The Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika has blamed the nation’s security challenges on the rising cases of rural-urban migration with limited opportunities.
Awosika who delivered a lecture at the induction of Course 28 participants of the National Defence College in Abuja, emphasised on the need for the Federal Government to ensure inclusive and widespread development of the country.
“Most of the challenges you can have with security emanates from young people. 65 percent of our population is under 35.
“That is a national asset because it is abled-bodied working-class people, but it is also a national problem if we don’t engage them,” she said.
She noted that for the country to effectively tackle the menace of insecurity, the Federal Government should work hard in educating many youths and also engaging them upon graduation.
Noting that Nigeria has “an effective national education plan that ensures that every single child that is born in this country has access to education,” the First Bank chief stated the importance of education, stressing that “an educated, enlightened mind is an asset in nation-building.”
While praising the Armed Forces for their role to national development, the First Bank boss stated that securing Nigeria or any country is “beyond the guns and the battles.”
Explaining further, she said: “It is more strategic, it is clearly proactive. And in being proactive in handling the issues that can lead to war, you need to have taken care of many factors from the onset.”
Awosika who believes that the nation’s economy has a great impact on the state of security stressed that people will avoid conflict and war when they are well fed.
On the issue of inclusiveness in the military, the seasoned businessman called for more enrolment of women in the nation’s Armed Forces.
The administration of US President Donald Trump announced Monday new rules that aim to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare.
The change threatens to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of mostly Hispanic migrants who work for low wages and depend in part on public services to get by.
It also appeared to close the door for impoverished and low-skilled migrants outside the country hoping to legally obtain a foothold in the United States.
Announcing a new definition of the longstanding “public charge” law, the White House said hopeful migrants will not be granted resident visas if they are likely to need public assistance.
In addition, those already here and using public services will not be able to obtain green cards or US citizenship.
“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” Trump said in a White House statement.
Rules could impact millions
The ruling could impact many of the 22 million non-citizen legal residents of the country, and the estimated 10.5 million unauthorised immigrants, most long-term residents in both groups.
It immediately was thrown into question by pro-migrant activists planning to sue and from Democrats in Congress who said they would fight it.
“This administration scapegoats immigrants, emboldens white supremacists, and tears families apart. This is racist policy. We will continue fighting to #ProtectFamilies,” tweeted Representative Donna Shalala.
The White House said “large numbers” of migrants “have taken advantage of our generous public benefits, limited resources that could otherwise go to vulnerable Americans.”
It said half of all non-citizen households include at least one person using Medicaid, the government-run health program, and that 78 percent of households led by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare programme.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Children mostly unaffected
Cuccinelli said that the new standards would be used to judge non-citizen residents who use public services repeatedly after October 15, 2019.
The services that count against an applicant include federal, state and local cash and income assistance, food stamps from the federal SNAP program, Medicaid, and subsidized housing.
Cuccinelli stressed that the new rules did not apply to public assistance programs for children or pregnant women or emergency room care.
As for hopeful immigrants, they would have to demonstrate the ability to live in the United States without resorting to public assistance.
Changes planned since 2018
The changes to the “public charge” rules have been in the works since 2018, as part of Trump’s campaign to slash both legal and illegal immigration.
In May, Trump announced a broad plan for immigration “that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”
“As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled,” he said.
He said the newcomers “compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans” and weigh heavily on welfare programs.
“We’re not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world — anybody.”
‘Dire humanitarian impact’
In a study last month, the Urban Institute said the new regulations, when proposed last year, were already driving immigrant families to curtail their use of public services.
Some were pulling out of the SNAP program, leaving them with “insufficient resources for food and adequate nutrition.”
In addition, staying away from Medicaid “put people in a position of forgoing treatment for chronic conditions and preventive medical care.”
The National Immigration Law Center announced Monday that it would sue to block the implementation of the new rules, calling them a “racially motivated policy.”
“This news is a cruel new step toward weaponizing programs that are intended to help people,” said Marielena Hincapie, NILC executive director.
“It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come.”
African leaders will meet Sunday in Niger for the African Union (AU) summit, to sign a landmark free trade agreement, and to discuss looming security and migration crises on the continent.
In a “historic” moment for the 55-member bloc, according to its chairman Moussa Faki, heads of state will officially launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the two-day summit in Niamey, the Nigerien capital.
