UN Security Council Meets With Osinbajo

UN Security Council Meets With OsinbajoNigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has assured the visiting United Nations Security Council mission that steps are being taken to ensure that human rights culture is institutionalised in the Nigerian Military to avoid negative reports of human rights abuse.

Professor Osinbajo said this during a closed door meeting with the UN delegation at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He, however, noted that it was time for the international community to take another look at the international legal instruments and conventions that govern warfare and conflicts in the light of the unconventional and brutal operations of terrorists and insurgents around the world.

“We must, on a global scale look again at how to deal with these new challenges.

“We need to look at the governing conventions, as well as what type of legal categories and recognition of law we should give them.

“We need to re-examine how to deal with these individuals according to law,” the Acting President said in a statement issued on Monday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

He also assured the UN team that the Federal Government would progressively review the Rules of Engagement by the military and across the nation’s security system while taking human rights issues into consideration.

Professor Osinbajo added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Investment Programmes which include the Conditional Cash Transfer, the GEEP Micro Credit scheme and the N-Power job programme would cater to the developmental needs of the northeast.

He said “we are already disbursing the cash transfers in some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities,” adding that the present administration was implementing a micro-credit scheme while using the Social Investment Programmes to resuscitate the local economies, including through the Anchor Borrowers’ plan for farmers.

The Acting President further urged the international community to support the Federal Government in the area of humanitarian response, describing the challenge as “massive”.

He hinted that the government was also in the process of passing a Northeast Development Commission bill that would deal with some of the long term developmental issues.

The Security Council members were led to the Presidential Villa by the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Mathew Rycroft.

The team comprises of all the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Speaking earlier at the meeting, Ambassador Rycroft praised the Nigerian Government for its handling of the humanitarian challenge in the Northeast.

He called for a long term developmental outlook in the region to address the issues of good governance, human rights, women’s participation, economic revival, education and jobs.

The delegation is leaving Nigeria with a pledge that the United Nations Security Council would play its role well in assisting the Nigerian Government to tackle the challenges in the conflict zones.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geofrey Onyeama, said the Federal Government is pleased with the tour of the northeast by the Council.

He assured the team that Nigeria would leverage on it to access all the funds needed for the rehabilitation of the IDPs in region.

The meeting was attended by some members of the Federal Executive Council and top government officials including the Minister of Defence, Major General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

Others are the Minster of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubrin; the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin.

Nigeria’s Executives Ratify Lake Chad Basin Charter

Lake-Chad-BasinThe Executive Arm of Government in Nigeria has ratified the Lake Chad Basin Charter signed in 2012.

The Charter was ratified at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Abuja on Wednesday.

It would be sent to the National Assembly for enactment into law.

Threatened By Climate Change

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who hinted reporters about the ratification after the council’s meeting, said the lake had been threatened by climate change and that effort was being made to ensure the lake is safe from extinction.

The council at the meeting looked at the last one year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, assessing the progress so far, the challenges encountered and the tasks members of the council still have to tackle.

After the meeting the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said that the council also considered developments in the mining sector and looked at more exploration needed in that sector.

Poor monitoring had affected the activities of the ministry in terms of checking miners’ activities to ensure that it conforms with standards.

Do Something Urgent

To boost monitoring, however, the Federal Executive Council approved the direct procurement of four-wheel patrol vehicles produced by Nissan for Mines Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Dr. Fayemi cited the killing of miners in Zamfara State, saying that the ministry for over a decade, does not have surveillance vehicles to check such unfortunate incidence and oversee mining activities in other states.

According to him, the approval was a show of the commitment of the Buhari’s administration to developing mining activities in Nigeria.

The vehicles will cost 326,781 million Naira.

The assessment of the performance of the council is coming one year after the cabinet was constituted by President Buhari months after he was sworn in.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in August urged rich countries to do something urgent to save the Lake Chad from extinction, arising from the effects of climate change.

he made the call at a meeting with the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bokova, in Abuja.

President Buhari warned that the failure to regenerate the Lake Chad would lead to another round of migration by the people living in the areas.

The President said Nigeria and the other countries of the Lake Chad Basin lacked the billions of dollars required to channel water from the Congo Basin into the lake to check its rapid depletion.

