Tag Archives: Nigeria

WTO: EU supports Nigerian candidate

Brussels 26.10.2020 According to an EU official the bloc has taken decision to put its weight behind the Nigerian candidate D.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.

Apparently the discussion took place at the latest EU Council, some member-states were not ready define their preferences, and it took a lot of effort from the president Charles Michel to reach consensus in this matter.
The choice of an African candidate is a “strong signal in support of the multilateral order”, the official added.
The decision is also symbolising the EU trust in Africa, and underlines the significance of the relations between two continents.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala brings more than 30 years of development and financial expertise to the Gavi Board. She has twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, most recently between 2011 and 2015 – a role that encompassed the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy. In 2006 she served as Foreign Affairs Minister. She has also held several key positions at the World Bank, including as Managing Director.

As a former Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s experience and expertise are particularly valuable as Gavi strives to ensure that immunisation programmes are financially sustainable. Her strong commitment to finding private sector solutions to development challenges further contributes to Gavi’s mission.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is currently a senior adviser at Lazard and serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Center for Global Development, among others. She is also the chair of African Risk Capacity, a specialised agency of the African Union to help member states prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Being one of renown economists, she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015, and by Forbes for five consecutive years as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. In 2014, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was recognised by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Dr.Okonjo-Iweala is the author of several books including “Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria”, published in 2012.

A development economist and former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since 1 January 2016.

President Buhari “detached” speech

Brussels 23.10.2020 “It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria” the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell said, reacting upon the events in Lagos. “It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable. Following the Government’s will to deliver on reforms, we expect to see decisive implementation” the EU diplomat has underlined in his Tweet micro blog.

Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerian on the issue of the unrest that has overwhelmed the country in recent days, but without making any mention of the shootings of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza on Tuesday, October 20, night that caused international outrage.

The military opened fire without warning on thousands of peaceful protesters singing the national anthem in the night, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International.

The shootings have been widely condemned but Buhari did not speak of them at all during his Thursday,October 22 address, instead urging the protestors to stop their actions.

“This government will not allow anybody or (any) groups to disrupt the peace of the nation,” Buhari said in his TV address, urging protesters to “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.”

“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and law and order,” he said. “Under no circumstances would this be tolerated.”

Buhari called on Nigeria’s youths “to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.”

The President responded to the criticism he has received from African heads of state and other world leaders by calling on them “to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position, or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.”

While as Buhari was addressing the nation, irate Nigerians flooded social media with denunciations.

“President Buhari during his speech refused to acknowledge those dead as a result of military attacked on Lekki protesters #EndSARS,” tweeted Usman Okai Austin.

EU awaits ECOWAS decision on Mali

Brussels 04.10.2020 The EU once again reiterated its full support to ECOWAS on the issue of lifting Mali sanctions, imposed by West Africa the regional powers.  Meanwhile the transitional government is hopeful that sanctions placed on Mali by ECOWAS are likely to be lifted soon. Mali’s newly appointed transitional President, Bah Ndaw held a meeting with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Permanent Representative to Mali, Boly Hamidou to discuss the blockade problem, which has grave consequences for population of the country, and neighbourhood regions, involved in cross-border trade.

“After the swearing-in of the President of the Transition, Mr. Bah N’daw on September 25, the appointment of a civilian prime minister, Mr. Moctar Ouane, on Sunday, September 27, we are following the developments in view of the Transition on a track in accordance with ECOWAS requirements” said the EU spokesperson to Africa Diplomatic, while commenting on the issue. “In this context, the EU awaits the decision of ECOWAS regarding the sanctions imposed on Mali.” 

“The confirms her readiness to work in close collaboration with the UN / AU / ECOWAS Follow-up Committee in support of a successful transition. The EU gives full support to ECOWAS, whose heads of state are calling for a transfer of power to a transition led by a civilian President and Prime Minister, who can ensure the transition to a return to constitutional order” the spokesperson has underlined.

ECOWAS requires that the position of vice president, instituted by the board, be deprived of the prerogative to replace the president if the latter is unable to exercise the position. The post of vice president was handed over to the head of the military who led the coup d’état – Colonel Assimi Goita.

ECOWAS is concerned that the army may regain control in a transition in which it already plays a prominent role. The position of vice-president and his duties must be included in a “letter,” a kind of fundamental document, to which the board refers to organize the transition.

