Okonjo-Iweaka underscored the role of the global trade body in Geneva at a reception held in her honor by the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN while appealing for global support for her candidacy as the race for the World Trade Organisation( WTO) Director General position enters the election phase.
“When vaccines and therapeutic medicine are produced, the WTO should be able to facilitate accessibility and equitable distribution to all member nations.
“To this end, trade has to be a strong recovery out of the global recession. And that makes a multilateral trading system part of the solution,” she said.
She said her experiences in GAVI were an added advantage, as they would enable her to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries in the drive toward producing vaccines.
According to her, e-Commerce and digital economy are vital forms of trade in the new normal brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
She, however, spoke of the need to address the digital divide challenge dichotomy between developing and least developed countries, where infrastructure remains a major impediment to such form of trade.
“There is need for WTO to collaborate with finance agencies to address these issues otherwise it remains an impediment to multilateral trading system.
“If elected as director general, you have an ally, who is interested in addressing these challenges,” she said.
In his remarks, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment described Okonjo-Iweala as a global icon with proven leadership skills that the WTO would require.
Adeniyi, who was represented by Mr Abdulhamid Adamu, Charge d’ Affairs of the Nigerian Trade Office in Geneva, stated that Okonjo-Iweala has achieved a lot of positives some of which are spearheading negotiations and reforms that enhanced transparency of government accounts, as well as strengthening institutions against corruption.
In separate presentations, Amb. Baba Madugu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland, and Amb. Leopold Samba of the Central African Republic, applauded Okonjo-Iweala for her desire to be the WTO chief.
They described her as the best candidate for the position given her pedigree and skills.
The event was attended by WTO ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps of the UN in Geneva, and international trade experts.
Candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, Republic of Korea, Kenya, UK, and Saudi Arabia are also vying for the WTO top job.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
AbdulRazaq updates Buhari on Kwara flood disaster, seeks FG support
Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has updated President Muhammadu Buhari on the havoc wreaked by flood in the state, saying over 15,000 people had been displaced as a result of the disaster.
Speaking to State House correspondents on his mission to the Villa, on Tuesday in Abuja, the governor said he met with the president to request for Federal Government assistance for the victims of the disaster.
He, therefore, urged the federal government to come to the aid of the displaced persons, saying property and farm products worth about N10billion had been damaged or destroyed as a result of the disaster.
The governor expressed the hope that the assistance if granted would help to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of state, who are victims of flood disasters this year.
“I came to see the president, among other things, to discuss ecological and developmental issues.
“Over the weekend, we had huge rainstorm that destroyed about 5,000 houses in the State capital. We had huge flooding in Kwara North and the bank of River Niger.
“There are a lot of internally displaced people in the State capital. The State needs assistance to abate the crisis.
“We have about 5,000 houses and thousands of hectares of farmland that are under water. Close to about 10,000 to 15,000 people are already displaced so far. So, it’s straining the State’s economy.
The governor, however, expressed the hope that the state would witness bumper harvest this farming season in spite of the reported flood in the state.
He said: “Luckily for us, we did two cycles of rice farming in the affected areas. We are hoping to do three cycles. Yes, there is huge impact.
“We are expecting bumper harvest this season, especially with the federal government’s intervention in the agricultural sector.”
Edited By: Felix Ajide
UN commends FG on improvement of humanitarian access in North-East
The United Nations has commended the Federal Government’s efforts at improving humanitarian support in the North-East region of the country, saying the Buhari Administration “has taken important steps to improve access to people in need.”
A statement in Abuja on Tuesday by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the commendation came amidst international concerns on the activities of terrorists and violent extreme groups in the region.
Lately, some international humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have expressed worry on their inability to operate effectively and distribute relief materials in parts of the North-East because of security concerns, especially in some remote areas of Borno.
“In a bid to reverse the trend and ensure effective access to vital food supplies, the Humanitarian Affairs Minister, the National Security Adviser and members of the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee, escalated the matter to the Presidency.
“The President then mandated the Vice President to work with the Committee, Governors in the region and relevant MDAs, including service chiefs to resolve the matter in conjunction with international NGOs and multilateral agencies operating in the region.
“The Vice President then held series of meetings, bringing together the governors, all the relevant government agencies and representatives of international agencies and INGOs.
“This intervention by the Presidency has led to a renewed and coordinated effort of providing a new template that supports the activities of the INGOs and offers a more secured access to the areas in question,’’ the presidential aide maintained.
In reaction to this intervention and new arrangement, Adesina quoted the United Nations Secretariat in a briefing last week by the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock to the UN Security Council to have said:
“I am pleased to report we have had constructive engagements in recent days with the Nigerian authorities, and the Government has taken important steps to improve access to people in need, which we look forward to building on further.”
Lowcock had indicated earlier that “In North-East Nigeria, as we told you…violence by extremist non-state armed groups is largely responsible for driving up humanitarian need.”
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
8 states yet to implement new minimum wage – TUC
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), has said that eight states are yet to commence the payment of the new minimum wage and its consequential adjustments.
Its President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Mr Musa-Lawal Ozigi, in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, said that the union had written to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue, but without any success.
The leaders, while expressing deep concern, said that the union had decided to collaborate with its sister union, the Nigeria Labour Congress, to carry out its planned protest formerly scheduled for Sept. 23, but now shifted to Sept. 28.
“There is no need for the pains we bear; it is a needless one. They asked us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs.
“Services are not rendered, yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills.
“You will recall that this government spoke a lot on subsidy and even promised to build refineries.
“We depend a lot on oil, so any hike in fuel price will automatically have adverse effects, but successive governments have consistently done that,” the union leaders fumed.
The duo vowed that the union would protest against social ills, urging governments at all levels to act quickly to forestall such action in the interest of the general public.
Edited By: Josephine Obute and Ephraims Sheyin
COVID-19: We’ve flattened the curve, says Gov. Ganduje
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje says Kano State has flattened the curve of the spread of COVID-19 following the N5billion intervention fund made available to it by the Federal Government.
Ganduje made this known to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.
He stated that he was in the Presidential Villa to thank President Buhari over the federal government assistance of the five billion naira to tackle the pandemic.
He further explained that the massive testing which yielded negative results was confirmation that the curve has been flattened in Kano.
He said: “On COVID-19, I came to thank the President for assisting Kano State with N5 billion to fight the pandemic. That has assisted the state. We have opened five testing centres which are functional, the curve is now flattened.
“We carried out testing maximally but at the same time the positivity ratio is very low. So, it (COVID-19) is dying down almost on a daily basis. So, I came to thank the President for that assistance.”
The governor said he updated the President on the security situation in the state, especially the millitary training facility provided by the state government at the Falgore Forest at the cost of over N500 million.
“We are providing infrastructure for military training in the Falgore Forest in order to prevent the bandits from colonising that particular environment.
“The infrastructure will include auditorium, houses, dining hall, kitchen, shooting range and many other amenities to enable the military train continuously,’’ he added.
Ganduje announced that his administration had embarked on the construction of a Ruga settlement in the forest, as well as a dam, to halt the movement of the nomadic Fulani from one place to the other.
“A modern system of animal husbandry will also be in place at the forest, for which 75 sons and daughters of Fulani herdsmen have been trained in Turkey for artificial insemination.
“Once the Ruga is completed, they will be settled there and then modern animal husbandry will be practiced,” he said.
Ganduje added that he also updated the President on the blasphemy case in Kano.
He explained that the house of the father of the accused was burnt by locals but the boy was secured, charged to court and sentenced to death.
“The boy can appeal the judgement and he has since done so,” he said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi