The British government appointed former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as a post-Brexit trade adviser on Friday, despite objections from opposition lawmakers and other critics.
Abbott is one of nine external advisers joining ministers in a new trade group charged with “using their influence to help Britain … forge a stronger global consensus for free trade,’’ the government said.
It said the advisers will take no direct role in trade talks but will advise ministers as negotiations with the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand “enter the crucial later stages’’.
Many opposition lawmakers had objected to Abbott’s appointment because of his past comments on women and homosexuality, while others had cast doubt on his trade expertise.
Asked about Abbott’s past comments before the announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters he “does not agree with those sentiments at all’’.
“What I would say about Tony Abbott is this is a guy who was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia,’’ Johnson said.
“It’s an amazing country, it’s a freedom-loving country and it’s a liberal country.
“I think that speaks for itself.’’
Johnson has vowed to prioritise liberal trade deals with the United States and other non-EU economies once Britain ceases to be bound by EU trade rules at the end of this year.
“At a time of increased protectionism and global insecurity, it’s vital that the UK is a strong voice for open markets and that we play a meaningful role in reshaping global trading rules alongside like-minded countries,’’ said Liz Truss, Britain’s international trade secretary.
Truss said the new board, which will be advised by several economists, academics and politicians in addition to Abbott, “brings together a diverse group of people who share Britain’s belief in free enterprise, democracy, and high standards and rules-based trade’’.
Labour’s Women and Equalities Secretary, Marsha de Cordova, had tweeted earlier Friday that it was “time for the PM to do the right thing,’’ after sending a letter to Johnson’s government saying Abbott’s views were “dangerous and divisive”.
Abbott has previously said that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuality and in 2012 was accused of misogyny by fellow former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in an explosive speech in parliament.
David Henig, UK director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a trade-focussed think-tank, said Abbott was “not an expert in trade’’.
“And there are many experts in trade who are neither a homophobe, a misogynist, or to add one on, a climate change denier,’’ Henig tweeted.
Trade policy consultant and former Australian trade negotiator, Dmitry Grozoubinski, also said it was pushing it to call Abbott a trade expert.
“By his own admission, his contribution to Australian FTAs (free-trade agreements) was to tell negotiators not to sweat on the technical details and to just get them done,’’ Grozoubinski tweeted.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended Abbott’s trade credentials earlier Friday but sidestepped questions about his views on women and homosexuality.
“He knows a lot about trade,’’ Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Golf: DeChambeau muscles his way to United States Open victory
A bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bashed his way to a six-shot United States Open victory on Sunday, silencing any lingering questions as to whether his brawny game could translate to the major stage.
World number nine DeChambeau, who began the day two shots back of United States Open debutant Matthew Wolff, clinched his first major title with a mix of jaw-dropping drives and clutch putts.
He shot a virtually flawless three-under-par 67 to reach six under for the tournament at Winged Foot.
“On nine is when I first thought, ‘OK, this could be reality’,” DeChambeau, speaking during the trophy presentation, said of his mindset after an eagle at the par-five ninth.
“I made that eagle, long eagle putt and I shocked myself by making it, too, and I thought to myself, ‘I could do it’. And then immediately after, I said, ‘nope, you’ve got to focus on each and every hole’.”
Wolff (75), appearing in only his second major, was one shot back of DeChambeau at the turn but fell apart over a back nine that included two bogeys and a double-bogey.
A fearless DeChambeau, whose final round included the eagle, two birdies and a bogey, attacked at every chance.
For his efforts was the only player to break par in the final round as he cruised to a maiden major at his 16th attempt.
He attacked Winged Foot all week like few other golfers can.
So confident in his approach, DeChambeau unleashed his driver on practically every par-four and par-five hole as he figured the birdie chances would outweigh the risk that Winged Foot’s nasty rough creates.
DeChambeau grabbed the solo lead after five holes, hit a perfectly-paced 40-foot eagle putt at the ninth to maintain a one-shot cushion.
It was a tournament that came down to a two-horse race between him and Wolff as they made the turn.
The 21-year-old Wolff was bidding to become the first player to win the United States Open on his tournament debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913.
But he bogeyed the 10th and 14th holes, before a double-bogey at 16.
“I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way,” said Wolff. “But first United States Open, second-place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for.”
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (73) birdied the last to finish alone in third-place, a distant eight shots back of DeChambeau.
He was one shot clear of Harris English (73), who made a double-bogey at the first where he lost his tee shot.
Xander Schauffele (74) looked ready to make a back-nine charge after making the turn fresh off back-to-back birdies.
But the world number seven made five consecutive bogeys from the 13th and finished in fifth-place.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (75), who finished in a share of eighth-place, was almost left in a state of disbelief at DeChambeau’s win.
This was given his inaccuracy off the tee at a tournament renowned for its thick rough.
“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a United States Open champion does,” said McIlroy.
“Look, he’s found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know.
“But it’s just – it’s not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Survival Fund: FG releases registration schedule as portal opens Monday
As the portal for the registration of prospective beneficiaries for the Survival Fund opens on Monday, the Federal Government has released the timetable for categories of businesses to register.
A statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the Project Delivery Office stated that the portal which opens at 10 PM, will have educational institutions as the first category of beneficiaries to register.
“Nigerians interested in the Payroll Support scheme are to note that the site for registration will be open from 10 pm Monday September 21, 2020.
“In order to ensure seamless registration process, the Project Delivery Office (PDO) has designed a registration schedule.
“Registration for Payroll Support will start with educational institutions on Monday and will be followed with businesses in the hospitality industry on Friday September 25 beginning from 12 A.M.
