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Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will meet with national, state and local government officials and traditional leaders this week to discuss the ongoing campaign to end polio in Nigeria. Mr. Gates will be accompanied by the foundation’s chief executive officer Jeff Raikes.
The agenda for the visit is focused on efforts to end polio and strengthen immunization against other vaccine-preventable diseases, and to follow up on the Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication. In February 2009, Nigeria’s executive governors, federal government and local government area chairmen publicly committed themselves to reach at least 90 percent of children with polio vaccine, with the goal of wiping out polio from the country.“Nigeria has achieved important success with polio over recent years and we are confident it can finish the job,” said Mr. Gates. “However, success will depend on leaders at every level redoubling their efforts to meet the Abuja Commitments and to ensure that every Nigerian child is protected from polio now and always.”
From 2009 to 2010, Nigeria’s commitment to polio eradication and immunization was at an all-time high. During this time, polio cases fell by 95 percent and fewer children than ever were paralyzed by polio. In 2011, attention to polio waned, contributing to an increasing gap in immunity. Polio has now re-emerged as a serious threat to children’s health, with 30 polio cases reported in six states – Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto and Yobe. During this visit, Mr. Gates will hold a number of meetings in Abuja, including a meeting with WHO, UNICEF and UN officials to express his sincere condolences to those families and friends who lost loved ones in last month’s bombing of the UN building. Mr. Gates also will observe the current Immunization Plus Days campaign and will meet with state and traditional leaders to better understand the challenges they are facing in prioritizing polio efforts and strengthening routine immunization. In addition, Mr. Gates will use his visit to discuss ways to help Nigeria tackle broader health priorities as well as meet with people working to improve agriculture in the country.
The Gates Foundation is deeply engaged in Africa, and its central goal is to ensure Africans benefit from life-saving and life-enhancing discoveries that have the potential to improve and save millions of lives. The foundation is involved in a wide range of projects, including work on HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria; mother and child health; farming and financial services; and nutrition and sanitation.
AP Mr. Gates with Senate President David Mark
Mr. Gates receives a gift from President Jonathan
AFP Gates in Nigeria july'11
World Pays Tribute to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Champion for Environment and Women’s Rights
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Obama, and other world leaders today paid tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of Africa’s foremost environmental campaigners, who died on Sunday. She was 71.
“It is with great sadness that the family of Professor Wangari Maathai announces her passing away on 25th September, 2011, at the Nairobi Hospital, after a prolonged and bravely borne struggle with cancer. Her loved ones were with her at the time,” the Green Belt Movement announced on its website. Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement that encouraged women in rural Kenya to plant trees to improve their livelihoods through better access to clean water, firewood for cooking and other resources. Her movement planted an estimated 45 million trees in Africa and assisted nearly 900,000 women to establish tree nurseries and plant trees to reverse the effects of deforestation, according to the United Nations tribute to her.
“Her passing is a loss for the people of Kenya and the world,” Ban Ki-moon said in a statement published on the UN website. Maathai was a “globally recognized champion for human rights and women’s empowerment” and a “pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security,” he added.
“She was a visionary who saw over the tree canopy, but never lost sight of the roots.”
“She was a visionary who saw over the tree canopy, but never lost sight of the roots,” said Jan McAlpine, Director of the Secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests, adding that Maathai was a great woman and a wonderful leader who made a difference both in Kenya and around the world, one tree at a time.“Wangari Maathai was a force of nature,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a news release. “While others deployed their power and life force to damage, degrade and extract short term profit from the environment, she used hers to stand in their way, mobilize communities and to argue for conservation and sustainable development over destruction. “She was, like the acacias and the Prunus Africana trees Wangari fought so nobly and assiduously to conserve, strong in character and able to survive sometimes the harshest of conditions,” he added.
Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 to Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
“Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally,” the Committee said when it announced its decision to award her the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development,” the Committee added.“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Professor Wangari Maathai,” Obama said in his statement today. “On behalf of all Americans, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Professor Maathai’s family and the people of Kenya at this difficult time.
“The world mourns … and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable woman who devoted her life to peacefully protecting what she called ‘our common home and future.’ The work of the Greenbelt Movement stands as a testament to the power of grassroots organizing, proof that one person’s simple idea — that a community should come together to plant trees — can make a difference, first in one village, then in one nation, and now across Africa.
“Professor Maathai’s tireless efforts earned her not only a Nobel Peace Prize and numerous prestigious awards, but the respect of millions who were inspired by her commitment to conservation, democracy, women’s empowerment, the eradication of poverty, and civic engagement.
“Professor Maathai further advanced these objectives through her service in the Kenyan government, the African Union, and the United Nations. As she told the world, ‘we must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.’ Her legacy will stand as an example to all of us to persist in our pursuit of progress,” Obama said.
Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya: “With the passing on of Professor Maathai, the country and the world has not only lost a renowned environmentalist and but also a great human rights crusader. Indeed in 2004, the late Professor was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution in environmental conservation, good governance, human rights and democracy.
