Nigeria Emerge Chair Of Gulf Of Guinea Commission [2017]

Nigeria has emerged as the new Chair of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).

Yemi-Osinbajo-e1472897737371At the 4th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the GGC, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo called on member states to urgently address the socio-economic and security challenges facing the commission. He said the members would achieve this by collectively taking measures to check violations of domestic and international treaties in the Gulf.

The vice president identified the challenges facing the commission to include a rise in maritime insurance premiums for vessels coming into the Gulf, increased threats and reduced commercial traffic to the region as well as unregulated and unreported fishing. He also charged the member states to take measures to reduce pollution and environmental degradation in the Gulf of Guinea, lauding the individual efforts of some of the member states who improved the capacities and capability of their Navy and other relevant organisations to enable them perform their duties more effectively.

In his statement:

“In conformity with the theme of the 4th Ordinary Session which is; “A Vibrant Gulf of Guinea Region for sustainable Development’’, let us renew our commitment to making the Gulf of Guinea more effective and a truly vibrant partner in all our efforts, be it regional, national or international, to ensure a zone of peace, security and sustainable development for our countries, our peoples and other stakeholders in the region. This effort is capped by the establishment of the inter-regional coordination centre based in Yaoundé, Cameroun, as the collaborative link between the two maritime regional centres led by ECOWAS and ECCAS.’’

The National Security Adviser to the President, Babagana Monguno, observed that the meeting was a framework for consultations among the countries of the GCC, and that current situation in the Gulf of Guinea region especially the surge in illegal activities of piracy, illicit drugs, arms and human trafficking, illegal immigration, environmental pollution and degradation calls for greater attention from member countries to curb these activities. He maintained that an improvement of Maritime security could positively contribute to increased national, regional and continental stability and by the same token make a sustainable contribution to global security, He noting that Nigeria on its part had continued to develop the capacity of its armed forces particularly the Navy and other Maritime agencies to effectively tackle these challenges.

Mr. Monguno said other measures being implemented include; employment of the robust maritime domain awareness capability through the employment of the original maritime awareness capability and the Falcon Eye Project, activation of a Naval Taskforce to combat piracy and related attacks on shipping and oil and gas infrastructure, establishment of 37 check points by the Nigerian Navy to ensure continuous presence and monitoring of crude oil thefts in the Niger Delta area, the conduct of regular sea exercises by the Nigerian Navy such as exercise Eagle Eye, to improve its state of readiness and proficiency. He disclosed that Nigeria had also prepared the draft anti-piracy bill to give effect to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Conventions of the Law of the Sea of 1982 and the Convention for the Suppression of Illegal Acts at Sea 1982 and its protocol of 2005 to punish and deter piracy and other maritime crimes.

In his words:

“Suffice it to say that maritime security and economic prosperity are interdependent and mutually re-enforcing. The Nigerian Navy has been maintaining a strong presence in Maritime area with a band configuration and operations capabilities to deal with surface, air and underwater threats. Indeed, the surveillance capabilities of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency are being developed to ensure a secure environment within the domain as well as in the Gulf of Guinea. In addition, the Nigerian Navy has been cooperating with neighbouring countries and allies in Nigeria’s Maritime area of interest with a view to pursue security and safety.

Nigeria has ascribed to the continent’s maritime charter on maritime security safety and development in Africa, this was done on 15th of October, 2016 with the aim of strengthening the inter-agency for national coordination and cooperation to tackle maritime issues for the region. Nigeria has also ratified The United Nations Organised Crime Convention which enjoins parties to criminalize practices and combat that subject human beings to all forms of exploitation. Nigeria has adopted a strategic framework such as the 2015 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy and the Yaoundé Code of Conduct for the repression of piracy and other illicit maritime activities within the Gulf of Guinea.’’

Mr. Monguno noted that the security challenges confronting the member states of the GGC which had continued to impact negatively on the development of the region, called for concerted and unrelenting efforts by all stakeholders.The NSA observed that the Gulf of Guinea provided a verifiable platform to tackling these numerous security challenges. He therefore, called for increased cooperation and collaboration among member states as well as support for the GGC to enhance its capacity to deliver on its mandate.

