President Muhammadu Buhari will Thursday depart Abuja for Bissau to attend ceremonies celebrating the National Day of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, September 24.
The President will join the Heads of State and Government of Senegal, Cote d’ Ivoire, Rwanda, Mauritania, Togo and Liberia to mark the 47th independence anniversary of Guinea Bissau.
In Bissau, President Buhari will also commission a road named in his honour by the host government.
The Nigerian leader and other invited Heads of State will attend an official lunch hosted by President Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea Bissau.
Nigeria and Guinea Bissau established diplomatic relations in 1974.
Following a military coup in that country, Nigeria in 2012 deployed troops under the auspices of ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) to maintain peace.
President Buhari had in response to a request for assistance by the Government of Guinea Bissau, during its last legislative elections, donated $500,000 dollars, 17 vehicles and 350 electoral kits to support the country’s electoral process.
In May this year, the President received President Embalo in Abuja, during which the Nigerian leader congratulated his counterpart on his confirmation as President, assuring him of Nigeria’s support to the new government in Guinea Bissau.
The Nigerian troops were only withdrawn on September 10, 2020 after the return of stability to the West African country.
The President will be accompanied by top government officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd), the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar,
President Buhari will return to Abuja at the end of the ceremonies on Thursday.
The statement was made available yesterday by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity.
The spokesman of the Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Mr Lanre Lasisi, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria. In a statement issued early today said.
“The Nigeria-Ghana Business Council and the Nigeria Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG) have commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila over his intervention in the trade disputes with the government of Ghana.
Members of the Nigeria-Ghana Business Council said through their President, Omoba Bambo Ademiluyi, that Gbajabiamila’s visit to Ghana has made positive impact and paved the way for an amicable resolution to the trade dispute.
In a letter of appreciation and commendation dated September 5 and addressed to the Speaker, Mr Ademiluyi said: “It is on record that your trip brought about the highest involvement of both governments in this dispute that has been on since 2007.
“Your proposals and presentations have given rise to two very vital solutions to the problem: 1. The review of the GIPC Act demanding $1,000,000 deposit for foreign investors in Ghana as it concerns Nigerians. 2. The promotion of the Nigeria-Ghana Business Council backed by legislation to superintend on trade and business issues between the two countries.”
He said the formation of the business council as proposed by the Speaker was a welcome development.
“Our objectives and activities align with the proposal which is being introduced to superintend trade issues of the two countries.
“It is, therefore, our wish to express support for the formation of this council and request that we work with your team to see to a successful emergence of a government-backed Business Council.”
On their part, members of NUTAG said in another letter addressed to the Speaker dated September 6 that Gbajabiamila’s visit and engagement with the Ghanaian authorities were timely and a right step in the right direction.”
The spokesman further said:
“In the letter, signed by the association’s President, Chief Chukwuemeka Nnaji, the Nigerian traders urged the Speaker not to despair in ensuring that resolutions reached during the interface are implemented by all concerned parties.
The traders noted that Gbajabiamila’s intervention was a testimony that President Muhammadu Buhari and the government of Nigeria have the interest of Nigerians at home and abroad at heart.
The letter reads in part: “Your Excellency, please, allow me to seize this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association of Ghana (NUTAG), for your kind, responsible and timely intervention to quell the much travails we have been experiencing at the hands of Ghanaian authorities and our Ghanaian counterpart, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
“Sir, the leadership of NUTAG and all Nigerian traders in Ghana, as well as other Nigerians living in Ghana, deeply appreciate your recent visit to Ghana in order to try and resolve the lingering trade impasse between Ghana and Nigeria; in unison, we hail this as the right step in the right direction.
“The move at once displays that the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria led by His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari has all Nigerian citizens very close at heart, both at home and abroad.
“We are indeed very grateful to you and the entire team who embarked on this journey, and we are optimistic that an end to our travails in Ghana is at hand.”
“The president of the trade union, however, stated that a lot of Nigerian traders in Ghana are finding things difficult as their means of livelihood have been shut down.
The traders appealed to the Nigerian Government to engage with the Ghanaian Government to reopen the said shops pending an enduring solution the impasse.” He concluded.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, has today in a statement said:
“President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to ECOWAS leaders not to elongate their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits. Making the call while presenting Nigeria’s General Statement at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger Republic on Monday, the President urged his colleagues to respect constitutional provisions and ensure free and fair elections.
According to him, it is “important that as leaders of our individual Member-States of ECOWAS, we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.
