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UN Calls For Concerted Efforts To Reduce Poverty In Nigeria

  • United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has called for effective collaboration between governments at all levels, development partners and non-state actors in addressing the needs of Nigeria where poverty and infrastructural challenges are the mostacute.

Speaking at a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Acceleration Conference organized by the Kaduna state government, Mohammed stressed the need for government and other stakeholders to take the issue of accurate data gathering and analysis very seriously in order to for government to effectively plan and implement its policies and programmes that will impact positively on the people.

Present at the conference were Kaduna state government officials, captains of industry, youths and development partners.

 

Most notable amongst those present were Governor Nasir El-Rufai and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.

Addressing the participants, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, emphasized that ending extreme poverty in Nigeria is a huge challenge requiring sustainable solutions and concerted measures from a number of actors including national and state governments, local administrations, development partners, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society.

On his part, the host Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said his administration is working hard to generate sufficient data and has also identified the state’s baseline status of the SDGs by working closely with development partners to achieve the targets of the plan.

In her presentation which focuses on what the government is doing to overcome fiscal challenges in the country, the Minister of Finance, said the federal government will soon launch the Strategic Revenue Growth programme aimed at improving revenue generation and freeing resources for effective implementation of the SDGs.

According to the organisers, the conference is designed to provide a necessary context for “Building Effective Partnership for Accelerated Progress towards the SDGs

Liverpool moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League as Mohamed Salah’s double inspired a dramatic 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace, while Arsenal ignited their top-four bid by beating Chelsea on Saturday

With second-placed Manchester City travelling to bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield on Sunday, Liverpool seized the chance to tighten their grip on the title race.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were pushed hard by Palace but Salah’s predatory instincts and a woeful mistake from Eagles goalkeeper Julian Speroni ensured Liverpool improved their unbeaten home league run to 32 games.

“He’s world class, simply world class,” Klopp said of Salah.

Liverpool’s haul of 60 points from 23 matches tops the Reds’ previous best tally of 59, set at the same stage of the 1893-94 and 1987-88 campaigns.

“We had to stay positive, being one down is not a massive blow. We just needed to win the second half,” Klopp said.

“We have 60 points now. It’s crazy.”

Palace, the last team to beat Liverpool in a Premier League game at Anfield, in April 2017, took a shock 34th-minute lead.

Wilfried Zaha picked out Andros Townsend, who drilled a crisp finish past Alisson Becker.

Salah equalised 60 seconds after the interval, the Egypt forward slotting in his 18th goal of the season after Virgil van Dijk’s shot deflected into his path.

Liverpool went ahead in the 53rd minute when Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino, surrounded by defenders, still managed to unload a shot that deflected in off Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate.

James Tomkins out-jumped Fabinho to head Palace level in the 65th minute, yet Liverpool were gifted the crucial third 10 minutes later thanks to a howler from Speroni.

James Milner’s cross prompted a nervous flap from Speroni, who tipped the ball high over his own head and Salah was on hand to convert on the line.

Milner was sent off in the 89th minute for a second booking, but Liverpool made it four in stoppage-time through Sadio Mane before Max Meyer capped a frantic finale with Palace’s third.

Child’s play for Pogba

At the Emirates Stadium, fifth-placed Arsenal closed the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to three points in the race to qualify for the Champions League with a 2-0 win.

Unai Emery’s team had lost three of their last six league games, sparking the first criticism of their Spanish manager.

But they tore into London rivals Chelsea, opening the scoring in the 14th minute.

Hector Bellerin’s cross found Alexandre Lacazette and the French striker took a touch before smashing a sublime strike past Kepa Arrizabalaga from a tight angle.

The Gunners increased their lead in the 38th minute when Laurent Koscielny mistimed his attempted header, only to see the ball bounce off his shoulder and loop into the net.

Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin was stretchered off in the second half, but spluttering Chelsea have now won only two of their last five matches.

“It was a big result. We wanted to do a special moment in this derby. Chelsea were six points ahead, so it helps us. We can be optimistic,” Emery said.

