The Federal Government Nigeria has pledged to increase trade relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from under 100 million dollars to one billion dollars in the next five years.
This is following a bilateral agreement between President Goodluck Jonathan and the visiting Pakistani President, Mamnoon Husein, in the Presidential Villa.
How to combat terrorism in their countries also took center stage with the leaders pledging to assist each other to fight terrorism.
The two countries signed memorandum of understanding covering cooperation in defence matters, agriculture, culture and industrialisation.
The first presidential visit from Pakistan in 32 years provided an opportunity for both countries to discuss how to boost economic and trade relations.
The presidential guard mounted at the forecourt of the president’s office was inspected by the visiting Pakistani President before the two Presidents went in for bilateral talks that lasted for about an hour.
Addressing journalists after the talks, President Jonathan said some of issues of common interest include how to combat terrorism were discussed.
The Pakistani president said he felt at home while in Nigeria and that the exchanges agreed were at a high level, covering several areas including human resources development, the need to enhance cooperation in counter terrorism.
They expect the foreign ministers of both countries to work out how to make such visits a continuous one and review the agreements reached so far.
Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Northern Nigeria and Minister of Special Duties, Mr Tanimu Turaki has lashed some individuals from the North who declined membership of the committee and yet claimed to have solutions to end the menace and contact with the sect.
Addressing journalists after a closed door meeting with the National Executive Committee of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in Kaduna, Mr Turaki challenged such individuals to either prove their patriotism by assisting the government with information on how to end the insurgency or else remain silent forever.
The chairman emphasized that since the insurgency is happening in the north, it is expected that northerners should show more concern in tackling the Boko Haram challenge rather than being a clog in the committee’s assignment.
On the alleged claim by the Joint Task Force (JTF) that the leader of the Boko Haram sect is dead, Mr Turaki said the committee is yet to get the true picture from military authorities and assured to meet with them soon in order to get the true position.
The Abia state police command has apprehended a fake social worker; Ngozi Nkwonu, who under the pretense of operating an orphanage, runs a baby-making centre, where teenage girls are impregnated and the babies sold off.
Briefing journalists on the discovering, the Commissioner of Police in Abia state, Usman Tlli Abubakar disclosed that one Odinakachi Samuel from Ovurungwu Village, Isiala Ngwa South local government area, who delivered a baby girl connived with the nurse Monica Benjamin to sell her baby for N150,000.
Suspects who were arrested in relation to the case were accused of selling and trafficking babies at the cost of N450,000 while the teenage mothers were paid N10,000 for giving up their children.
The Police boss warned that the command would not tolerate any form of criminality in the state as its primary priority is sustained peace and security.
[highlight]Tax authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have failed to account for $88 million in revenue from the booming mining sector, according to a representative of a global anti-corruption campaign.[/highlight]
Congo has attracted international firms including Freeport-McMoRan, Glencore and Randgold to mine its rich copper, cobalt and gold deposits, but remains one of the most corrupt countries on earth.
The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have paid them into the central bank, said Mack Dumba Jeremy, national coordinator in Congo for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
But he said the DGRAD tax agency had been unable to prove that the payment was made. Attempts to find the money had been going on since January, said Jeremy, who stopped short of accusing the authorities of corruption.
“DGRAD must prove that the money actually arrived in the public treasury in 2010. If they can’t then the executive committee of EITI will go to the courts in order to launch an inquiry into the whereabouts of this $88 million,” Jeremy said.
EITI is an international initiative which aims to improve transparency in resource-rich countries by tallying up the amount paid by companies and how much governments say they receive.
Congo is currently a candidate to become a full member of EITI although it is unclear whether it will meet the standards required.
No one from DGRAD or the government was immediately available for comment. Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo has repeatedly promised to tackle corruption.
Matata Ponyo survived a challenge to his authority on Monday after more than 40 legislators who had previously signed a motion of censure against him withdrew their signatures.
Attempts were made by the scuppered opposition to force a vote of no confidence in the government for various alleged failings, including mismanagement of government funds.