“As part of her environmental conservation efforts, the late Professor Maathai started the Green Belt Movement, an NGO that is involved in reforestation programmes throughout the country.
“Professor Maathai was also a hardworking person who always had time for the less privileged in the country. In this regard, the late Nobel Laureate was at the forefront in advocating for women empowerment, especially at the grassroots level.
“In politics, the late Professor Maathai will be remembered for the role she played in agitating for political reforms that paved the way for the country’s second liberation. In her quest to serve Kenyans in different spheres, the late Professor Maathai vied and became the Member of Parliament for Tetu and an Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
“Although she has physically left us, her good deeds will live and continue to inspire us for many years to come.”
“Socially, the late Professor Maathai was an amiable person and those who interacted with her benefited from her wisdom and generosity.
“We take consolation that although she has physically left us, her good deeds will live and continue to inspire us for many years to come.”
Former Vice President Al Gore: “Wangari overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service—service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya– and to the world as a whole … She worked tirelessly both as an elected Member of Parliament and an Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources. She forged new ground for women in Kenya helping shatter what we would call the “glass ceiling” in the United States. And, she found her true passion as the founder of the Greenbelt Movement. As the first environmentalist and first African woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari served as a true inspiration to us all.”
Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory: “It was with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of this exceptional environmental activist. Her work with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and as an activist for civil and women’s rights in Kenya and beyond received worthy recognition internationally when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004.
“We were honoured in 2005 to have had Prof Maathai, then Deputy Minister of Environment in Kenya, deliver the Third Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. (Read the Third Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture Address by Professor Maathai.) “We need people who love Africa so much that they want to protect her from destructive processes,” she said in her address. ‘There are simple actions we can take. Start by planting ten trees we each need to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale. Practise the 3R campaign (reduce, re-use, repair and re-use, which is mottainai in Japanese), get involved in local initiatives and volunteer your time for services in your community. Governments should prioritise technical schools and give people knowledge and skills for self-employment.’”
Prof. Wangari Maathai UN
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 1984: Wangari Maathai understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability. One can but marvel at her foresight and the scope of her success. She was a true African heroine. Our condolences go to Professor Maathai’s family, to the people of Kenya, and to the countless women (and men) across Africa and the world to whom she was an inspiration
President Jonathan optimistic address to the United Nations Assembly can be a powerful message of positive re-branding and assurance to the world community.
This is not the first time that President Jonathan has addressed United Nations General Assembly. But his recent outing at the at the 66th United Nations General Assembly, UN Headquarters, New York was quite important after the Boko Haram’s United Nations building bombing at Abuja. Many keen political observers and analysts have quite for a while have seen terrorism and terrorist acts accelerating in Nigeria, but they were not probably fazed by rising momentum being that it was localized and within the country's border without international implications. But with the recent attacked on the building of United Nations in Nigeria at Abuja has proven that the bombing might be local but its implication is beyond the confines of the country. There are political and economic ramifications that may come with it especially with the attraction of foreign investors and capitals.
This is why it was important that President Jonathan utilized his address at United Nations Assembly to assure the whole world, that Nigeria is stepping up and Nigeria is up to the challenge of restraining, controlling and defeating the embolden Boko Haram with its destructive warfare on the polity, stability and wellbeing of the country. The world economic actors and participators must be updated on the safety of the country and making them to understand that Nigeria is a safe destination for their capitals and investments. And President Jonathan address did accomplish and convey strength, endurance and safety of the country. That is good news to the world.
The most important responsibility of a government is its ability to protect life and property, and Nigerian president must let the whole world know that prospective investments and present investments in Nigeria are safe and well protected. One thing Nigeria must not do to is to allow anything to disrupt its growing economy and retards its progressive and buoyant economy. Therefore it is necessary that a confidence building strategy and assurance must go beyond the address at United Nations and rebranding must be continued to make investors and capitalists to see Nigeria as a safe haven for investment, an economic growth landscape with affirmative yields.
President Jonathan in his address at United Nations General Assembly said, "Over the past few months, we in Nigeria have faced an upsurge of terrorist attacks in parts of our country. Only recently, the UN Building in Abuja housing several UN Agencies was the target of an atrocious terrorist attack which left several dead. On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I like to convey my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the entire UN family for this barbaric and heinous attack against those who have dedicated their lives to helping others.”
These are powerful words and that conveyed the country's collective sympathy and condolence to the affected people around the world. The next suitable words to say following that is Nigeria’s readiness to protect lives and investments in the country are unshakeable.
Nigeria must do the public relation of using every opportunity it has to sell herself and rebrand her image as a place for tourism, investments and education. The way a nation perceives herself is probably the way other nations look at her. Moreover, it shows that Nigeria does have the capability to be a secured and a safe nation for capitalism. This may look as something simplistic but it does go a long way in assuring trading partners and nations where a nation priorities lies.
