The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has identified security as a major success so far recorded by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration since the past five years.
Onyeama, who spoke as a guest at the News Agency of Nigeria forum on Tuesday in Abuja, attributed success in fights against terrorism to the Federal Government’s focus on security.
On the challenges and achievement of the government in the past, the minister identified security, effective foreign policy and improvement in international trade cooperation, as top success stories.
“Security has been an achievement in the sense that we have been able to mobilise the support of foreign countries, African countries and the international community in the fight against terrorism.
“We have been able to make it a priority for the international community and get that support and I think that is a real success.
“We have heard that as a result of the terrorism challenges, there has been a humanitarian crisis,’’ Onyeama said.
According to him, at one time, Nigeria was listed with South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia as countries likely to have a famine as countries of great crisis.
“We were able to mobilise the international community, starting with Oslo conference in Norway and then Oslo-2 conference.
“We mobilised over $2 billion for humanitarian assistance for countries of the Lake Chad area.’’
The minister listed efforts being made to get major donors to support Nigeria in the huge humanitarian challenge with over two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as part of successes recorded.
He commended the emergence of President Buhari as an eminent personality in ECOWAS, to further promote his administration’s vision on democracy and good governance within the West African sub-region.
The minister said that Nigeria’s intervention in the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Mali and other West African countries during crises, has helped to stabilised the sub-region, recognised for good democratic governance.
He explained that success recorded through intervention, based on “Buhari doctrine” of outreach to mediate and establish good relations with immediate neighbours, has enabled the country to achieve a lot.
According to him, the strategy forms a key component of Buhari’s success in the bid to keep a good relationship with immediate neighbouring countries.
“In the area of the economy, a major achievement has been an outreach to a number of countries around the world to let them know that Nigeria is ready for business.
“We are coming out of a very difficult situation.
“You might recall at a time how the cost of petroleum crashed to below $30 a barrel and we had real economic challenges.
“The big aim was to promote foreign direct investment and so, Mr President went on major outreach to foreign countries and partners, promoting Nigeria and inviting foreign direct investment,’’ the minister added.
Onyeama told NAN that although insecurity posed a challenge of bringing potential investors into the country, a lot of progress had been made to beef up security to encourage business development.
He revealed that the successes recorded through the outreach have translated into the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel, Mambilla Dam and other major infrastructural projects across the country.
The minister noted that in spite of the challenges facing in the country, Buhari was focused to make the country an attractive place for investment and businesses.
He reeled out the success recorded to include Nigeria’s rating by World Bank index as a business destination, good governance, the appointment of President Buhari by African Union as Anti-Corruption Champion and restitution of stolen assets.
“A lot of these have been due to the credibility of Mr President and his respect among his peers around the world.
“We have cooperated with a number of countries to develop new industries here and one of them is the fertiliser industry.
“We have been able to get the cooperation of countries, to help us establish the building bloc, to be able to produce a more affordable rate of fertilisers in our country.
“To push towards agrarian reform and agricultural revolution of Mr President, we have lots of bilateral agreements, with countries that we believe will make big difference to our economy,’’ Onyeama said.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Egypt appealed to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the years-long dispute over Ethiopian's new hydroelectric dam to help push for a final deal before filling its reservoir, said Egyptian experts.
In a virtual UNSC session on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt's proposed resolution "encourages Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to reach an agreement within two weeks without taking any unilateral measures related to the dam."
"Egypt sought to mobilize more international players to intervene and monitor the negotiations on filling and operating the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)," said Mohamed Sameh, chairman of the international law department with Cairo University.
A neutralized legal framework is also required to resolve any future dispute that might erupt amid failure of negotiations, Sameh, also a member of the Egyptian negotiating team on the GERD, told Xinhua.
The Egyptian foreign minister highlighted that the 4.6-billion-United States dollar GERD "endangers the lives of 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese."
"The draft resolution is in line with the outcome of an African Union (AU) summit," where the leaders of the three countries, on June 26, agreed to return to talks aimed at reaching an agreement over the filling of the GERD, said Shoukry.
The AU has requested the formation of a committee of experts to finalize a binding agreement on the dam filling in two weeks.
The committee will be provided with support from the leaders of Kenya, Mali, Congo, and South Africa besides international observers, the United States, and the European Union.