However, no final official version of this text, according to which the president and vice president took office on September 25, has not been published. ECOWAS is requesting the publication of this document. A source close to the Mali officers said it could be revealed soon but would remain anonymous.

Meanwhile Nigeria President Buhari is reluctant to lift up sanctions, after the meeting with the Special Envoy to present a formal report to the new ECOWAS Chairman, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, “who will then write us officially, and we then determine the next steps.”

The Nigerian President said with about two-thirds of Mali currently under occupation by terrorists, “the priority of the military should be to secure their country,” rather than hold on to power, former army General Buhari said. Buhari is a retired general of the Nigerian Army and served as military head of state from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.

IGWE: COVID19 pandemic in Africa

Leo IGWE OPINION Confronting Human Extinction and Post-Human Approaches to COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa.
A pandemic that has threatened to extinct humanity provides an ample opportunity to envision possible futures and explore post-human permutations. This is because, amidst the gloom and despair, fears, and anxieties over human survival, it is compelling that humans re-imagine and re-conceive the human. Speculations about the future must engage and move beyond human vulnerabilities and imperfections holding out some hope and optimism about the future and humanity.

A post-human take on the coronavirus pandemic is quite pertinent especially for the African continent, a region that has been predicted would be most affected by COVID-19. Although the surge in the infection rate that many predicated has not materialized, the region is no less vulnerable to epidemics and pandemics that could threaten human existence and survival in the region. Thus any speculation about redesigning or technologically augmenting the human is both cogent and promising and laden with opportunities and possibilities worthy of a reflection.

Pandemic Rattles Africa

The outbreak of COVID-19 caused so much panic and anxiety across Africa and the world. Drastic and unprecedented measures have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus- social distancing, a ban on international and domestic flights, and prohibition of public gathering in parks, churches, and schools. The pandemic has posed a serious challenge to African politics, economies, and health care sectors. According to the WHO, the first reported case of COVID-19 in Africa was on February 14 and since then 52 countries have reported cases. African countries still lag behind the rest of the world in testing and monitoring of the disease. In my country Nigeria, the number of confirmed cases has continued to rise. Very few tests have been conducted due to the limited number of testing equipment and personnel in the country. Like the Ebola virus, COVID 19 has revealed the fragile and weak health care capacities in African countries especially the technological deficit in the management of diseases. The UN Economic Commission on Africa has projected that between 300 thousand and 3 million Africans will lose their lives as a result of COVID-19. However, it noted that this projected impact could be affected by the intervention measures from the various countries.

These grim prospects for the region are predicated on so many factors including overcrowding and poorly serviced slum dwellings in urban areas, limited access to hand-washing facilities, informal workforce, undernourishment, underlying health conditions such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and extreme poverty. Besides, there is a challenge posed by snake oil sellers who take advantage of people. Lack of a cure for the disease has provided an opportunity for quacks and other con artists to peddle fake therapies for the coronavirus, at very exorbitant prices. In Ghana and Nigeria, there have been reports of traditional healers, operators of herbal clinics, and pastors market spurious remedies and questionable cures for COVID-19.

As earlier noted, COVID-19 poses a serious challenge to African countries in the area of testing for the virus. As of June 29 Nigeria, a country of over 200 million persons has carried out a little over 130 000 tests. Let us assume that Nigeria can carry out a million tests at the end of the year, how long will it take to test half of the population of the country? The same situation applies to Zambia. Zambia reported its first two cases of COVID-19 in March. In May, this country of about 17 million people has conducted only 20,000 tests. Whilst in Kenya, the number of tests was 45,000 and 537,713 tests were required to cover one percent of the population.

As Belinda Herring has noted there is a lack of necessary infrastructure to tackle COVID-19. African countries lack the equipment and trained human resources, and also the reagents that are needed to do the tests.

To carry out these tests, African countries depend on other countries to send or sell the resources to them. They rely on the WHO to make available the testing materials, training as well as tracking facilities. Even with the existing support from other countries and the WHO, African countries need a technological leap to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Various technologies need to converge and combine in ways that could signal hope, enhance the health care capacity, and accelerate testing as well as treatment processes.

As it stands, the COVID-19 management status quo in African countries is anything but smart and capable of getting countries to defeat the pandemic. Some countries have trained human resources but there aren’t enough testing kits. They may possess testing kits but lack enough personnel to use them. Some countries have laboratories for the tests but not enough reagents or protective devices for the scientists and health workers.

Thus the effective management of COVID-19 is predicated on revamping the health infrastructure in African countries and making available cutting edge health technologies for testing, monitoring, and treatment of the disease. For instance, in Nigeria, the technology for testing and management of COVID-19 should be available and accessible to the country’s 200 million people, not just less than a million at currently the case. So with the current infrastructure, it is evident that African countries are incapable of meeting the targets of combating and containing COVID-19 and other life and human threatening epidemics and pandemics.

African countries need to transition into more technology-mediated societies that can harness scientific and technological innovations, emerging technologies including robotics, nanotechnology, gene therapy, stem cell therapy, and artificial intelligence in combating the disease. To rattle the COVID-19 management status quo in the region, a convergence of technologies and blurring of the line between is required to scale up efficient and effective management of the pandemic.

Nigeria: Russian captain kidnapped

Pirates kidnapped two Russian sailors from the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix, the Embassy of Russian Federation in Nigeria has confirmed. (Image: illustration).

We confirm that two Russians were kidnapped from the ship Water Phoenix as a result of an attack by pirates 30 kilometers away from Lagos on September 8,” the embassy said on its official portal. “In cooperation with Nigerian law enforcement agencies we are exerting efforts to establish the hostages’ whereabouts and secure their release.”

According to the Nigerian portal Nigerian Tribune, the pirates seized the ship’s captain and another member of a crew, while the other 16 sailors managed to lock themselves in a compartment. The entire crew has been formed from 18 sailors – 7 Russians and 11 Filipinos.

The portal Dryad Global, devoted to maritime security matters, said that pirates had attacked the refrigerator ship Water Phoenix under the Liberian flag on the way from the Dutch port of Ijmuiden . At the moment of the attack the vessel was navigating southwest of Lagos. According to the information available it belongs to a company registered in Germany.

The Gulf of Guinea stretching from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south is notorious as the worst piracy ravaged area globally. In the first quarter of this year it accounted for 45% of world piracy incidents.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (“IMB”), the piracy can be defined as “the act of boarding any vessel with intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”.

Reducing piracy is an ongoing battle, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the situation has aggravated. Previously the Somali waters are perhaps the most well-known location of the modern-day pirates, largely due to headlines generated during the 2000s. Since then, the region has managed to significantly reduce numbers of piracy incidents, in part due to surveillance from the air and sea, and an increased international cooperation between countries’ navies. However, now the Gulf of Guinea has taken the lead. This fall in numbers became a global trend, with incidents of piracy falling worldwide in recent years.

2020 is, however, on course to buck this downward trend. The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in the first half of 2019.

Nigeria: jihadists abdicted hundreds of displaced

Insurgents from the Islamic State group West Africa Province (ISWAP), affiliated to Boko Haram, attacked Kukawa in the Lake Chad region late on August 18, seizing hundreds of people who had just returned to their homes after spending nearly two years in displacement camps, said Babakura Kolo, head of a local militia.

“The terrorists attacked the town in 22 trucks around 4:00 pm (1600GMT) yesterday and engaged soldiers guarding the town in a fierce battle,” he said.

Residents of Kukawa, escorted by the military, had returned to the town just on August 2, on the orders of the Borno state authorities.

They had been living in camps in the regional capital Maiduguri, 180 kilometers away, where they fled following a brutal attack in November 2018.

A local chief who accompanied the residents to the town said the people had returned with the hope of cultivating their farmlands “only to end up in the hands of the insurgents”.

“We don’t know what they would do to them but I hope they don’t harm them,” said the chief, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons.

A security source who confirmed the incident to AFP said fighter jets were deployed from Maiduguri on August 19 to “tackle the situation”, without giving further details.

Nigeria: three pirates convicted

Nigerian court has announced the first convictions under a new anti-piracy law, ensuring the world’s shipping fleets that legal reforms will normalise the situation in the Gulf of Guinea.

The three men fined by the court in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub, on August 11 were among nine accused of hijacking the tanker MV Elobey VI off Equatorial Guinea in March and securing a $200,000 ransom for the crew.

The merchant shipping industry has long demanded Nigeria to undertake strict measures in the area, which has been dubbed “pirate alley.”

It accounts for over 90% of maritime kidnappings globally, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), with attacks on all kind of vessels from oil platforms to fishing boats.