Watchdog Transparency International ranks Congo 160th out of 176 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2012, with a score of just 21 out of 100.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists and the Coalition of Civil Society Groups have criticised the planned scrapping of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the National Examination Council (NECO).
In a communique signed by the national president of the student body, Yinka Gbadebo, the association says scrapping the examination body will compound the sufferings of ordinary Nigerians who may not be able to secure admission into tertiary institutions.
Also in a press statement signed by the national vice president of the National Association of Women Journalists, missus Ifeyinwa Omowale, the association appealed to the Federal Government not to scrap the unified tertiary matriculation examination saying it will have serious adverse effect on the masses.
The president of the coalition of civil society group for transparency and good governance in another press statement said the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board has put smiles on the faces of many families by allowing merit to prevail in the admission of students into tertiary institutions.
The Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke says he is back to the state with renewed vigour for the task of furthering the growth and development of the state.
As it is his duty to ensure that the people of the state enjoy the dividends of democracy Cross River State his administration has come up with some projects aimed at cushioning the effect of poverty and backwardness amongst its people.
Imoke was speaking to journalists in the state shortly after inspecting some key projects across the state metropolis, undergoing construction, assuring the people of the state of his administrations resolve to deliver on schedule.
To this end, the state took out time in identifying major projects while billions of naira was set aside to commence work.
On his return to the state after two months away from the government house, Imoke deemed it fit to go around and see for himself without been told, the level of work done, and at each site visited, the governor was not disappointed.
The projects he inspected alongside some exco members included, the Margaret Ekpo International Airport bye pass landscaping of proposed Ikot Effanga Housing Estate, Calabar International Convention network, Covenant University which is a private owned institution at Adiabo, and Tinapa knowledge city.
At the Idundu Community section of the Margaret Ekpo International by-pass, the governor gathered from the consultant handling the project that, the 12 kilometre dual carriage is being constructed every 50 metres to channel water from the swamp to Qua River.
Receiving the governor at the proposed fly over section on the Marian Extension end, the contractor disclosed that pilling was on-going as the initial 24 piles have been increased to 29, construction of beams for the bridge has commenced while reinforcement equipment, sanding machines, pentonite mud remover and some automatic machines have been brought to site to accelerate work.
Laying emphasis on the 1.7 kilometre channel 2 drain networks which is expected to evacuate water from the state housing estate and environs to Calabar River, the governor informed that it will be completed before the raining season.
He then described the Tinapa Knowledge Centre which is expected to be commissioned next month, as the first of its kind in West Africa and will offer three hundred jobs, help people develop their software as well as provide convenient environment to attract investors.
It will be recalled that, Governor Liyel Imoke, who was on vacation in United States, arrived Calabar last weekend and was a guest of honour at a friendly football match between Nigeria’s Under 17 and their Botswana counterparts at U.J. Esuene Stadium where the hosts defeated the visitors by three goals to nil.
Imoke later presided over the state executive weekly meeting on Wednesday ushered in, by his deputy Mr Efiok Cobham amidst cheers from members of the executive council.
The meeting turned out to be the longest sitting where presentations were delivered by contractors and consultants in the enlarged meeting.
President Barack Obama formally ordered broad cuts in government spending on Friday night after he and congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal to avert automatic reductions that could dampen economic growth and curb military readiness.
As the United States staggered into another fiscal crisis, the White House predicted that the spending cuts triggered by the inability of Obama and lawmakers to forge a broader deficit-reduction agreement would be “deeply destructive” to the nation’s economic and national security.
“Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain though will be real. Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways,” Obama told journalists after his meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.
Late on Friday, Obama signed an order that put in effect the across-the-board government spending cuts known as “sequestration.” Government agencies will now begin to hack a total of $85 billion from their budgets between Saturday and October 1.
Half of the cuts will fall on the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the reductions put at risk “all of our missions.
Congress and Obama could still halt the cuts in the weeks to come, but neither side has expressed any confidence they will do so. Both Democrats and Republicans set the automatic cuts in motion during feverish deficit-reduction efforts in August 2011.
