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All told, Nigeria and South Africa must collaborate for the mutual benefits of the two countries in particular, and the advancement of Africa in general. There is no better time to activate the collaboration than now. The success of President Ramaphosa’s state visit to Nigeria will be measured through this.

Barring any last minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari will be receiving an August visitor late in November. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, in company of top government functionaries of his administration, is scheduled to undertake a two-day visit to Nigeria between November 30 and December 1.

The visit, which is more than long overdue, will be President Ramaphosa’s first visit to Nigeria in his official capacity as the substantive president of the Republic of South Africa since he was elected some three years ago. While he had visited Nigeria in 2018, this was as the acting president, following the exit of former President Jacob Zuma from office.

President Ramaphosa’s coming is a state visit which, in diplomatic circles, is different from an official visit. In the diplomatic world, a state visit is a formal visit by the head of state of one country to the head of state of another country. It is the highest level of bilateral relations, and its purpose is to confirm the good relationship between the countries concerned and to explore ways of making it even better. It is different from an official visit, which is one made by a functionary of a sovereign government, for instance a minister, to another country based on the invitation of his counterpart serving in the same capacity as the inviting country. In other words, a state visit can only be undertaken by a sovereign head of state to another sovereign head of state.

Clarifications over, it is pertinent to state that South Africa has had a chequered history, especially as it relates to the years of apartheid rule. During this period, black South Africans were subjugated and suppressed by their white counterparts who felt that they were superior to them and, therefore, deserved to dominate them. The significant contributions made by Nigeria in helping to put an end to apartheid is well documented.

Besides Nigeria providing material and human resources to help fight white domination in South Africa during the dark era of apartheid, Nigeria also provided some sort of shield for some of the leading lights of the anti-apartheid struggle, such as Thabo Mbeki (who was to later become president of South Africa), when they were declared wanted in South Africa. Though far away geographically from the frontline of the fight against aparthied, Nigeria was symbolically seen as a frontline state and played a crucial role in the strggle that led to the end of the obnoxious regime.

Since the end of aparthied and the institution of majority rule, Nigeria and South Africa have had a very harmonious relationship. Except for occasional disturbances often triggered by xenophobia, which targets Nigerians based in South Africa and their businesses, the two countries have developed many positive partnerships along the way. However, there is still a lot to be done in promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries. This is especially so taking into cognisance the influential roles the two countries have to play in helping the African continent to actualise its manifest destiny in the world.

One hoped for outcome of President Ramaphosa’s visit is that the South African government will accord Nigerian businesses operating in the country (South Africa) more freedom to thrive. The urgency to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries can no longer be delayed or postponed, going forward.

Two critically important things the leadership of the two countries must bear in mind are that one out of every four Africans must be a Nigerian because the country remains the most populous in Africa, while South Africa, warts and all, remains the strongest economy on the continent. This places a responsibility on both countries to leverage the comparative advantages inherent in them for the prosperity of Africa and the advancement of the black race. It is said that South Africa and Nigeria – Africa’s largest economies – account for about a third of the continent’s output. This reality must be put to work for the benefit of all Africans.

One hoped for outcome of President Ramaphosa’s visit is that the South African government will accord Nigerian businesses operating in the country (South Africa) more freedom to thrive. The urgency to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries can no longer be delayed or postponed, going forward.

Currently, the official encumbrances confronting some legitimate Nigerian business operators in South Africa preclude them from doing as well as they should do. The Nigerian spirit is a resilient one, capable of overcoming challenges. But it will serve the benefit of all sides when official encumberances are removed. This is especially so given the growing population of Nigerians in South Africa. According to some official data, there are about half a million Nigerians living in South Africa. That’s almost the population of Sao Tome and Principe! These are economic immigrants that, individually and collectively, contribute and will continue to contribute to the growth and development of their host country.

Interestingly, South African business concerns in Nigeria are doing very well, creating value and employment for Nigerians, while also generating revenue in the form of diaspora remittances back to South Africa. One of these is the telecommunication giant, MTN, which is the largest telecommunication provider in Nigeria. Another is DSTV, whose parent company, Multichoice, remains the number one leading player in the Cable TV ecosystem in the country. Nigerians are arguably the biggest users of the satellite TV network aside from South Africans who own the network!

Altogether there are about 120 South African firms doing exceedingly well in the Nigerian market in diverse sectors like telecommunications, banking, retail and fast food. Conversely, only a few Nigerian firms like Aliko Dangote’s Sephaku Cement and Oando Energy are operating in South Africa. This gross imbalance has to be corrected through the elimination of official barriers preventing Nigerian firms from operating in the country.

