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Buhari urges ECOWAS to take proactive steps to prevent coups in sub-region

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take proactive steps aimed at preventing coups in the sub-region.

According to a statement by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, the vice president said this on Wednesday at a virtual Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states, where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari said that the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form “is simply unacceptable and has no place in the 21st century.”

The meeting revolved around the political developments in the republics of Guinea and Mali where juntas have taken over power.

The meeting, attended by 10 of the ECOWAS leaders and representatives from the United Nations, was convened after Guinean President Alpha Conde was ousted via a coup d’etat in the West African country on Sept. 5.

This culminated in his arrest and detention by the country’s military, the dissolution of the Guinean government, suspension of the country’s constitution.

Buhari joined other global leaders in condemning the coup in Guinea, saying: “I join all well-meaning global leaders to express, in the strongest terms, the condemnation of the government of Nigeria of this unconstitutional change of government, a development that could seriously destabilise the Republic of Guinea.

“What happened in Guinea is a brazen disregard for the provisions of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which clearly states that every accession to power must be made through free, fair, and transparent election.

“The unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable – four coups within the past few months is a dangerous trend indeed.”

Buhari presented an idea which the Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo later described as “a proposal of great weight.”

According to the Nigerian leader, the region is sliding back to the infamous 1960s.

He said, “Our zero-tolerance for coups is important but clearly insufficient. Are there further steps that we can take to prevent coups?

“Could we, for example, work out an understanding with the UN, AU, the Commonwealth, and possibly, even the development finance institutions we are a part of, to act in unison to suspend a country where there has been a seizure of power from all these bodies simultaneously?”

Buhari said it was important for countries in the sub-region to respect the provisions against the unconstitutional accession to power and apply it in all instances.

He, therefore, called on the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government to invoke the provisions of Article 45 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance immediately by suspending Guinea from all of the bloc’s decision-making bodies and statutory meetings.

“We should also take any other necessary punitive measures that will ensure that the junta does not overstay in power.

“We must forestall a repeat of military interventions and the instability it engenders in the West African sub-region.

“In this connection, Nigeria wishes to once again urge all to always respect the principles of democracy and the constitutions of your respective countries.”

He urged the ECOWAS Commission to immediately appoint a mediator to lead the region’s genuine engagement with the military junta, all political actors, and civil society groups in Guinea towards finding a lasting solution that will return the country to democratic rule as soon as possible.

He added that ECOWAS must use its regional mechanisms efficiently to engage the military junta and if necessary, provide support for them to return the country to normalcy and democratic rule.

Osinbajo listed other steps to be taken in finding a lasting solution to the unfortunate development in Guinea.

He said that the military junta should not only ensure the physical safety of President Condé and all those detained along with him but also ensure his immediate and unconditional release.

“The safety of lives and property of the people of Guinea must also be guaranteed.

“The military must draw up a timetable for a civilian-led transition and begin the process of exiting the Guinean political stage toward returning the country to constitutional order and civil rule,” the Nigerian leader said.

On the situation in Mali, Buhari commended former President Goodluck Jonathan for his continued commitment and engagement with the various stakeholders in Mali.

“Let me reiterate the imperative for the Malian transitional government to strictly respect the electoral timetable unveiled on  April 15.

“I further call for the continued support and collaboration of all the major players in the country’s march towards a successful transition.

“Nigeria will continue to closely monitor the situations in Guinea and Mali as well as work with the ECOWAS Commission, the African Union, and other member states to facilitate the return of both countries to civil governance,” he said.

Buhari also commended the chairman of the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government for convening the virtual summit. (NAN)

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Nigeria’s Senate President Akpabio seeks IPU’s voice in ending conflict in Gaza

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President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio
President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio
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The President of Nigeria’s Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has called on the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) to lend a strong voice to the restoration of lasting peace in war-torn Gaza.

Akpabio made the call while contributing to discussions at the ongoing 148th Session of the International Parliamentary Union Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said it is time for nations to rise above sentiments and invoke the spirit of humanity, by doing all they can to bring sustainable peace to the region.

Some of the resolutions, according to the Chairman of Nigeria’s National Assembly, should include access to humanitarian aid, the restoration of normal life in Gaza, and meetings on a permanent truce.

His words: ” Madam President, this is a lone voice from Nigeria. We tried our best in Angola, and we failed to lend a collective voice to what is happening in Gaza. Today, the world is very expectant.