The undeniable implication of terrorism is it does threaten a nation's way of life; subsequently Nigerians are now becoming to paying more attention to themselves and their environments. The easy going way of life and carefree of the country has been altered because of terrorism. The concerns can be felt by seriousness of the country security apparatus to combat this new rising phenomenon. And without doubt it takes time, vigilance and resources to stand up to the new challenge. But while the country is at that, Nigeria must let the world know that business, commercialism, trading are still fertile, safe and profitable in the country
President Jonathan made a powerful impression to the world community with the below utterances when he emphasized the fundamental application of good governance for furthering diplomatic and democratic standings:
“I also believe that in addition to other traditional tools of preventive diplomacy, democracy and good governance can be particularly important in building a just, equitable and inclusive society. By focusing on mediation as a tool for conflict prevention, we are able to address the real triggers of conflict, without which we cannot achieve sustainable solutions.
However, for the world to move from a culture of response after conflict to that of a culture of prevention, the international community must muster the political will to promote preventive diplomacy, in particular through mediation. This will necessarily entail re-dedicating greater human and financial resources to institutions and mechanisms that already exist within and outside the UN system for conflict prevention and resolution.
Going forward, I should like to propose the establishment, under the Secretary-General’s Office, a Conflict Mediation Commission, to be charged, among others, with the collation of information on conflict situations across the world, identify the dramatis personae and develop appropriate strategies for initiating resolution of such conflicts. The Commission will also develop rules of engagement, including sanctions which would apply to those who may obstruct efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully.”
Finally, President Jonathan coming to United Nations headquarter in New York at this point in the life of the country is crucial, for it becomes an opportunity to reassure the world community especially the country's trading and diplomatic partners on the readiness of Nigeria to do good and to maintain her standing as an African leader. Nigeria must dispel the false assertion that it is a ‘failed’ nation as some observers chose to characterize the country. To judge the president on his impact and impression on the global village at United Nations with his address, one can equitably give him a excellent grade but now again, only time will tell.
A Nigerian newspaper run by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist stopped publication Sunday after 2 1/2 years of muckracking and sometimes controversial coverage of Africa's most populous nation, the publisher said.
NEXT newspaper, printed in Lagos, did not appear on newsstands this weekend. Publisher Dele Olojede, a former foreign editor for New York's Newsday, said NEXT was "losing a lot of money" and decided to stop its print edition to reevaluate its finances. Olojede said it was possible the newspaper could begin publishing again. However, the newspaper's advertising dwindled in recent months, forcing it from publishing six days a week to only on Sunday.
The newspaper's crusading political stance also hurt ad sales, as the salutatory advertisements heaping praise on politicians and the country's elite that fill other publications never made it into its editions. "In this environment, where the government still occupies a disproportionally and distortionately large role in the economy, it has a ripple effect - said or unsaid," Olojede told The Associated Press. "The result is we've had a very tough time getting business."
He added: "We have to rethink our strategy and see how we can outsmart the system that seems so stuck against us." NEXT began publishing its print edition in January 2009, focusing on government corruption in oil-rich Nigeria, a nation of 150 million. Its columnists, editorials and reporting set it apart from other Nigerian newspapers, where journalists often accept cash payments from interview subjects or "brown envelope" bribes slipped into briefing materials at news conferences.
Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger presents Dele Olojede with a 2005 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting
The newspaper reached the zenith of its influence when it published an anonymously sourced story claiming late President Umaru Yar'Adua was "seriously brain damaged" and unable to govern while receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. The government attacked the newspaper. However, Yar'Adua never returned to power and died May 5, 2010. The newspaper also published the U.S. diplomatic cables related to Nigeria obtained by WikiLeaks, causing another stir in the country.
Olojede, who won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2005 while at Newsday, said he hoped NEXT at least would continue to publish stories on its website.
"It's been an extraordinary adventure for us, really. We're going to stick with it and keep poking around to see if we can make a dent in the very many problems of this country," he said. "The country definitely needs, like oxygen, an independent and honest press. ... The country is not going to go anywhere if money can just determine what the public knows or doesn't know."
"President Goodluck Jonathan has urged world leaders to be united in the fight against terrorism, saying the battle against use of extreme violence must be won.President Jonathan disclosed this in a speech at the opening of the 66th Session of the annual United Nations General Assembly debate in New York. He warned that the increasing use of terror worldwide as a form of political action poses serious threat to international peace and security. Meanwhile, President Jonathan has proposed the establishment of a Conflict Mediation Commission under the UN Secretary-General’s Office." - CoolFM
President of Nigeria, addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
President of Nigeria, and Doris Leuthard, President of Switzerland attend the State luncheon hosted by U.N.
AP Photo/David Karp
Ban Ki-moon, right, Secretary General of United Nations greets Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Photo: Jason DeCrow / AP
Picture credits: AP, Chris McGrath/Getty Images North America
On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I would like to congratulate you on your election as the President of
the 66th Session of the General Assembly. I have no doubt that, under your able leadership, the work of the 66th Session would progress to a successful conclusion.