Another area where both leaders need to find common ground is with the visa regime between both countries. Right now, the process is unseemly, unwieldy and inimical to good relationship between the peoples of both countries. It speaks volumes that it is much easier for a Nigerian, irrespective of status or travel history, to get a visa to visit the U.S., Britain and several European countries than it is to obtain one to visit South Africa. This painful reality, which inhibits business relationshps between both countries, needs to come to an end.

Going forward, there is the need to incorporate the organised private sector (OPS), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the National Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA) and similar institutions into the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission for institutional strengthening.

It is to be hoped that after this August visit, Nigeria and South Africa will adopt the Nigeria-Kenya visa-on-arrival policy, which has been a fundamental catalyst in improving the ease of doing business between the two countries. If Kenya and Nigeria could do it, then nothing should stop Nigeria and South Africa from doing the same thing. It is settled that business operators and owners will most likely invest in a country where the issue of visa acquisition does not pose a big challenge.

The visa-on-arrival policy undoubtedly will help to accelerate the free entry and exit of genuine businesses – people and capital –  between the two leading African countries. This will automatically expand the volume of trade between the two countries. In the spirit of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), which is essentially about promoting intra-African trade, there is the need for Nigeria and South Africa to collaborate in the areas of trade and other shared interests. Changing the current visa policy strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Contiguous to the visa-on-arrival policy is the urgent need for South Africa and Nigeria to, without delay, make export a two-way traffic between the two countries. That is, Nigeria should export to South Africa what the latter needs and vice-versa. Given the closeness and nearness of the two countries to each other, it does not make any economic sense and it is contrary to the ideals of pan-Africanism for either South Africa or Nigeria to import from Europe, China or any other Asian or American country what they can easily get from each other. There is a lot for the two countries to benefit from each other if the mechanics can be officially put in place and implemented.

 

Furthermore, the Nigeria-South Africa Binational Commission needs a radical rejig for it to properly play its role and achieve the objectives for which it was set up.  Established in 1999 to facilitate bilateral cooperation between the two countries, more than two decades after, the Commission has not fully actualised its mandate. Given the occasional diplomatic impasse between Nigeria and South Africa and, by extension, the unfair way Nigerians are being treated whenever there’s a xenophobic attack in South Africa, it is quite clear that the Commission has a lot of work to do in order to fulfill its mission of growing and strenghtening the relationshop between both countries.

Going forward, there is the need to incorporate the organised private sector (OPS), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the National Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA) and similar institutions into the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission for institutional strengthening. The aforementioned are the key drivers and players in Nigeria’s economy. By incorporating them into the Commission, they will easily point out grey areas that need to be ironed out between the two countries and help in finding ways to implement them. 

All told, Nigeria and South Africa must collaborate for the mutual benefits of the two countries in particular, and the advancement of Africa in general. There is no better time to activate the collaboration than now. The success of President Ramaphosa’s state visit to Nigeria will be measured through this.

Ade Adefeko is Chairman, Export Group, NACCIMA, and Honorary Consul of Botswana in Lagos.

President yet to make nominations

South East, South-South, North East, North Central, South West may be unrepresented

No cause for alarm – INEC

 

There seems to be uncertainty in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the possible replacement of six national commissioners by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was gathered that by the first week of December, five INEC national commissioners would retire from the service. They are national commissioners representing the South East, South-South, North East, North Central, and South West, and if replacements are not appointed, the regions would be unrepresented in the Commission.

Already there had been a vacuum created as a result of the absence of one of the national commissioners, Engr. Abu Bakar Nahuche , who resigned after the 2019 general elections.

While officials of INEC have expressed optimism that the President will sign into law the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which has been transmitted to him by the National Assembly, they are however worried that the appointment of people with partisan inclination may scuttle ongoing work at the Commission.

 

Sources at INEC headquarters had hinted that as from the first week of December, only five national commissioners will be left after five of them must have bowed out from service instead of a 12-member board.

Though, many insiders have commended President Buhari for his determination to ensure that the 2023 general elections is credible but they are concerned that the efforts of the President would amount to nothing if men of proven integrity are not appointed into the commission to replace the retiring ones.

According to the sources, “The President has promised that the 2023 elections will be credible, free, and fair and there is no doubt that he means what he has said. 

“You can see that the Edo and Anambra states off-season elections have been applauded by Nigerians and the international community as being credible.

