Nigeria’s economy grew 3.11 percent in the first quarter of 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said on Monday. The Gross Domestic Product, which measures the size of the economy, expanded at a slower rate than the previous quarter — the fourth quarter of 2021 the NBS said Monday. It grew by 3.98 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021. The performance was, however, better than a year ago when the economy grew 0.51 percent in the first quarter of 2021. The growth recorded in the first three months of 2022 was the sixth consecutive quarter of economic expansion. The full-year GDP figure for 2021 was the fastest growth in seven years. In the NBS report, non-oil sectors such as financials, communication, trade and healthcare were among those that recorded the fastest growth. “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability,” the statistics office said crude petroleum and natural gas, road transport, quarrying and other minerals lagged. The oil sector declined by 26.04 percent in the first quarter, compared with an 8.06 percent contraction the previous quarter.

Seven political parties have joined forces ahead of the upcoming 2023 general elections. According to a communique on Monday, the coalition said it took 15 months of deliberations and agreements, for the Allied Political Parties and the National Consultative Front, comprising of six parties, to decide to join forces with the Labour Party to present a joint Presidential Candidate for the 2023 polls in a bid to put up a stronger fight against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and front-line opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The parties in the coalition are New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Labour Party (LP) and National Rescue Movement (NRM). A spokesperson for the National Consultative Front (NCFront), Bello Bilikis, said that the formal endorsement of the Labour Party by the ‘3rd Force’ Movement arose from recent meetings and activities of separate political commissions of the NLC and the TUC with their allies like the Femi Falana-led The Political Alternative Movement (TPAM) and the Civil Society, towards repositioning the Labour Party as an “alternative platform for rescuing Nigeria ahead of the 2023 general elections.” Ms Bilikis added that Prof Attahiru Jega of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Professor Pat Utomi of the Labour Party and Senator Saidu Dansadau of the National Rescue Movement, are also on board with the arrangement and have been instructed to build a Mega Electoral Alliance and also adopt of a single line of candidates among the seven allied parties involved in the ‘3rd Force’ alliance talks for the 2023 elections. Furthermore, Ms Bilikis noted that the ‘3rd Force’ Mega Electoral Pact for the 2023 elections is proposed around agreement on Labour Charter of Demand, EndSARS Youths’ Demands and Constitutional Referendum for Nigeria, among others to be agreed as terms of the Alliance for the 2023 elections. The ‘3rd Force’ Coalition Leaders and Parties are expected to jointly address the country sometime this week in a bid to announce the new agenda.

Rwanda said on Monday it had requested a regional body to investigate the shelling of its territory by the military of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo that it said had injured several people and damaged property. The alleged incident could further inflame relations between the two countries, which have long traded accusations about support for militant groups. In a statement, Rwanda’s ministry of defence said it had asked the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) to investigate an attack on its territory. EJVM is a group of military experts from the region that monitors and investigates security incidents. The attack targeted Musanze district in Rwanda’s north, “injuring several civilians and damaging property”, the ministry said. Tensions have been heightened since March, when Congo’s M23 rebel group attacked two Congolese army positions near the borders with Uganda and Rwanda and advanced on nearby towns. The group seized swathes of territory in eastern Congo during an insurrection in 2012 and 2013 before its fighters were driven out by Congolese and United Nations forces. They have since returned from neighbouring countries to stage attacks. Congo and U.N. investigators have previously accused Rwanda of supporting M23 but Kigali denies the accusations.

Significant proportions of weapons and arms seized from Islamist insurgents in Niger came from West African state stockpiles, suggesting authorities are struggling to secure arms stores in the region, a report said on Monday. There was no suggestion that any governments were sending weapons to militants who have launched attacks in Niger as well as Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria, Conflict Armament Research (CAR), the group that published the report, said. Instead, the findings showed that “maintaining custody of military material represents a challenge for the region’s national security forces, particularly those engaged in active military and counter-terrorism operations,” CAR added. The group said it had identified 165 weapons and 6,243 pieces of ammunition in October 2019 that authorities had recovered from Islamist fighters in Diffa, southeast Niger. Since then, it said it had been tracing the arms, checking with governments and suppliers. About 17% of the weapons came from stockpiles in Chad, Nigeria and Niger while 23% of ammunition originated from stockpiles in Nigeria, the report said. Militants from Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and other groups have built strongholds in the Lake Chad region and launched repeated cross border raids since 2015. There was evidence that Boko Haram and ISWAP militants used local black markets and smuggling channels to procure arms, CAR said. Nearly half the weapons it studied were either manufactured in African countries or originated from stocks that had been exported to a country in northern or western Africa, the report said.