CHINA – AFRICA: Strengthening Collaborations Against COVID-19 Pandemic
By Kennedy Eberechi.
The traditional friendship and relations of good cooperation between China and African countries have stood the test of time and gone through the trial of international turbulent events. This relationship, being a good example to the developing countries, has been further consolidated and developed under the present new situation.
The expression of the will to continue to maintain close political relations was underscored by the recent virtual Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against the Covid-19, co-hosted by the by the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
The Summit, co-hosted by the Chinese President; Xi Jinping, Nigerian President; Muhammadu Buhari, South African President and AU Chairperson; Cyril Ramaphosa, and Senegal President and co-chair of FOCAC; Macky Sall, was convened to discuss joint response to COVID-19 and renew fraternity with Africa.
Speaking at the Summit, Chinese President; Xi Jinping pledged to step up support for Africa, adding that China will provide 2billion USD over two years to support the work of WHO in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Noting that China and Africa account for nearly one-third of the global population, President Xi expressed that the world must mobilise resources and do whatever it takes to protect lives, adding that China will do whatever it can to support procurement of supplies, sending medical experts, and in other diverse ways.
In his own remarks, the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged the international community to support collaborations and initiatives aimed at sharing knowledge from research and science to fight the coronavirus pandemic, just as he told the Summit that Nigeria would support and join any joint and collective action plan at regional and global levels to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout.
”As we face a common pervasive and invisible enemy, it is important that we all remain united to save our shared humanity, because this virus knows no borders. The fight against a global pandemic that continues to take so many lives, threaten livelihoods and challenging the very fabric of societies, requires enhanced cooperation and worldwide solidarity.
”I seize this opportunity to reiterate the need for this Summit to put humanity at the centre of our vision for common prosperity. We must learn lessons and share knowledge from research, as we develop more creative, responsive and humane health systems, improve crisis management protocols and support each other in the battle against COVID-19,’’ he said.
The Nigerian leader also used the occasion to commend the Chinese government, the United Nations Secretary-General; António Guterres and the World Health Organization for the respective actions and measures to help developing and middle-income countries in Africa to tackle the pandemic.
On the UN, the President praised the Secretary-General, for launching COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for low and middle-income countries to tackle the health emergency, address social and economic consequences of the crisis and, strengthen the recovery efforts of most vulnerable countries.
The leadership of the global health body, WHO, was commended for its advice, which enabled Nigeria take measures and enlighten its people on steps to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.
Similarly, President Buhari acknowledged that Chinese support had tremendously strengthened Nigeria’s effort in combating COVID-19, adding that President Xi’s strong support has further demonstrated the spirit of solidarity and enhanced the bond of partnership that already exist among FOCAC Member-States.
President Buhari also provided an update on what his administration has done since the tragedy of the global pandemic hit the country.
”From the outset of the pandemic, we in Nigeria instituted strong surveillance and infection prevention as well as control measures and made provisions to strengthen our testing capacities. Several well-equipped treatment and isolation centers were set up across the country to increase bed capacity.
”In the spirit of international collaboration, medical experts in Nigeria participated by video link in learning and experience-sharing exercises organized by experts from various countries, including China”.
Furthermore, the President said the Nigerian Government had trained several thousand healthcare workers, provided Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the safety of frontline workers, and offered incentives for their motivation.
With regard to restrictions in movements occasioned by the need to contain the spread of the disease, he said the Federal Government created the enabling environment for farmers to safely plant and harvest during this rainy season in order to ensure that food security was not compromised.
”In addition, we took steps for prompt transportation of agricultural products and food items from rural production areas to the consumers and to industrial processing zones. We have also developed practical policies to protect lives and livelihoods at the same time and to ensure our economy continues to function as we maintain an aggressive response to the pandemic,” he said.
Is China’s Relationship with Africa Under Threat?
Recently, African migrants in Guangzhou, China allegedly faced a rising tide of discrimination as a result of coronavirus fueled xenophobia. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes on the array of threats confronting China-Africa relationship.