“We hope that the trajectory will continue but everything will depend on the type and quality of people he will appoint as national commissioners to fill the vacant positions.

“The efforts of the president in strengthening the institution was nearly rubbished by the nomination of one of his aide’s Ms. Lauretta Onochie, but the situation was redeemed by the National Assembly that rejected the nomination as a result of national outcry.

“The promise by the president to bequeath the country a legacy of transparent, free, fair, and credible election will be dependent on the type of people he appoints into the INEC management board.”

The sources in INEC said, “Despite fears already being expressed by critics of the Buhari government on the possibility of the president providing a free space for credible elections considering that he is also a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), there is assurance that there is no cause for worry.

“For doubting Thomases, the president may have proven them wrong judging from the conduct and outcomes of the Edo and Anambra governorship elections.

“In the two elections, the president directed INEC and the security agencies to ensure that the process was hitch-free without interference from any quarter.”

The sources further said that the recent signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was a clear testimony to the possibility that President Buhari’s biggest and most enduring legacy may be institution-building rather than the physical infrastructure that his aides have been belabouring.

“Many Nigerians have their different views on the PIA owing to their stakes, but few argue against the potential utility of the PIA and the broad impacts it will have on the Nigerian economy, yet it took President Buhari’s boldness and willingness to take a decisive step rather than vacillating interminably to deliver the PIA, which has an extensive effect on the most consequential sector of the Nigerian economy.

“In the same way, Nigerians are expecting that president Buhari will take a similar and decisively courageous step to solidify the emerging success of his tenure in the electoral arena by bequeathing to the country a legacy of appointing persons with proven integrity into INEC.

 

They noted that the just-concluded off-season election in Anambra state had been applauded by Nigerians as a reflection of the wishes of voters. “The Anambra election defied the expectations of most neutral observers, forcing some of Buhari’s staunchest critics to congratulate him for insisting on supporting INEC to provide an enabling environment that allowed voters in Anambra State to express their electoral voice.

 

“However, the gains of the giant strides would vanish if people of proven integrity and impeccable character are not appointed into the management board of the commission to ensure the realisation of the president’s assurance to conduct the best election in 2023.

“Already about six national commissioners at INEC will be retiring by the first week of December. This will create a big vacuum especially as the national commissioners have been discharging their responsibilities creditably.

“Most Nigerians expect that just like former President Goodluck Jonathan did that earned him a place of pride in the nation’s electoral history, President Buhari may want to earn his place in the electoral pantheon.

They urged the president to take two critical actions that will cement his efforts and contribution to democratic consolidation in Nigeria: assent to the reformed Electoral Act Amendment Bill and appoint the right people into INEC.

“The second critical issue, if not the most important given that INEC innovations are themselves not self-implemented or executory, is the need for the president to appoint individuals of high integrity to replace the six national electoral commissioners whose tenure will elapse by the first week of December 2021.

“The people to be appointed should be capable, credible, and distinguished Nigerians from the different geopolitical zones where these vacancies have to be filled. If people of questionable character and integrity are appointed into INEC, the public will lose confidence and the gains of innovations will be eroded,” they said, as they recalled the wide outcry and condemnation in the last set of appointments at INEC that included Ms. Lauretta Onochie, whose appointment nearly tarnished President Buhari’s local and international image.

According to them, the building of an enduring institution in INEC should be a matter of interest for the president given how he had consistently blamed his previous electoral losses on a flawed electoral system, supervised by compromised INEC officials until ex-president Goodluck Jonathan appointed Prof. Attahiru Jega and others with civil society background.

The sources went on: “It is a matter of concern that only about one or two such patriotic individuals will remain with the commission if the six national commissioners bow out of service.

“Moreover, in 2007 even the winner of the flawed presidential election, the late President Umaru Yar’adua accepted that the election was flawed and went on to instigate reforms that President Jonathan implemented through the appointment of credible Nigerians that all culminated eventually in electoral success for President Buhari over and against an incumbent president in 2015. It should be noted that President Jonathan acted in a statement fashion and committed himself so much to the reform of the electoral process, even though he sought a second term.

“Today, President Buhari is in his second and final term in office and should have no reason whatsoever not to deal with the two critical issues identified as his contributions to the sustainability of democracy in Nigeria.  He is a beneficiary of the electronically compiled biometric voters register, the PVC, and the use of the smart card reader in the 2015 election. At the moment and under the enabling environment of President Buhari, there is now an improved elections device with the introduction of the BVAS technology for accreditation and uploading of polling units that can no longer be easily manipulated by politicians and this is a credit to the electoral disposition of the administration.”