I should also like to acknowledge the excellent work done by your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Joseph Diess, who ably guided the affairs of the 65th Session with consummate skill and commitment.
I must also seize the opportunity to extend my warmest felicitations to Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on his well-deserved re-election, a tribute to his leadership and vision. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon deserves our appreciation for the good work he is doing on our behalf.
I welcome the newest member of our organization – South Sudan. I am confident South Sudan will bring unique perspective to the work of the United Nations and enrich our collective experience.
Mr. President, despite our initial optimism, the peace dividend we had hoped would accrue following the end of the Cold War is yet to materialize. On the contrary, the world of the 21st century in which we live is becoming ever more precarious, unpredictable and certainly more dangerous perhaps more than any other time in history.
The increasing use of terror in various regions of the world as a form of political action poses serious threat to international peace and security. We must win the war against terrorism because it infringes on the fundamental rights of all peoples to life and to live in safety from fear.
Over the past few months, we in Nigeria have faced an upsurge of terrorist attacks in parts of our country. Only recently, the UN Building in Abuja housing several UN Agencies was the target of an atrocious terrorist attack which left several dead. On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I like to convey my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the entire UN family for this barbaric and heinous attack against those who have dedicated their lives to helping others.
As the United States and the rest of the world commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we are reminded of the international dimension of terrorism and the imperative of a concerted global response to combat this scourge.
Mr. President, for us in Nigeria, terrorist acts, rather than intimidate, will only help to strengthen our resolve to develop appropriate national strategies and collaborate even more closely with the international community in the fight against this menace.
As part of Nigeria’s efforts to fight terrorism, I signed into law the Terrorism (Prevention) Bill 2011 and the Anti-Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act on the 3rd of June this year. The new laws not only outlined measures for the prevention and combating of acts of terrorism, but also prohibit the financing of terrorism and laundering of the proceeds of crime. Nigeria will continue to work with the UN and other partners in this global fight.
To this end, Nigeria is working closely with the United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), as well as relevant international bodies and friendly countries to sharpen our response mechanisms.
In this connection, the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task force is launching its first project in Abuja in November 2011, aimed at conflict prevention and countering the appeal of terrorism to youth through education and dialogue.
In addition, Nigeria is a member of the new global body, the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), initiated to galvanize and pull our efforts together to fight the scourge in all its ramifications. We pledge to continue to work with all stakeholders, as we enlarge and intensify our partnerships.
When I stood before this Assembly last year, I gave a solemn pledge that Nigeria will conduct free and credible elections in the second quarter of this year. I am glad to report that we, indeed, conducted what have been adjudged credible and transparent general elections in April 2011. Let me take this opportunity to thank the United Nations and all other organisations and nations that assisted us to achieve that feat.
The elections are now behind us and the Government which I head is well on course to implement our programmes of Transformation, a strategic plan for the delivery of the dividends of democracy to citizens, and for preparing our country for the challenges of the future. Indeed, all across my country, there is a renewed sense of optimism and self-belief in our ability to re-create a new Nigeria on the principles of personal freedoms, democracy, good governance and rule of law.
Mr. President, permit me to identify with the theme of this year’s debate of engaging the role of mediation in the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the world.
You will recall that Nigeria has been in the fore front of the campaign to promote this theme when, as the President of the Security Council in July 2010, my country adopted the use of Preventive Diplomacy to resolve armed conflicts across the world. This theme is apt and could not have come at a better time when armed conflicts are increasingly taking a greater part of the time and resources of the United Nations.
For too long, the international community has focused too little attention on mediation and preventive diplomacy and far too much effort and resources on military aspects of peace and security. Yet, measures to address the root cause of conflict, including dialogue and mediation, can be far more effective as means to achieving sustainable peace and stability.
I believe that cultivating peace and fulfilling the aims of Chapter V1 of the UN Charter require early identification and appropriate intervention in conflict situations in order to build confidence and trust, and also to preclude the eruption of violence between opposing parties. As I see it, our goal should always be to present the peaceful alternative as a less costly and effective way of achieving political and social objectives.
I also believe that in addition to other traditional tools of preventive diplomacy, democracy and good governance can be particularly important in building a just, equitable and inclusive society. By focusing on mediation as a tool for conflict prevention, we are able to address the real triggers of conflict, without which we cannot achieve sustainable solutions.
However, for the world to move from a culture of response after conflict to that of a culture of prevention, the international community must muster the political will to promote preventive diplomacy, in particular through mediation. This will necessarily entail re-dedicating greater human and financial resources to institutions and mechanisms that already exist within and outside the UN system for conflict prevention and resolution.
