World Bank On Poverty: Finance Minister Attributes Nigeria’s Rating To Population

Okonjo-Iweala on WBNigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been explaining how the World Bank arrived at its rating of Nigeria among the extreme poor nations of the world.

Fielding questions from journalists at a forum in Abuja, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala explained that the rating was based on the large number of poor people living in the country, a phenomenon she said was peculiar to middle income countries, including Nigeria.

“India is a middle income country, one of the largest in the world, like Nigeria, is a big economy but the largest number of poor people in the world resides in India and China and other places.

“Most middle income countries, even Brazil have large numbers of poor people. That is the reality of today, Nigeria is no exception”, she said.

She explained further, “Today, if you go to the Chinese, they will tell you ‘let us slow down about praising China’ because we still have a substantial number of poor people; Brazil the same, that is why they started the safety net programme in Brazil and that is what President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has asked four or five of his ministers to get together and try to build this platform.

“So we should not try to single Nigeria out. What we have to do is focus on what is the answer, what are other countries doing that we can also learn from and do. Nobody says that everything is fine but we are learning and where we make some progress like other countries, we should also acknowledge it.”

Other countries also rated by the World Bank group as extremely poor are India, China, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.

World Bank Rates Nigeria Among Extremely Poor Countries

World-BankThe World Bank Group has rated Nigeria among the world’s extremely poor countries, promising to assist in ending what it called ‘extreme poverty’ in the nations.

Other countries that were also rated as extremely poor are India, China, Bangladesh, DR Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.

At the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington on Wednesday, in advance of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, World Bank President, Dr Jim Yong Kim, stated that the global bank would deal with the extreme poverty in Nigeria and its counterparts in the coming years.

Ending Extreme Poverty By 2030

He said: “The fact is that two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  If you add another five countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya, the total grows to 80 per cent of the extreme poor.”

Dr Kim stressed that the World Bank Group would focus on Nigeria and other nine countries, but emphasised that the plan would not make other countries in the world to be ignored.

“We will have a strategy that ensures that no country is left behind, as we move toward the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030,″ he said.

The World Bank President also announced a series of measures aimed at strengthening the World Bank Group to better meet the evolving needs of clients, including a $100 billion increase in the lending capacity of the Bank’s lending arm for middle-income countries over the next decade.

According to Dr. Kim, this new innovations in financial management, and a boost in the institution’s ability to provide private sector support follows the record $52 billion replenishment of IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, in December 2013.

Kim also outlined how the Bank was positioning itself to better achieve its goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the lowest 40 per cent in developing countries.

“We now have the capacity to nearly double our annual lending to middle-income countries from $15 billion to $26 to $28 billion a year. This means that the World Bank’s lending capacity will increase by $100 billion to roughly $300 billion over the next ten years.

“This is in addition to the largest IDA replenishment in history, with $52 billion in grants and concessional loans to support the poorest countries,” he said.

 

D8 Countries Recommend Shipping Sector Development For Effective Trade Cooperation

D8 CountriesA group of 8 developing countries known as D8 Countries has advocated massive investment and training in ship building technology for effective trade cooperation.

The Secretary-General of the D8 Expert Working Group, Dr. Seyed Mousavi, made the suggestion at a meeting to deliberate on how to improve trade amongst member countries through shipping in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

Dr. Mousavi said that significant investment in the shipping sector is key to the achievement of socio-economic development for member countries.

Although a lot of efforts have been put in place to ensure easy transportation of goods and services among member countries, experts called for commitment from government in terms of investment and education.

While previous meetings on how to boost trade amongst member countries is said to have yielded positive results, top officials at the meeting, including the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi believed that the implementation of pending policies could further improve its socio-economic development.

Members of the D8 countries are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. It is expected that recommendations made at this meeting will be fully implemented in the interest of member countries.

Nigeria Police Sends Personnel To Pakistan For Counter-Terrorism Training

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), M.D Abubakar, and the Pakistani High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lt. Gen (Rtd) Muhammed Ashraf Saleem, have pledged mutual collaboration and assistance for each other in tackling, headlong, security challenges such as terrorism, insurgency, kidnapping and other crimes and criminality besetting Nigeria and Pakistan,

The pledge was made on Wednesday, February 19, at the Force Headquarters Abuja during the courtesy visit of the Pakistani High Commissioner to the IGP.

The IGP also announced that the first batch of 10 Nigeria Police Officers would be leaving Nigeria to Pakistan for extensive training on Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Insurgency as well as Bomb Diffusion and Disposal.

Similarly, the Pakistani Police personnel are also expected in Nigeria to participate in specialised training at the Police Intelligence Institute.