Manchester United beat Brighton 2-1 to make it seven successive wins since interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer’s sixth-placed side took the lead in the 27th minute at Old Trafford when Gaetan Bong conceded a penalty with a foul on Paul Pogba and the France midfielder stroked home the spot-kick.

Pogba’s “rocking the baby” celebration was to mark him becoming a father for the first time, with his girlfriend Maria Salaues believed to have given birth this week.

United winger Marcus Rashford marked his 150th game for the club with his side’s second goal in the 42nd minute, with Pascal Gross reducing the deficit in the 72nd minute.

Solskjaer, the first United boss to win his first six league games, said: “I can’t complain can I? I am smiling and this is one of these things I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Newcastle climbed out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 win over Cardiff at St James’ Park that saw their opponents drop into the bottom three.

Southampton boosted their bid to avoid relegation with a 2-1 victory against Everton at St Mary’s.

Diogo Jota’s hat-trick piled pressure on Leicester manager Claude Puel as the Wolves midfielder’s last-gasp strike secured a 4-3 win.

Bournemouth beat West Ham 2-0 with goals from Callum Wilson and Josh King, while Watford drew 0-0 against Burnley

AFP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked all presidential candidates in the 2019 elections, to commit themselves to innovative antigraft reforms which include the scraping of security votes and immunity clause for political office holder

SERAP’s position was contained in a letter which the organisation said it has sent out to all major presidential candidates in the forthcoming polls.

The group in its letter set before each candidate five main anti-corruption priorities which they believe candidates should address.

These priorities include “committing to scrapping security votes spending by presidents, committing to repeal the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, committing to reopen all reports of corruption in the electricity sector and ensuring effective prosecution of corruption allegations”.

Others include, “committing to establish independent counsel and/or special anti-corruption courts in the six-geopolitical zones of the country for the effective and speedy prosecution of all former state governors indicted for corruption, and committing to work with the judiciary to improve the independence of the National Judicial Council, including by reviewing requirements for its leadership to allow retired judges of proven integrity to lead the council.

Below is the full statement as published signed by Ms. Bamisope Adeyanju, the SERAP Senior Legal Adviser.

“Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sent an open letter to major presidential candidates for Nigeria’s February 16 election urging them to “publicly commit to revolutionary and innovative anti-corruption reforms in five key areas, such as security votes, power sector corruption, judicial corruption and removal of immunity for presidents, vice-presidents, state governors and deputy state governors.”

President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives’ Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People Democratic Party, who were absent in the presidential debate last night, are among the candidates that SERAP said it has sent letters. Others include the candidates of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye; Young Progressives Party candidate, Kingsley Moghalu; KOWA Party, Sina Fagbenro-Byron; African Democratic Congress, Obadiah Mailafia; and African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore.

“In a statement, today signed by SERAP senior legal adviser Bamisope Adeyanju, the organization said: “Consistent with their right to participate in their own government, Nigerian voters deserve a substantive debate during the campaign about issues that affect them, particularly with respect to combating corruption. Now is the time to make a commitment to specific reforms that will strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption record and standing in the global ranking. Set forth below are 5 main anti-corruption priorities that candidates should address. Please let us know which positions you will support.”

“The letters dated 19 January 2019 read in part: “Candidates should commit to scrapping security votes spending by presidents and state governors by repealing the constitution to include a specific prohibition of security votes. They should also commit to a comprehensive audit of spending on security votes by presidents and governors since the return of democracy in 1999 and directing their Attorney General and Minister of Justice to take legal action in the public interest to hold governments to account on spending on security votes.”

“Candidates should commit to repealing the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 to address regulatory lapses which have continued to lead to systemic corruption and impunity of perpetrators, forcing ordinary Nigerians to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

“Candidates should commit to reopening all reports of corruption in the electricity sector and ensuring effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including corruption charges against Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission; allegations of looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria; and the budgeted N16 billion between 2003 and 2007, which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity.”

“Candidates should commit to establishing independent counsel and/or special anti-corruption courts in the six-geopolitical zones of the country for the effective and speedy prosecution of all former state governors indicted for corruption. They should also commit, within the first 365 days in office, to begin the constitutional reform process of removing the immunity clause in section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to promote effective leadership and improve institutions of governance.”