Hours after the AU agreement was announced, the Ethiopian prime minister's office said that it is set to begin filling the dam within the next two weeks and the construction will continue.
However, Egypt and Sudan had said that Ethiopia should refrain from filling the dam until the countries reached a deal.
Sameh expected that the UNSC will call on the three countries to continue their negotiations under the AU umbrella and then submit a report to the UNSC.
The Security Council members expressed support for the AU efforts in reviving talks and urged the three countries against the adoption of unilateral actions.
"The dispute surrounding the dam, if not resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, could lead to further tensions in the region," said Nicolas de Riviere, permanent representative of France to the UN.
"The international community now became ready to send the file back to the UNSC which will not make it easy for any side to take unilateral steps," said Tariq Fahmy, professor of political sciences with Cairo University.
Ethiopia believes the GERD, which is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa's largest hydropower dam upon completion, will alleviate poverty in the country.
However, the upstream nations of Egypt and Sudan, believe that filling the dam will impact their share and endanger water levels in the river.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali for another year, till June 30, 2021.
Resolution 2531, which won the unanimous support of the 15 members of the Security Council, decides that the mission, known by its French acronym MINUSMA, shall continue to comprise up to 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police personnel.
It authorizes MINUSMA to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate.
The resolution decides that the primary strategic priority of MINUSMA remains to support the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
It further decides that the mission's second strategic priority is to facilitate the implementation by Malian actors of the stabilization strategy for Central Mali, with a view to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence, and re-establish state authority, state presence and basic social services in the region.
MINUSMA was established by the Security Council in 2013 to support political processes in Mali and carry out a number of security-related tasks.
Nigeria and 25 other countries in Africa and Asia are to benefit from lifesaving cancer treatments supported by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). CHAI, in a statement it jointly issued with ACS, on Monday announced that it had agreements with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Novartis and Mylan to expand access to 20 lifesaving cancer treatments in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The 25 countries are: Botswana, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania. Others are Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, in Africa; and Vietnam, India, and Myanmar in Asia. According to the statement, cancer access partnership is expected to result in a 59 per cent savings on procured cancer medicines. It stated that the initiative would assist people in the selected countries to save an average of 59 per cent for medicines procured through the agreements. The statement quoted Prof. Isaac Adewole, Co-chair, African Cancer Coalition and former Health Minister in Nigeria, as saying: “With the rapidly growing burden of cancer in Africa, it is crucial that we improve and expand access to high-quality, affordable treatment. “These agreements build on those announced in 2017 that have already delivered substantial savings and increased treatment availability in several countries, including Nigeria. “By targeting the treatment needed for the cancers that cause the most deaths, these new agreements will help us to improve on quality of lives and close the mortality gap for Africans with cancer,” the statement quoted Adewole as saying. It said that medications included in the agreements cover recommended regimens for 27 types of cancer and enable to complete chemotherapy regimens for the three cancers that cause the most deaths in Africa — breast, cervical, and prostate. “These cancers are highly treatable and account for 38 per cent of cancers in the countries covered in the agreements. “The new agreements include: both chemotherapies and endocrine therapies aligned to evidence-based guidelines harmonised for sub-Saharan Africa, and expand access to additional formulations, including those essential for treating childhood cancer. “Sub-Saharan Africa’s cancer burden is significant and growing. “In 2018, there were an estimated 811,000 new cases of cancer and 534,000 deaths from cancer in the region. “Cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely to die as those in the United States, often due to late diagnosis and lack of access to treatment. “Based on population aging alone, annual cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to almost double by 2030. “The new agreements reach 23 countries in Africa, covering 74 per cent of the annual cancer cases.’’ The new initiative by the three companies would expand access to the priority medications and formulations in the agreements to additional countries. “All of the medications included in the agreements meet the quality standards set by a stringent regulatory authority such as the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “These medicines will be available for purchase at newly and independently negotiated prices in the designated countries, and the companies have committed to monitoring the impact of their respective agreements with CHAI. “This new Cancer Access Partnership is an initiative of Allied Against Cancer and an expansion of the Chemotherapy Access Partnership. “ACS and CHAI began working together in 2015 to improve care and treatment of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, working with governments and cancer treatment institutions to address market inefficiencies, improve supply chains, and increase procurement to ensure quality medications were available at affordable prices. “This collaboration has shown that access to high-quality cancer treatments can be expanded in a sustainable way,’’ it added. The statement quoted Dr Iain Barton, Chief Executive Officer of CHAI, as saying: “While we have made strides in increasing access to lifesaving cancer treatments in sub-Saharan Africa over the last several years, there is much more work to be done. “This collaboration is a significant step in delivering high-quality cancer treatment to more patients, bringing us closer to equitable cancer treatment for all people.” According to the statement, in 2017, Allied Against Cancer members ACS and CHAI announced agreements with Pfizer and Cipla to expand access to 16 essential cancer treatment medications in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa. “The market access agreements secured competitive prices, allowing these governments to realise substantial savings and improve the quality and quantity of treatment available. “As a result of the agreements, several African Governments and hospitals increased their commitment to procuring necessary cancer medicines. “They procure necessary cancer medicines by using the cost savings to increase the volumes of medicines procured, setting up innovative systems to supply high-quality cancer medications, and increasing budgets for cancer care and treatment. “Countries that accessed products through the agreements saved an average of 56 per cent. “As a result, patients have new levels of access to quality chemotherapies in nearly all of the countries included in the original agreements. “Three new countries were added in November 2019.’’ In addition, the statement quoted said Rhulani Nhlaniki, Pfizer Cluster Lead for sub-Saharan Africa and Country Manager, South Africa, as saying: “Since entering into partnership with CHAI and ACS in 2017, we have seen the positive impact. “We have seen positive impact that sustainable access to quality, affordable cancer medicines can have on patients in vulnerable communities in Africa. “We remain committed to this model that helps to reduce the overwhelming burden on patients and healthcare systems. “We are pleased to be able to expand our chemotherapy offerings under the programme to better serve the needs of patients.” Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
The West African Development Bank (BOAD) on Wednesday said its Board of Directors approved 228 billion CFA francs (about 391 million United States dollars) to the economies of member states of the West African Monetary Union (WAEMU).
The financial package was approved during the 117th ordinary session of the Board of Directors that was held through a video conference, a statement from the headquarters of the bank in Lome said.
It comprises 128 billion CFA francs for eight development projects in Mali, Cote d'lvoire, Niger, Togo, Benin and Senegal, as well as 100 billion CFA of refinancing for lending insitutions in the WAEMU framework.
To date, these operations brought BOAD's total commitments to 6.2 trillion CFA francs, the statement said.
The approved funding includes 5 billion CFA francs for irrigation programme in Mali, 47.5 billion CFA francs for road and electric power projects in Cote d'lvoire and 15 billion CFA francs for a road in Niger.
They also include 15 billion CFA funding for a cross-border electric power project between Benin and Togo, 25 billion CFA francs to help Togo clear its electric power linked debt, 20.5 billion CFA francs for hotel and sports complex construction as well as agricultural projects in Senegal.
The BOAD is a development finance institution for member states of the WAEMU which has eight member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'lvoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, on Saturday called on Mali to re-run some of its contested local elections and convene a government of national unity after anti-government protests swept the capital Bamako.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Friday for the second time in a month to demand President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita step down.
Keita, who was re-elected in 2018 for a second five-year term, has struggled with an ongoing security crisis, a strike by teachers and the coronavirus outbreak.
Political tensions increased after disputed local elections in March, in which turnout was low due in part to fears of attacks by jihadist groups who roam the desert north.
The lead-up to the poll was marred by allegations of vote buying and intimidation as well as the kidnapping of opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse.
ECOWAS “invites the Government of the Republic of Mali to reconsider the results of all the districts which have been subject to review’’, the group said in a statement after a two-day mission to the country.
“New elections for the constituencies concerned should be organised as soon as possible.’’
U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urged for calm and dialogue after some opposition politicians called for civil disobedience during Friday’s protests.
“The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions,’’ said Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesman for Guterres.
Mali, which produces gold and cotton, has struggled to establish stability since 2012 when jihadist fighters hijacked an insurrection by Tuareg separatists, seizing the north.