Having reportedly contained coronavirus within China, concerns have grown in the past weeks over the so called second wave of the virus, allegedly brought into the country by overseas travelers, necessitating China to put strict measures to avoid a new wave of cases.
Sadly, what appeared as restrictions to avoid fear of reinfection in Guangzhou, allegedly came across as racism towards Africans with so many being barred from places such as hospitals and shopping malls, forced out of their homes and hotel rooms, facing violence in the streets.
In Guangzhou city, home to the largest African diaspora in Asia, hundreds of African migrant workers, traders and students were allegedly subjected and enforced to a 14-day quarantine and random testing without getting their results.
Since the alleged mistreatment, there has been growing tension between Africa and China with fears that the aged long relationship between the two parties may be heading towards destruction. Africa and China have become entwined over the past decade with the latter building roads and railways across the continent.
China has uncountable times emphasised the importance of its alliance with Africa but the recent happening poses a threat to relationship of the two parties. Guangzhou which reportedly became a target of suspicion for African population left many of them in subjection to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass testing in light of the coronavirus crisis with some restaurants and fast food joints in China issuing a public notice barring black customers’ entry with a claim that it was responding to local regulations.
Besides, the circulation of photos, videos, and other accounts that surfaced on Twitter and Facebook depicting young African migrants being forced to leave their homes and hotels raised many questions if truly there is any special relationship between the two parties.
The incidence has since sparked reaction in Africa with social media users taking to Twitter under the #tag ‘ChinaMustExplain’ to voice their anger, frustration and concern. Sensing the severity of the crisis and the surging outrage, African politicians began to call in Chinese Ambassadors to their foreign ministries to express their concern.
Although, Nigeria and other African countries have been enjoying very good relations with China over the years, there are fears that the relationship may grow sour as African governments are reacting angrily to the apparent rise in anti foreigner sentiment, as videos of their citizens being harassed by police, sleeping on the streets or being locked into their homes under quarantine circulated online surfaced.
African governments have been quick to demand answers from China on the treatment of their citizens with countries such as Uganda and Ghana recently summoning their respective Chinese Ambassadors over what the Ghanaians called “the inhumane treatment being meted out.”
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry of South Africa, which is currently chairing the African Union, said it was “deeply concerned” by the reports. Despite all these, the Chinese government dismissed the allegations leveled by African and US diplomats that foreigners of African appearance in the city of Guangzhou were being subjected to forceful testing for coronavirus, quarantine and ill treatment.
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian said “We do not have discrimination in China against Africa and others’” accusing the United States of trying to exploit the issue to harm Beijing’s relations with African nations.
A group of African Ambassadors in Beijing had earlier written to China’s State Councilor; Wang Yi drawing attention to the discrimination that Africans were encountering in Guangzhou, capital of the southern Guangdong Province.
After which the US consulate in the city also issued an alert to citizens, advising African-Americans to stay away from the Guangzhou metropolitan area, warning that the city’s authorities had told bars and restaurants to refuse to serve people who “appear to be of African origin” and launched mandatory tests and self-quarantine of anyone with “African contacts.”
But denying any such discrimination, the foreign ministry spokesman reiterated that China treats all foreigners equally. “It is irresponsible and immoral for the US to sow discord,” Zhao said. “Its attempt to drive a wedge between China and Africa will never succeed.”
The Ambassadors’ note highlighted a number of reported incidents, including that Africans were being ejected from hotels in the middle of the night, having their passports seized, and threatened with revocation of visas, deportation or arrest.
While that is seen to be a threat to China relationship with some African countries, after extensive meetings, some African leaders have come up to state that the incidence does not portray any fear in the relationship between China and the continent.
In Nigeria, the government has blamed the alleged ill-treatment of the citizens in China on lack of proper communication between the Chinese authorities and African consulates in Guangzhou, saying that both the Nigerian and Chinese authorities were working closely to resolve the issue.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said in Abuja that poor communication was responsible for efforts made by Chinese authorities to contain an incident of a lady who tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus, citing a video in both Igbo and English languages, which he explained that the situation was not quite what was seen in the video of the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians. Onyeama noted that there was a flight which conveyed a group of Nigerians to Guangzhou in which some Nigerians on the flight tested positive for COVID-19.