“Candidates should commit to working with the judiciary to improve the independence of the National Judicial Council, including by reviewing requirements for its leadership to allow retired judges of proven integrity to lead the council. They should also commit to working with and encouraging the Chief Justice of Nigeria and NJC to ensure that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges make periodic asset declarations and public disclosures of such declarations.”

“Candidates should commit, within the first 365 days in office, to begin the constitutional reform process of inserting specific requirements in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to make asset declaration details by presidents and state governors public, including by widely publishing the details online and on other accessible platforms.”

“Candidates should also commit to directing their Attorney General and Minister of Justice to refer cases of apparent disparity between the asset declarations of presidents and state governors before assuming offices and their alleged illicit wealth and enrichment after leaving to the Code of Code Bureau for joint investigation and prosecution with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).”

“Prior to the elections, SERAP will issue a short report on the anti-corruption commitments that candidates and political parties have made. SERAP will then issue an anticorruption assessment report in March 2019, to set clear anti-corruption agenda for the next president and administration, which would assume office May 29, 2019.”

“We hope that candidates will adopt these commitments as part of their own political platform and ensure that the important recommendations are diligently implemented if they are elected.”

“If you or your political party would like to commit to some or all of the recommendations stated below, please let us know by February 1, 2019, so that we can include you in our upcoming report. Please feel free to contact at info@serap-nigeria.org

The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Obiageli Ekekwesili, says getting girls in school must be a priority for every nation, especially one like Nigeria which she says, is still “struggling with development

She said this during the NEDG/BON presidential debate on Saturday while stating her four-point agenda on tackling the problem of girl-child education in the country.

The ACPN candidate, who is also a former Minister of Education believes that a nation that “educates the girl-child has a higher track to progress and development”.

Nigeria’s education sector and specifically, education of the girl-child has suffered a setback in recent years.

With the insurgency in the North East and abduction of schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014 and Dapchi in 2018 respectively, many parents in the region have over time become skeptical of the idea of sending their children to school.

Ezekwesili, however, promises to rekindle the drive towards educating the girl child if she’s elected into office.

One of the ways she intends to do so, according to her, is through incentivization of the parents, as well as the girls.

She said, “The number one thing that matters for girls in school is to give an incentive to their families to send them to school because barriers that keep girls away from school are social, cultural, economic and each of those have policy solutions to tackle them and we will use those tools.

“The second thing is to give incentives for the girls to want to go to school.

“Part of the way to do that is role modeling and so female teachers go a long way in making girls want to achieve more.

“We would also focus on the productivity on the parents of the girls because we have found that when women are economically empowered, they spend 70% of their income on the education of their children”.

The ACPN candidate emphasized that educating the girl-child is not just for ‘her’ benefit but for the overall good of the nation.

She said, “The fourth thing that we would like to do is to show to the Nigerian people that economic empowerment of women is simply smart economics.

“It enables the entire society to benefit. It is not the girl child that benefits from access to education, it is actually the community, the family and the nation.

Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova battled through to the Australian Open last 16 Saturday with a tough three-set win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

Pliskova downed the 27th seeded Italian 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 after a 131-minute arm wrestle to set up a fourth-round meeting with Spanish 18th seed Garbine Muguruza.

Former world number one Pliskova took the first set at a canter and appeared to be cruising until Giorgi lifted in the second and forced a decider.

The Czech took a decisive break early in the final set after a marathon game that went for 13 minutes and went to deuce five times.

“I had trouble sometimes but I just stayed calm even though I lost the second set. I had my chances but that’s tennis,” she said.

“I was very positive in the third set and I’m very happy to be through.”

She has made the quarter-finals in her last two appearances at Melbourne Park and entered this year’s tournament on a high after winning the Brisbane International warm-up.

The 26-year-old has been a regular in the second week of Grand Slams in recent years, reaching the quarters or better six times since late 2016, but is still searching for a breakthrough win.

She has a 7-2 winning record over two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza, including four straight sets victories on hard courts.

But even if she gets past the Spaniard she is in a tough section of the draw that pits her against either world number one Simona Halep or 23-time major winner Serena Williams in the last eight.