The court fined the three men convicted 10 million naira ($26,300) each for each of the two counts of piracy to which they pleaded guilty.

The remaining six pleaded not guilty and their trial continues.

Nigerian navy spokesman Commodore Suleiman Dahun (pictured) said the convictions were the first conviction under the new law, which passed last year to open legal way to prosecute pirates.

Commodore added that the fines were levied in lieu of prison sentences.

While the Gulf of Guinea is streched along more than a dozen West African countries, experts underline the pirates typically come from Nigeria’s oil-rich but poverty-stricken Delta region.

So far the assaillants rarely faced judicial consequences as piracy was not defined illegal under Nigerian law.

A total of 49 crew were kidnapped in the Gulf in the first half of this year, compared with 27 last year, according to IMB figures. It has aslo underlined that attackers were also more daring and going further out to sea than previous years.

Cameroon: Islamists attack refugee camp

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be responsible for killing of 15 people and leaving the other six wounded in a grenade attack on a camp for displaced people in northern Cameroon on Sunday,August 2, a local official told. The village is located in the Mozogo district, close to the Nigerian border in the Far North region.

In the early hours, assailants threw a grenade into a group of sleeping people inside the camp in the village of Nguetchewe, said district mayor, Medjeweh Boukar. At present the camp is hosting around 800 people, he said.

Boukar was informed by the camp residents that 15 people had died. A security official confirmed the attack and the death toll. The wounded were taken to a nearby hospital, they added. The image of mourners around a grave appeared on social media.

“The attackers arrived with a woman who carried the grenade into the camp,” Boukar said, underlinging that women and children were among the victims.

Over the past month there have been twenty incursions and attacks by suspected Islamist militants, Boukar said.

The other Boko Haram suspect attack took place in State Borno, Nigeria, on July 30.

Boko Haram has been fighting for a decade to establish an Islamic caliphate on the territory of Nigeria. «6 people killed, 27 wounded by 4 explosives fired into Borno state capital #Maiduguri, by suspected #BokoHaram insurgents yesterday 30 Jul, #Nigeria police reports. Attack, following failed attempt to invade army barracks 13 Jul, is 2nd major breach of city’s security in 3 weeks» wrote on his Twitter micro blog Nnamdi Obasi, the senior adviser for International Crisis group from Nigeria.

The violence, which has cost the lives of 30,000 people and displaced millions more, has frequently spilled over into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Image above: social media

EU on COVID19 in Nigeria

“Attacks, abductions and killings of civilians by armed groups in northern Nigeria have killed over 160 people including 130 civilians since 28 May. Such heinous acts of terrorism and violence are intolerable. These attacks pose a serious threat to Nigeria’s security and to that of the wider region, including in the increasingly restive Northwest of the country” read the text of the Declaration of the top EU diplomat Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič on the latest attacks.

“The ongoing conflict, growing food insecurity and COVID-19 pandemic significantly increase humanitarian needs in northeast Nigeria. International humanitarian law must be safeguarded and respected by all parties to the conflict, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Civilian and humanitarian personnel should not be targeted, and all parties should facilitate unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need.

“The EU stands by Nigeria and its people in this period of increased violence and instability”.

Nigeria 40% population in poverty

Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report monitoring poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, said 40% of people in the country lived below its poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year. It signifies that it represents 82.9 million people of the most populaous country in Africa.

Nigeria is the top oil exporter in Africa, which has generated wealth related to crude sales that account for more than half of government revenue. But a failure to diversify the economy and build much needed transport and power infrastructure has retained growth and the spread of wealth beyond a rich elite.

Rapid population growth exceeds economic growth, which stands at around 2%. The United Nations (UN) estimates that Nigeria will have a population of 400 million ihnabitant by 2050.

Nigeria was already struggling to shake off the impact of a 2016 recession before the new coronavirus pandemic hit economies worldwide.

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse federation which is formed by 36 autonomous states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Inequality in terms of income and opportunities has been progressing rapidly and has affected poverty reduction. The North-South divide has widened in recent years due to the Boko Haram insurgency and a lack of economic development in the northern part of the country.

Large pockets of Nigeria’s population still live in extreme poverty, without adequate access to basic services, and could benefit from more inclusive development policies. The lack of job opportunities is at the core of the high poverty levels, of regional inequality, and of social and political unrest in the country.

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