The Executive Secretary of the GGC, Florentine Ukonga, called on member states to support the proposed Revitalisation Strategy of the GGC, saying that under the proposal the secretariat would establish five new committees for effective management of the commission.

Members of the GGC, which was established by the Treaty signed in Libreville, Gabon, on July 3, 2001 included Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Ghana.

Nigeria & USA Sign MoU On Commercial Investment Dialogue

Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on an investment instrument titled US-Nigeria Commercial Investment Dialogue (CID), at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, signed on behalf of Nigeria while US Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Wilbur Ross, signed on behalf the US. The CID is designed to deepen commercial and investment ties between both countries. It allows for exchange of information between the two business communities and the governments on key commercial and investment matters of importance to improving the business climate, fostering greater economic growth, modernisation and job creation.

With the agreement signed, the two countries had committed to strengthening their commercial and investment relationship by leveraging private sector participation; targeting the elimination of trade barriers and other obstacles to commercial and investment relationships; modernisation, and integration into the global economy through value supply chains; and cooperation for mutual benefit, among others.

Enelamah in his statement said:

“We’re delighted this has come to fruition, following dialogue that commenced with the previous administration of President Barack Obama to the current government of President Donald Trump. This continues to demonstrate our commitment as a government to leverage partnerships for economic growth and development.”

In his response, Mr. Ross stated that:

“the CID, the newest instrument of US engagement with Nigeria, is different in that it leverages the voice of the private sector in the effort to enhance the bilateral commercial and investment relationship. I am encouraged that the CID will be an effective tool to partnering with the private sector to deepen our bilateral trade and investment relationship.”

The CID will be co-chaired at the ministerial level by the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment and the US Secretary of Commerce (or their designees). Initial focus areas are infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment and regulatory reform.

Two Nigerian Airports Attain ICAO Global Safety Standard

Nigeria has become the only country in Africa to have its two airports attain Global Safety Standard certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the only country in West Africa sub-region with internationally certified airports.

This was made known by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman during the ceremony to mark the certification of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Last September, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos was certified, thus recognising two major airports in the country as meeting global safety standards.

The Director General said the certification has improved the rating of the two airports in safety standards in the international aviation circles and would attract more global carriers to the country which would boost air transport and create more jobs for the citizenry. As corollary to the progress made in the industry with the certification, Captain Usman hinted that this would reposition air transport to contribute more to the GDP of the country because it would boost passenger movement in domestic and international destinations.

He also disclosed during the ceremony that Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports are scheduled for completion in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2018. Usman who handed the certificate to the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma said it was an epoch making moment for the country.

In his words:

“The attainment of this safety milestone is quite significant in view of the fact that less than 25 percent of international airports in Africa and Indian Ocean are certified. It is also interesting to note that with the certification of Abuja airport today, Nigeria has become the first state to achieve the certification of more than one international airport in the AFI (Africa/Indian) Region. However, we are not resting on our oars, as the certification of Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports are scheduled for completion in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2018 in compliance with the Abuja Ministerial declaration and safety targets of 2012.”

Dunoma in his remark restated FAAN’s commitment to continue with the present tempo in the development of the other international airports.

“We made a commitment to continue with this tempo and soon we will go to Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu but for today we have achieved a milestone. I want to recognise the DG NCAA because anytime I talk to him, certification is always the main topic so I want to thank the NCAA team for their commitment. Let’s sit down and continue to improve on the safety situation because that is all that it’s all about, safety.”

Amina Mohammed Receives 2017 FP’s Diplomat Of The Year Award

Foreign Policy (FP) magazine has conferred the “2017 Diplomat of the Year” award on deputy United Nations Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed.

Amina Mohammed

The diplomat of the year gong is a yearly event by the Foreign Policy magazine that reviews the accomplishments of leading officials and diplomats worldwide and seeks to identify those who have made the greatest contribution to international relations.

Mrs. Amina Mohammed, also the former Environment Minister of Nigeria takes over this award which was won by Google in 2016 and in 2015 by former United States Secretary of State, John Kerry.