Continuing, the sources said all these developments in the electoral system under this administration have been well applauded by Nigerians but would amount to nothing if President Buhari fails to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law and fails to appoint/re-appoint credible persons that would ensure the implementation of these innovations.

While advising the president to ensure that he puts a square peg in a square hole, they also told him to place integrity and credibility above every other consideration in the appointment of national commissioners.

However, the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Festus Okoye, while speaking to LEADERSHIP yesterday, confirmed that the commission is set to welcome new national commissioners that will be appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari  but said there is no need to panic over the matter.

He confirmed that the tenure of five commissioners would elapse on December 6, 2021 and they would have to be replaced.

According to him, “The fact is that two different sets of national commissioners were appointed by the president. The first set bowed out of service and they were replaced. Now the tenure of the second set of national commissioners will elapse on 6th December and new ones will be appointed by the president.”

Okoye also assured that the President will maintain national spread in his appointment as two national commissioners emerge from each geopolitical zone in the country.

 

LEADERSHIP

Servicing of debts acquired through instruments issued by the Federal Government in the Nigeria capital market totaled N2.18tn as of October 30, an analysis of data by our correspondent has shown.

Data from listed debt instruments on the FMDQ Exchange showed that repayments by FG on bonds, promissory notes, Sukuk, savings and green bonds altogether amounted to N2.18tn.

FG bond payments are structured with coupons paid semi-annually and are used to fund specific infrastructure projects.

The Debt Management Office of Nigeria had disclosed in its Actual Domestic Debt Service reports for January-March and April-June that the Federal Government’s total domestic debt servicing gulped N546.25bn and N307.87bn, respectively. This meant the FG spent N854.12bn servicing capital market debts in the first half of the year.

The Federal Government completed the payment of its NGFG132021S0 July 2016 N561.05bn with 14.5 per cent coupon as it paid a N20.3bn tranche in February and another N20.3bn in July, totaling N601.73bn.

The Federal Government serviced its NGFG9B2022S1 Jan 2022 N605.31bn bond with 16.39 per cent coupon as it paid N99.21bn in two tranches of January and June payments.

The Federal Government serviced another 12.75 per cent coupon April 2023 N735.96bn bond with payment of N93.83bn in two tranches, April and October.

A 13.53 per cent N267.78bn March 2025 bond was serviced with March and September total payments of N36.23bn.

FG’s N784.45bn Jan 2026 bond with 12.5 per cent coupon was serviced with January and June aggregate payments of N98.06bn.

FG made a total of N102.24bn in two payments for its N948.48bn March 2027 bond with a 16.2884 per cent coupon in March and September.

The N955.93bn Feb 2028 bond with a 13.98 per cent coupon gulped two interest payments in February and August, totaling N133.64bn.

The Federal Government also made a N5.63bn payment on a 15 per cent N75bn November 2028 bond and will complete 2021 servicing with another N5.63bn at the end of November.

In two payments of April and October totaling N97.1bn, FG serviced its 14.55 per cent N667.38bn bond while it payed N9.37bn in May for its 12.49 per cent N150bn May 2029 bond.

Speaking on why investors were attracted to FG issued bonds, the Managing Director of Credent Investment Managers, Ibrahim Shelleng, said, “FGN securities still remain attractive due to the assumed ‘risk free’ nature. “Globally, government securities are considered almost risk free as it is assumed that a government cannot become bankrupt as long as the sovereign entity remains. So institutional investors such as pension funds would always invest there.”

 

Olaide Baanu, a research analyst at Atlas Portfolios Limited said, “Investors choose FGN bonds for safety and funds preservation. An average investor wants where his capital is guaranteed, irrespective of the low or high returns.

Speaking on this, Shelleng stated that the coupon rates had to be attractive to get foreign investors that bring the much needed forex liquidity into the market.

Mr Sola Oni, the Chief Executive Officer of Sofunix Investments and Communications, said there was an irrevocable standing order that mandated the Federal Government to operate a Special Purpose Vehicle to hedge against default on the bond.

 

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are yet to implement the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) directive to ground 91 private jets belonging to wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to N30 billion.

The comptroller-general of customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), had written a letter to the NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and NAMA asking the agencies to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.

However, none of the NCAA and NAMA have started moves to implement the directive of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), saying they are not aware of the letter from the service asking them to ground aircraft over evading import duty.

