has quickly diffused the bad blood against the President Kenyatta in Nyanza.

Prof Maurice Amutabi, a historian and vice-chancellor of Lukenya University, told the Nation that the ball is now in Kenyatta's court to demonstrate his goodwill by giving Odinga an important role to play.

One of the suggestions made by the academic is the appointment of some of Raila Odinga's lieutenants as advisers. This has been done in other parts of the world Professor Amutabi argued.

But one opposition MP interviewed by Daily Nation appeals for patience and asked the people of Nyanza to give the two leaders, time to implement the details of their agreement.

He observed that it was too early for Raila Odinga to celebrate the handshake with President Kenyatta in the region's capital Kisumu. As he put it tears have not dried up and grass has not grown on the graves of those who died.

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