 It will be recalled that the IGP had just returned from a-seven day working visit to Pakistan where he engaged in serious security discussions with Pakistani Police Chiefs and stakeholders on possible areas of collaboration and areas of support for each other especially in the area of capacity building, specialised training, intelligence sharing and exchange of logistics.

Meanwhile, the High Commissioner has lauded this new initiative, noting that both countries have similar challenges and therefore must support each other.

Blast Aimed At Pakistani Police Bus Kills 11, Wounds 33

An explosion targeting a bus full of Pakistani policemen killed 11 and injured 33 near the southern port city of Karachi on Thursday, officials said, in the latest incident of violence while the government and the Taliban are engaged in peace talks.

Many of the wounded policemen were badly hurt and in critical condition, said Dr. Seemin Jamali, head of the emergency department at the city’s Jinnah Medical Center.

It was unclear whether the blast was set off by a suicide bomber or a roadside bomb, said senior police officer Rao Anwar.

The bombing follows an attack on the home of a slain policemen that killed nine members of a pro-government militia on Wednesday, and a grenade attack on a cinema on Tuesday that killed 13. Both attacks were in the northern city of Peshawar.

None of the attacks has been claimed by the Taliban.

The violence comes amid peace talks between government and Taliban representatives aimed at trying to end Pakistan’s violent insurgency. Both sides are supposed to refrain from major attacks during the talks.

But many question whether the Taliban, who have repeatedly said they reject democracy and want Pakistan ruled according to a strict brand of Islamic law, will be able to strike a compromise with the government.

Others worry that there are too many militant groups in Pakistan to negotiate with. Several such groups, not included in the talks, have carried out bloody bombings of markets, churches, and mosques.

Nigeria’s War Against Terrorism Better Than Pakistan, Afghanistan – Maku

The Minister of Information and supervising Minister of Defence, Labaran Maku, on Monday lauded the Federal Government’s efforts at curbing insecurity in the country, adding that the war against terrorism has been more successful in Nigeria than in other countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Maku said “in the last one year, we have faced insecurity head-on, particularly the insurgency in the North East of Nigeria” and added that the declaration of State Of Emergency in three north-eastern states made it possible to contain the insurgency within the north east of Nigeria.

“Government’s investment in security has been a success,” he said.

“In the last year, there were less attacks in the north east and even in the north east today, you would notice that a lot of the activities of the insurgents are now contained within Borno and Yobe states,” he said.

Although there have been recent attacks on government installations, Mr Maku explained that surprise attacks are expected but that nation is winning the war overall.

“The success we have recorded in the last one year should not be overshadowed by recent hit-back at the Maiduguri airport and at Bama. The reality of the situation is that the success of the security measures will not be without interruptions (will not be without occasional hit-back by the insurgents).”

He highlighted the situation in Kano, where insecurity has been “largely controlled,” which he credited to increase in intelligence agents and co-operation between citizens and security forces.

He admitted that there are challenges because the war against insecurity is urban guerilla warfare.  “We are not fighting a standing army. We are fighting people that wear civilian uniform, live in congested cities; that strike and run back.

“So long as this is a guerilla war, there would be occasional attacks and surprise attacks by the insurgents, but (for) the overall war; I believe that the federal government and Nigerians are winning.”

“We have succeeded in containing insurgents in Kano, he said and went further to state that Nigeria’s efforts in curbing terrorism have been more successful than that in Pakistan and several other countries. They have had more widespread attacks than we are having in Nigeria today.”

He called on Nigerians to consider the overall development of how the government has performed in containing the insurgents.

Performance of Multinational JTF

Speaking on the performance of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), Mr Maku who said the agency is not failing in its own responsibilities told Channels Television that troops from Chad, Niger Republic and from Nigeria are not “necessarily large enough to contain the entire boundary of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.” “There are weak spots,” he said.

“There is weakness at the Cameroon border and Niger has been unstable. He went further to describe these areas as “a vortex of all sorts of criminals,” where there is a flow of arms. He added that terrorism will not end in the coming year as insurgents will continue to attack and run until the atmosphere becomes completely inhospitable.

He called on government and community leaders in the north east to co-operate with the security agents to divulge more information on the insurgents living amongst them.

Also, he warned politicians in the troubled states to desist from using violence as a means of politics. “These politicians must stop it because it is now costing the nation trillions of Naira which we would have been using for the development of the country.”

15 Dead In Attack On Leader Of Pakistani Anti-Taliban Militia

At least 15 people were killed in an attack on a pro-government militia commander in Pakistan’s lawless northwestern tribal area on Thursday morning, security forces said.

