Canada Seeks Partnership With Nigeria To Address Child Marriage

child-female-girlThe Canadian government is seeking a stronger partnership with the Nigerian government to reduce the burden of child marriage in Africa’s most populous nation.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Christopher Thornley, who spoke at a forum in Abuja on the growing international concern about child marriage, pointed out that Nigeria had more cases of child brides in sub-Saharan Africa.

He also explained the commitment of the Canadian government to assisting Nigeria’s efforts at reducing the burden of child marriage.

When the Child Rights Act was passed into law in 2003, many people celebrated it as a law that would finally put the issues of child marriage to rest because it puts the minimum age of marriage at 18.

Almost 13 years after, the burden of child bride is still heavy on Nigeria, as statistics from the Canadian government reveal.

At a photo exhibition by the Canadian High Commission in Abuja, the burden of child marriage was highlight as a global issue, with focus on what could be done to end it.

At the event was a teenager who was a victim of child marriage in Zamfara State, northwest Nigeria.

She dropped out of primary school at 12, the same year she was married off.

This situation is what the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria said his country was trying to address and reduce the burden on Nigeria.

For the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, the problem is endemic in some states despite the existing federal laws that protected the child rights.

She, however, assured the Canadian government of Nigeria’s efforts to ensure that states domesticate laws that would protect the girl child rights.

Statistics by the Canadian government reveals that over 15 million girls are married every year before they turn 18, an alarming figure that the Sustainable Development Goals hope to reduce by the year 2030.

NNPC To Explore Community-Based Pipeline Policing

Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu of the NNPC
The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, expresses the Corporations’ commitment to tackling oil theft

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says the Corporation may settle for the option of community-based policing to protect the vast artery of oil and gas pipeline network across Nigeria.

The decision of the Corporation was made known by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, at a meeting with the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Perry John Calderwood held  at the NNPC Towers in Abuja on Friday,

Dr. Kachikwu pledged to give a lot of attention to the perennial menace of pipeline vandalism and oil theft.

Pipeline Protection Format

“I intend to give a lot of energy to the issue of oil theft and pipeline vandalism. We must keep the losses from oil theft to the lowest figure possible. I don’t believe in the arm -for-arm approach.

“We must engage the host communities and inculcate in them the need to see the assets in their domain as their own,” Dr. Kachikwu said.

In a statement issued after the meeting by the spokesman for the Corporation, Ohi Aligbe, the NNPC boss said that in the months ahead, the Corporation would initiate discussions with community leaders and interest groups with a view to fashioning a workable community oriented pipeline protection format, with less emphasis on the use of brute force to secure the lines.

On the state of the refineries, Dr. Kachikwu solicited for support from Canadian companies and service providers, stating that Nigeria could make do with Canada’s vast experience in refining and expertise in oil and gas operations.

In his response, Ambassador Calderwood said the Canadian government and business entities were willing to work with the NNPC in growing the Nigeria oil and gas industry to enviable heights.

Canada Advocates Increased Global Effort In Fight Against Terror

The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Perry Calderwood, today called on the international community not to relent on their fight against terrorism, even if it is localized in some parts of the world.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Channels Television’s Foreign Affairs correspondent, Amarachi Ubani in Lagos, Mr Calderwood said the joint effort will provide a multifaceted approach, so the insurgency never gets the upper hand to rubbish any country’s image.

He further noted that Canada has supported Nigeria in this regard and will continue to do so.

In his words “Canada believes that the international community has to work together to combat terrorism” adding that “it is not a unique phenomenon to Nigeria; many countries are also affected, Canadians have been victims to terrorist attacks” he said.

Speaking further, Mr Calderwood revealed that “we (Canada) have identified ways we can support Nigeria. We have provided training in terms of terrorist prevention techniques, investigation techniques to the security services of Nigeria” adding that “Canada (has) also listed Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation”.

He added that the Canadian government will dialogue with the Nigerian government to identify ways where they can be supportive.

Canadian envoy express confidence in Nigeria’s economy

The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Chris Cooter, has stated that Canada is currently working on strategies aimed at increasing its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria within the next few years due to enhanced confidence in the Nigerian economy.

Cooter disclosed this during a meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, in Abuja.

The Canadian envoy noted that as part of efforts to strengthen trade and investment relationship between the two countries, more Canadian companies had already indicated their willingness to invest in infrastructural projects across Nigeria.

He explained that the move was a follow-up to the Nigeria-Canada Bi-National Commission meeting held between the Minister of Trade and Investment; Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Abuja recently.

“Two weeks ago, the Nigeria –Canada Bi-National Commission met in Abuja and the centerpiece of that Bi-National Commission was how to build and strengthen economic relationships between Nigeria and Canada. This is one of the reasons we have brought the Senior Executives of SNC Lavalin, one of the leading engineering and Construction Company in Canada, and as top five in the world” he said.

“They have been in Nigeria before, in fact, they were here about 25 years ago. That time, they thought that this was not the best place to invest but today, there is a wind of change going on in Nigeria’s investment landscape which is being driven by the Minister of Trade and Investment. Therefore, we are looking at areas where Canadian companies can invest in Nigeria and how they can form partnerships in Nigeria in line with the Nigeria-Canada Bi-National Commission” he added.

Present at the meeting were Senior Executives of SNC Lavalin, Canada’s biggest engineering and Construction Company, led by the company’s Executive Vice-President, Mr. Michael Novak, and Senior Vice-President, Product and Market Growth, Dr. Mark Hall.

Speaking during the meeting, Mr Aganga said that the Federal Government would partner genuine investors who are willing to invest in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy such an infrastructure, mining, petrochemical and agri-business in order to create jobs for the Nigerian people.

“We have a big infrastructure deficit in Nigeria and that is why the Federal Government is very concerned to bridge the gap by developing the critical infrastructure required to drive our industrial development, especially in those areas where we have comparative and competitive advantage such as mining, petrochemical, agri-business and even the Small and Medium Enterprises sector” he said.

The Minister also added that the government is ready to “work with foreign investors who are interested in investing in infrastructure projects. For those who are interested in Public Private Partnership in the area of infrastructure development, we will link them up with key government agencies such the Infrastructure Concession and Regulation Commission and other ministries or agencies for the necessary action.”

Also speaking during the meeting, the Executive Vice President, SNC Lavalin, Mr. Michael Novak, said the company would explore the Public Private Partnership option to invest in key infrastructural projects in Nigeria.