2032 Summer Games Bid: North, South Korea Delegates Meet IOC

File photo of North and South Korea Flag

The two Koreas on Friday agreed to hold talks with the International Olympic Committee on their joint bid for the 2032 Summer Games in February, Seoul said, as a rapid diplomatic thaw takes hold on the peninsula.

North and South Korean officials will meet with the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 15 to discuss the prospects of co-hosting the 2032 Olympics, according to a joint statement following a cross-border meeting on Friday.

Making a joint bid for the 2032 Games was part of a broader agreement made between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in during their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

If it materializes, it will mark the first time for the Olympics, summer or winter, to be shared by two countries.

The two sides also agreed to form unified teams at the Tokyo Summer Paralympics in 2020, in addition to their earlier deal to jointly compete at the Olympics in the same year.

They have yet to determine which Olympic sport will have North and South Koreans on the same team, but the South’s chief delegate said a decision will be reached in the next few weeks.

“We agreed to narrow down the sports to those that will see a synergy effect under cooperation between the South and North,” vice sports minister Roh Tae-kang said after the meeting, according to pool reports.

The two Koreas technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty with military clashes often erupting along the frontier.

But ties improved markedly after Pyongyang sent athletes and top delegates — including leader Kim’s younger sister — to the 2018 Winter Games held in the South in February, for which the two rivals also formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Kim has made a series of reconciliatory gestures since then, including a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June and three summits with Moon — a dove who advocates dialogue with the North.

AFP

North, South Korea To Hold Talks This Month On Joint Olympic Bid

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (L) shaking hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong. AFP

North and South Korea will discuss the details for their planned joint bid for the 2032 Olympics later this month to follow up on an ambitious agreement reached between their leaders in September.

The radical concept, which would require an unprecedented level of cooperation and mutual trust on the long-divided Korean peninsula, was included in a joint statement issued after a September summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang.

“The South and North agreed to … discuss the issue of South-North joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics around the end of the month at the joint liaison office,” read a joint statement issued after a high-level meeting Monday.

No further details were given.

Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics after it demanded co-hosting rights and negotiations fell apart over how to share the events, but its decision to participate in this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games triggered a dramatic diplomatic turnaround on the peninsula.

It came after tensions mounted the previous year, with the North carrying out multiple missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test to date, and Kim trading personal insults and threats of war with US President Donald Trump.

The February Games saw athletes from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony behind a unification flag showing an undivided peninsula, and the first unified Olympic team, in women’s ice hockey.

Kim sent his sister Kim Yo Jong to Pyeongchang as his personal envoy, and the two leaders have since met three times as part of an ongoing diplomatic rapprochement.

The two Koreas have continued their sports diplomacy, forming joint teams for the ITTF world table tennis championships and several events at the Asian Games in Indonesia as well as holding friendly basketball matches.

North Korea’s participation in hosting the Summer Games, which include thousands of athletes from around the world and an even larger number of spectators, would be a watershed event requiring a degree of openness and financial muscle now lacking in the isolated and impoverished country.

It would also force an extraordinary level of cooperation between two Cold War foes that have no formal avenues for regular contact and are still technically at war.

AFP

Agitations For Secession, Ultimatum To Igbos Unconstitutional – Osinbajo

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said the agitation for secession by groups in the South East and the ultimatum giving to Igbos to leave the North by Northern groups are in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution.

Professor Osinbajo said this on Sunday when he met with traditional rulers from the South East in continuation of his consultations with leaders of the North and South East following increased tension in both regions.

While assuring the traditional rulers that the Federal Government remained committed to the unity of the country, Osinbajo warned that it would be wrong to for people to threaten to disobey laws or the unity of the nation as a result of their grievances.

He also warned that the Federal Government would deal decisively with those who put the unity of the country at risk.

He said, “The manner of those agitations, the method and objectives are wrong, unlawful and in violation of the laws of Nigeria and the Constitution of Nigeria. I want to repeat that both the agitations for secession and the ultimatum to leave the Northern states are wrong and a violation of our Constitution.

“Our Constitution says in Section 2 that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that is the law of our country.

“Let us not be in any doubt about the fact that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that our country remains united.

“And that anyone who violates the law in the manner such as we are seeing all over the place will be met with the full force of the law.”