The attack comes as Pakistan’s government is mulling peace talks with the Taliban, although no conditions have yet been set, and previous deals with the Taliban have always collapsed.

A car bomb rammed into the compound of Mullah Nabi Hanfi, the leader of an anti-Taliban militia he formed after breaking away from the Taliban in 2009.

Two suicide bombers launched a second attack but were killed in the shootout by Hanfi’s men, sources in the security forces said.

Hanfi was among the ten men wounded in the attack and taken to a district hospital.

He survived a similar attack on his compound last year that killed 10 people. He lives in the Spin Tal region of Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, considered a hub of Taliban militants.

UK £3,000 Visa Bond Under Review- British High Commissioner

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, has once again cleared the air on the controversy surrounding a proposed UK government’s bond on visa applicants from some countries, including Nigeria.

He clarified that, ‘the visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a £3,000 charge for a British visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to £3,000 or anywhere near it.’

Pocock also explained that there are plans to influence the inflow of more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from British companies into Nigeria.

He said this after ringing the closing bell  at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

The United Kingdom is reviewing its plan to introduce a £3,000 visa bond scheme.

“We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now.” he said

He further said the visa bond is yet to be approved and if even its approved it will only apply to a very minute number of the over 150, 000 Nigerians that will apply for UK visas.

He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.

He said the British government will not jeopardize diplomatic ties with Nigeria with any move that will call the relationship between both nations to question.

The British government had proposed a new scheme under which some visitors from six commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visas that allows them to stay in the UK for up to six months.

Other countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian In West Bank Raid

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian and wounded two others during a raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said security forces arrested a suspected militant in Jenin and, after being attacked with live fire, home-made bombs and rocks, shot back. She said one Palestinian was apparently killed and two soldiers slightly hurt.

Doctors at a Jenin hospital said Majed Lahlouh, 20, was killed with a bullet to his heart. The wounded men sustained gunshot wounds, they said.

Eyewitnesses said the Israeli troops entered the narrow streets of the camp at dawn seeking to arrest a local resident.

Last week Israel and the Palestinians resumed U.S.-brokered peace talks after a three-year breakdown, though neither side has expressed much optimism for a major breakthrough.

Israeli troops often enter Palestinian-controlled territory to detain individuals suspected of militant activity, usually conducting the raids during darkness to minimize confrontation.

Tuesday’s shooting was followed by angry protests by locals against Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, as well as against the resumption of the peace talks.

“Once fired upon, the troops acted in a professional manner,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said.

Violence in the West Bank has worsened since the beginning of 2013. Israeli forces have killed 11 Palestinians there this year, most of them in clashes, compared with three killed in the same period in 2012, according to United Nations figures.

Pakistan’s Musharraf Indicted In Bhutto Murder Case

A court in Pakistan has formally indicted former military dictator Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday with the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007.

“He should be tried,” the public prosecutor, Mohammad Azhar, told reporters after a brief hearing in the city of Rawalpindi during which the three charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and facilitation of murder were read out to Musharraf.

The indictment of the army chief who seized power in a 1999 coup – once Pakistan’s most powerful man – is an unprecedented event in a nuclear-armed country ruled by the military for half of its 66-year history.

The case has also shattered an unwritten rule that the top military brass are untouchable as the South Asian country tries to shake off the legacy of decades of military rule under the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Musharraf, who made no public remarks during his appearance, denied all the charges against him, a lawyer from his defense team told Reuters. Journalists were not allowed in the court room for the hearing which lasted just about 20 minutes.

“All the cases against Musharraf are fabricated. He denied all the charges,” said Afshan Adil, the lawyer. The next hearing was set for August 27.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally, weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile.

The government at the time blamed Pakistani Taliban militants and Musharraf has said he warned her of the danger she faced.

Hundreds of police were deployed along the main road leading to the court as well as on rooftops as Musharraf’s car arrived.

On August 6, the court delayed the widely expected indictment because it was too dangerous for Musharraf to attend the proceedings due to threats to his life.

Nine Killed In Pakistan Second Attack

At least nine people were killed when gunmen opened fire outside a mosque in the second attack in Quetta in south-west Pakistan in as many days.

About 20 others were wounded in the attack, which came as worshippers left the Sunni Muslim mosque after sunrise prayers for the Eid al-Fitr festival. Bullets hit the car of Ali Madad Jatak, a former Pakistan People’s Party provincial minister, but he was unhurt.

On Thursday dozens of people died in a suicide bomb blast in Quetta. In the latest attack, four unidentified men opened fire on the former minister as prayers came to a close.

“They fled after killing innocent people,” Mr Jatak, former Balochistan minister said. “I was the target. They could have fired at me. They killed innocent worshippers belonging to different communities. This is against humanity. It is brutality on the level of animals.”