Going forward, I should like to propose the establishment, under the Secretary-General’s Office, a Conflict Mediation Commission, to be charged, among others, with the collation of information on conflict situations across the world, identify the dramatis personae and develop appropriate strategies for initiating resolution of such conflicts. The Commission will also develop rules of engagement, including sanctions which would apply to those who may obstruct efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Mr. President, this naturally brings me to the issue of trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Mr. President, if your idea of resolving conflicts through mediation is to succeed, then the problem of trafficking in small arms and light weapons must be frontally tackled.
The proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons is particularly worrisome, due to their easy accessibility and availability to unauthorized persons and groups, who in turn have used these arms to create instability and insecurity in much of the countries in the developing world. Even worse, the proliferation of these weapons has proved handy in the hands of terrorists.
This explains our commitment to, and preoccupation with, the actualization of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that robustly addresses the illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons which, as we all know, are among the major causes of destabilization and conflict in West Africa.
The danger of proliferation of, and illicit trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons informed Nigeria’s decision to cosponsor Resolution 61/89 of 2006, the principal objective being to provide a legally binding international instrument for the trade in conventional arms. We will continue to support all initiatives towards the realization of an Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. I call on all Member States of the UN to join in this endeavour.
The increasing rate of piracy and other maritime crimes, with their attendant damaging effects on security, trade and economic activities in the Gulf of Guinea and other locations call for coordinated regional and global approaches.
In this respect, I like to express support for the proposal of the Secretary General to deploy a United Nations Assessment Mission to under-study the situation in the Gulf of Guinea and explore possible options for UN support and action.
Our expectation is that a positive outcome from such a strategy will not only benefit our sub-region but the larger international community as well. I am already consulting with other Leaders in our sub-region to boost this initiative.
Mr. President, gender equality and women empowerment strategy of the UN, especially through the creation of UN Women, deserve commendation and support. Nigeria’s support for UN Women, to which we have made substantial contributions, reflects our desire to harness the potentials of women in the task of nation building.
Our national action plan on gender equality and women empowerment places strong emphasis on women’s effective participation in politics and adequate representation in public office. I am, indeed, proud to announce to this august Assembly that more than 30% of my Cabinet is made up of women.
Let me also commend the Executive Board of UN Women on the successful take-off of the entity. UN Women can be assured of Nigeria’s strong support.
Mr. President, this year, prevention of non-communicable diseases is one of the issues slated for discussion at our High Level Meeting (HLM). Only three months ago, I attended the High Level Meeting on AIDS, where I pledged Nigeria’s commitment to healthcare, as part of our country’s human capital development agenda.
My Government is intensifying efforts to improve on national healthcare delivery by allocating substantial resources to primary healthcare. We look forward to a productive outcome of the High Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases at the end of this Session.
In the same vein, I welcome discussions at the High Level Meeting on Desertification and Land degradation as they continue to pose challenges to our developmental efforts. This is why Nigeria strongly supports the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including strategies and best practices to address this challenge.
In order to demonstrate our commitment to human rights, Nigeria recently ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and acceded to four other international human rights instruments, including the optional protocol on the Convention against Torture and Migrant Workers.
My Government has also passed into law the National Human Right Commission Amendment Act (2011), Legal Aid Council Amendment Act (2011) and Freedom of Information Act (2011). Nigeria will continue to accord the highest priority to human rights issues as they speak directly to the dignity and inalienable rights of humanity.
Mr. President, we in West Africa are passing through an exciting season of democratic rebirth. Before the end of year 2011, elections would have held in six countries in West Africa. These elections will set these countries along the path of political stability, progress, good governance and sustainable development, some of which benefits we have begun to experience. The progress we have made could not have been possible without the support of the United Nations.
The resolution of the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire is a case in point. I consider the inauguration of President Ouatarra not just a success for Cote d’Ivoire but also for the international community, which spoke with one voice and acted in concert in support of the Ivorian people.
The end of this crisis must be seen by all as the beginning of our journey towards the consolidation of the democratic culture and good governance in Africa. Having put this crisis behind us, the international community must now provide robust assistance to the country as it embarks on the tasks of post conflict reconstruction and national reconciliation.
Mr. President, the struggle for self governance and majority rule in Africa started in the forties and by 1957, Ghana had gained independence. Today, all African States have achieved self determination and majority rule. These are no small achievements.But we still have much work to do.
A great deal of the work that remains is to build viable and capable states in Africa on the principles of popular participation, rule of law and respect for human rights, as we pledged to do in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. Nigeria believes that these values must remain at the core of governance in Africa, if we are ever to achieve the goals of stability, security and development.
As Nigeria is approaching the end of its tenure on the Security Council, I will like to express my country’s deep appreciation for the opportunity to serve in this important organ. In this course of our stewardship, the Council had the courage to reach many difficult decisions that resulted in positive development around the world. We are proud to be associated with these decisions.
I would like to urge the Council to continue its important work in the maintenance of international peace and security. In spite of the Council’s many successes, it is our belief that this important organ will benefit from the vigour and fresh perspectives which only a revamped Council that accommodated changing global political realities can provide.
