President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday began a visit to South Africa with a call to beef up protection of foreign nationals, weeks after xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg stirred tension between Africa’s leading economies.
Buhari and his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa went into long-planned talks aimed at bolstering trade ties and political cooperation as both leaders struggle to boost their flagging economies.
But the talks were expected to be overshadowed by the violence in South Africa targeting foreigners, which included Nigerians.
Mobs descended on foreign-owned stores in and around Johannesburg in early September, destroying properties and looting.
“We call for the strengthening and implementation of all the necessary measures to prevent the re-occurrence of such actions,” Buhari said at the start of the talks.
The violence — in which at least 12 people were killed, most of them South Africans — sparked fury in Nigeria and saw hundreds of migrant workers repatriated to the country.
Buhari condemned “the very few incidents of retaliatory attacks” which saw some South African businesses in Nigeria forced to close shop.
“We took strong and decisive measures to stop the attacks and prevent any re-occurences,” he said at Union Buildings, the seat of the presidency in the capital Pretoria.
For his part, Ramaphosa, who has repeatedly apologised over the attacks, reiterated his government’s “deep regret at the incidents of public violence”.
“Some of the acts of violence were directed at foreign nationals and some of whom coming from your own country”.
“We firmly condemn all forms of intolerance and will not hesitate to act against criminal acts and violence,” he said.
The three-day state visit, the first to South Africa by a Nigerian leader since 2013, had been planned before the wave of violence.
A “town hall meeting” between Buhari and Nigerians living in South Africa is scheduled for Friday to listen to the expats’ experience and showcase efforts to support them.
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ASUP Calls Off Warning Strike, Asks Members To Resume Monday
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has called off its two-week warning strike and asked members of the union to resume duties next month.
This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday by the National Publicity Secretary of the union Abdullahi Yalwa.
“The two weeks definite strike of the Union will be rounding off on the 29th of May, 2022 as agreed by the emergency meeting of NEC.
“Consequently, the Union is requesting members to resume duties effective 30th of May, 2022 while hoping that government will take advantage of the window to address the 5 outstanding items,” he said in the statement.
“Further directives/ updates shall be released after the 103rd meeting of NEC which is scheduled to hold in the month of June 2022 during which the situation shall be reviewed.”
The union said the move followed “the significant inroads were made in four (4) of the items in our list of demands” which include payment of areas of the new minimum wage among others.
However, ASUP said there are four more outstanding issues yet to be addressed by the government. This includes the release of the approved N15Bn revitalization fund for the sector.
“This issue is still stuck in the Federal Ministry of Finance with a promise of follow-up action by the Education Ministry,” the statement added.
Others, the union’s statement noted, are the release of arrears of CONTISS 15 migration for the lower cadre; the release of the Scheme of Service and Conditions of Service; continued delay in the appointment of substantive Rectors for Federal Polytechnics in Mubi, Offa, and Kaduna, and the resolution of issues with members in Colleges of Agriculture.
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Buhari To African Leaders: We Must Allow People To Freely Choose Their Leaders
President Muhammadu Buhari has advised African political leaders to respect the right of citizens to make their choices in elections.
President Buhari said that the right of people to vote and determine who leads them should not be treated lightly.
Speaking at a bilateral meeting with Lazarus Chakwera, the President of Malawi at the sideline of the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on Friday, the President said to strengthen the democratic fabric and ensure smooth conduct of elections, “we must convince the people that we respect them, and this is by allowing them to choose whoever they want.”
He acknowledged that the path to democracy in African countries had not been a smooth one, recalling that he had been to the Supreme Court three times before he got to be President, adding “I had to openly disabuse the minds of our colleagues. We are a developing country, that we should not be demoralized.
“We have to go through these processes. We must trust these institutions to do what is right. Present the evidence. Don’t give up. Keep on pushing.”
The President explained that the merit of one’s case, not religion, or ethnicity or section will determine success in political endeavors, saying that his meritorious cases in court were thrown out by judges who more or less shared the same sentimental backgrounds with him.
He said, “So, I say go for merit. Don’t stand on ethnicity or such other divisive factors.”
Speaking on the relationship between Nigeria and Malawi, and that of the Southern African Sub-region in general, President Buhari said his predecessors in office, especially the late General Murtala Mohammed laid out the continental rule of engagement placing Southern African countries on Nigeria’s priority list.
According to him, “We are acutely aware of the problems of Southern African countries, more than most others,” said the President.
“Murtala virtually left the country to Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, then, and faced up to Europe and America on the problems (of apartheid). He was very energetic and patriotic. We will continue on that path.”
President Buhari said he greatly valued his meeting with President Chakwera, giving assurances that he will pay attention to the issues brought to the meeting.
The Foreign Affairs Ministers of the two countries were directed to take the matters forward.
President Chekwara described President Buhari as a statesman and a role model, saying that his country was willing to learn from Nigeria’s experience in agriculture, infrastructure development and in managing security and violent extremism, which, he said, were creeping into the South African sub-region.
He said while both countries were together in the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, his country’s wish was for a speedy trade relationship with Nigeria.
President Chekwara asked for convening of a meeting of technical experts to discuss trading pacts, Memoranda of Understanding and agreements.
“There is no way we won’t relate to the biggest economy in Africa. Our older brother should hold our hands and we walk together,” said the President.
Later, Carlos Vila Novo, the President of São Tomé and his spouse met President Buhari and the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari.
The Sao Tomean President got assurances that Nigeria will continue to play a brotherly role in the affairs of sister African countries.
The President also received in audience the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who came to thank him for honoring the invitation for the Extraordinary African Union Summit in his country.
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Dark Saturday As Police Confirm 31 Dead In Rivers Church Stampede
The Rivers State Police Command has said a total of 31 persons died during a stampede at the venue of an outreach programme put together by a new generation church in Port Harcourt on Saturday morning.
The church, known as Kings Assembly, was said to have invited members of the public to partake in the event where gift items and food were promised to be shared to congregants.
The church is located in the GRA area of Port Harcourt, but the event was held at the Port Harcourt Polo Club, a bigger facility to accommodate the anticipated crowd.
The acting spokesperson for the state Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the 31 deaths, saying the church had organised the outreach to give out palliatives to the underprivileged in society before the unexpected occurred.
“It is 31 persons that died. It was a stampede because a church was trying to give out palliatives.
“They were about to start the event by 9am or so. But some persons went there and broke into the place and went inside.
“So people started rushing in and there was a stampede.
“From the information we have, the church was trying to gift items and food to assist the underprivileged.
“Meanwhile, investigation has commenced to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the incident,” Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, stated.
2,144 total views, 748 views today
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