MARKETS SHRUG OFF CRISIS
Friday’s events marked the first budget showdown in Washington of many in the past decade that was not somehow resolved at the last minute – often under pressure from rattled financial markets. Markets in New York shrugged off the stalemate in Washington on Friday as they have for months.
Democrats predicted the cuts could soon cause air-traffic delays, meat shortages as food safety inspections slow down, losses to thousands of federal contractors and damage to local economies across the country, particularly in the hardest-hit regions around military installations.
At the heart of Washington’s persistent fiscal crises is disagreement over how to slash the budget deficit and the $16 trillion national debt, bloated over the years by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and government stimulus for the ailing economy.
Obama wants to close the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax hikes. Republicans do not want to concede again on taxes after doing so in negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” at the New Year.
Public outrage, if it materializes, would be the most likely prod for a resolution as the impact of the spending cuts starts to be felt in the coming weeks and months.
As a percentage of total government spending every year, $3.7 trillion, the actual spending reductions are small. But because safety-net programs such as Social Security and Medicare will be untouched, the brunt falls mostly on federal government employees rather than direct recipients of aid.
The U.S. government is the nation’s largest employer, with a workforce of roughly 2.7 million civilians spread across the country. If the cuts stay in place, more than 800,000 of those workers could see reduced work days and smaller paychecks between now and September.
Furlough notices warning employees and their unions started to go out earlier this week and the pace picked up on Friday after it became clear that talks at the White House between Obama and congressional leaders would be fruitless.
While the International Monetary Fund warned that the belt-tightening could slow U.S. economic growth by at least 0.5 of a percentage point this year, that is not a huge drag on an economy that is picking up steam.
‘THE SPENDING PROBLEM’
Many Republicans accuse the Obama administration of overstating the effects of the cuts in order to pressure them into agreeing to a solution to the White House’s liking.
A deal proved elusive as Obama met at the White House with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, as well as the top two Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
“The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem,” Boehner said after the meeting.
Asked why he did not just refuse to let congressional leaders leave the room until they had a deal, Obama told reporters: “I am not a dictator. I’m the president. So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, ‘We need to go to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?”
The across-the-board cutbacks were mandated by a deficit reduction law, structured to be so disruptive that Congress would ultimately replace them with more targeted savings. But partisan gridlock has prevented agreement on where to save.
The White House budget office sent a report to Congress detailing the spending cuts. Some 115,000 employees of the Department of Justice – including prosecutors and the FBI – were among the first to get the official word of furloughs.
The government also sent letters to several state governors advising them of cuts to services like the Head Start education program in California and military facilities in Virginia.
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed rare public frustration with the United States for lurching from crisis to crisis.
One reason for the inaction in Washington is that both parties still hope the other will either be blamed by voters for the cuts or cave in before the worst effects predicted by Democrats come into effect.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed 28 percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans for the sequestration mess, 18 percent thought Obama was responsible and 4 percent blamed congressional Democrats. Thirty-seven percent blamed them all, according the online poll.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts 750,000 jobs could be lost in 2013, and federal employees throughout the country are looking to trim their own costs.
“The kids won’t go to the dentist, the kids might not go to the doctor, we won’t be spending money in local restaurants, local movie theaters,” said Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, which represents 2,500 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
After weeks of White House warnings about the cuts causing disruption, Obama acknowledged it might be a while before effects fully kicked in. “We will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse,” Obama said.
In the absence of any deal at all, the Pentagon will be forced to slice 13 percent of its budget between now and September 30.
In his first Pentagon news conference since he was sworn in on Wednesday, Hagel struck a more moderate tone than many other defense officials who have said the spending reductions would be devastating or could turn the U.S. military into a second-rate power.
“America … has the best fighting force, the most capable fighting force, the most powerful fighting force in the world,” he said. “The management of this institution, starting with the Joint Chiefs, are not going to allow this capacity to erode.”
Most non-defense programs, from NASA space exploration to federally backed education and law enforcement, face a 9 percent reduction.
Moving to head off a new budget crisis later this month, Boehner said the Republican-led House would move a “continuing resolution” to fund government through the rest of the fiscal year, thus hopefully averting a government shutdown.