The agreement comes after 17 years of tough negotiations, and was formalised at the end of April when the agreement had crossed the launch threshold, which required ratification by at least 22 countries.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, announced this week it would after all join the pact in Niamey, having unexpectedly pulled back from the agreement last year.
Nigeria’s chief trade negotiator, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, said President Muhammadu Buhari would sign the landmark agreement, “opening Africa up to abundant opportunities.
“We weren’t dragged into this, we are a leading advocate,” Osakwe told AFP. “But it is about assessing how to make it work for Nigeria and indeed the continent.”
State trade ministers agreed the zone should be operational from July 2020, AU Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga told AFP, as countries needed time to adapt to the agreed changes.
An official start date will be agreed by heads of state Sunday — with only Benin and Eritrea still to sign the agreement.
There are still key issues that need to be ironed out however, such as setting common criteria to determine rules of origin for traded products.
Amaka Anku, Africa analyst at Eurasia group, described the deal as a positive step but said the AfCFTA was still “a long way from taking off”.
The AU estimates that implementing the AfCFTA will lead to a 60-percent boost in intra-African trade by 2022.
At the moment, African countries trade only about 16 percent of their goods and services among one another, compared to 65 percent with European countries.
Also on the summit agenda is security — an issue afflicting the Sahel in particular.
Summit host Niger has faced constant attacks by jihadist groups.
Its fellow members in the G5-Sahel security pact — Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — will seek backing at the AU summit to push for a greater UN security force to address the terror threat.
The countries hope to activate Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a Nigerien security source told AFP. The chapter allows for the UN Security Council to determine a threat to peace and propose measures, including military deployment, to deal with it.
“No prosperity, no integration is possible without peace,” said Faki, who stressed the importance of an AU Peace Fund launched in 2018 to finance security activities and called on member states to fulfil their financial promises.
So far, only $116 million has been received for the envisaged $400-million fund.
Niamey is under high surveillance, with summit facilities subjected to strict access controls and a heavy security presence.
“We have a special unit of several thousand men” on duty, said Defence Minister Mohamed Bazoum.
The city has been revamped and boasts a brand-new airport, upgraded roads, and new hotels for the occasion.
The leaders will also discuss boosting intelligence cooperation and the global migration crisis.
An airstrike Tuesday on a migrant detention centre near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, killed 53 and injured more than 130.
The AU’s Peace and Security Council on Friday condemned what it called a “savage attack”, calling for an independent inquiry into the incident.
AU member states needed to quickly repatriate their nationals from Libya “in order to prevent any further exploitation of their fragile situation,” they said in a statement.
An estimated 2.7 million people have left Venezuela since 2015, the UN said Friday, warning that the exodus amid a devastating political and economic crisis looked set to continue “unabated.”
The figure from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) marks an increase from December when 2.3 million people were estimated to have fled the country.
UNHCR and the UN migration agency IOM said in a joint statement that an average of 5,000 people left Venezuela every day in 2018, noting that neighbouring countries especially Colombia have taken on most of the burden.
“These figures underscore the strain on host communities and the continued need for support from the international community, at a time when the world’s attention is on political developments inside Venezuela,” Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuela, said in a statement.
UN agencies have estimated that 3.4 million Venezuelans are currently living abroad, a figure that includes those who left before President Nicolas Maduro’s government was engulfed in crisis.
The total number of Venezuelans living outside the country is expected to hit 5.3 million by year’s end, according to the UN.
President Donald Trump announced he will “address the nation” Tuesday on his demand for a Mexico border wall that he says is needed to shut out dangerous illegal immigration.
Trump, who is battling Democrats in Congress over funding for the wall project, tweeted that the speech would be made at 9 pm (0200 GMT Wednesday) on what he called “the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border.”
The primetime speech will come two days before Trump makes a rare trip down to the Mexican border to push his controversial plan.
Trump has made building a wall the central theme of his domestic policies, painting the border as an open gate for criminals, including rapists, terrorists and phony asylum seekers.
The idea is popular with his hardcore voter base. However, Democrats, who now control the lower house of Congress, say that the “crisis” is overblown by Trump and that the wall is a political stunt not worth taxpayer money.
Austria said on Wednesday it will not sign a United Nations migration pact that is set to be adopted in December, in order to “defend its national sovereignty.”
The United States and Hungary have already rejected the Global Compact for Migration, which aims to boost cooperation to address the world’s growing number of migrants.