The letter, with reference number NCS/T&T/ACG/042/s.100/VOL.II, which was dated November 2, 2021, was entitled, ‘Recovery of Aviation Import Duty on Privately Owned Aircraft Operating in the Country’ and addressed to the director-general, NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu.

A copy of the letter was also addressed and sent to the managing director, FAAN, Capt Rabiu Yadudu, and the managing director, NAMA, Capt Fola Akinkuotu.

The letter directed the aviation agency regulator (NCAA), the nation’s airspace management agency (NAMA), and airport management agency (FAAN) to ground the private jets by denying them administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely.

It reads, “The Federal Government in its drive for enhanced revenues has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately recover from defaulting private aircraft owners the required statutory import duties on their imported aircraft. 

“You may wish to recall the verification exercise conducted by the NCS, initially scheduled for a 14-day period, but magnanimously extended over a 60-day period from 7th June through 6 August, 2021, following a World Press Conference held on 31st May 2021. The outcome of the aforementioned verification exercise is a compilation of all private aircraft imported into the country without payment of statutory import duty.

“In this regard therefore, your full cooperation is being solicited to ensure the success of this initiative and that all such private aircraft owners or representatives are denied administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely, until an NCS issued Aircraft Clearance Certificate is procured and presented to your organisation as proof of compliance.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all aircraft operated in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s regulation for the issuance of Permit for Non-Commercial Flight and those issued with Flight Operations Clearance Certificate and Maintenance Clearance Certificate accordingly are affected by this directive.”

Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the general manager, public affairs, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the authority was not aware of any letter calling for the grounding of private jets in the country.

According to him, he had not got any information from the authority’s managing director as well.

“I don’t have any information on the letter and have been trying to reach the DG but it’s not going through because he’s out of the country,” Adurogboye told LEADERSHIP.

 

The general manager, public affairs of NAMA, Khalid Emele, said the authority was not  implementing any directive because there was no communication to that effect.

Emele said he read about the directive from the pages of newspapers, but will confirm from the management if such a letter exists.

 

[LEADERSHIP]

Tuesday, 30 November 2021 05:36

2023: Kogi Gov Declares For President

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has declared his intention to run for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The governor made the declaration at the launch of a campaign group called the Global Alliance of Progressive Professionals.

Speaking on behalf of the governor, Senator Smart Adeyemi said: “Kogi State is the safest of all the states in northern region and if you talk about the socio-economic development of any entity, you have to talk about how safe the environment is and what the governor has done is to make Kogi State a safe environment for foreign investment.

“I think Nigeria requires a leader who will police the nation well in order to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.”

He further said: “the governor wants to run for the office of the president and we are delighted that he is running because the younger generation believe in him.

“We are here to know what is required so we can move from here to other parts of the country for campaign.

“Governor Bello is a visionary young man and he has the capacity for leadership. He has courage, he is intelligent and he has demonstrated that in Kogi State where he has been able to police the state effectively.”

 
 

The coordinator of the group, Amb. Ahmed Chikaji, in his address said: “we are here today firstly for the official launch of a national movement, the Global Alliance Of Progressive Professionals – GAP3, a project of the Grassroots Aids Initiative (GAIN), a non-governmental organisation registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

“We are gathered here to make history in the nation’s political space to formally endorse a man who has distinguished himself in all speres of human endeavours with intimidating political credentials, Yahaya Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State to accept the clarion calls by Nigerians to contest the 2023 presidential election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

 

LEADERSHIP

Operatives of the Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have arrested 60 suspected internet fraudsters during an awards ceremony at the Conference Hotel in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

According to the EFCC, the event tagged “Peer Youths Awards”, investigation revealed, was organised to reward high-level internet fraudsters.

Items recovered from the suspects at the point of arrest include exotic cars, electronic devices, laptop computers and mobile phones.

A terse statement posted on the anti-graft agency’s verified Facebook page on Monday evening added that “the suspects will soon be charged to court.”

 

LEADERSHIP

Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) on Monday,, said politicians should be required to publicly disclose their sources of income to foster accountability and develop public trust.

Director CDD, Idayat Hassan, said this at the launch of the Democracy Watch Reports, a series of reports that examined the state of democracy in Nigeria since May 1999 in Abuja.

 Hassan said that the measure was necessary to forestall corruption in the country as contained in Nigeria’20 years of anti-corruption report .
 
She said that the  three reports launched by CDD  were meant to gauge the performance of Nigeria against some basic attributes of democracy and socio-economic transformation in the last two decades.
 
