President Jonathan Swears In New Ministers

President-Goodluck-Jonathan-1The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has sworn in 11 new ministers recently screened by the Senate, urging them to bring in positive changes in the administration and work closely with others in the service of their fatherland.

In the list of the new ministers are, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who is the Minister of State for Defence, Mohammed Wakil, Minister of State for Power, Abduljelili Adesiyan, Minister of Police Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Akon Eyakenyi, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and Lawrencia Laraba Mala, Minister of Environment.

Others are, Dr Tamuno Danagogo, Minister of Sports, Asabe Ahmed, Minister of State for Agriculture, General Aliyu  Gusau, Minister of Defence, Mr Boni Haruna, Minister of Youth Development and Dr Khaliru Alhassan Minister of State for Health.

The new ministers filed out in batches of four to take the oath, while the president observed. One after the other they also signed the dotted lines.

Dr Danagogo replaced the former Minister of Sports, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, who has travelled to Poland to attend the International Weightlifting Federation Championship.

Bring In Positive Changes

President Jonathan said that another set of ministers would be sworn in before he would have a full discussion with the ministers.

He said: “Join us to see how we can serve our people. Public office is for service. See yourselves as servants and bring value to what you have been asked to do.

“I always tell my people to find out and detect errors and do adjustments that will bring positive changes. Work closely with others and relate with each other for the success of the administration”.

The President also advised the new ministers to ensure that they do not create problems, saying that the administration will review the schedule of duties to avoid friction among the ministers and minister of state.

He stressed that their responsibilities were mainly administrative and expressed hopes that they would bring their experiences to bear.

President Jonathan To Attend 22nd AU Summit In Addis Ababa

President Goodluck Jonathan will leave Abuja on Wednesday to attend the 22nd Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government, which begins in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

The African Union has declared 2014 as ‘The Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ and the 22nd summit of African Union Heads of State and Government will have “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Developmentas its theme.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan and other participating Heads of State and Government will formally launch the ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ which coincides with the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.

They will also consider and adopt the reports of high-level committees on the Assessment of the African Standby Force and the Operationalization of the African Capacity for Immediate response to Crises, as well as the reports of other high-level committees on United Nations Reforms, the post-2015 Development Agenda, African Trade and Climate Change.

President Jonathan will be accompanied to the summit by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu and the Supervising Minister of Environment, Mr. Darius Ishaku.

He will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit on Friday.

Nigeria Warns International Community Over Meddling With Nation’s Affairs

Nigeria would no longer tolerate the meddling of the international community in the internal affairs of the country. This was the warning of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru when he read the riot act to diplomats in Abuja on Friday during a session to address issues of oil theft, terrorism, death sentence, gay rights amongst others that relate to Nigeria and the international community.

The Minister lamented the constant meddling and pressures the international community places on Nigeria especially on issues of death sentence and the gay marriage.

He cautioned the diplomats against making comments on political issues that “amounted to undue interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs.”

“Some ambassadors and their diplomats have been hob-nobbing with civil society groups and opposition parties in the country. This is incompatible with the status of diplomatic missions or agents. We will not hesitate to identify and deal with erring missions that fail to respect Nigeria’s sensitivities and sovereignty” Mr. Ashiru declared.

The envoy urged the diplomats to enable their governments understand Nigeria’s perspectives on gay rights and death penalty. He said the country’s criminal code contains provisions for death sentence for now and review could happen in the nearest future.

“On gay rights, I must stress that this is not in accord with the culture and beliefs of the generality of Nigerians. I, therefore, appeal to the international community through you to show greater understanding of the culture and traditions of our people,” he said.

He warned that Nigeria does not meddle in the business of other nations and should not be manipulated otherwise.

Al-bashir’s Visit

The Minister cleared the air yet again over the recent visit of Sudanese President, Omar Al-bashir to Nigeria for the just concluded African Union conference, saying the indicted Sudanese leader was an AU guest and not Nigeria’s.

Mr. Ashiru reiterated that the military was fully committed to the protection of human rights, denying allegations of extra-judicial killings made against the security forces in the on-going military operations in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, noting that state of emergency declared in the states has recorded tremendous success.

Piracy and oil theft

The Foreign Affairs Minister also stated that the ministry will no longer entertain appeals from foreign missions to release crew or ships involved in illegal activities on Nigeria’s territorial waters.

On the Gulf of Guinea, Mr. Ashiru appealed to the international community to cooperate with Nigeria in the fight against piracy and oil theft.

“The Nigerian Navy and NIMASA have been directed to take firm measures against any ship caught in unwholesome activities, including oil theft on Nigeria’s territorial waters. In the past, ambassadors have come to me or my permanent secretary to plead for the release of either their ships or the crew members caught in illegal activities. This is to serve as a warning that henceforth, I will not be able to grant audience to people coming to plead for the release of their ships or crew members,” he said.

Crude oil theft has been on the increase in Nigeria as the country is estimated to be losing about 400,000 barrels daily to oil theft and sabotage of facilities.