“The government has agreed… not to sign the United Nations pact and thus not to bind Austria,” said a statement from the ruling coalition led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the center-right OeVP.
Kurz’s coalition partner, the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), has been pushing for Vienna to reject the pact.
The coalition, which took office last year, won votes on an anti-immigration platform following the 2015 surge in arrivals of asylum seekers.
Although the pact is non-binding, Austria said it would not sign because of “the importance of defending Austria’s national sovereignty”, Kurz was quoted as saying in the statement.
The final text was agreed in July after 18 months of negotiations and is set to be adopted during a conference in Morocco on December 10-11.
It lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage flows of people as the number on the move worldwide has increased to 250 million, or three percent of the world’s population.
The United States said in December it was quitting negotiations on the pact because of provisions “inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies”.
Hungary’s anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in July that Budapest would boycott the pact because it was “dangerous for the world and Hungary” and would “inspire millions to set out on the road”.
Poland has also expressed opposition to the accord.
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Nigerians who are bent on leaving the country because of the current difficulties, to do so if they have another country.
The president made the remarks on Monday when he received the Kwara State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant and members of the party from the three senatorial zones of the state in Abuja.
He charged Nigerians to remain loyal to their country while citing an example with his former Second in Command during his tenure as Military Head of State, the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon.
According to President Buhari, Major General Idiagbon was extremely committed to the cause of positively changing the narrative about Nigeria.
He said, “The late Major General Tunde Idiagbon was a very rare example of what loyalty to the fatherland and to a superior, should be.
“Tunde was strong, loyal and extremely committed to the cause of positively changing the narrative about Nigeria, which the administration set out to do at that time”.
“What I said long ago in 1984 is still valid today. We have no other country but Nigeria.
Others who feel they have another country may choose to go. We will stay here and salvage it together.”
Speaking further, he commended APC supporters for their resolve to unite to ensure the party’s victory in the 2019 elections.
Three years ago, asphyxiated by Venezuela’s economic meltdown, Francisco Rojas and his wife Elena packed up four suitcases with the barest of essentials and walked out of their Caracas apartment.
It has remained empty ever since.
Toothbrushes are still perched on the bathroom sink, the refrigerator runs with only ice and tomato sauce inside, and the bar is empty except for a lone bottle of rum.
Deserted homes, desolate apartment blocks, and stagnant markets for both renters and buyers are yet another disheartening byproduct of the South American country’s dire economic straits, which have prompted a mass exodus.
Elena, 33, was offered a job in Ecuador and there was no looking back. She can now earn as much in one month as she did in four years in Caracas.
When the couple left Venezuela, they simply locked the doors to the apartment rather than selling it, even though the money would have helped. Bought for $100,000 in 2014, their home had already lost half of its value.
“We wanted to see how things would go. Now that we’re established, it would be absurd to sell,” Francisco Rojas, a 28-year-old sports journalist, told AFP from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city.
In Venezuela, more and more apartment blocks have turned into ghost buildings.
Lights are never turned on, parking spaces remain empty and mailboxes are jammed with letters that are never claimed.
The crisis has sparked a new business — management of deserted homes.
Such services include the payment of public services bills, representation at condo meetings and even the switching on of lights at various times to ward off burglars.
According to the United Nations, some 1.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 and a total of 2.3 million live abroad — some 7.5 percent of the total population of 30.6 million.
The Rojases were tired of the insecurity, the lack of food and medicine and the inflation — predicted by the International Monetary Fund to reach a staggering one million percent this year — that rendered their salaries practically worthless.
Hope springs eternal, though, even for those who have already left.
“If the situation improves, we’ll see if we return to Venezuela or sell the apartment,” said Francisco.
Right now, it’s not a sellers’ market.
Roberto Orta, president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Real Estate in Caracas, says properties have lost 70 to 80 percent of their value over the last five years.
“An apartment that cost $170,000 is worth no more than $70,000 today. Someone offers $50,000 and the owner prefers to leave it locked,” real estate broker Carolina Quintero told AFP.
Mariana Garcia, a 41-year-old accountant who fled in 2017 with her husband and two children, says her house “lost more than half its value” but they held onto it.
“We locked the house, (left it) intact, and left with just two suitcases,” she said from the United States, where her husband accepted a job offer after first emigrating to Ecuador.