Mr Jatak held a ministerial role in the Balochistan provincial government, as a representative of the PPP, which headed the last national coalition government. Four people died at the scene while the others succumbed to their injuries in hospital, a senior local police official, Bashir Ahmad Brohi told the AFP news agency.

“When people came outside on the stairs, the terrorists were already present there,” Mohammad Adnan, a witness, told the Associated Press news agency. “They started shooting and targeting many people. Two children were among the martyrs and around 20 people were injured.”

No group has said it carried out the shooting, which took place near Quetta’s eastern bypass.Quetta has seen a recent surge in sectarian violence, mostly targeting the Shia Muslim minority.

Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, which is plagued not just by the Taliban’s insurgency, but also by sectarian in-fighting between Sunnis and Shias and a rebellion by Baloch separatists.

On Tuesday militants from the separatist Baloch Liberation Army shot dead 13 bus passengers 70 kilometres (44 miles) south-east of Quetta.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power in June after promising to negotiate with militant groups.

Officials said they were preparing a comprehensive security strategy, bringing together delegates from all political parties, in an effort to combat violent extremism.

However the strategy has not yet been released, and no all-party meeting has yet been scheduled.

 

 

Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistan Prison, Free Hundreds

Taliban fighters disguised as police and armed with bombs and grenades broke 250 prisoners out of a Pakistan jail in a brazen overnight operation that raised serious questions over the new government’s ability to combat militancy.

Fighting continued into the early hours of Tuesday, with explosions and machine gunfire rattling the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

The attack underlines the growing capabilities of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, an offshoot of the Islamist insurgents of the same name inAfghanistan. The freed prisoners included dozens of top militants.

Months after promising peace talks with the insurgents, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears to be accepting that the use of military force may be unavoidable.

Dozens of gunmen launched the attack by blowing up the electricity line to the prison and detonating heavy explosions that breached the outer walls.

The militants then fought their way inside using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and calling the names of Taliban prisoners through loud speakers.

“It’s completely dark in there. We don’t know what’s going on but there is fighting,” provincial prisons chief Khalid Abbas told Reuters as the fighting unfolded.

Security forces said they had imposed a curfew on the city and the gunbattle was over by dawn. A Reuters reporter at the scene saw security forces and bomb disposal squads conducting searches amid ruined walls strewn with bullet holes.

The audacity of the attack raises embarrassing questions over how well-prepared Pakistani security forces are following a series of high-profile attacks, and underscores the challenges facing Pakistan’s new government in combating the militancy.

It also comes the day lawmakers are due to choose a new president in a largely ceremonial vote, and two days before a major Shi’ite festival which security officials have warned could be attacked.

“It was a heavily guarded jail and considered one of the most protected prisons in the province,” said a senior government official in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We will investigate how the militants managed to come from the distant tribal areas and break into the jail and take away their people.”

Another security official said provincial authorities received warning of the impending attack two weeks ago.

He said phone intercepts indicated the militants had been planning a jail break and interrogations of captured fighters confirmed it. Security officials had alerted the provincial governor of the threat based on the intercepts.

BRAZEN ATTACK

The Pakistani Taliban said they had sent a squad of 100 fighters and seven suicide bombers on a mission to free some of their top leaders, and they said they released 250 prisoners — a number roughly matched by local Pakistani authorities.

Mushtaq Jadoon, the town’s civil commissioner, said the 253 escaped prisoners included 30 top militants and six people on death row. Those who escaped are believed to have been whisked away to the lawless tribal areas of South and North Waziristan.

As the gunbattle unfolded, gunmen took over a nearby house and hospital, holding the residents hostage as they fired on police from the rooftops and laid ambushes for reinforcements.

Police Constable Gul Mohammed said he had been rushing to the scene when he was challenged by two young boys holding rifles.

“They told me to stop,” he said. “I told them I am a policeman, and that’s when they opened fire.” He added that he was shot three times.

The heavily guarded jail houses around 5,000 prisoners. Around 250 are Pakistani Taliban and members of banned sectarian groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group that has killed hundreds of Shi’ite civilians this year.

At least 12 were killed, including four Shi’ite prisoners whose throats were slashed by gunmen, prison officials said.

A senior Taliban official told Reuters separately the attack on the prison was masterminded by Adnan Rashid, a Taliban commander who was himself freed when his prison in the northern town of Bannu was overran by militants last year.

After that attack, militants told Reuters they had been helped by insiders in the security services. An inquiry later found there were far fewer guards on duty than there should have been and those who were there lacked sufficient ammunition.