On consular matters, Mr. Ashiru expressed concern about the rate of rejection of applicants by some countries. He asked missions to desist from dealing directly with some agencies of government on issues pertaining to issuance of Notes Verbale in support of applications for visas.

“All such matters should be referred to the ministry which remains the channel of communications with government,” he said.

He also frowned at the practice of missions writing directly to the State House on any matter, which he said, was a clear breach of established channel of communication as contained in the Vienna Convention.

He said the ministry would no longer condone such clear breach of established communication channels.

UK N750, 000 Visa Bond: FG Promises To Defend Nigerians

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has stated that Nigeria has not received any communication on the plan by the British government to introduce £3,000 (about N750,000) fee as visa bond from visitors from Nigeria.

The Sunday Times of London reported that the Conservative government is planning to implement a pilot scheme that would target visitors from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Pakistan and India from November. The countries are considered as high risk of immigration abuse in the United Kingdom.

The Minister, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, assured that when received, the proposed visa policy will be carefully studied to protect the interest of Nigerian citizens.

“Really, we have received no official communication from the U.K. government,” he said.

“When we receive communication from them, we will study whatever proposal they are trying to do but I can assure all Nigerians that President Jonathan’s government will defend the interest of Nigerians by whatever means it can.’’

Uk’s Home Secretary; Theresa May said the David Cameron administration is serious about cutting immigration and abuses of the system.

Visitors from 18 years of age and over would be compelled to hand over £3,000 from November for a six-month visit visa.

They will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.

9000 Nigerians in Prisons Abroad

Beside the visa issue, the Minister expressed concern about the number of Nigerians in foreign prisons, many of whom, he noted, are on death row in Asia and pacific countries.

He said over 9000 Nigerians are currently serving prisons term abroad, with the largest number of 752 in the UK.

“Most of the remaining prisoners are concentrated in the Asia – Pacific region and a good number of them are on death row” he stated.

He however said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has entered transfer agreement with some of these countries.

“We are concluding Prisoners’ Transfer Agreement (PTA) with all those countries, such as United Kingdom, Thailand, Japan, China, Indonesia, Switzerland, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Hong Kong, so that we can bring home these Nigerians to complete their prison terms.

“I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to members of different groups; the media, civil societies, religious groups, traditional rulers, etc, to join hands in the education of our youths in an enlightenment campaign against trafficking in drugs, in particular, and other social vices in general.

“This assignment should not be left alone to Governments at different levels to handle.’’

The Minister also revealed that Nigeria has acquired a total of N8billion foreign direct investment in 2012 following its bilateral ties with other countries.

 

 

Senate Frowns at Ill Treatment of Nigerians Abroad

The Senate has asked the executive arm of government to press for redress and restitution for fourteen Nigerians deported from Spain.

The Senate made this resolution after considering a motion on the incessant unfair treatment and harassment of Nigerians in foreign countries.

The chairman of the Senate committee on foreign affairs, Matthew Nwagwu, who sponsored the motion, said the country’s nonchalant attitude towards the unfair treatment of Nigerians abroad makes the citizens vulnerable in foreign countries.

776 Nigerians are currently languishing in different prisons across the world.

According to the senate committee on foreign affairs, 395 Nigerians are in prisons in Spain; 126 in Gabon; 91 in Thailand; 62 in the United States of America; 30 in Niger; 43 in Malaysia; and 29 in Cameroon.

But are all these Nigerians guilty of the offences they were accused to have committed? The chairman of the senate committee on foreign affairs does not think so.

The federal lawmakers said Nigerians continually face unfair treatment and harassment in foreign countries.

Some Senators however advocated for a change of attitude by Nigerians going abroad.

For other lawmakers, there is an urgent need to properly fund Nigerian missions abroad.

The senate asked relevant Nigerian authorities to press for redress and restitution on behalf of the 14 Nigerians deported from Spain who were not found guilty of any offense.

The senate president, David Mark asked the committee on foreign affairs to invite the foreign affairs minister, Olugbenga Ashiru to brief it on the Spanish deportation saga and what the ministry is doing to come to the aid of the Nigerian student held in Ukraine.

Femi Ashiru and Tanwa Thomas tie the knot

Femi Ashiru, an IT consultant and son of Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, recently tied the knot with his bride Tanwa Thomas, an advertising consultant at an elaborate engagement and wedding ceremony in Lagos.

The wedding had in attendance, the creme de la creme of Nigeria’s political and social circle.

ECOWAS donates $382,000 to Nigeria’s flood victims

The Economic Community for West-African States (ECOWAS) has donated the sum of $382,000, about N60 million to flood victims in the affected 19 states of the federation that were recently inundated.

ECOWAS President, Mr Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, who made the donation on behalf of the commission noted that the donation is in line with ECOWAS mandate to support and show solidarity with people of the sub-region who are going through a disaster.

According to him ECOWAS is the only sub-regional body with a comprehensive Disaster Risk Response strategy and the gesture is an expression of solidarity and goodwill from the rest of the people of the sub-region.

Receiving the donation on behalf of the Nigerian government the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru said the gesture is a demonstration that members of the West African states are their brothers’ keepers.