“Even if you have money, there’s nothing to buy or there’s no water,” said Garcia, explaining that she and her family took off before it was too late, worried that as international airlines shut down, they could be stranded in Venezuela.
Fear of squatters
As well as a reluctance to sell, homeowners who have moved abroad don’t want to rent their properties for fear of being unable to reclaim them from tenants, as authorities often prevent evictions, even in the case of rental contract violations.
Rental laws oblige proprietors to sign contracts with their tenants of at least one year that must be extended for six months to three years.
According to Orta, the rental market is operating at just five percent of its potential.
Carlos Gonzalez, president of the National Real Estate Chamber, told AFP that “hyperinflation means it’s not worth renting in bolivars,” but few people have access to dollars which, since 2003, have only been available on the black market.
Squatters are also a worry for homeowners.
In some condominiums, neighbors have been asked not to answer questions from people asking about unoccupied properties.
“People are walking past and can see apartments with the lights off,” said Quintero.
In Los Palos Grandes, a middle-class neighborhood on the east side of Caracas, several “squatters have been evicted by police,” Rafael Guerra, from the local neighborhood watch group, told AFP.
In the capital’s western area of La Florida, squatters settled into a property that has been occupied by a business while the workers were on vacation.
“They stole everything. The police evicted them but they weren’t arrested,” said one of the employees.
Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro blame the invasion of properties on a 2011 law passed by his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, to “rescue urban land.”
Rojas and his wife are among the many who fear they will lose their home to squatters.
“We’re afraid of being invaded — there are many empty apartments. Our family is always keeping an eye on it,” Rojas said.
African leaders have created a body to help coordinate national policies on migration, Morocco announced at the African Union (AU) summit on Monday.
AU leaders agreed to set up an organisation called the African Observatory for Migration and Development (OAMD), based in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told a press conference in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.
“African leaders have taken the decision to task this important new tool with harmonising the national strategies of African states and improving interaction with partners (abroad),” he said.
The scheme, suggested by Morocco, comes amid a fresh crisis within the European Union (EU) over an influx of migrants taking the perilous trip across the Mediterranean.
But Bourita rejected an EU proposal to allow migrants rescued in international waters to request asylum in the EU from so-called “regional disembarkation platforms” located outside of Europe.
“Morocco strongly rejects this platform idea, which it considers inappropriate. It is an easy, counterproductive solution,” he said.
At a summit in Brussels last week, European leaders agreed to consider setting up “disembarkation platforms” outside the EU, most likely in North Africa, in a bid to discourage migrants and refugees boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.
Member countries could also create processing centres to determine whether the new arrivals are returned home as economic migrants or admitted as refugees in willing states.
“The tragic fate that awaits African migrants on Europe’s doorstep is made worse by the recurrence of intolerable behaviours against them in Africa itself,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU’s commission chairman, said in a tweet on Sunday.
“Unless it wants to lose any credibility on this issue, our union cannot condemn obvious human rights violations against African migrants elsewhere and ignore it when similar things happen on the continent.”
Hundreds of thousands of Africans have left the continent in a bid to reach Europe in recent years, often taking deadly routes through the desert and across the Mediterranean, as they fled war and poverty at home.
But migration was not on the official agenda of AU summit, which focused on security crises, trade and corruption.
President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday at the US judicial system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his decision to end a program that protects so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.
Earlier, the White House had called the ruling Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco “outrageous,” coming the same day Trump met lawmakers from both camps on the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump said in a tweet.
The DACA program, instituted by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children.
President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the illegal migration of Nigerians declaring that all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world will be brought home and rehabilitated.
The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Tuesday night in Abidjan while addressing Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Shehu in the statement released on Wednesday said Buhari also vowed to reduce the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare, and food security at home.
The statement revealed further that the President, in an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Community in Cote D’ Ivoire, on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit, President Buhari said all necessary steps will be taken to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.
Buhari, also reacting to the report of the death 26 Nigerians in Mediterranean sea said it is very difficult to know the origin of the people who died, while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, because of lack of documentation.
“When it was announced that 26 Nigerians died recently in the Mediterranean before they proved that they were all Nigerians they buried them.
“But the evidence I have from the Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, (Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa) is that only three of them were identified as Nigerians. But I’ll not be surprised if the majority of them were Nigerians.”
The President then advised Nigerians in Cote D’ Ivoire to be good ambassadors in their host country, warning that the Embassy will not hesitate to repatriate those who tarnish the image of the country abroad.