“As it is, the challenges facing the sub-region are enormous; from socio-economic matters to security issues, the ECOWAS sub-region cannot therefore afford another political crisis, in the guise of tenure elongation. I urge us all to resist the temptation of seeking to perpetuate ourselves in power beyond the constitutional provisions.
“I commend those in our midst that have resisted such temptations, for they will be deemed exceptional role models in their respective countries and the sub-region as a whole.
“Related to this call for restraint is the need to guarantee free, fair and credible elections. This must be the bedrock for democracy to be sustained in our sub-region, just as the need for adherence to the rule of law.”
On the political situation in Mali, President Buhari said it is of serious concern to ECOWAS, and commended President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and out-going Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the Leadership of the ECOWAS Commission, as well as the Chief Mediator, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, “for effectively demonstrating commitment in handling the political situation in that country.”
He declared that “Nigeria remains resolutely committed to ECOWAS decision for a civilian-led Transition Government not exceeding 12 months. This is important because of the circumstances surrounding Mali where violent non-state actors and other negative tendencies reside and who can take advantage of the unstable political situation to overrun the country, thereby plunging it into greater danger that will affect the political stability of the whole sub-region.
“While Nigeria understands the current political realities in Mali, the sub-region’s commitment to the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, must never be compromised.
“An early return to democratic governance which is transparent and civilian-led, will commend itself for Nigeria’s support for progressive relaxation of sanctions against Mali.”
On security, the Nigerian leader noted that, “Terrorism continues to be the greatest security threat in our sub-region, complicating other national security challenges. As a sub-region, we need to collaborate more by working hand in hand with each other, to combat the root causes of the different security-related manifestations in our countries.”
He said, “Nigeria is concerned with the rapidity at which terrorist groups in the Sahel and West Africa are working together against all of us,” adding that, “We must urgently review these ugly developments to guarantee the safety and survival of our sub-region.”
“Our national security apparatus and the relevant Units of ECOWAS must urgently be seized with these unfolding events across our sub-region and act decisively on the emergence of early warning signs,” he said.
Dwelling on the long-standing single currency issue for the sub-region, the President said, “Nigeria remains committed to the implementation of the action plan towards the actualization of the monetary union and single currency programme of ECOWAS,” and called on “Member States to show support to the resolution of the Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS on this matter.”
Cognisant of the “likelihood that many ECOWAS member states may not meet the convergence criteria over the next few years due to the impact of COVID-19 on our economies and which as a consequence, will affect the take-off date of the single currency,” he said “Notwithstanding this envisaged delay, we must remain collectively focused and resolute in working to achieve the objectives of the ECOWAS monetary union as a project for the sub-region.”
Insisting that “the premature adoption of the “ECO” has unnecessarily heightened disaffection and mistrust among members of the emerging monetary union,” President Buhari encouraged “UEMOA (French acronym for the West African Economic and Monetary Union) to return to the roadmap on the common currency in the sub-region.”
He also urged all stakeholders to “bear in mind that those economic convergence criteria must be based on sound and sustainable macroeconomic fundamentals.”
Noting that some key unresolved issues still remained such as delinking the CFA franc of the UEMOA from the Euro; whether the UEMOA countries join as a bloc or individual countries; design of the exchange rate mechanism; Stabilization Fund; policy harmonization and exit strategy and reserve pooling among others, the Nigerian President called on his colleagues to provide “African solutions to African problems.”
According to him, “Foreign interference and so-called advice may not be in our best sub-regional interest,” as he stressed the “need for UEMOA to return to the agreed roadmap of the ECOWAS Single Currency by complying with the established framework under the roadmap and cooperate with other member countries in achieving the objectives of the programme.”
Observing that the Summit was holding “under a very complex health pandemic, whose impact on the global health and economy has so far been devastating,” President Buhari said “like the rest of the world, our sub-region is witnessing economic downturn with negative growth that is headed towards deep recession and the outlook continues to be uncertain.”
He, therefore, charged his colleagues on the “need to continue to work in concert with each other on several fronts to ease the negative effects of the pandemic,” adding that, “We need to demonstrate our collective resolve to harness the opportunities that come with COVID-19, despite its overwhelming negative impact on lives and livelihoods.”
The Nigerian President, who is the ECOWAS Champion charged with mobilising and coordinating the efforts against the pandemic, admitted that the “outlook for our sub-region with COVID-19 hovering over us is gloomy indeed.”
He, however, expressed confidence that “where there are challenges, opportunities are also available to be seized upon through greater collaboration with each other.”
“We must pool our resources together in unity to save our generation and generations to come from multiple challenges, including COVID-19 and related health issues.