In her acceptance message, the 56-year-old said she was receiving the accolade on behalf of the U.N. “that I proudly serve.” Adding, “I believe diplomacy is a tool that should bring us together to close the gap between what is and what should be in a world of peace, development and human rights.” She spoke about the challenges the U.N. faces in its global operations but stressed that there was the need to do all it takes to put the world on a good footing for future generations, adding that it was important for every one to become a diplomat in their own small way.

In her words:

“Today, as a woman of colour, a Muslim, an African, a mother of 6, a grandmother and as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, I owe it to the world to dig deep and to do my part in support of António Guterres to achieve our goals for a more peaceful world of dignity and hope, managing international relations, building trust, and leveraging diplomacy in the most unconventional ways and always speaking truth to power for those whose voices cannot reach these corridors of power.

Finally, I accept this honour for those women diplomats gone before me as I stand on their shoulders to carry on their unfinished work in our world of pain, desperation and yet we don’t have the luxury of failure.”

Before her appointment, the Nigeria and UK trained development expert, Amina Mohammed, was acclaimed in Nigeria as one of President Buhari’s most vibrant and best-performing appointees – since she took office in 2015. She served as UN Under Secretary-General and Special Adviser to immediate past Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning. She was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

As Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Mrs. Amina Mohammed has largely been in the forefront of global diplomacy much more than most of her predecessors at the global body headquartered in New York. Her appointment according to the Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General was in line with restructuring the organization to reflect gender parity. She continues to play an outward role especially in the area of the U.N. development agenda.

The ‘‘citizen diplomat of the year’’ went to Becca Heller, she is co-founder and director of the group International Refugee Assistance project (IRAP). Wendy Sherman, a former U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs was named the ‘‘national security diplomat of the year.’’

Nigeria Signs Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty

Nigeria has signed the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty to ban nuclear weapons amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

Weapons Prohibition Treaty

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geofrey Onyeama, signed the treaty on behalf of Nigeria at the UN headquarters on the sidelines of the High-level UN General Assembly. He stated that Nigeria was in support of weapons-free world.

In his words:

 “Right from the early 60s, Nigeria has been a strong advocate of nuclear weapons prohibition and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. You may recall in the early 60s when France tested an atom bomb-related device in the Sahara and Nigeria cut diplomatic relations with France at the time. Nigeria had always been a strong advocate of de-nuclearisation of the world. We are one of the main movers of this treaty.”  

The minister said it was unfortunate that countries with nuclear weapons saw them as deterrence and safeguarded their security. According to him, it will take great effort to really push and get larger number of countries to accede to the treaty, especially nuclear weapons states.

He urged countries that signed the treaty, Civil Society Organisations and intergovernmental organisations to convince others to accede to the treaty stressing in his words that:

“The point made was that even if those nuclear weapons states were not ready to sign, they should at least take measures to ensure there was no accidental use or deliberate use of nuclear weapons.”

The treaty would enter into force 90 days after 50 countries ratified it, while Nigeria was due to deposit its ratification soon. The UN had in July adopted Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty in a majority vote by 122 countries, leading toward total elimination of nuclear weapons, while 60 countries boycotted. With the adoption of the treaty, nuclear weapons now joined all other weapons of mass destruction already prohibited.

Nigeria, together with Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa played leadership roles in bringing forward the UN resolution convening the Diplomatic Conference that negotiated the ground-breaking treaty.

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, pointed out that resources spent in maintaining nuclear weapons could better be used in other development projects. According to him, those regions with nuclear weapons had continued to be unstable, citing India, Pakistan, Israel and their neighbours. He stated that it was said that “there were countries that still have nuclear weapons and refused to give them up”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as he opened the treaty for signing “because there remain some 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence, we cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children’s future.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, in his address to the UN, said the most pressing threat to international peace and security was accelerated nuclear weapons development programme by North Korea.

In his words:

“Nigeria proposes a strong UN delegation to urgently engage the North Korean Leader. The delegation, led by the Security Council, should include members from all the regions.” 

Buhari therefore urged that necessary pressure and diplomatic efforts be brought to bear on North Korea to accept peaceful resolution of the crisis.