“We must drop ego. It has nothing to do with which country brings the proposal. The basic tenets of humanity demand that we leave here with a resolution for the rest of the world, to show that we have human feelings in us.

“The issues are very clear. If you notice the proposal for 12 blocs; they attempted to even marry the proposals from South Africa. Yes! South Africa has a right to be emotional, but we have children who are dying even as we are talking now. We have people who do not have water to drink, even as we are talking now. We have people who are going to suffer infections from gunshots.

“We have to show the world that we are human beings. The cessation of hostilities must be a part of our resolutions. Access to humanitarian aid must be a part of our resolutions.

‘At the same time, the release of hostages and even those who are prisoners of war, because if both sides take steps in releasing the hostages, releasing the prisoners of war, it means that both sides have agreed that the international community can go to the next stage, which is negotiation for sustainable peace.

“If they cannot agree, I would urge that, from here, we have a three-man drafting committee to come up with those resolutions which we must make before we leave here.

‘We can no longer allow a child to die tonight without lending our voice. It doesn’t matter which side. We are all parents. If we come here to look for ego and then try to be emotional, it’s not affecting them.

“There’s nothing affecting Denmark; there’s nothing affecting South Africa. The people affected are over there and nobody will agree to the lone resolution from Israel. It must be all-encompassing so that we stand up from here as human beings. That would be my plea.

“Let them go aside, meet and remove those vexatious items. In the course of their discussions, we can have amendments. We can add items that we should add, but we must discuss the Gaza issue in this 148th IPU Assembly. That is my position.”

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Okonjo-Iweala ‘Less Optimistic’ About World Trade In 2024

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Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
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The World Trade Organization’s chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said she was “less optimistic” about world trade in 2024, pointing to tensions in the Red Sea.She said weaker global economic growth, “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal” meant “we are less optimistic”.

Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos where political and economic elites are meeting to discuss global challenges.

Before the massive Hamas attack on Israel in October and the subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza, the WTO had predicted trade would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2023 and projected growth of 3.3 per cent this year.

But Okonjo-Iweala warned the figure for 2024 would now be lower in future forecasts.

“We think there are a lot of downside risks to the forecasts we had made last year of 3.3 percent of growth of merchandise volumes this year. So we expect weaker performance,” she said.

“We will be revising estimates for this year, but they won’t be ready for another month or so,” Okonjo-Iweala added.

A spate of attacks by Yemeni rebels on Red Sea shipping has disrupted the vital trade route while the worst drought in decades to hit the Panama Canal has forced authorities to slow transits.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The attacks have, however, also caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal.

The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

More than 24,400 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.

 

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Your Investments Are Safe In Nigeria, Tinubu Assures Saudi Investors

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Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
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President Bola Tinubu on Friday assured potential investors that their investments are safe in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Tinubu said Nigeria is ready for business while assuring investors of some of the world’s highest returns on investment.

“I also wish to assure all potential Saudi investors of the safety of their investments based on the sanctity of the rule of law and good returns on their investments in the largest economy in Africa,” the President was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale.

“In this regard, the benefit attached to the early inauguration of the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council can not be over-emphasized. Nigeria, like the Kingdom, is diversifying its economy away from oil dependence to promote sustainable development.

“My administration has undertaken bold economic reforms by removing wasteful subsidies on petroleum and the merging of our foreign exchange market, among other incentives aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria is desirous of enhancing collaboration with Saudi Arabia on combating terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other violent extremist groups which have been terrorising the Lake Chad and Sahel regions.

He said, “Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed a special relationship at both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Within the past six decades, our bilateral cooperation, which was initially hajj-centric, has witnessed diversification to cover a number of areas of common interest.

“It is delightful to note the presence in this great Kingdom of a large number of our compatriots and professionals, including highly skilled medical practitioners and professional football players.

“As members of several international organizations including the UN, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Forum, the G77, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Digital Cooperation Organization among others, our two nations have effectively used these and other platforms to enhance close interaction and coordination.”

The President expressed confidence that the countries’ joint positive disposition within those platforms would continue to be demonstrated “as we seek to advance our mutual interests”.

Further, he thanked the Middle-East nation for the various humanitarian interventions in Nigeria through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.

Speaking on climate change and how it affects Africa, President Tinubu said climate change had led to an expedited rate of desertification and incessant flooding in Nigeria and many other countries of Africa.

He commended the efforts of the Kingdom for its various initiatives to fight the effects of climate change, adding that Nigeria is also working on a number of initiatives to fight the effects of climate change and energy poverty.

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