“Those living in the Lake Chad region have suffered untold hardship and displacement because of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists.

“If there is no farming and fishing, they will dare the desert to migrate.

“Unless the developed countries make concerted efforts to complete the feasibility study, mobilize resources and technology to start the water transfer from the Congo Basin, the Lake Chad will dry up.

“The people will go somewhere and they will create problems for those countries,” the President told the visiting UN official.

The lake is said to have shrunk by over 90 per cent in the last 50 years, a reason the Nigerian government is making efforts to save the lake.

Nigeria Targets Food Security Through River Basin Revitalisation

food crisis, Federated Foodstuff Dealers AssociationThe Nigerian government has started the process of revitalising the River Basin Development Authorities to tackle the challenges of food insecurity and environmental degradation.

There are also hopes that reviving the River Basin Development Authorities would further add impetus to the economy of the oil-rich nation that is already in recession.

The process began with the flag off of a Graduate Farmers Employment Scheme (GFES) at the Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority in Agbala, Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.

Addressing the some trainees enrolled in the scheme, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, lamented that the River Basin Development Authorities had over the years abandoned its core mandate of supporting agricultural development.

He said that the flag-off of the GFES was another milestone in revitalising the River Basins.

Production Of Improved Varieties

According to him, 5,450 graduates across the 109 Senatorial zones of the country would be trained and empowered to set up their various agricultural ventures.

He said that the scheme would guarantee food production and provide opportunities for the graduates to be meaningfully engaged and become employers of labour.

“The scheme will be a continuous process and 50 graduates will be selected from each of the 109 Senatorial zones across the country and the beneficiaries would be empowered to set up their own agricultural ventures.

“The idea is to revitalise the River Basins and ensure that they would effectively perform the mandate for which they were established.

“The River Basin Development Authorities will no longer be involved in road building or construction of schools or markets but it will henceforth carry out its mandate,” he told the gathering.

In his address, the Managing Director of the Anambra Imo Basin Development Authority, Mr Patrick Okereafor, recalled that the Authority had in the past implemented similar programme when it commissioned about 42 Agricultural projects in the southeast.

He explained that the projects were used as seed multiplication centres for the production of improved varieties and forestry products for research institutes which were distributed to farmers in order to increase output.

Mr Okoreafor, however, noted that “the change in Government in 1985 and the enactment of Decree No 35 of 1987 saw the agricultural functions of the River Basin Development Authorities exorcised from the original functions and all the Agricultural farms were tagged non-water project”

The Managing Director commended the FG for taking measures to revitalise the River Basin Development Authorities.

According to the Act that established the River Basin Development Authorities, they are to undertake comprehensive development of both surface and underground water resources for multipurpose use with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of floods and erosion and for watershed management.

They are also established to construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems, and other works necessary for the achievement of the Authority’s functions and hand over all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation scheme to the farmers; supply water from the Authority’s completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by the Authority concerned, with the approval of the Minister and construct, operate and maintain infrastructural services such as roads and bridges linking project sites: provided that such infrastructural services are included and form an integral part of the list of approved projects.

Another function is to develop and keep up-to-date a comprehensive water resources master plan identifying all water resources requirements in the Authority’s area of operation, through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the River Basin.

Revitalising the agency is part of the government’s efforts to diversify the nation’s economy, with substantial engagement in agriculture which was the mainstay of the nation’s economy before the discovery of crude oil.

President Buhari Arrives In China

Muhammadu-Buhari-Arrives-ChinaNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has arrived in the People’s Republic of China for a state visit.

According to the President’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari was welcomed at the Beijing Capital International Airport by China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Cheng Guoping, alongside other senior Chinese government officials.

Also at the airport were the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, and the Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam.

Other Nigerian government’s functionaries at the airport were the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, and Minister of Defence, Dan Monsur Ali.

The President left Abuja on Sunday for a working visit to China aimed at securing greater support from Beijing for the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, especially in the power, roads, railways, aviation, water supply and housing sectors.

Considering Chinese Panda Bond

It is expected that in the course of the visit, several new agreements and memorandums of understanding to boost trade and economic relations between Nigeria and China would be concluded and signed.