“We need to redouble our efforts in preparing our national economies to withstand impending shocks against prospective multi-sector challenges that await us in the sub-region,” he declared.
Acknowledging that it is no easy task, President Buhari appealed to fellow leaders to “embrace our collective vision for the future with greater determination and innovative thinking and creativity.”
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja Monday for Niamey, Niger Republic to participate in the Fifty-Seventh Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. The one-day summit will deliberate on the Special Report on COVID-19 to be presented by President Buhari who was appointed the ECOWAS Champion on the Fight against COVID-19 during the Extraordinary Virtual Summit of ECOWAS on April 23, 2020. As a Champion, the Nigerian leader was expected to coordinate the sub-regional response against the pandemic. In furtherance of that objective, under the supervision of the Champion, Nigerian Ministers of Health, Aviation and Finance were appointed Chairpersons of the Ministerial Coordination Committees on Health; Transport, Logistics and Trade; and Finance respectively. The Summit will also receive a Special Report on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme to be presented by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), and President Alassane Ouattara, who is Chair of the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA). The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou will present to the West African leaders, the 2020 Interim Report on activities of the sub-regional body including ECOWAS Vision 2050. The alarming rise in incidents of terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and piracy will also come under focus, while the disruption of the democratic process by the military in Mali, will receive further attention. Similarly, in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Niger where parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for this year, the imperative to strengthen democracy in the sub-region by respecting constitutional provisions, rule of law and outcomes of free and fair polls, will be emphasised. President Buhari, who will be accompanied to the Summit by ministers and other top government officials, will return to Abuja after the meeting.
The statement was made available yesterday by Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity.
President Buhari congratulates AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina on Re-election, led round of applause at Council of State Meeting
In a statement issued by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, yesterday, the Presidential spokesman said:
“On behalf of the Federal Executive Council and Nigerians in general, President Muhammadu Buhari felicitates with President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, on his re-election for a second term in office.
News of the victory came during the Council of State meeting, which was attended by former heads of state, Senate President, governors, some Ministers, and senior government officials.
As Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, announced the good news, President Buhari led a round of applause, and declared: “He deserves it.”
Adesina further said:
“The President extends appreciation to the African Union for its endorsement of the AfDB President much earlier, and to shareholders of the bank who worked tirelessly to ensure the return of the visionary leader.
President Buhari believes Dr Adesina’s versatility, experience at both national and international engagements, will be further deployed to energize the pan-African financial institution, urging him to remain focused and steadfast in pursuing the noble goals of making life better for Africans through various development plans, already captured as High 5s.”
“The President rejoices with family, friends and professional colleagues of Dr Adesina over the re-election, while commending members of staff and Board of Governors of the AfDB for their consistent support for the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and his management team.
While pledging full support of his government to ensure a successful tenure for the AfDB leadership, President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will continue to strengthen Dr Adesina and his team for greater good to the continent.” He concluded.
Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, made this known today in a statement that:
“President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday at State House, Abuja, that the priority in Republic of Mali now should be securing the country, which is largely occupied by terrorists. The President spoke as he received briefings from ECOWAS Special Envoy to the West African country, former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The meeting came ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders, scheduled for Friday. President Buhari stressed: “About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”
He said the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet on Friday, hoping that an amicable and generally acceptable position to all interested parties would be arrived at.
Dr Jonathan brought the President up to speed on dialogue with the military coup leaders, who are seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections.
“They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People. We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence, where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him,’’ the Special Envoy said.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. The Interim Government would then organize elections to restore full constitutional order.”
“Dr Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted President, who confirmed that he resigned voluntarily, adding that he was no longer interested in returning to his former position.
He added that the military leaders want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country, “but we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state.” He concluded.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Federal republic of Nigeria, Lanre Lasisi, speaks as Nigeria to host maiden Conference of African Speakers and Heads of Parliament. Where he said:
“Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday convened a meeting of some African Speakers of Parliaments where it was agreed that there is an urgent need to push for debt cancellation for the continent from their multilateral and bilateral partners.
This is as Gbajabiamila’s initiative to establish the Conference of African Speakers and Heads of Parliament (CoSAP), a body that will facilitate increased collaboration between Speakers, Heads of Parliament and National Assemblies across Africa got a boost.
The African Speakers will also seek to advance the African development agenda within and outside the continent in conjunction with both the executive arms of government as well as African regional institutions.