She said that the first report interrogated data on human rights condition in Nigeria while the   second report questioned  the anti-corruption efforts of Nigeria by x-raying the activities of anti-graft agencies and  the third report examined the economic plans of the various administrations in Nigeria.

Hassan said that for each of the reports, CDD made some   recommendations asking that  to forestall corruption,legislators should collaborate with anti-corruption agencies and commissions to enact legislation affecting the prosecution of corruption cases.

“Given the decentralised nature of cryptocurrency, legislators should amend vital legislation to address virtual money laundering concerns.

“The National Assembly should revise the Code of Conduct Bureau Act to permit public disclosure of officeholders’ asset declarations without jeopardising officeholders’ privacy or safety.

“The Presidency and National Assembly must strengthen their supervision over ministries, departments, and agencies and collaborate to reinforce their legal and administrative mandates.

“ Nigeria’s international partners should support national efforts by taking firmer measures to deter public funds theft and prevent illicit financial flows.

“Finally, our third report recommended that Nigeria needs economic policy reforms especially diversifications so that major macroeconomic variables can be brought under control.

“This is urgently needed more than ever because of the economic and fiscal challenges brought about by the collapse of the global oil prices occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic,’’she said

Hassan said that to address the issue of human rights violations, the report urged the government must ensure to safeguard the constitutional guarantees of human rights.

She said that security forces should  be effectively trained and regulated in this area to avoid human rights breaches.

She added that  the Federal and State governments were urged to take note of and execute relevant recommendations from various human rights panel reports.

She said that Civil Society Organisations could contribute to the training of security professionals in the conduct of ethical civil military operations.

She also urged  media houses should give priority to investigative journalism that focuses on human rights issues to bring the abuses to the public attention and assist in holding  government accountable  and educate the public about their  human rights and avenues for redress.

She said that public participation in governance was also critical for a democracy to ensure that citizens demand their fundamental human rights and are held accountable for any violations.

Hassan some of the major findings of the report showed that over 70 per cent  of the prison population in Nigeria was made up of detainees awaiting trial, with over 20 per cent  awaiting trial for more than a year.

The report also showed that Nigeria had not fared well in all human rights indicators used, despite utilizing the basic indicators.

“This trend, it said even deteriorated with the fact that there is now an emergent trend of security officers receiving orders from elites in Nigeria to remand detainees for longer on spurious grounds.

She added that  that the menace of unlawful detention has become rather pervasive such that it has required the intervention of ECOWAS special court in some cases.

Hassan said that the report condemned extra judiciary killing of innocent Nigerians as witnessed since the advent of democracy in 1999.

Hassan said that to address the issue of human rights violations, the report urged government to safeguard the constitutional guarantees of human rights which they swore to uphold.

She, however, said that  the report called for public participation in governance so as to ensure that citizens demand their fundamental human rights and are held accountable for any violations.

Adebayo Olukoshi ,a distinguished Professor With  School of Governances , while delivering his keynote address, said the purpose of democratisation needed to be redefined.

Olukoshi said that Nigeria should  be able to deliver development and  job opportunity adding that failure to do that the nation’s  quest to strengthen and consolidate democracy would  amount to jumping on the same spot without making progress.

He urged political parties to be more programmatic rather than  pursuing personal goals and God fatherism type of politics.

‘‘This report for me is an attempt to offer a balance sheet of the road we have traveled since 1999.

“ In the early years of our transition, we made fairly significant progress. Our story subsequently becomes that of under performance in democracy governance.

‘‘There has been a gradual closing of civil spaces and conscription of civil liberties in the country, including restriction of media freedom and independence.

”In spite of the best efforts of election management authorities, we have seen a continued assault on election integrity in the country. Therefore, the struggle to make vote matter remains a live one.’’

In his remarks, INEC Commissioner in Niger State, Prof. Sam Egwu, described the report as a deep reflection on Nigeria’s  journey for the past 20 years plus coming from very authoritarian background.

‘‘We have seen flowering civil and political liberties, regular and periodic elections with some degree of improvements.

“ We have seen some degree of competition and acceptance of defeat but we have not been able to bring so much benefits to people  in terms of material upliftment.

‘‘We have been blindly trying to build a liberal democratic order that has not factored in the importance of welfare of the people,” he said.

Egwu said that there was need to really interrogate Nigeria’s  type of democracy and alongside improving our elections, by thinking  of a type of democracy  that would  put in place measures  to empower common citizens and make them come out of poverty.