French troops helped to recapture the area but violence persists in spite of the presence of thousands of U.N. troops, with groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State stoking intercommunal tensions.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for restraint and dialogue amidst growing civil unrest in Mali over alleged bad governance.
Guterres’ advice came in a statement on Saturday, a day after thousands of protesters hit the streets of Bamako, demanding resignation of President Boubacar Keita.
Friday’s angry protests were the second this month, according to Reuters news agency.
They are reportedly organised by opposition leaders over worsening insecurity, alleged poor handling of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and political tensions arising from disputed local elections in March.
In the statement, UN spokesman, Mr Farhan Haq, said the secretary-general was following the developments with concern.
“The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions.
“He also stresses the importance of dialogue and encourages all Malian actors to work inclusively and constructively to preserve the rule of law and respect fundamental rights.
“He expresses his full support for the ongoing efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and in particular for its declaration of June 19 calling for an inclusive dialogue,” Haq said.
Haq also quoted the UN Chief as reaffirming the organisation’s commitment to assisting Malians in their efforts to consolidate peace and democracy.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for restraint in Mali after massive protests re-emerged in the African country that is already plagued by terrorism and violence.
The secretary-general is following with concern recent political developments in Mali, said his press office in a statement.
Guterres expressed his full support for the ongoing efforts of the Economic Community of West African States and in particular for its declaration on Friday calling for an inclusive political dialogue, said the statement.
The secretary-general called on all political leaders in Mali to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise the utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions. He also stressed the importance of dialogue and encouraged all Malian actors to work inclusively and constructively to preserve the rule of law and respect fundamental rights, it said.
The secretary-general reaffirmed that the United Nations will continue to accompany Malians in their efforts to consolidate peace and democracy, said the statement.
Large numbers of protesters, who first gathered in the Malian capital of Bamako on June 5, took to the streets again on Friday to demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for alleged corruption.
Five children, including a 16-year-old pregnant girl, were killed by lightning in the West African nation of Guinea, the government said.
Seven others were injured during the “violent thunderstorm” in the prefecture of Dabola in central Guinea, the ministry of security and civil protection said in a statement late on Thursday.
The victims took part in a baptism ceremony and were aged between 2 and 17 years, according to the statement.
The ministry did not provide any further details.
Baptism ceremonies in Guinea often take place outdoors, under trees or on the shores of lakes.
In July 2019, six children aged between four and 10 died after they were struck by lightning while making tea under a mango tree in north-eastern Guinea.
he storm began shortly before 7:00 pm (1900 GMT) in the town of Siguiri, close to the border with Mali, witness Mamadi Doumbouya, a local resident, told AFP.
He said eight children in total, accompanied by two of their mothers, were under a mango tree at the back of his house.
“I invited everyone to take shelter in my living room.
“The ladies rushed under my roof but the children stayed behind to make the last cups of tea,” he added.
Lightning then struck the mango tree and when Doumbouya rushed out, all of the children were on the ground and unconscious, he said.
On the same day in 2019, a landslide hit a gold mine in the same area following storm, killing four people including a two-year-old girl and her mother.
“The victims were working in a former gold mine where mining was banned because of the risk of landslides” in the heavy rains, “but people were hiding to go to the tunnels”, a Red Cross official had said.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
A black European Union lawmaker said, on Wednesday, she was a victim of extremely traumatic Police violence outside a Brussels railway station and lodged a complaint against the Belgian Police.
Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, a German Green party deputy, who was born in Mali, told the European Parliament she was pushed and grabbed by four officers on Tuesday after she began to film police harassing two young black people outside the Gare du Nord.
A police spokeswoman said an investigation into the incident was underway but denied violence had been used.
“Four of those armed police officers brutally pushed me against the wall, they grabbed my handbag away from me, spread my legs and a police officer wanted to frisk me and they dealt with me in a very humiliating way,’’ she told the parliament.
Herzberger-Fofana said the Police did not react when she said she was a member of the European Parliament, showed her two passports, Belgian residency card and official EU accreditation.
“I feel this is a discriminatory act with underlying racist tendencies,’’ Herzberger-Fofana said.
The May 25 death of black American George Floyd in police custody has led to weeks of protests in the United States against racism and police brutality.
This prompted more European citizens to challenge discrimination in society.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)