He added that the donation will go a long way in helping to care for those that have been affected.

With this venture, more funds are pouring in for the flood victims following the raising of N12 billion by the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief co-chaired by business mogul, Aliko Dangote and Olisa Agbakoba.

 

At least 50 Nigerians evacuated from Syria- Ashiru

About 50 Nigerian s have been evacuated from Syria following the ongoing crises in the country, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbega Ashiru said on Monday.

Mr Ashiru said that the evacuees complied with government’s directive to leave Syria and he advised others to vacate the Middle East nation.

“We have evacuated quite a lot of Nigerians from Syria. It was not an airlift exercise like we did in the case of Libya because they are very few.

“From the report I got, those moved so far are less than 50, long before the situation deteriorated we advised them to move.

“Some have decided to stay behind but it is their choice,” he said.

The minister also said that the families of the Charge d’Affairs and officials at the embassy had been relocated to the neighbouring nation of Lebanon “and they are very safe there.”

March 15, 2011 marked the beginning of the crisis in the troubled Middle Eastern nation, with public demonstrations as part of the wider Arab spring and developed into a nationwide uprising.

Foreign affairs Minister talks tough on deportation of Nigerians

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has stated that the federal government will no longer tolerate the maltreatment of Nigerians in foreign countries, particularly when it involves deportation of Nigerians.

The former ambassador warned that such deportation must be done with dignity and decency, warning that the federal government “will not tolerate the mal-treatment of Nigerians for no just cause.”

The Minister made this known in Abuja on Tuesday, while addressing members of the diplomatic corps serving in Nigeria.

He noted that the Nigerian government is “not opposed to deportation of Nigerians who no longer have the rights to remain in the country from where they are begin deported, especially after they might have exhausted all local remedies” but added that such “deportation should be done within the appropriate institutional and legal framework and with dignity and decency.”

Nigeria was recently involved in a diplomatic row with South Africa over the deportation 125 Nigerians for possessing fake Yellow-fever vaccination cards. Authorities in Pretoria later apologised for the development and sent envoys to Abuja to meet with President Jonathan.

Mr Ashiru also called for improved services to Nigerians at visa centres and embassies in the country, while urging the diplomatic corps to treat Nigerian citizens abroad with utmost respect.

He also gave the foreign envoys the assurance that terrorist attacks in the country will soon be a thing of the past and called for the need to device creative ways of increasing and diversifying trade and investment between the countries, “in all sectors of our own economy especially in the power sector.”

He urged Nigerians all over the world to be law abiding and not abuse the hospitality of their host.

Nigeria accepts South Africa’s apology……seeks waiver of the yellow fever vaccination card

MMIA, Lagos

 

Nigeria has accepted the apology tendered by the South African government over the deportation of 125 Nigerians over fake yellow fever vaccination card.

However, the country is seeking the outright waiver of the yellow fever card requested at South African airports as the country is free of the disease.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru told journalists in Abuja that moving forward, a bi-national meeting will be convened very soon and the meeting will be headed by the Vice-Presidents of both countries.

He also hinted that Nigeria may demand a waiver of the yellow fever vaccination card at the meeting.

Mr Ashiru in an exclusive interview with Channels Television stated that, “South Africa is the only country in the world that demands such certification before allowing Nigerians into their country.” The World Health Organization has certified Nigeria free of yellow fever, which was last recorded in 1995.

The statement from the South African government earlier on Thursday, called for the revival of the bi-national commission between the two nations and re-opening the vaccination clinic at the Oliver Tambo international airport, Johannesburg “so that passengers without the yellow fever card can be quickly vaccinated upon arrival at the airport rather than to be deported” the statement read.

It also seeks an exchange of vaccine batch numbers and details between the health authorities of the two nations.

The statement also advised that when it comes to mass deportations, “senior officials at the department of international relations and cooperation including protocol should be consulted by immigration and health officials at the airport before undertaking such action.”

Reacting to the apology Mr Ashiru, stated that Nigeria has accepted the apology and added that “we will move quickly to ensure that we put machinery in place so that it will be a lasting solution, because we don’t want this to happen again because of our bilateral relations.”

“We felt it was un-African to have deported well over 125 Nigerians in a space of two days,” he added.

The Minister also confirmed that since the diplomatic row commenced, Nigeria has deported a total 131 South Africans as a retaliation measure.

Questionable and incomplete documents

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service has said the recent entry denial to some South Africans is unrelated to the on-going row between Nigeria and that country despite federal government’s displeasure at the treatment of Nigerians in South Africa.

The spokesperson for the service, Mr. Joachim Olumba said “over ten thousand foreigners have either been denied entry into or repatriated from Nigeria since January 2012, and this included South Africans.”

Mr. Olumba affirmed that “no South African has been deported from Nigeria since the row began and those denied entry were all on grounds of questionable and incomplete documents.”

According to Mr. Olumba, “the ongoing row between both counties is no big deal” but he noted that “the practice of international relations is always based on the principle of reciprocity,” adding that that the Nigerian government is yet to take official action.