These emerged following a virtual meeting conveyed by Gbajabiamila on Monday with Hon. Tagesse Chafo, Speaker, House of Peoples Representatives, Ethiopia; Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, PhD, Speaker of Parliament, Ghana; Hon. Justin Bedan Muturi, Speaker, National Assembly, Republic of Kenya; Rt. Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Speaker, Chamber of Deputies, Rwanda; and President Moustapha Niasse, AFP, President, National Assembly, Senegal.
In his opening remarks, Gbajabiamila said there was an urgent need to join local and global efforts to push for the cancellation of the external debt owed by various countries on the continent.
Saying that development across the continent has become stunted due to the heavy burden of the debts, Gbajabiamila noted that the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has compounded the issue for the continent, considering the socio-political and economic consequences of the disease.
“We all agree that Africa’s debt burden has become an existential threat to our societies, our economies and the future; we leave to posterity, and we need to do something about this and treat it as a continent-wide priority.
“It is safe to say that the burden of debt servicing, vis-à-vis spending on education and health care for example, is a threat to our continent’s stability and development, especially in the era of Covid-19.
“When we find ourselves having to make policy choices between paying debts or saving lives, we know something is not morally right. And as democratically elected representatives of our people, we cannot be silent. We must speak up and we must act. And the time to act is now.
“Furthermore, is the need for us to reflect on, the processes that led to Africa’s heavy indebtedness in the first place, the role parliamentarians can play to address this going forward and what assurances we as parliamentarians can give our borrowers that if our debt is cancelled, the freed-up resources will be invested in social and economic development of our citizens.
“If we want debt cancellation, we must be able to build the confidence of the borrowers that the cancellation will indeed save lives and livelihoods across the continent, and we, as Speakers and Heads of our parliaments, will ensure that is indeed the case”.
On the need for the establishment of the Pan-African Speaker’s Conference, Gbajabiamila noted that collective efforts at tackling challenges facing the continent have become expedient.
He said: “The motive behind this initiative is that each year we identify a theme, issue, or challenge that is pan-African in scope and we meet to deliberate on how we can work together across parliaments in Africa to tackle these continental issues and challenges.
“As heads of our respective parliamentary entities, it will also be a good platform to share experiences and expertise in different aspects of our legislative duties pertinent to the growth, development and sustenance of our economies and our societies; and on ways to enhance the capacity and impact of our parliaments on our democracies and the lives of the peoples we all represent.
“We have spent decades learning from the rest of the world, now we must begin to learn from one another”.
Throwing his weight behind the two initiatives, Hon. Tagesse Chafo, Speaker, House of Peoples Representatives, Ethiopia, noted that though almost every government on the continent has been trying to seek debt forgiveness, this should not, however, stop the parliaments from contributing to the efforts through a platform such as this.
“As representatives of our people, we are to come together, advise and campaign about the issue, we don’t have to keep quiet because debt cancellation would be good for the resuscitation of our economies that have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
In the same vein, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament, Ghana noted that the debt burden is essentially a common challenge on the continent, as most African countries have to depend on foreign loans to execute their national budgets.
He, however, noted that the Speaker’s group, in its efforts to push for debt cancellation must be able to convince the creditors about accountability if they hope to succeed.
He said: “Donor agencies are interested in accountability because they are confounded about the issue of corruption, and we must be able to give the assurance and that is why the Speakers Conference is critical. And if nothing is done, there may be no economy to service the loans”
Hon. Justin Bedan Muturi, Speaker, National Assembly, Republic of Kenya also emphasised the need for the initiative, adding that, the coronavirus pandemic has undermined most African economies because conditions attached to most of the loans have been eroded by the consequences of the novel pandemic.
On her part, Rt. Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Speaker, Chamber of Deputies, Rwanda, while noting that African countries depend on and heavily burdened by loans even before the pandemic, however, added that the group must be clear about the kind of debt it is seeking to address and from which partners.”
The Speaker’s spokesman further said:
“While President Moustapha Niasse, AFP, President, National Assembly, Senegal also regretted that the pandemic has affected all economies on the continent negatively, he, however, suggested that opinions of members of the forum must be sought on how to solve the issues between suspension or cancellation of debt “We must be convinced that we have a job to do at the level of parliament,” he added.
It was also agreed that a Communique would be released in the first week of September 2020, while the campaign for implementations of the plan of action would begin in the second week of September 2020 as well.”
“According to the forum, the third week of September would be devoted to the planning for the 2021 conference by the Secretariat.
While it was decided that Nigeria would host the maiden edition of CoSAP chaired by Nigerian Speaker the Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the new body is expected to meet again in the first week of September to approve the plans and swing into action.” He concluded.