Although he described the agitations as unlawful, the Acting President said the nation “must be sensitive to the reasons why there are agitations by the various young men and in fact several others across the various zones of this country”.

Noting that much of the agitations had to do with perceived marginalisation, he said, “I want to say the only way to make things right is to do things right. And it will be wrong of us to approach even our grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of our nation.”

According to Professor Osinbajo, keeping the country united is vital because enough blood has been spilt by many and thousands of lives lost for that purpose.

“Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives and it will be wrong of us as men and women of goodwill in this generation to toy with those sacrifices that have been made,” he said.

“This is the reason why men and women of goodwill in our generation must not tolerate any tendency that drags us in the direction of yet another civil conflict.”

He assured the traditional rulers that the Federal Government is committed to listening “to all the reasons, the various suggestions, the various agitations, and the reasons for those agitations and to ensure that we do justice by all persons regardless of where you are from in this country”.

“That is the commitment of Federal Government which I am able to make to you today,” he added.

PDP Northern Elders Vow To Support Candidates Who Will Protect Their Interests

PDP BoTNorthern Elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have closed ranks ahead of the party’s upcoming National Convention, as they vow to support candidates who will protect their interests.

Conveners of the Forum told journalists in Abuja that they are in support of the zoning arrangement and other preparations by the Caretaker Committee to hold the convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

They, however, insisted that the interests of the North must be protected as the region remains critical to the survival of the party.

Although none of the members in the camp of Sen Ali Modu Sheriff attended the meeting, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr Walid Jubril, said the leadership problem of the party is coming to an end.

As it stands, some members of the PDP are set for the convention in Port Harcourt even in the face of disagreements from aggrieved members.

Buhari Seeks FCT Igbo Leaders’ Support For Change

buhariThe presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, has appealed to the Igbo community in the north and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to support his efforts to rescue Nigeria from economic collapse.

Addressing leaders of the Igbo community in Abuja on Friday, General Buhari said the rescue mission of the APC would be a success “if Nigeria experiences free, fair and credible elections at all levels”.

General Buhari criticised the dwindling purchasing power of many Nigerians saying the continuous impoverishment of many Nigerians does not augur well for the nation.

The presidential election may be just a few days away, but the presidential candidate of the APC has continued to seek the support of Nigerians to win the elections.

General Buhari also bemoaned Nigeria’s economic situation.

The leader of the Igbo group asked Nigerians, who desire change to support General Buhari’s aspiration.

The chairman of Eze Udo in diaspora, Dr Uche Egenti, stressed the need for politicians to advise their followers to shun violence, saying “the Igbos are not prepared for another war”.

With a tone of finality, the APC National Chairman, Mr John Oyegun, said he was optimistic that his party would win the presidential election.

The APC meeting with leaders of the Igbos in the north and the FCT was aimed at cementing the relationship between them and the presidential candidate of APC in order to ensure peaceful elections.

Nigeria’s elections have been scheduled for march 28 and April 11.

2 Suicide Bombers Kill 12 In Kano Motor Park

Bomb Explosion In Biu Twelve persons have been killed after a bomb went off in Kano, the capital of Kano State in Nigeria’s north western region.

The blast occurred at the Kano Line Motor Park in the state capital.

The State Police Commissioner, Mr Ibrahim Idris, who confirmed the attack, said two young boys within the ages of 15 and 16 carried out the act inside a Volkswagen.

Kano Line Motor Pack is owned by the Kano State government and the vehicles at the park normally convey passengers to the north-east.

According to the State Police Commissioner, the two young boys entered the park acting as if they were looking for passengers and shortly after detonated their explosives, killing themselves and ten others.

The very busy pack,  located close to the newly commissioned Kano flyover bridge, has been taken over by joint security forces, with the dead evacuated and the injured taken to the hospital for treatment.

The attack came few minutes after the state security committee, led by the Police Commissioner, announced that all preparation had been completed to ensure peaceful elections.

Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner said police would continue to search for the mastermind of bomb blast.

In an earlier suicide bombing in Tashar Dan-Borno Motor Park in Potiskum town, Yobe State in Nigeria’s north-east region, at least 15 persons were killed and 53 others were injured.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the reversion to ‘callous’ suicide bombing of soft targets in parts of Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

He condemned the attacks that are coming in the wake of the ongoing rapid recovery by gallant Nigerian troops and their multinational allies of areas formerly controlled by the sect, stressing that they were “acts of a desperate sect facing extinction”.