He also called for the need to work on national unity and integrity, and try to a develop liberal democratic order.

[TNG]

The National President of Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers (NSCh) has revealed that Dangote Oil Refining Company will be the highest employer of chemical engineers in the country when the refinery comes on stream.

The Society’s National President, Engr. Saidu A. Muhammed, disclosed this during the NSCh’s visit/tour of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical project at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos at the weekend.

He commended the company for its contribution to energy security in Nigeria.

Engr. Muhammed, who led members of NSCh on a tour of the Dangote 650,000 barrels-per- day refinery project in Lagos, to mark the end of the association’s 51st anniversary celebration, said the industries in Nigeria have not been able to absorb the over 1,000 engineers  yearly from Nigerian Universities.

Muhammed stated, “We, the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, have keenly been watching the progress of the refinery project.

“When completed, the refinery will be singular largest employer of chemical engineers in the country. Nigerian Universities turn out about 1,000 chemical engineers every year and the avenues for employment have been very scarce.

“The industry has not been able to fully absorb the number of chemical engineers that passed out of the universities years ago. 

Some companies within the sector are not running at optimum level. Therefore, employment is really key.

“However, from the energy security point of view, chemical engineers are always concerned about what can be put in place to guarantee energy security the country. Nigeria is blessed with abundant crude oil, but unfortunately, we are importing petroleum products simply because Nigeria’s own refineries are not utilising their installed capacity”, he said.

“Therefore, when you see a brand new refinery like the Dangote Refinery that has the capacity to meet the petroleum products needs of the country, there is need to celebrate such company”, Muhammed added.

He expressed delight over the size of the project and the level of work that has gone in the construction of the refinery.

“The Dangote Refinery project is very impressive, very big. There is no project of this magnitude right now in this part of the world. We are delighted to see that the project is nearing completion and many things have been done.”

He commended the Dangote Group for its plans to ensure that Nigerian engineers are trained to handle the operation of the refinery plant, which has been acclaimed to be the largest single train refinery in the world.

“We are most impressed by the numbers of Nigerians that we see within the site working at various sections of the plant. We are glad that Dangote is building this type of project in Nigeria, which is one of the largest in the world,” he said.

Muhammed added that the members of the association are happy to see that Dangote Refinery will contribute significantly to energy security in Africa.

“We are also happy about the refinery’s contribution to energy security in Africa. The refinery is also going to have positive impact on Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas industry.”

Speaking also at the event, the Technical Consultant to the President of Dangote Group, Engr. Babajide Soyode commended the chemical engineers for coming on a tour of the refinery.

According to Soyode, Dangote’s refinery will help Nigeria meet and exceed its current demand for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and kerosene, leaving ample product for export.

“This connotes significant positive economic impact on Nigeria and the West African region, transforming Nigeria from a net importer to exporter of refined petroleum products and curtailing significant foreign exchange outflows. “Additionally, the availability of excess fuel will also provide a catalyst for eliminating Nigeria’s expensive fuel subsidy,” he added.

Soyode said that the 650,000 barrels-per-day refinery would complement other major infrastructure investments that Dangote has planned at the strategically located Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, including a port, gas processing facility, power plant, and petrochemical and Fertiliser complex. “When completed, this infrastructure complex will create a significant economy of scale for one of Africa’s largest industrial conglomerates, supporting jobs in both Nigeria and other African countries”, he added.

 

LEADERSHIP

Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday cautioned against profiling all Fulani as terrorists, saying millions of law-abiding Fulani should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.

The forum however added that any Fulani who chooses to continue on the path of criminality should be made to feel the full weight of the law.

 

NEF stated this against the backdrop of a Federal High Court ruling in Abuja which declared the activities of bandits in Nigeria as acts of terrorism.

Reacting however, the director of publicity and advocacy, NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the forum needs greater clarity on the judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists.

In a statement he issued yesterday, he said, „The Forum noted a judicial decision to label bandits and kidnappers as terrorists, and recommends greater clarity in terms of the targets of this development. In any event, the Forum cautions against profiling and targeting all Fulani as terrorists. Millions of law-abiding Fulani exist who should be encouraged to stay on the side of the law.“

The forum also told President Muhammadu Buhari not to terminate the trial of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu and release him unconditionally.

Baba-Ahmed, who noted that NEF has carefully studied the request of Igbo elders for Buhari to release Kanu unconditionally, said there are no safe, constructive or informed grounds for granting the request. 

