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Senate Confirms Chairman, Members of North-East Development Commission

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The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday confirmed a retired army major-general, Paul Tarfa, as chairman of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC).

The Senate also confirmed Mohammed Alkali as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the commission and nine others as members of the board of the commission.

The members are Musa Yashi, ED Humanitarian Affairs; Mohammed Jawa, Executive Director, Admin and Finance; Omar Mohammed, Executive Director, Operations and David Kente, member representing North East zone.

Others are Asmau Mohammed, member representing North West zone; Benjamin Adanyi, Member representing North Central zone; Olawale Oshun, member representing South West zone; T.E.O Ekechi, member representing South-East and Obasuke McDonald, memb
er representing South-South zone.

The Senate, in October 2016, passed the bill for the establishment of the North East Development Commission to coordinate the rebuilding of the insurgency-ravaged North East region of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the bill in October, 2017.

The confirmation of the nominees was made after Abdulaziz Nyako, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, presented the report of the committee.

He said all the nominees met the requirements for their appointment.

Prior to the confirmation, Binta Garba, frowned at the fact that the headquarters of the commission is located in Borno State and the MD of the commission, Mr Alkali, is also from the state.

“The commission is domiciled in Borno State and the CEO is also from Borno State. Is it in consonance with the ideal of the commission within and outside Nigeria?

“For example, the President of the United Nations is not from America. We need to get some clarifications. Late Wakili asked that the headquarters should be in Bauchi State but he was shut down,” she said.

In his response, Mr Nyako explained that during the debate at the Senate, the position was left open.

He said members of the House of Representatives, however, called for zoning and thus voted in that manner.

“In our bill, we left it open. During the public hearings, we agreed if the headquarters is in Borno then someone else should be the MD; but in concurrence with the House of Representatives, more inclined to the MD from Borno.

“It was the House bill that went with zoning and their votes were overwhelming than ours,” he said.

In his remark, Ibn Na’Allah, said the observations are valid because it relates to international organisations.

“Certain peculiarities demonstrate certain actions. The entire bill is associated to the beginning of insurgency in Borno State and Adamawa is close to it. In the selection, Tarfa is from Adamawa.

“The choice of Alkali is based on the assumption that there is quick establishment and its running. What swayed the Senate and reps to choose Alkali is entirely a legislative action,” he said.

The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, said the nominees are eminently qualified and prepared to hit the ground running.

He, therefore, urged the committee on special duties to ensure the taking off of the commission as he said the situation in the North East requires it to take off immediately.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, simply called for the commencement of an oversight for the commission.

“This is not the first time we are showing such concern. NDDC bill was originated by the National Assembly. The bill was vetoed by the executive but it was upturned. It shows the same character of concern.

“The NDDC is steeped in a lot of protocol and bureaucracy. So this commission should learn from that. The parliament should start an oversight of this agency.”

The Senate thereafter disolved into the committee of the whole to confirm the nominees.

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Nigeria Outlines Nine Focal Areas to Guide Foreign Policy in Next Four Years

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Nigeria has identified nine priority areas that would guide its foreign policy actions in the next four years.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made this known in Abuja while briefing members of the diplomatic corps on the priorities of the Nigerian government.

The priority areas include building a striving sustainable economy; enlarging agricultural output, food security and export; as well as attaining energy sustenance and power.

Others include expanding transport and other infrastructural products; expanding business growth entrepreneurship and industrialisation; expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigeria; enhancing social inclusion, reducing poverty; fighting corruption; as well as improving governance and security for all.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in the first term of the present administration, the government’s priority was in three key areas, namely: fighting corruption, tackling insecurity, and job creation.

He said Nigeria’s foreign policy would henceforth be realistic in terms of reflecting the domestic reality of putting “Nigeria First”.

“We promote within the African Union (AU) good governance, democracy, and protection of human rights.

“We are not in any kind of conflict with any country in the whole world and we have excellent relations with every member state of AU and UN.

“We believe firmly that peaceful coexistence and security are pre-conditions for economic development and prosperity.