 

SURE-P Trains 639 Midwives to Curb Maternal Deaths

the Project Director of SURE-P Maternal and Child Heath Care, Dr Ugo Okoli,As part of effort to reduce maternal mortality and child mortality in the country, the Federal Government through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) has trained a total of 639 midwives to be deployed to primary health centers in rural communities in the north east and north west zones of the country.

Speaking to journalists at  the opening ceremony of a five-day workshop for midwives nationwide on Monday in Kaduna state, North West Nigeria, the Project Director of SURE-P Maternal and Child Heath Care, Dr Ugo Okoli, said the essence of the workshop was  to re-orientate the newly graduated midwives from all the nursing schools across the country in order to  engage them in the  SURE-P Maternal and Child Health programme, with particular emphasis to address healthcare challenges  at the  rural areas where most of them don’t have access to qualitative healthcare.

She stated further that the SURE-P Maternal Programme was also equipping all primary health centers across the country with modern medical facilities for the benefit of the rural dwellers.

The SURE-P Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Project was necessitated by the fact that Nigeria  accounts for 10% of the world’s maternal deaths and under-5 mortality rates.

Sadly, an  official report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2008, put Nigeria’s Maternal mortality ratio at 545/100,000 live births with the highest maternal mortality ratios of 1549 in the North East and the lowest 165 found in the South West.

The programme aims at reducing the deaths of pregnant women and newborn babies and aims to accelerate Nigeria’s  track towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5.

 

Presidency Reacts To Alleged Cash Gift To Chibok Parents

Dr Reuben-abatiThe Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, says the allegation that the parents of the abducted girls from Chibok were given a 100 million naira cash gift by the Presidency is completely untrue.

Reacting to the report, Abati said that nobody distributed any envelope after the meeting.

“The meeting was held in the villa, a public place. After the meeting, the President left and the parents as well as the children went into their buses in the presence of the media.

“There was no time after the meeting when envelopes were distributed or money was given”, he said.

He said that the President was not part of bribing and would never do anything to bribe anybody; “This issue is not about money. We are talking about human lives here.

“The allegation is completely wild. What they are claiming is unknown to the President. Whoever is claiming it should prove it because no such thing happened.

He said that the commitment of the President was to get the girls back safely. It is not about bribing anybody.

“This is a very serious matter and we will like to appeal to those who want to play politics with it, using all kinds of tricks to ridicule the efforts of the administration, to always appeal to their individual conscience and realize that what we are dealing with here is a very serious matter and not a matter of mischief.”

 

Chibok Girls: Controversy Brews Over 100million Naira Presidential Gift To Parents

Chibok girls videoA new controversy is brewing in Chibok village, in Borno State with parents of the abducted girls alleging that they have been shortchanged by Chibok community leaders who received 100 million naira cash gift from the Presidency, on their behalf.

Although a presidential aide denied any such gift to Chibok parents, through their leaders, one parent, Mr Abdu Halidu, told the BBC that he got only N200, 000 from the money.

Now the parents of the missing girls are saying that the amount shared to them is unacceptable.

According to Mr Halidu “I got only N200, 000 out of the said N100 million. Some of us got N300,000 and some less than that. Our leaders in Abuja are using the girls to enrich themselves and this is unacceptable.”

Over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by gunmen who stormed the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, North-East Nigeria in the dead of the night of April 15, ordering all the girls out of their hostels into four lorries.

On July 22, a special presidential meeting was held with the parents of the Chibok girls in the Presidential Villa which afforded the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, the opportunity to empathize with the girls and their parents.

The President, after assuring the Chibok community of his Government’s determination to ensure that the abducted schoolgirls that are still in captivity are brought out alive, reassured them that everything would be done to make things easier for them especially the ones that have already escaped and the ones yet to be rescued.

President Jonathan also assured them that their education would not be allowed to suffer. The statement released by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, after the meeting made no mention of a cash gift to the parents.