“The portal will also be open to other category of small businesses from 12 A.M., on Monday September 28, 2020,” the statement said.
The office therefore advised those interested in benefiting from the fund to take note of the schedule and also log on to http://www.survivalfund.ng to register for the payroll support initiative.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the survival fund is a conditional grant to support vulnerable Micro and Small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in MSMEs from the shock of the COVID– 19 pandemic.
The scheme is estimated to save at least 1.3 million jobs across the country, while targeting an average of 35,000 individuals per state.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz
Election: PDP commends INEC, Buhari, Edo people
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan at a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, urged INEC to extend the process to future elections, especially the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State.
“Our party also notes the efforts of the INEC under Prof. Yakubu Mahmood in ensuring that Edo election was conducted in a manner that was largely adjudged to be free, fair, transparent and credible.
“Nigerians hope that what we have witnessed in Edo will not be an off-season procedure in the commission. We demand that this credible process applies to all our elections.
“The PDP applauds the use of virtual portal by INEC to upload results directly from the polling unit, the base of our election, which made it impossible for electoral violators to hijack this electoral process.
“We however urge INEC to strengthen its processes, particularly in the area of card readers, to forestall the type of delays witnessed in accreditation of voters in Edo.
“Our party also notes the improvement in the activities of our security agencies compared to past elections. We hope that our security organs will continue in this stead in future elections.
“The Edo election has indeed shown that credible elections are possible in our country if we play by the rules,” he said.
Ologbondiyan commended President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing credible election, imploring him to continue in the spirit of ensuring that the people were allowed to freely choose their leaders at all elections.
He urged the President to continue to toe the line of allowing for electoral uprightness for posterity.
He, however, said that Edo election must serve as a loud lesson to “political godfathers”, that power belongs only to God.
“He confers through the people; and that no matter how an individual strives to lord it over others, the will of God, through the people, will always prevail,” he said.
Ologbondiyan congratulated Gov. Godwin Obaseki, on his reelection and the people of Edo for their choice.
“This victory, as won by the people, is historic and serves as a strong, viable and unambiguous lesson to leaders.
“We rejoice with the Edo people for helping to reset the political culture of our nation by casting their votes, protecting the votes, ensuring that their votes counted and following it, “bumper-to-bumper”, to the final point of declaration,” he said.
Ologbondiyan appreciated the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu , whose participation in the election helped to deepen Nigeria democracy and enabled the people to make their choice.
“We invite him, in the spirit of sportsmanship, to congratulate his brother, Obaseki and join him in the onerous task of leadership in the general interest of all Edo people,” he said.
Ologbondiyan also commended traditional institutions, faith-based organisations, youth groups, market women, artisans, community associations, trade unions, traditional leaders and other stakeholders in Edo for standing up for their state during her critical moments.
“Furthermore, the PDP applauds the international community for their keen observation of our electoral processes as well as profiling of those who are bent on undermining our democracy and making free and fair elections appear impossible in Nigeria.
“We urge the international community and all lovers of democracy not to relent in providing necessary advisory to our leaders on the conduct of our elections,” Ologbondiyan said.
Ologbondiyan restated PDP’s support for the actions taken so far by the US and UK in restricting electoral violators from visiting their countries.
“We urge them not to restrain on further sanctions against such individuals for their sinister roles in our elections,” he said.
Ologbondiyan appreciated the Chairman of PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, for providing the right leadership that led to the victory in Edo.
He also commended all PDP governors, national assembly caucus, elders, leaders, critical stakeholders and teeming members of the party for their efforts in the election.
“Furthermore, our party thanks the media, the civil society groups and all Nigerians across board, for showing more than a passing interest in ensuring that the wishes of the people of Edo for a credible and transparent election prevailed.
“We do not take your efforts in this regard for granted.
“The PDP assures of a continuous partnership with all critical stakeholders in our collective desire to recreate a nation that will continue to be our pride,” he added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/ Maharazu Ahmed
15th Abuja Int’l trade fair to feature 500 exhibitors – ACCI
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says its 15th Abuja International Trade Fair will feature not more than 500 local and foreign exhibitors.
ACCI Media Officer Latifat Opoola who made the disclosure on Sunday said the fair would hold in October at the Abuja Trade and Convention with the theme “Trade and Commerce Beyond Borders”.
According to Opoola, this year’s event in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols will only showcase indoor and virtual exhibitions to make room for a controlled environment that will ensure social distancing.
She noted that an average attendance of 100,000 visitors from both Nigeria and 150 countries, including U.K., United States, UAE, India, Malasyia and China would participate both physically and virtually at the fair.
She said other countries like Saudi Arabia, Ghana, South Africa, among others, were expected to participate.
She noted that over the years, the fair had been an amazing trade platform for international and domestic industry professionals, leading brands and MSMEs to transact, share market insights, cutting edge technology and expertise in an interactive environment.
“This year’s event will provide a platform for sharing of trade, investment and market opportunity as well as information. It will also help buyers, investors and traders to foster business relationships.
“Over 500 exhibitors from within and outside Nigeria in all sectors of the economy, including Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Electricity, Oil and Gas, Tourism, Textile, Transport, Telecommunications, Financial and Service sectors are expected to participate.
“With a team of trade professionals, we are persistent in providing a conducive trading atmosphere for our exhibitors, which will lead to strategies and tactics needed to innovate, grow and promote businesses,” she said in a statement.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on Oct. 22, while the closing ceremony holds on Nov. 2.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Ejiofor)