The agreements include a Framework Agreement between the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the National Development and Reform Commission of the Peoples’ Republic of China to boost industrial activities and infrastructural development in Nigeria.

Others are a Framework Agreement between the Federal Ministry of Communications and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and China on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

Minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said Nigeria was also considering Japanese bond

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had told reporters after a meeting with the business and investment community early on Saturday in Lagos, that the government was considering the possibility of issuing Chinese panda bond to make up for the deficit in the 2016 budget.

She said that the government’s objective was to borrow the cheapest possible money.

The breakfast meeting focused on the imperatives for fiscal discipline, investment and diversification of the domestic economy in the face of strong local and international headwinds such as the steady decline in oil prices and weak global economic growth.

Minister To Pass Water Bill To National Assembly

National Water BillThe Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamau, says he will forward a new National Water Bill to the National Assembly to enable the ministry perform optimally.

According to him, the ministry would embark on reforms including a new water bill to help the ministry deliver on its mandate of providing clean water to citizens.

Mr Adamau made the statement on Tuesday at the 2016 World Water Day celebration in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He said that the reforms would not only strengthen the capacity of the ministry but would also create employment opportunities for citizens.

In their remarks at the event, the representatives of the United Nations, Simon Grego, and that of the International Labour Organisation, Dennis Zulu, highlighted the effects of water scarcity on people and how it affects their productivity.

They expressed optimism that some of the challenges currently facing the country could be reduced if existing river basins and dams were properly managed by the ministry.

Nigeria may need more than just a law reform to increase access to quality water for both domestic and agricultural usage.

Despite the importance of water to the productivity of workforce, reports indicate that the scarcity of water continue to hit some parts of the nation.

FEC Receives Ocholi’s Accident Report

James OcholiThe Federal Executive Council (FEC) has received reports on the cause of the accident that claimed the lives of the Minister of State for Employment, James Ocholi, his wife and son on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway on Sunday.

Briefing the Council on their finding on Wednesday, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, said that beyond the burst tyres, the driver of the Minister sped excessively, his application of brakes was bad, there was no trye maintenance and he also didn’t use his seat belt.

Investigations also showed that the Minister’s driver’s licence was not found on the data base of the Road Safety Corps.

President Muhammadu Buhari, while paying tribute to the Minister, narrated his experience with the Minister, his contributions towards his emergence as President.

He described him as a humble chap that would be missed in the cabinet.

While the Minister of State for Niger Delta described Ocholi as a strong minded, lovely and fearless being, the Minister of Water Resources urged his colleagues to imbibe the lessons learnt from his death.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in her tribute, described Ocholi as a family man whose exit is tragic.

The Federal Government also extended sincere condolences to the people of Kogi State and prayed that the memories he left behind would always be a legacy.

The burial has tentatively been fixed for March 16, 17 and 18.


Group Asks Military To Produce Video Footage Of Progress In North-east

Bring Back Our Girls Protest At Nigerian Embassy- MilitaryThe Bring Back Our Girls campaigners have tasked the Nigerian military to substantiate the report of its victory in the ongoing multinational counter insurgency in the northeast, with video footage that will authenticate such reports.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, the group said conflicting reports and lack of evidence had often trailed the claims by the military.

The group said while it fully supports the efforts by the military and government’s renewed commitment to decimate the insurgents through the Multinational Joint Task Force, there is the need to ensure that real progress is being made to bring back peace to the north eastern part of Nigeria.

Its only 51 days less than a year since the over 200 secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State, were abducted by members of the militant group, Boko Haram and about 300 days since the bring back our girls campaign group commenced their protest for the rescue of the girls.

Nigeria’s general elections were postponed on February 7 on account of the insurgency in the north-east, with the military announcing plans to commence a 6-week multinational offensive, to recover lost territories and decimate the insurgents.

One week after, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group which commenced a monitoring initiative says claims of victory so far announced must be supported with evidence.

While the group lauded government’s efforts, they raised issues such as the delay in commencing this offensive and the continued suggestion from some quarters that the kidnap of the girls and the campaign for their rescue were scams.