Three Nigerian journalists have been arrested for allegedly inciting the killing of the 9 health workers in Kano state, northeast Nigeria, on Friday.
Confirming the arrest, the state police commissioner, Ibrahim Idris, said the three journalists were detained for saying on a radio show that polio immunisations were an anti-Islam western conspiracy to cause infertility in women.
Mohammed Gama, Yakubu Fagge and an intern, attached to Wazobia FM in the city, allegedly made the statement two days before the 9 workers administering the vaccines were killed.
The gunmen on motorbikes shot dead the vaccinators in two separate attacks. Although no one claimed responsibility, Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is known to have has condemned the use of western education.
It is feared that the killings could hamper efforts by international health organisations to rid the north of the polio virus.
Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, has said he is doubtful of defender Joseph Yobo’s return and that of Victor Moses for the final group clash against Ethiopia which is a must-win for the Super Eagles.
Victor Moses who was side-lined against Burkina Faso in Nigeria’s opener which ended in a draw due to injury, was later fielded in the second game against Zambia which also ended in a draw and has also been declared not fully fit. Yobo was side-lined in the second game due to ankle injury in the first game. The defender has also been declared not fully fit but are both in training with the squad.
According to Super Eagles Group C standing, the Super Eagles must record a significant win with more goals against Ethiopia in the final group match on Tuesday if they want to scale through the group clashes into the quarterfinals.
Keshi said this while speaking to journalists even though he has not made his final decision on the two players.
But on hand for Yobo’s replacement is reserve defender Azubuike Egwuekwe, who has recovered from illness.
With second batches of games done with in group C, Burkina Faso are the group leaders with 4 points after thrashing Ethiopia 4-0, while Zambia who are on the second spot played a 1-1 draw with the Super Eagles with 2 points and Nigeria on the third spot with 2 points also and lastly Ethiopia with 1 point.
Winners of the group will be meeting Togo in the next round while the second qualifier from the group will meet Cote d’Ivoire.
Reports making the rounds in England is that European Champions Chelsea have landed themselves a news signing, Serbian Lazar Markovic from Partizan Belgrade as Partizan and Stamford Bridge club are close to signing a deal on the youngster from Serbia.
The club’s management openly denied this move, saying the player is not due to leave the club until 2016 as the 18 year old signed professional forms with Partizan Belgrade in 2011 on a five year deal, which has made it impossible for the player to leave the club until July 2016.
Despite being only 18 years old Markovic has already represented his country. He made his debut early this year and became the youngest player ever to represent the Serbian national team. He currently has five caps to his name.
Markovic is represented by LIAN Sports and that’s the same agent group who brought Matija Nastasic and Marko Marin to the Premier League last summer. They also have Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic as clients and both have been rumoured to be a targets for Chelsea several times. Linking the players with moves to Chelsea helps increase their profile and availability and is often followed by interviews in the press from the agency.
The rumours of a deal have been followed by a denial from Partizan and their sporting director Ljubisa Tumbakovic is quoted by Calciomercato.it as saying “I swear on my mother, I know nothing about it. On Saturday I spoke with the president Dragan Djuric and he confirmed that he knew nothing of a transfer of Markovic to Chelsea. Perhaps journalists are better informed than us.”
And right on queue his agent has been quoted by the same outlet as saying a deal won’t happen in January “Markovic has a contract with Partizan. Move in January? I can assure you that [a move] will not start in the next session of the market and then we’ll see.”
LIAN Sports are increasingly seeking out opportunities in England for their players and the reported interest in Markovic coincides with a growing awareness of young talent in Serbian football.
Arsenal has also been linked with both Markovic and Ljajic recently.
A former head of the Hausa service of the Voice of America, Sunday Dare has claimed that President Barack Obama’s victory speech after his re-election was targeted at uniting Americans because a whole lot of issues brought division into the country before the elections.
Mr Dare was on ground with Sunrise Daily to react to the re-election of President Obama.
He also noted that Obama’s speech is aimed at bringing every American on board to let the American Democracy blossom, be it a Republican or Democrat, to put behind the election and forge ahead.