He added that amongst the Nigerians, was a lady who owned a restaurant in Guangzhou, who had tested positive. He added that the restaurant owned by the infected Nigerian was frequented predominantly and almost exclusively by Africans and Nigerians, adding that the Chinese authorities obviously picked up on this because there was this group of people who had tested positive allegedly patronising the restaurant.
“And so, automatically the Chinese authorities demanded and insisted that they all be quarantined, with nobody allowed to come out in 14 days and that if anybody came out from that quarantine, that they should not be allowed in, if it was a hotel, back into that hotel or that residence.
“So, they put in very, very strict measures to try to contain this outbreak which to them at that time, clearly seemed to have been within that community. “Now, it was misinterpreted it appeared, by some of the Nigerians and Africans,” Onyeama said.
To China, nothing has changed in its policy of friendship towards Africa. The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria; Dr. Zhou Pingjian said the people of China respected and admired the working cooperation between China and Nigeria, saying that China would never forget the invaluable support it received from Nigeria during the most challenging stage in the fight against COVID-19 in China.
“The Minister, I should say, has said all that. We are totally on the same page,” he said. Besides, a news source from Guangdong Province, newsgd.com defended that the containment measures carried out was in accordance with the law, irrespective of inbound travelers’ nationalities.
It stressed that Guangdong has strengthened health management services for foreign nationals since March, and spared no efforts to safeguard the local residents and expats. Cities across the province have implemented targeted containment measures and achieved positive results. “As a mega-city, international trade center and integrated transportation hub, Guangzhou, in particular, has a larger flow of arrivals from high-risk countries.
The city has recently adopted relatively strict control measures for all inbound travelers, regardless of their nationalities or where they come from. These measures are bringing good effects. “On the control of imported cases, the province strictly abides by relevant international conventions and practices, and has formulated control measures according to relevant Chinese laws and regulations.
“We attach equal importance to the safety and health of all people coming to Guangdong, respect their religions and customs, and the same epidemic control measures are applied to all inbound travelers. “We also give full consideration to the legitimate concerns of the concerned individuals, provide necessary protection and assistance, resolve reasonable claims properly and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.
These practices fully reflect the spirit of international humanitarianism, equality and friendship to foreigners coming to Guangdong. “We are firmly opposed to any discriminatory practices against specific groups of people, and won’t tolerate any discriminatory behavior. In the implementation of epidemic control measures, we always adhere to the same principles without exceptions,” it added.
- Source: Leadership
Sabotaging Unity and Cooperation Hinder Global Efforts Against Covid-19
By Zhong Sheng.
At this critical moment when the international community needs unity and cooperation the most to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), some Western politicians still don’t seem able to quit politicizing the pandemic.
Recently, certain U.S. politicians, in total disregard of facts, have attempted to blame the World Health Organization (WHO) for their own country’s inadequate response to the disease and even threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the WHO.
As it’s clear to all, the root cause for the U.S. unreadiness to tackle the pandemic lies in the country itself, and the U.S. couldn’t conceal its structural maladies by buck-passing. The world has witnessed the leadership of the WHO in international cooperation regarding COVID-19.
Since the outbreak, the WHO has actively performed its duties under Director-General; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Upholding objectiveness and fairness, the organization has played an important role in helping various countries cope with COVID-19 and promoting international cooperation in fighting the pandemic.
The WHO has supported various countries to enhance their capacity to cope with the virus, cooperated with partners to provide accurate information about the pandemic and crack down on information crime, strived to ensure supply of necessary medical equipment for front-line health workers, trained and mobilized health workers, and coordinated efforts to accelerate the research and development related to the pandemic.
These efforts, which are exactly what the world needs at present, have won universal recognition and high praise from the international community.
“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” United Nations (UN) Secretary-General; Antonio Guterres said in a recent statement.
Some Western politicians’ making a big fuss about the impartiality of the WHO and pointing fingers at the organization is totally indefensible in front of facts.