Hopes are high on the on-going multinational counter-insurgency, especially by parents of the abducted girls who have consistently attended the meetings of the group, some who are also internally displaced.

Many of them say they look forward to going back home.



Bring Back Our Girls: Campaigners Take Protests To Presidential Villa

Bring Back Our GirlsThe ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group in Abuja has asked the Federal Government to increase efforts to rescue the Chibok girls who were abducted six months ago.

They made the call during a protest march in the Federal Capital Territory designed to mount more pressure on the Federal Government to ensure the release of the Chibok girls who have been in captivity for 183 days.

Leader of the group and a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, met with a stiff resistance when security agencies stopped them from gaining entrance into the gate leading to the Presidential Villa.

The group had vowed that it was a protest march that must take them into the seat of government no matter the circumstances but arm-totting security men were on hand to stop them.

On the other hand were government officials who came out to receive them at a certain point not very close to the Presidential Villa which was the original destination of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ protesters.

What looked like an altercation ensued between the leader of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group and the female ministers when the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe, challenged Mrs Ezekwesili on why a former minister should be leading the protest march.

However, responding to the group’s demands, on behalf of the Federal Government, Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, assured the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group that government was not resting in the efforts to rescue the girls.

Also among the protesters were parents of the missing girls who could not hide the agony they have faced all the days their girls have been in captivity.

Ochekpe Gives Account of Stewardship In Water Resources Ministry

OchekpeThe Ministry of Water Resources says it has increased citizens’ access to clean water from 58% in 2010 to 67% in 2014.

The Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, told journalists at a forum in Abuja that she has embarked on over 4,000 water supply facilities across the country to increase access to clean water.

Noting that she had delivered in the Ministry’s responsibility of providing water for domestic and industrial use across the nation, Ochekpe said that the several irrigation projects embarked upon in the last three years by the ministry have improved agricultural productivity.

Ms  Ochekpe also revealed that over 140 dams and irrigation are currently under construction by the ministry across the country.

It is hoped that the completion of the projects would not only improve agriculture but would serve as a boost to government’s efforts to improve electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria.

Since 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the forum where cabinet ministers give public accounts of their stewardship.

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said that the platform serves both for constructive criticisms and to hold ministers accountable for their services.

Agency Warns Of Flooding In Yobe, Sokoto And Parts Of Niger Delta

nigeria_flood_victimsNigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, has presented the 2014 flood outlook for the country.

The Minister made the presentation during the annual flood outlook organised by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

It was the second time the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency was issuing a flood outlook for the country, since it was established.

The Federal Government had established this agency in 2013, after twenty-seven states across the federation experienced severe flooding that killed over four hundred people and displaced about two million people in 2012.

The mandate of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency was therefore to provide advance flood warnings, in other to prevent such disaster.

The agency, on Monday, announced that Sokoto, Yobe, Benue and parts of the Niger Delta basin were high flood risk areas for 2014.

Presenting the 2014 flooding forecast, the Minister urged Nigerians to take the forecast seriously and also called for inter-agency collaboration in other to be effective in preventing, controlling, and responding to cases of flood across the country.

While some officials at this event, like the MD, Lower Benue River Basin Development Agency, Roseline Chenge, suggested the evacuation of citizens from risk prone areas, Guest Lecturer at the event, Adebayo Adeloye, advised that putting necessary infrastructure in place was key.

Agency Warns Of Flooding In Yobe, Sokoto And Parts Of Niger Delta

nema_floodingNigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe has presented the 2014 flood outlook for the country, which warns of impending floods in Yobe, Benue, Sokoto States and parts of the Niger Delta.

The minister who urged citizens in these areas to take the forecast seriously, made the revelation during a presentation organised by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in Abuja.

This is the second time the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency is issuing a flood outlook for the country, since it was established by the Federal Government in 2013.

The federal government had established the agency after  27 States across the federation  experienced severe flooding, that killed  over 400 and displaced  about two million people, in 2012.

The Agency was therefore established to provide advance flood warnings, in order to prevent such disasters.

The minister also called for inter-agency collaboration in order to be effective in preventing, controlling, and responding to cases of flood across the country.

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.