AFP

An explosion and fire has killed at least 66 people who were collecting fuel gushing from a leaking pipeline in central Mexico, the Hidalgo state governor said on Saturday

The toll that we have until a few minutes ago… is 66 dead, while 76 are injured,” said the governor, Omar Fayad.

Forensic specialists on Saturday worked among the charred corpses at the scene, which was guarded by soldiers as a smell of fuel still hung in the air.

Scores of locals with jerrycans and buckets had been collecting gasoline that was gushing from the pipeline when the blast occurred on Friday, according to witnesses.

Video taken in the aftermath showed people fleeing the scene, screaming for help, as an enormous fire lit up the night sky in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Mexico City.

The tragedy comes as the federal government wages a highly publicized war on fuel theft, a problem that cost Mexico an estimated $3 billion in 2017.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador travelled to the scene in the early hours of Saturday.

AFP

Trump To Meet Families Of Americans Killed In Syria

US President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement Saturday he would be travelling to meet the families of four US personnel killed in northern Syria.

He tweeted: “Will be leaving for Dover to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!”

Dover refers to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Nineteen people including the four Americans were killed in a suicide bombing on a small restaurant in the flashpoint northern Syrian town of Manbij on Wednesday.

The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, was the deadliest to hit US troops since they deployed to Syria in 2014.

It came after Trump’s shock announcement last month that he was ordering a full troop withdrawal from the country because the jihadists had been “largely defeated.”

Two US service members, one Department of Defense civilian and one contractor were among those killed in the Manbij attack.

After sweeping across swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, the jihadists’ cross-border “caliphate” has been erased by multiple offensives and is now confined to a tiny embattled enclave in eastern Syria close to the Iraqi border.

But despite the stinging defeats, IS has proved it is still capable of carrying out deadly attacks using hideouts in the sprawling desert or sleeper cells in the towns.

AFP

massive fire broke out at an illegal pipeline tap in central Mexico on Friday, killing at least 21 people and injuring 71 more, just as the government wages a major crack-down on fuel theft

Scores of locals with jerry cans and buckets had been collecting gasoline that was gushing from a leaking pipeline when an explosion occurred, according to witnesses.

Video taken in the aftermath showed desperate people fleeing the scene, screaming for help, as the enormous fire lit up the night sky in Tlahuelilpan, in Hidalgo state, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Mexico City.

“I went just to see what was happening, and then the explosion happened. I rushed to help people,” said Fernando Garcia, 47. “I had to claw through pieces of people who had already been burned to bits,” he told AFP.

The tragedy comes as the federal government is waging a highly publicized war on fuel theft, a problem that cost Mexico an estimated $3 billion in 2017.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador traveled to the scene in the early hours of Saturday.

“I am deeply saddened by the suffering in Tlahuelilpan caused by the explosion of a pipeline,” the leftist leader earlier wrote on Twitter.

“I call on the whole government to assist people there.”

Federal and state firefighters and ambulances run by state oil company Pemex rushed to help victims with burns and take the wounded to hospitals.

The flood of patients overflowed local clinics and hospitals, said AFP correspondents at the scene.

Security Minister Alfonso said around midnight that the fire had been brought under control.

Pemex said it was also responding to another fire at a botched pipeline tap in the central state of Queretaro, though in that case there were no victims.

Mexico is regularly rocked by deadly explosions at illegal pipeline taps, a dangerous but lucrative business whose players include powerful drug cartels and corrupt Pemex insiders.

Rampant fuel theft

The tragedy comes as anti-corruption crusader Lopez Obrador presses implementation of a controversial fuel theft prevention plan.

The government has shut off key pipelines until they can be fully secured and deployed the army to guard Pemex production facilities.

But the strategy to fight the problem led to severe gasoline and diesel shortages across much of the country, including Mexico City, forcing people to queue for hours — sometimes days — to fill up their vehicles.

The president, who took office on December 1, has vowed to keep up the fight and asked Mexicans to be patient.

At the scene, some locals blamed the shortages for the tragedy.