Following the principles of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality, the WHO has served people around the world by releasing 50 technical documents, transporting more than 2 million pieces of protective equipment to 133 countries, and making joint efforts with over 90 countries to seek effective treatment methods.
By offering help to those who need it the most, the WHO has earnestly practiced professionalism and international humanitarian spirit.
“They (WHO) have been very transparent as much as they have known the data. They have had daily calls, they have been very clear about the severity of this illness, and how the global community has to respond,” said Ashish Jha, a public health professor at Harvard.
Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the WHO has been doing very well under the leadership of Tedros.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a recent statement that Tedros has shown “exceptional leadership” as the Director-General of the WHO “from the very earliest stages of this unprecedented global health crisis.”
All people who have conscience know clearly that those who try to blacken the WHO’s name regardless of facts have been paying no attention to justice and running counter to universal opinion of the international community.
Beyond all doubt, there’s no “justice” in the dictionaries of certain Western politicians. They haven’t thought about intensifying efforts to improve epidemic prevention and control measures of their country with a scientific and professional manner, but are always busy scapegoating others for selfish political interests, being a huge fan of unstrained political gambling.
In fact, more and more people are questioning why these politicians refuse to spend their time in saving more lives.
Public health emergency is a global challenge that no country can tackle on its own. The WHO was established exactly to improve global health governance and help various countries in the world cope with challenges to public health security.
It’s extremely irresponsible for certain politicians to attempt to weaken the functions of multilateral organizations such as the WHO and sabotage global health governance system.
Sabotaging joint efforts and cooperation in fighting COVID-19 is a huge matter that concerns lives of people around the world. The international community must stay vigilant against such attempts.
- Source: Diplomats Extra
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Zhong Sheng and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”
COVID-19: We Have Full Confidence in Nigeria’s Determination; – Chinese Ambassador
By The World Satellite.
The Ambassador of China to Nigeria; His Excellency; Dr. Zhou Pingjian has commended the efforts of the Nigerian Government in controlling the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic. In his words, “We have full confidence in Nigeria’s determination, capacity, and capability to defeat the virus ultimately.
Dr. Zhou Pingjian made this statement at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on the occasion of the arrival of the 14 Medical Doctors and medical equipment from Beijing, China.
The Chinese Medical Team who arrived aboard an Air Peace Airline, which touched down at about 4:30pm local time were received by the Federal Government of Nigeria led by the led by the Minister of Health; Osagie Ehanire, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria; Dr. Zhou Pingjian, and officials of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
In his remarks, the Chinese Ambassador further stated that China will always remember the invaluable support it received from the Government and good people of Nigeria at the most demanding stage of its outbreak response.
“Despite the daunting task of epidemic control remaining at home, China firmly supports Nigeria’s fight against the outbreak and stands ready to assist, if needed, to the best of its capacity. We will continue to share experience and try our best to provide medical supplies to Nigeria in a bid to prevail over the outbreak together”, Dr. Zhou promised.
While noting that the Covid-19 outbreak is the number one global enemy at the moment, the Chinese Ambassador called on other Chinese Companies to get involved in such noble gesture as the CCECC in order to fulfill corporate social responsibility; adding that the most powerful weapon to defeat the pandemic is solidarity and cooperation
While receiving them on behalf of the Government of Nigeria, the Minister of Health; Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed that the Chinese medical workers are experts in infectious diseases, respiratory illness, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery and anesthesiology.
In addition, he noted that all members of the technical team have tested negative to COVID-19 and shall commence their stay in Nigeria by undertaking 14 days in quarantine.
“During the 14 days they will interface with necessary authorities through video conferencing. Just to put the record straight the delegation received at the Airport consists of 14 medial workers and a media officer”, the Minister explained.
In conclusion, Dr. Osagie appreciated the Chinese government for their kind gesture in sending medical workers to assist in terms of capacity building at a time like this.
Broadly, Chinese medical team landed in Abuja with $1.5m medical supplies coordinated by the Chinese Company; China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) with the assistance of the Federal Government of Nigeria on flight provision.