“We believe that the UN and multilateralism are forces for good.

“We strongly support the UN, although we call for its reform especially to increase the number of its permanent members in its security council to include at least three African countries with veto powers,” he added.

The minister said more funds should be made available for UN peace-keeping operations.

Mr Onyeama, who said that the UN was doing a great job across many countries of the world, urged countries to continue to abide by UN resolutions, not choosing which ones to respect and which not to respect.

He condemned the use of force for the settlement of disputes and expressed strong support for institutions such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court for International conflict resolution.

He said international trade and economic diplomacy were the main focus of “our foreign policy.”

“We have to expand our trade; we have to innovate; we have to industrialise in order to lift our people out of poverty.

“We are striving to increase bilateral trade with all your countries very often within the framework of a bilateral commission.”

The minister disclosed that the ministry was building an online business machine portal to promote and facilitate cross-border trade.

According to him, global climate action has posed a lot of threat to lives.

He said the Lake Chad which had been a major source of livelihood for more than 30 million people, had shrunk by 90 per cent due to climate change.

He noted that irregular migration has been condemned and possible measures have been put in place to address it.

On border closure, the minister said the issue would be resolved very soon and that it would be a win-win situation for stakeholders.

He thanked the diplomats for their support and assured them of the Nigeria’s continued support.

(NAN)

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Buhari Embarks on First 2020 Foreign Trip, Departs for UK Today

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President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Friday for London to participate in the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit holding on January 20.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said the event would be hosted by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

The organisers said the event is expected to bring together African leaders, international business chief executives and heads of international organisations “to create new partnerships that will deliver more investments and jobs” to the benefit of people and businesses in African countries and the United Kingdom.

“Apart from highlighting new perspectives on UK-Africa Partnership for Prosperity, issues of Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure; Trade and Investment; Future African Growth Sectors and Clean Energy and Climate, are expected to dominate presentations and discussions during the Summit.

“With the expected take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in mid-2020, the London investment summit will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to project itself as a leading investment destination for new industries.

“In addition, the summit will deepen Nigeria-United Kingdom investment ties post-Brexit given that Africa currently represents just two per cent of British trade activity, with Nigeria accounting for only 10 per cent of that total,” Mr Adesina stated.

He further disclosed that the Nigerian delegation to the investment meeting will showcase what the federal government had done through policies and legislation to improve the investment and business climate in the country.

While in the United Kingdom, the presidential aide said, Mr Buhari will meet with the Head of the Commonwealth, Prince Charles in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The president and his delegation will also have bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Johnson as well as heads of multilateral organisations,” he added.

He said the president would be accompanied to the Summit by Governors Yahaya Bello, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya and Okezie Ikpeazu of Kogi, Gombe and Abia States, respectively.

Also on the presidential entourage are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

Others include the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

Mr Buhari is expected back in Abuja on Thursday.

(NAN)

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Power Grid Collapses Twice in Two Hours, Worsens Nationwide Blackout

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The nation’s power grid collapsed twice in two hours on Thursday, worsening the blackout being experienced by consumers in parts of the country.

The grid, which is being managed by government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.

The TCN announced that a system disturbance occurred at about 12.34pm on Thursday, affecting some parts of the country.

“As at 1:10pm, supply was restored to Abuja and most parts of the affected areas. The TCN is still working to completely restore and stabilise the nation’s grid,” it said.

Ikeja Electric and Eko Electricity Distribution Company, two of the nation’s distribution companies, had earlier on Twitter informed their customers about the cause of the outage in Lagos.

“Dear customer, the outage you’re experiencing is due to a system collapse of the grid which occurred this afternoon at 12.36hrs. All parts of IE’s network are affected. Efforts are ongoing to restore the grid. Kindly bear with us,” Ikeja Electric said.

The Disco, in another tweet two hours later, said another system collapse was recorded at 2.15pm, adding that restoration efforts were ongoing.

Total power generation in the country stood at 4,236.3 megawatts as of 6am on Wednesday, according to latest data from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator.

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