Mr. President, I urge you to set up clear criteria for the reform of the UN Security Council in line with the demand of the majority of the World. A reformed UN Security Council is the only way to demonstrate that all nations have equal stake in the UN. Nigeria looks forward to the prospect of membership in a reformed UN Security Council.
A nation that wishes to survive, does not pursue polices that divide the people along primordial fault lines. It does not emphasise indigenousness but rather citizenship.
A nation that wishes to survive, does not pursue polices that divide the people along primordial fault lines. It does not emphasise indigenousness but rather citizenship. In Nigeria, indigenousness has assumed more significance than citizenship. State governments in several parts of Nigeria are discriminating against Nigerian citizens because they are not indigenes of the area. For many years, states in the North only employ southerners in its civil and public services on contracts. Currently, some states have resorted to expelling non-indigenes from its public and civil services.
This retrogressive, undemocratic and discriminatory practice is assuming a sinister dimension. This is Apartheid practised on Nigerians by Nigerians, in a country that claims that it is serious about remaining one and united. People who have suffered from this discrimination leave with their faith in Nigeria shattered and very unlikely to believe in it as a country. They would be very vocal for understandable reasons, in the agitation for mono-ethnic states and break up of Nigeria. This is just one example of how government policies are aiding the break up Nigeria.
Great nations are built on the principles of equality, tolerance and respect for individual liberty, and not on corruption, mono- ethnic prejudices, discrimination and intolerance. The policy of expelling from states civil services, Nigerians who even though have lived all their lives in a state but not indigenous to the state, is one of the greatest threats to the continuing existence of Nigeria as a united nation. If President Jonathan is serious about the continuing existence of Nigeria as a united Country, he should bring this practice to an immediate end, and all the people dismissed from their jobs restored to their posts.
To survive as a Nation, Nigeria should be pursuing policies that enhance integration, abolish discriminations, enhance the devolution of power to the regions and empower its citizens through safeguarding their fundamental human rights. These are the policies that ensure the viability and survival of countries as multi ethnic states.
These policies would drastically reduce the cost of government, unite the people and ensure accountability. People who claim that they are federalists drive the current policies, but are actually people who believe in mono-ethnic nations of Nigeria and support the balkanisation of Nigeria. These people have benefited from Nigeria and are more interested only in policies that would enable them keep their acquired advantage and will support the break of Nigeria because it would preserve their own selfish interests. Underneath the agitation for further degree of autonomy to the different ethnic nations that make up Nigeria, is selfish individualism and insularity. They offer no plan of how they would contribute to the development of other parts of Nigeria from which they have benefited from. Many of them cite the Switzer- land model for Nigeria but fail to state that resources from a particular region do not support Switzerland.
They want to have their own nation within Nigeria, sustained with natural resources from another part of Nigeria, which bear the ecological consequences of the extraction of the resources. This is wrong, unfair and utterly selfish. Nigeria should either exist as one country or break up into as many nations as the people want. There cannot be a fair arrangement outside a single indivisible country founded on equality, tolerance, rule of law and liberty.
Therefore, I would argue that the Nigerian government change the direction of Nigeria’s development from state creation to regional governments’ development and integration. This would result in the establishment of between three and six regional houses of assemblies instead of thirty-six at the moment.
The monumental savings would bring development to the regions that would be dwarfed by anything that can be achieved through state creation. This is pure simple economics of scale and common sense devoid of prejudices. This will end one of the most stupid things Nigeria is doing which is fragmentation and duplication of government, which is why it spends about eighty per cent of its resources on government and has very little for real development.
This is one of the formulae that can ensure the survival of Nigeria as a united, viable and peaceful nation. No IMF or World Bank recommendations will bring down the cost of government in Nigeria to the point where real development and security would be possible, if we fail to seriously restructure the system of our government. We are the ones who will choose to make Nigeria viable or allow it to disintegrate.
Nigeria does not need thirty-six corrupt governors; state chief judges and millions of civil servants. We must learn to do more with less and stop doing less with more. Regional integration will safeguard the future of Nigeria, lay the foundation for her emergence as an African giant and even provide a conducive democratic plat- form should any region finally decides to go its own way as an independent nation.
The beauty of regional integration is that the states in a particular region can make a good economic argument for it and can find existing legal framework within the present constitution to go about it. What it requires is the will of the people and visionary leadership by incorrupt leaders.
Central Bank of Nigeria raises benchmark interest rate to 9.25 percent, up from 8.75 percent
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's central bank monetary policy committee on Monday raised its benchmark interest rate for the fifth time this year in anticipation of upward inflationary pressures and to support the weakened local currency. The MPC lifted its benchmark rate to 9.25 percent, up from 8.75 percent, a move at the top end of analysts' expectations. Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, said although inflation had declined in the last two-months, high government spending, a new minimum wage, the likely removal of fuel subsidies and a flood of expected liquidity from the state "bad bank" were all likely to push prices higher.