Community Leaders Deny

Meanwhile, the leadership of Kibaku community an umbrella body for the Chibok community has denied claims that money exchanged hands after the community’s meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

National Publicity Secretary of  the community,  Mr Allen Manase, said that they also heard from the media that monies were given to the families of the abducted girls and such a story cannot be confirmed because they do not have any knowledge of the said exchange.

He went on to say that even if monies were to exchange hands it should have been given to the leadership of the community to ensure that it gets to all affected persons.

He urged the Federal Government to instead concentrate on rescuing the girls and returning them to their families and then it can decide to help in rehabilitating them

Why We’re Slow In Rescuing Chibok Girls — Presidency

The Presidency, on Thursday, explained why the Federal Government has been slow at rescuing the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

According to the Presidency, the present slow and steady method became imperative to avoid a repeat of the 2004 experience when 300 children were killed in an attempt by Russians to free hostages held by Chechens in the North Caucasus region of Russia.

While speaking at Chatham House lecture series held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said “the need to avoid a repeat of the 2004 experience when 300 children were killed in an attempt by Russians to free hostages held by Chechens in the North Caucasus region of Russia was responsible for the seemingly slow process of freeing the Chibok girls.”

According to Dr Okupe, who spoke on ‘Priorities and Progress in Nigeria: Imperatives for Stability and Growth’, tackling the current insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country was a major priority of the Federal Government. He, however, lamented that the various acts of insurgency were slowing down growth in other equally important sectors of the economy.

“We are taking advantage of the offers from our international military and intelligence allies to get a greater understanding of the landscape and identify key locations. We are working with our neighbours to secure the borders and limit the movements of the Boko Haram fighters, building on the agreements reached at the recent summits in Paris and London”, he said.

He also disclosed that plans were being put in place by the Nigerian Government to block domestic and international sources of funds for the group.

Okupe maintained that since Nigeria attained independence, no administration had done as much as the Jonathan administration in guaranteeing food sufficiency, better power output, effective transport and economic stability.

Ramadan: Northern Governors Advocate For Peace

imagesThe Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has called on Muslim communities across the country to use the period of the Ramadan fasting to pray for Allah’s guidance, protection and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians.

In a statement, the group urged Muslims to reflect on the past, evaluate the present and project into the future, noting that “all is not well with Nigeria especially in the area of collective aspiration, socio-political trust and most importantly security of lives and property”.

“We must use this period to pray for peace. We must ask Allah to first forgive our sins, and show us the best path to follow in dealing with our differences as a people.

“We have to go spiritual in ending insurgency, we have to go spiritual in working for a unified aspiration, and we have to go spiritual in bringing back the lost trust and bridging the yawning gap of this unity in Nigeria,” the statement read.

Criminal Herdsmen Waging War Against Nigeria – Jonathan

jonathan-goodluck-Nigeria-PresidentPresident Goodluck Jonathan said on Monday that terrorists, who disguise themselves as pastoralists are largely responsible for the frequent clashes in the north where thousands of people have been killed and property worth several millions of Naira destroyed.

President Jonathan, represented by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, was speaking to participants at a two-day International Conference on Security and Development Challenges of Pastoralists in West and Central Africa held in Kaduna and organised by the office of the National Security Adviser.

The theme of the conference was “The Role of Pastoralists in Preventing Insurgency and Conflicts for National Security”.

Announcing that his government is committed to the development of the nation’s agricultural sector as a business aimed at turning the nation into a global agricultural power house, he said the activities of insurgents had seriously over stretched the nation’s security and adversely affected the nation’s economic growth.

The President noted that the frequency of drought in the north had enhanced constant movement of herdsmen towards the south in search of greener pastures; a situation, he said had exposed pastoralists to lots of challenges and loss of herds due to rustling, diseases and associated conflicts.

President Jonathan urged all stakeholders to collectively work for the peace and stability of Nigeria rather than resort to violence.

On the frequent clashes between farmers and herdsmen, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said “the frequent clashes between farmers and herdsmen are no longer an agricultural problem, but a national security problem which need an integrated set of solutions that include agriculture and security”.

He also announced that the Federal Government will establish more grazing routes for cattle herdsmen across Nigeria as a means of tackling the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers especially in the north.

Participants at this conference believe that if all the recommendations reached by stakeholders at the end of the event are implemented by policy makers, the incessant clashes between pastoralists and farmers will be drastically reduced to the barest minimum.