CCECC delivered, among others, 16-tonnes of test kits, ventilators, disinfection machine, disposable medical masks, medicines, rubber gloves, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, infrared thermometers and other medical care items.
- Source: Diplomats Extra
Global Advocacy to Appraise the Role of Traditional Institutions in Africa’s Development
By The World Satellite.
Global Advocacy for African Affairs has continued to take proactive steps in demonstrating its commitment to good governance, leadership and developmental policies as well as desire to see more Africans take central seats on the decision-making table of global institutions, world missions and businesses.
As part of its ongoing commitment to continue to pioneer partnership across all divides with notable institutions and organizations, guaranteeing high powered intellectual engagement especially as it concerns Africa in the new frontier, the Africa’s leading development advocacy group has perfected preparations to hold her “Maiden Abuja Traditional Institutions, Community Initiatives and Sustainable Development Forum”.
This was made known in a recent Press briefing by the Group’s Executive Director; Mr. Chrys Anyanwu during when he informed that the event with the theme: “Rethinking the Role of Traditional Rulers in Community Development: An Option to Africa’s Development Challenges will hold in Abuja on the 14th and 15th of May, 2020.
According to Mr. Chrys, the Forum, which will hold at the Fraser Suite, Abuja shall host traditional rulers, members of the diplomatic community including representatives of the UN, EU, AU and ECOWAS as well as members of the academia, professionals, heads of organizations, security and governance experts.
“It is a special invitation only event, full of busy days of continuous robust intellectual exchange on key community and national development issues. It shall provide a platform to reassess commitment towards the realization of sustainable development goals as well as bespoke/networking dinner event in honour and celebration of select traditional intuitions in Nigeria who topped in preserving, positioning and exercising traditional authorities as curators of excellence”, he explained.
Continuing, Mr. Chrys Anyanwu, reiterated that the weak synergy between state authorities and traditional institutions and the need to constantly engage with a view to insulating them from partisan politics and acquaint them of their statutory and responsible roles in citizens’ development.
He further maintained that Traditional leaders play significant roles in the social, political, and economic lives of citizens in countries throughout Africa. “They are seen as local elites who derive legitimacy from custom, tradition, and spirituality. While their claims to authority are local, traditional leaders, or “chiefs,” are also integrated into the modern state in a variety of ways.
“The position of traditional leaders between state and local communities allows them to function as development intermediaries. They do so by influencing the distribution of national public goods and the representation of citizen demands to the state. They can impact development by coordinating local collective action, adjudicating conflicts, and overseeing land rights. In the role of development intermediaries, traditional leaders shape who benefits from different types of development outcomes within the local and national community”, Mr Chrys added.
On the other hand, he frowned at the reoccurring cases of migration, the risk associated with it, the current state of violent criminal activities in most African countries, including terrorism, arms banditry, kidnappings and other youth criminal activities; and, the intra-national disunity causing serious breakdown of peace and social relations thereby impacting negatively on national development, as a clear failure of a good synergy between government and traditional institution especially in Nigeria.
Nigeria – Canada Strengthens Bilateral Ties in Addis Ababa
By The World Satellite.
Nigeria and Canada established diplomatic relations in 1962, shortly after Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Since then both countries have enjoyed strong and increasing bilateral relations with each other. Both countries share values such as multiculturalism, institutions such as federalism and Commonwealth membership, and people-to-people ties which provide a solid foundation for increased engagement.
The will of both countries to further strengthen bilateral relations was evident during a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Canadian Prime Minister; Justin Trudeau on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
While addressing the Press, President Buahri described Nigeria-Canada relations as very cordial, expressing his desire to further strengthen bilateral ties. Additionally, he underscored the warm and friendly relations between Nigeria and Canada, noting commonwealth membership of both nations and the choice of Canada for higher education by Nigerian students.
‘‘We have a lot of students in Canada. We are aware of our vital roles to keep the country together. We are eager to expand trade because you are one of the ‘biggest customers’, of Nigeria’s crude oil. But the most important and enduring relations with Canada is education,’’ President Buhari said.
