Top officials of the United Nations have decried rising armed attacks on education, with a call for immediate and strong preventative actions.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the President of the General Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande made the call on Wednesday.
They spoke at a virtual event commemorating the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack.
In his speech, Guterres emphasised that education, besides being a fundamental human right, is fundamental to peace and development.
He said in spite of this, armed attacks targeting teachers, students and education facilities were on the rise.
According to him, no fewer than 11,000 incidents were reported between 2015 and 2019.
“In addition to depriving millions of vulnerable learners from accessing education, this violence has serious adverse effects.
“They include increased drop-out rates, prolonged educational disruption, child recruitment into armed groups, early pregnancy and sexual violence.
“These attacks simply must not continue,” he said.
The UN Chief urged all Member States to honour their commitments under existing international agreements and initiatives aimed at protecting education from attacks.
One of such initiatives is the Safe Schools Declaration, which also seeks to prevent schools and universities from being used for military purposes.
While noting that 104 countries have endorsed the declaration to date, he called for more endorsements.
In his remarks, Muhammad-Bande said violent conflict had resulted in the displacement of no fewer than 30 million children.
The threat of disruption of education, according to him, has in turn triggered displacement.
“We are witnessing the military occupation of schools, which causes the campus to lose civilian status, thus facing threats of attack as a lawful military target.
“Furthermore, proximity to weapon-bearers places students at risk of forced recruitment, sexual violence, and abduction.
“It is most disturbing that 70 years after the Geneva Convention came into being, we must continue to remind the world that students, teachers, and schools are protected as civilians and civilian objects under international humanitarian law.
“We must take urgent action to protect and uphold the rights of children in all circumstances.
“No one is above the law, and all perpetrators of attacks on education should be held accountable,” Muhammad-Bande said.
He also urged countries that have yet to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration to do so, while also soliciting support for UNICEF’s Change Agenda.
The International Day to Protect Education from Attack was established by the UN General Assembly through Resolution 74/275 on May 28, 2020.
In the resolution, member states reaffirmed the right to education for all and the importance of ensuring safe and enabling learning environments in humanitarian emergencies.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
United States initiates ‘snapback’ process to reimpose sanctions on Iran – Pompeo
The United States has initiated the so-called snapback process to restore almost all previously lifted UN sanctions against Iran, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday.
“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and anti-Semitism,” Pompeo said.
He said the snapback of previously terminated UN sanctions became effective at 8 pm Washington time (0000 GMT).
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the United States move, saying that the snapback mechanism and reimposed sanctions were invalid.
“This step is not supported by the UN Security Council because the United States is no longer in the nuclear agreement and accordingly no longer plays a role in UN resolution 2231,” Zarif said referring to the resolution in which the UNSC backed the Iran nuclear deal signed in Vienna in 2015.
The move by Washington was merely a “propaganda trick” ahead of the United States election, Zarif said on Iranian state television.
Washington’s plans to reimpose international sanctions on Iran have been met with overwhelming opposition from other countries.
Other members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), including key United States allies who are part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, have rejected Washington’s move and have vowed to ignore it.
Under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran limited its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
“Sanctions are being re-imposed on Iran pursuant to the snapback process under UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231. On August 20, the United States notified the President of the Security Council of Iran’s significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments,” Pompeo said in the Saturday statement.
“Virtually all @UN sanctions have returned on Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism.
“This includes a permanent extension of the arms embargo. This is great news for peace in the region!” Pompeo added on Twitter.
He later added that Washington would soon “announce a range of additional measures to strengthen enforcement of @UN sanctions on Iran.”
“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until it stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” he said.
United States special representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams had already signalled Washington’s determination to reimpose sanctions on Tehran earlier this week.
The United States launched a formal bid in August to revive the UN sanctions under the “snapback” mechanism included in the Iran deal.
Those sanctions include the indefinite extension of an arms embargo that would otherwise expire in October.
But few countries believe Washington’s move is legal, as United States President Donald Trump unilaterally exited the JCPOA in 2018.
Washington said it would provide more information this weekend and next week on how the United States intended to enforce the global sanctions.
“In the coming days, the United States will announce a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable,” Pompeo said in Saturday’s statement.
“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran reaches a comprehensive agreement with us to rein in its proliferation threats and stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” Pompeo asserted.
Trump is likely to address Iran in his speech next week to the UN General Assembly’s largely online meeting of world leaders.