"Concerns remain about sustaining the current inflation trend. The anticipated high liquidity in the near future would have a bearing on inflation in the near future," Sanusi told reporters, reading from the MPC communique in Abuja."The fiscal stance continues to be expansionary. In addition there is the weight of structural factors such as the announced hikes in electricity tariffs and the expected removal of the petroleum subsidy."
The committee voted 8-3 to raise rates and they all agreed to maintain a 200 basis point corridor around the MPR, meaning its recommended deposit rate is 7.25 percent and lending rate 11.25 percent. Sanusi said the decision to lift the benchmark rate was also influenced by the need to support the naira, which weakened to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar for four months on Monday.
The central bank has tried to prop up the local currency by selling dollars at a bi-weekly auction and through monetary tightening but without sustained success."It looks as though there is a clear intent to bring real interest rates to positive levels, in order to shore up support for the naira," said Razia Khan, Head of Africa Research at Standard Chartered.
"With GDP growth between 7-8 percent, and a questionable transmission mechanism of monetary tightening to the real economy in any case, this is something the CBN can afford to do."
Analysts had been divided on the likely outcome prior to the meeting. Seven of the 13 analysts polled by Reuters expected rates to rise by 25-50 basis points, with the rest predicting rates would be unchanged. Nigeria's inflation remained steady within the central bank's notional single-digit target in August, data showed this week. Headline inflation was 9.3 percent year-on-year in August from 9.4 percent in July, while growth in food prices, the largest contributor to the consumer inflation figure, rose to 8.7 percent in August from 7.9 percent in July.
But core inflation, which excludes some volatile components such as food and energy, remained in double digits in August and the central bank remains concerned about continued high government spending, especially recurrent expenditure. Nigeria's new finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, pledged to cut back government spending when she arrived last month but early benchmarks set out for the 2012 budget last week showed few signs of a promised fiscal prudence.
Okonjo-Iweala's cautious plans did not convince Sanusi.
"The government has announced a target of a 1 percent annual reduction in government recurrent spending and when viewed in the context of the anticipated injections associated with the new national minimum wage this reflects that the fiscal retrenchment is likely to be drawn out," he said.
Sanusi said stalling global economic growth was likely to impact Nigeria through a drop in trade and investment, while the recent poor performance of the Nigerian stock market was a reflection of declining risk appetite internationally
Nigeria’s grip on inflation rate is becoming consistent at third quarter with a single digit at 9.3 percent, and with an impressive economic growth rate at 7.72 percent in August. So far a significant development and good track record is brewing, for at the beginning of third quarter inflation rate was 9.4 percent in July, and the latest recorded 9.3 percent shows a slightly declining inflationary trend.
But looking at the country’s misery indicators intrinsically – overwhelming poverty and crushing unemployment; these fabulous numbers are not making impact to the suffering masses that are without jobs and are etching out a living with less than two dollars per day. Economic experience by average Nigerian, who can barely feed his family three decent square meals per day cannot correlate with the economic expansion of the country’s GDP. Positive economic growth should fundamentally ameliorate the misery index, lest it become senseless and insignificant to the majority of Nigerians.
Before Nigerian financial and economic policy makers beat their chest and celebrate with their talking drums they should realize that the country is not yet out from the wood. The much talked removal of oil subsidy and its implementation has not been resolved and neither the recapitalization of collapsing banks has been ceased. Let’s not overlook the increasing growth in food prices, which is the biggest contributing force to the consumer inflation rate. The food inflation rose from 7.9 percent in July to 8.7 percent in August and that is not good.
With these enviable numbers on inflation and GDP rolling out from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the life style and economic well-being of 70 percent of Nigerians are stagnant and deplorable. There is no adequate housing, the food prices are going beyond the reach of the poor while the scarcity of the expensive kerosene makes life unbearable.
Nigeria is in the midst of confidence building news on economy and one cannot downgrade it. With decreasing turmoil at the Niger Delta; oil production in the second quarter of this year is averaging 2.45 million barrels daily. This is an improvement compared to 2.35 barrels of the previous year with more turbulent Niger Delta.
Bloomberg reported that “Inflation in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, stayed near the limit of a central bank target and the economy expanded 7.72 percent in the second quarter, keeping pressure on the bank to raise interest rates. The inflation rate fell for a second month to 9.3 percent, the lowest level in more than three years, from 9.4 percent a month earlier, Yemi Kale, head of the National Bureau of Statistics told reporters today in Abuja, the capital. “Much of the improvement in headline consumer price inflation can still be explained by the positive influence of domestic food prices, and this should continue in the months ahead,” Razia Khan, the London-based head of African economic research at Standard Chartered Bank Ltd., said today in an e- mailed note to clients.”
The numbers on joblessness is not forth coming and the tabulations by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) may be misleading. The last number I saw on unemployment was 19.7 percent in 2010. The National Bureau of Statistics website is not current with the unemployment figures. The last number it recorded was 40 percent unemployment in 1992. The 19.7 percent was provided by the former minister of Finance Mr. Olusegun Aganga last year. He did acknowledge that almost half of Nigerian youths at the age group of 15-25 years were without jobs.