NEF stated that Buhari will do serious injury to a country already threatened by multiple challenges to its security and territorial integrity if he delays announcing the only responsible response which is that the judicial process in the case of Kanu must be allowed to run its course.

The Northern elders added that Buhari’s response raised very weighty issues related to the request just as his commitment to consider it.

On the national census planned for 2022, the forum advised that it should be postponed until after the 2023 elections.

The Northern leaders noted that the integrity and success of a sensitive and vital activity as a national census will be compromised by „destabilised and threatened communities“ as well as the proximity of a sensitive general election.

The forum also lamented the hardship under which the vast majority of the population live.

The statement read in part: The Forum invites attention to the hardship under which the vast majority of the population lives.

Increasing poverty levels and widespread insecurity demand that leaders should exercise extreme caution in taking economic and security-related decisions.

Increase in the price of fuel, in particular, will compound the already desperate condition of living of most Nigerians. 

The forum further added that before decisions on fuel price are made, the interest of the national economy, welfare of the citizen, and reactions of a hard-pressed citizenry should be considered.

 

Meanwhile, no fewer than five bandits were neutralised by security forces in two locations spanning Birnin Gwari and Giwa local government areas of Kaduna State.

It was learnt that troops on patrol made contact with bandits around an identified hideout in Birnin Gwari local government area which led to a gun battle after which two bandits were confirmed killed.

In another raid on a bandits‘ camp around Idasu in Giwa local government area, security forces engaged the criminals in a gun battle, killing three of them in the process.

Confirming the security operations, commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said two AK47 rifles, one pump action rifle and three motorcycles were recovered from the operations. He said the recovered items are in military custody.

Aruwan said, „Governor Nasir El-Rufai received the reports with satisfaction, and thanked the security forces for conducting sharp and effective missions.“

The commissioner said the governor urged the military to sustain the dismantling of identified criminal enclaves, assuring that clearance operations will be sustained in locations across the state.

In a related development, there was apprehension in Kwara State yesterday following the alleged infiltration of bandits into the state.

The Aare Onakakanfo, Chief Gani Adams had last Saturday told a gathering in Ira, Oyun local government area of the state that bandits had relocated to Kwara and Kogi States.

Consequently, some concerned stakeholders began consultations with individuals and organisations on how to secure lives and property in the state.

Checks by LEADERSHIP reveal that residents of Ilorin, the state capital, have restricted their movements to forestall being caught off guard by the bandits.

However, the leadership of Ilorin Emirate For Unity and Development Initiative (IEUDI) has taken the lead on consultations to avoid breach of peace and security in the state.

Leaders of IEUDI met last Sunday with the Ilorin Emirate traditional chiefs under the aegis of Alangua and Magaji Forum over the security challenges in the emirate and the state at large.

Addressing the traditional chiefs, the national president of IEUDI, Alh Yinusa Oniboki, reminded the leaders of their crucial role in addressing the security challenges in the Ilorin Emirate.

 

He said the association is ready to partner with the traditional chiefs, state government and organisations to secure the state.

Responding, chairman of the Ilorin Emirate traditional chiefs forum, Alh. Sulukarnaini AbdulRahman, commended IEUDI for sustaining the peace in the emirate and supporting the forum‘s effort to provide security.

He said members of the forum in collaboration with their grand patron and the Emir of Ilorin, Alh Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, will leave no stone unturned in securing lives and property in the Ilorin Emirate and the state in general.

 

 

LEADERSHIP

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says placing travel bans that target Africa owing to the Omicron COVID-19 variant will affect global solidarity.

South Africa announce the discovery of the new variant on Thursday, and it was subsequently designated a variant of concern by the WHO.

In a statement on Sunday, the WHO said travel restrictions will place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods and called for the borders to remain open.

“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations,” the statement reads.

According to the statement, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, commended the speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant.

“WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID-19,” Moeti was quoted as saying.

“On the eve of a special session on pandemic preparedness I urge all countries to respect their legal obligations and implement scientifically based public health actions. It is critical that countries which are open with their data are supported as this is the only way to ensure we receive important data in a timely manner.

“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity. COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”

WHO said while investigations continue into the Omicron variant, it recommends countries to take a risk-based and scientific approach and put in place measures which can limit its possible spread.

“Flight bans have been imposed on southern African countries, but so far only two have detected the new variant. Meanwhile countries in other regions have reported cases of Omicron,” the statement reads.

The organisation, in a separate statement, said it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta.

 

“The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors,” it said.

[Thecable]

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