What’s Going On: Nigeria’s Phone Tax Bill, War In Tigray & More

Notable headlines from across Africa

“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That.


Following widespread reports of jungle justice attacks by motorcyclists, the Lagos state government has responded by banning okada usage in parts of the state. The sad tale of a sound engineer’s demise over a fight became part of a larger discourse about the insecurity fuelled by having so many okada’s in specific areas of Lagos. 

On Wednesday the state’s governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu then declared a total ban in the local governments of Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island and Apapa. “This is a phased ban we are embarking on this period,” he said, “and we expect that within the short while when this ban will be enforced, Okada riders in other places where their activities are yet to be banned can find something else to do. We have given the notice now and we expect all commercial motorcycles plying the routes in the listed councils and areas to vacate the highways before enforcement begins. The enforcement will be total.”

The news has been received positively by Lagosians. Unlike previous arguments for the relative comforts provided by okada motorcycles, the nation’s widespread insecurity has possibly informed a less liberal stance. Concerns about execution have however been expressed, and there will surely be a lot of eyes watching how this will unfold in the coming weeks.


The war between Ukraine and Russia has been the most debated political topic of the year. Its far-reaching consequences are felt all over the world, where nations must decide their stance on the affair. For the African continent, most countries have been carefully distanced from being explicitly supportive or against any side. Well, that might change soon.

Senegalese President Macky Sall has announced his intentions to visit the capital cities of both nations. Macky, who is also the African Union (AU) chief, revealed that he got approval from the union to undertake the mission which would seek to clarify some economic concerns as well as the continent’s disunity about Russia and Ukraine. Having received an invitation from Russia, Macky was supposed to leave on May 18th but there were scheduling problems. His new departure date wasn’t revealed but he’s sure of making the trip, revealing this during a joint conference with visiting German chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

“As soon as it’s set, I will go of course to Moscow and also to Kyiv,” Sall said. “We have also accepted to get together all the heads of state of the African Union who want to with [Ukrainian] President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, who had expressed the need to communicate with the African heads of state. That too will be done in the coming weeks.”


Hundreds of trucks have reportedly entered Tigray over the past couple of weeks. The war-torn region of northern Ethiopia according to the United Nations received over 300 aid trucks from May 10 to May 16, which is the highest number recorded in over a year. 

Since late 2020, the region has experienced escalating degrees of conflict which can be traced to the government’s attempted toppling of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This was in alleged response to rebel-led attacks on army camps. Still, the conflict hasn’t spared the safety of civilians as hundreds of thousands have been driven to the brink of famine and more than two million people displaced. More than nine million left in need of food aid, says the UN who’ve been providing aid since last year. 

Then, earlier this year in March the government declared an “indefinite humanitarian truce” which allowed several convoys of humanitarian aid to reach the region for the first time since mid-December. Since then, about 571 trucks have arrived in Mekele, the regional capital. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have reported that about 15,500 tonnes of food entered Tigray through the neighbouring Afar region. “At least 68,000 metric tonnes are still required to complete the current food distribution cycle,” they say. The mood around Tigray is said to be “generally calm” but still “tense and unpredictable”. However, human rights commissions have complained against the more recent arrests of media personnels and journalists around Tigray’s neighbouring Amhara region. 


The Nigerian government has introduced a new tax on phone calls. According to them, this will be used to fund the healthcare of vulnerable Nigerian citizens who cannot afford healthcare. President Muhammadu Buhari said the National Health Insurance Authority Bill will cover the medical expenses of about 83million Nigerians.

A recent survey by NOI polls established that eight out of ten Nigerians do not have health insurance and have to pay cash for medical attention. The bill will create a group of persons and support them from there. Other funding would be provided through basic health care provision fund, health insurance levy, special intervention fund, as well as any investment proceeds, donations and gifts to the authority.

With an average call rate of 11 Kobo per second, the new law implies at least nine per cent charge on every second of phone calls in the country. Pregnant women, children under five, aged, physically and mentally challenged persons and indigent people encapsulates the vulnerable group. The new act requires every resident in Nigeria to obtain health insurance.

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