“A lot of people arrived with their jerry cans, because of the gasoline shortages we’ve had,” said Martin Trejo, 55, who was desperately searching for his son, one of those who had gone to collect the leaking fuel.

Under Lopez Obrador’s crackdown, authorities have opened 1,700 individual investigations for fuel theft and related money laundering.

Tanker trucks are being used to deliver fuel, but experts say there are not nearly enough of them.

Mexico City residents faced a second week of fuel shortages this week, though lines at service stations were shorter than the previous week.

Mexican bank Citibanamex estimated Wednesday that the shortages would cost Latin America’s second-largest economy around $2 billion, “if conditions return to normal in the coming days.”

The roots of the fuel theft problem run deep in Mexico, where the practice — known locally as “huachicoleo,” or moonshining — is big business for some communities.

Lopez Obrador so far retains broad support: 89 percent of Mexicans back his crackdown, and his approval rating has even ticked up slightly, to 76 percent, according to a poll published Monday by newspaper El Financiero.

Below are some more photos from the incident.

Zimbabwe on Friday blocked most social media as international criticism mounted of a ruthless security crackdown after anti-government protests

Police and soldiers have been accused of indiscriminately dragging people from their homes and beating them.

Several hundred people have been arrested and doctors say they have treated scores of victims for serious gunshot injuries.

The United Nations human rights office on Friday urged Harare to “stop the crackdown”, voicing alarm over the security forces’ “excessive use of force” which included reports of them using live ammunition.

And it urged Zimbabwe’s government “to find ways of engaging with the population about their legitimate grievances”.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said fuel prices would double in a country which suffers regular shortages of banknotes, fuel, food and medicine.

The internet was entirely blocked until Friday afternoon when some service was resumed.

Econet, the biggest internet provider, told customers it had been ordered by the government to re-open the internet “except for specified social media applications.”

‘Communications Blackout’

MDC, the main opposition party, accused the government of trying to suppress information about the security operation, in which between five and 16 people have been killed, activists say.

Accusing the government of “wanton violence”, the party warned that the authorities were “planning on further gross human rights violations under the cover of the communications blackout”.

Mnangagwa, who succeeded ousted authoritarian president Robert Mugabe in 2017, had promised a fresh start for Zimbabwe after decades of repression and economic decline.

But his election victory in July was tainted by accusations of fraud, and hopes for a new chapter were dashed when troops opened fire on protesters in Harare, killing several, even before the results were announced.

‘Disproportionate Force’

The EU on Thursday joined the US and Britain in criticising the authorities’ response to the latest protests.

“The escalation of violence in Zimbabwe over recent days has been aggravated by the disproportionate use of force by security personnel,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.

“The shutdown of access to the internet should also be reversed.”

The US embassy in Harare said it was “alarmed by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating political activists and labour leaders”.

Leading Zimbabwean activist Evan Mawarire was on Friday remanded in custody until January 31 on charges of subverting the government and inciting violence, apparently after backing this week’s national strike on social media.

Wearing his trademark Zimbabwe flag around his neck, he appeared pensive in the dock of Harare magistrates court as his supporters murmured their disapproval at the judge’s ruling.

Mnangagwa – Mugabe’s former deputy — has vowed to revive the country’s shattered economy by attracting foreign investment, but shortages have recently worsened.

He is on an overseas investment tour that started in Russia and will end with him mixing with world leaders at the Davos summit in Switzerland next week.

The president, 76, told state broadcaster ZBC, that no leader could “have their security (forces) go to sleep when shops are being looted”.

Economic Crisis

Inflation in Zimbabwe has risen to 40 percent — its highest rate since hyperinflation wrecked the economy 10 years ago and the country adopted the US dollar as its currency.

For months, long queues lasting hours or even days have formed outside petrol stations and banks, where both fuel and cash are rationed.

With US dollar notes scarce, Zimbabweans are forced to withdraw “bond notes” — supposedly equal to US dollars but worth far less in reality.

Mugabe, now 94, ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years from independence from Britain until he was ousted in November 2017.

The military, fearing that Mugabe’s wife Grace was being lined up to succeed him, seized control and forced him to resign before ushering Mnangagwa to power. AFP