And with the massive unemployment devouring the youths of the country it might be fastidious to peg the unemployment at an extremely conservative number of 19.7 percent.The 19.7 percent is not a realistic number when the rural unemployment is put into consideration and effectively tabulated. Even with conservative extrapolation the joblessness in the rural Nigeria where most people live will make the tendered number laughable. The low technology and paucity of technical know-how makes the collection of data cumbersome and sometimes out of reach.
Onitsha Kerosene waiting
Writing about jobs in Nigeria, Nasir El-rufai the former minister of capital territory Abuja, could not arrived at the exact unemployment figure but nevertheless he used the official numbers and also made his own realistic extrapolation. This is the way he put it, “The jobless rates in Nigeria have not fallen. On the same day but at different functions, the Minister of Trade and Investment put the unemployment rate at 14-16 per cent, while the Finance Minister put it at 21 per cent. The actual figure may be much higher than both numbers. The millions of people with no jobs represent a serious impediment to Nigeria’s economic development. Apart from the immense waste of the country's human resources, it generates losses in terms of lower output which results in poorer incomes and increased poverty. It also causes social decay and inhibits national cohesion. In fact, unemployment in Nigeria is a national security threat.”
He also wrote that, “Nigeria has about 90 million people who are willing and able to work, but about 70 million of them have no gainful employment. This is an alarming figure, but when the 4.7 million people captured in the formal sector in the latest statistics from the Pensions Commission is increased by the three to four times standard multiplier to capture those in the informal sector, it means that only about 20 million Nigerians have jobs, out of a population of 162 million. This simple fact causes the country a loss of about N2 trillion annually from the absence of commercial activities that ordinarily should have taken place but did not.”
The lack of job is one thing that cannot be politicized for real people are suffering .Job creation must be initiated by government by creating the fertile environment that will attract capital and investments. Government does not necessary create jobs but does aid the private sector in making job creation possible and imminent. Nigeria’s favorable economic indicators on economic growth and inflation can become a precursor in solving the problem of unemployment.
German comedian Martin Sonneborn is well-known for jokes bordering on the tasteless. But a satirical political billboard of him posing in blackface makeup as US President Barack Obama is sparking outrage.
“Ick bin ein Obama (I am an Obama),” reads the poster at Berlin’s central Ernst Reuter Platz square, in an apparent play on John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. On the poster, a "black" Sonneborn smiles as he raises his arm in the air.
The billboard is the latest in Sonneborn’s campaign for his satirical political party Die Partei ahead of state elections in Berlin this Sunday. It’s meant to make fun of the entire German political establishment and go up to the edge of propriety – another poster is entitled “MILFS against Merkel” and the campaign has also mocked the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party.
But the latest one is upsetting to some because of the racial connotations of blackface theatre, which was widespread in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Based on ugly stereotypes, blackface consisted of white performers painting themselves black for degrading minstrel shows. It it quickly died out in the United States after the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
In an interview with The Local on Thursday, Sonneborn, staying in character as the leader of Die Partei, said his billboard wasn’t racist.
He said he was “Germany’s Obama” and added he was mocking the “hype” surrounding the US president. Sonneborn, formerly editor-in-chief of the German satire magazine Titanic, said he wasn’t aware of the history of blackface and didn’t care if anyone was upset.
“No, I didn’t know that,” he told The Local. “If Americans associate it with that, then I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take it down.”
But Tahir Della a spokesman for the Initiative for Black Germans (ISD), which tries to represent the interests of the black community in Germany, called the billboard "unbelievably hurtful."
"This is 2011 and not 1950," he said. "I find it racist through and through."
Quaide Williams, the vice chair of the German chapter of Democrats Abroad, also said the poster was insensitive, although he emphasized that he was speaking for himself and not the organization.
“Do I think that racism is a problem in Germany? Yes I do. I think this shows how insensitive people are to this topic,” Williams told The Local. “It’s kind of interesting to look at how little they recognize racism in their own politics.”
There have been several incidents in recent years involving Obama that have led to charges of racial insensitivity by Germans.
In 2009, a frozen food company released Obama chicken fingers but later said it wasn’t aware some might see overtones of stereotyping blacks with the product’s name. That same year, Dresden’s Zoo renamed a mandrill – a monkey-like primate – it had called Obama after an unfortunate attempt to "honour" the US leader.
The gaffes have not been confined to one side of the Atlantic, however. After Obama’s election as president, the New York Post got in trouble for a political cartoon showing police officers shooting a chimpanzee while saying: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
US Amb. Murphy
But the blackface billboard incident comes on the heels of an open letter by the US Ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, lamenting racism in the country after one of his black staffers had to endure abuse following a football game in Berlin.
The US Embassy said it had no immediate comment on the Obama billboard.
The full letter on the US Embassy website » on the controversy.
The Lithe ( German Newspaper)