The stand-off between the United States and other member states over the issue threatens a diplomatic crisis at the world body.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
NIDO-Ghana plans webinar to mark Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Ghana chapter, said on Saturday that it would organise a webinar as part of events to celebrate Nigeria’s sixtieth independence anniversary.
Mr Elija Iposu, Public Relations Officer of NIDO-Ghana, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria .
Iposu said the event would be organised by NIDO-Ghana in collaboration with a Ghana-based private firm, Diplomats Extra and Milestone Communications.
According to him, the webinar, which will hold on Oct. 2, is a virtual ceremony with Zoom ID: 742450910 and the title: ’60 years of Ghana-Nigeria diplomacy’.
Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, former Director-General Institute of International Affairs, and Amb. Bulus Lolo, former Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria are among high-ranking personalities expected to participate in the event.
Some other expected guests are Mr Oluwaseyi Adeyemi, Publisher, Inside Watch Africa Magazine, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, UN Senior Mediation Advisor, Prof. Baflour Agyeman-Duah, former UN Special Governance Advisor and Affail Monney, President Ghana Journalists Association.
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari on Sept. 16, unveiled the logo and theme for the 60th independence anniversary celebration.
He said that the celebration would be observed for a whole year, to end on Sept. 30, 2021 and would be muted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Nigerians gifted with exceptional confidence, resilience, mental acuity – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigerians are gifted with exceptional attributes of confidence, resilience and mental acuity.
He said that the attributes were best demonstrated in how Nigerians exceled even in other countries in sciences, medicine and politics.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, said the vice president delivered the keynote address at the 111th Founders’ Day Lecture of King’s College, Lagos.
According to Osinbajo, teaching young people Integrity, innovation and hard work is the foundation of a good society.
“Teaching young people that there are huge rewards from creativity, innovation with a culture of integrity in business and personal life, coupled with hardwork and diligence, is the foundation of a good and prosperous society.
“When people are nurtured in the notion that rent-seeking or the prebendal capture of wealth or benefit by access to power is the path to success, then the society will not prosper.
“A few will capture all the resources, everyone else will be poor or on their way there.”
Citing Edward Banfield, American Political Scientist, Osinabjo explained that the exceptional attributes did not free people from the moral basis of a backward society, which was the self-interested, family-centric society where often the public good was sacrificed.
He said that while receiving an education, the mind of a young person must be lifted up beyond self as education must teach the primacy of community, of the good and the well-being of the collective over self.
The Vice President said that the educational design and content must take into account, the current moral and social circumstances, as well as the physical and mental constraints we face as a people.
“There must be, as a rule, a prevailing moral standard, corruption or deviance must be the exception, not the rule.
“Concerns faced at the lower levels of our society; the problems of out-of-school children and the huge deficit in the education of girls,” he said.
For her part, Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who was the guest speaker, commended the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 through the Economic Sustainability Plan.
Mohammed said that scaling up infrastructure for connectivity will be crucial as well as access to digitalised curricula, digital skills training for teachers and students, and methods to protect privacy.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who virtually-delivered a goodwill message from President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.–General Babagana Monguno.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo and the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido II, among others also featured.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
FG launches 25m tree planting, distributes cooking gas cylinders
The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has said that tree planting would stimulate green environment and help to check the impact of climate change and deforestation in communities across the federation.
Tallen said this on Friday during the Federal Government’s launch of the National Cooking Gas Distribution and Tree Planting programme at Onueke in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi (LGAs)
She urged the local government chairmen to embark on tree planting in their areas and ensure that it became part of people’s national life.
She said that 1,000 cylinders would be distributed to each of the 774 LGAs in the country.
The minister said that the programme was targeted at indigent women and girls in the rural areas.
She said that WHO’s report indicates that emission from cooking stoves kills about 4.3 million people annually through air pollution and indoor-smoke inhalation, leading to respiratory disease and death.
“This event is to create public awareness, particularly women and other stakeholders, on the dangers of using firewood for cooking their health and environmental implications,” she said.
The Chairperson of the event, Mrs Princess Ngbada, commended the federal government for choosing the state to launch the programme.
Ngbada, a former Coordinator of New Partnership for Africa Development in Ebonyi, expressed optimism that the use of cooking gas would drastically preserve the forest and reduce the health hazard of cooking with firewood.
Gov. David Umahi, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Kelechi Igwe, hailed the programme and promised that the state government would key into it.
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mr Rebecca Ogbuewo, pledged that the state government would effectively enforce the tree planting to protect the environment.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme entails the planting of 25 million trees as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Sam Oditah