In his remarks, the Canadian Prime Minister described President Buhari as ‘‘a leader in Africa’’, adding that it was a pleasure to engage on regional and international issues.
‘‘Your leadership and reflection on the current situation challenging Africa but also the potentials and opportunities are something that I am very much looking up to. Canada and Nigeria have a long-standing and deep connection and friendship, and I very much look forward to hearing your perspectives on many big issues facing not just Africa but the world’’ Trudeau noted.
AU SUMMIT: African Leaders inaugurate CISSA Headquarters in Ethiopia
By The World Satellite.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday joined his counterparts from Equatorial Guinea, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and other African leaders to inaugurate the headquarters of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services (CISSA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a pledge to intensify security cooperation.
The side event of the inauguration of the head office building, donated by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, took place on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit.
In his remarks, the Chairperson of CISSA and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of Nigeria; Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, described the building as a product of vision, generosity, partnership and African solidarity.
He thanked President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea for his generosity and the Prime Minister and Government of Ethiopia for providing the piece of land on which the project is situated.
”Our greatest debt of gratitude, we owe to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for his generosity and unrelenting support for the project. Since the laying of the Foundation Stone on 31st January 2017, H.E. President Mbasogo has maintained an active role towards ensuring that the building project is completed on schedule.
”CISSA fully appreciates this Pan-African gesture. We are grateful to Your Excellency as well. Few member countries, including Sudan, Angola, Djibouti, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania provided seed money for the project. We thank you.
”In the sixteen years of its existence, CISSA has evolved into a truly continental organization with 52 members, making significant contributions to the implementation of its mandate.
”All this was possible because of the support, assistance and contributions of member countries, ranging from timely and consistent payment of dues, secondment of staff, technical assistance and special grants.
”Here, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan and South Africa stand out. We thank all our Heads of State and Government for your support, trust and guidance. We assure you of our dedication and commitment to service, ” he remarked.
The CISSA Chairperson also expressed gratitude to the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki, for his interest in the Committee’s work and encouragement.
”Today, the dream of a befitting Headquarters for CISSA has become a reality. With this, we re-commit ourselves to the collective task of making Africa safe and stable, while also continuing to work for global peace and security,” he said.
The decision to establish CISSA was made on 26 August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria by Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa.
The Mandate of CISSA is to provide the African Union Commission (AUC) and its (MEMBERS’ member’s) services with timely and insightful intelligence, which would assist them in making informed decisions.
It is also a platform where member services exchange intelligence, expertise and experiences while dealing with common threats that affect the continent.
- Source: Garba Shehu; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
NIGERIA – IRAN in a Stronger Economic Cooperation By The World Satellite. Nigeria and Iran have agreed to set up a Binational Bommission that will promote trade, investment, agriculture and technology transfer, following a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs, Mohammad Nahavandian, on Friday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Speaking at the bilateral meeting held on the side-lines of the 5th Summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum, President Buhari said he was overwhelmed with the speed in transformation of Iranian oil and gas industry from what it used to be when he served as Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister in the 1970s. “I will work very hard towards the joint commission. We will go back and identify sectors of common interest. In particular, we are interested in how you utilized your gas, with 95 per cent of your national population wired to gas. The evolution of our gas industry is too slow. We are still flaring gas. I will work with you on how to harness and utilize our gas. I am very impressed,” said Buhari. President Buhari asked to be given up to second quarter of 2020 on the modality of the binational commission. He added that Iran also flared gas in the 70s, expressing his delight that the fires had all been put out and expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon attain the same feat. Continuing, the President recalled, with delight, his close association as Nigeria’s oil minister with Iran. He told his guest that if the blueprint he left behind as petroleum minister had been followed, Nigeria would have had 12 Liquefied Natural Gas trains by 1983. “Instability and partisan politics thwarted all that, leaving us with just six, and the seventh we are now working on. We would have been earning more from gas,” he added. While noting that the future of oil and gas is in value addition, he extolled Iranians for attainments in oil and gas, electricity generation, agriculture and petrochemical industry. Furthermore, the President commended the Iranian defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, saying the dispossession of the terrorists of their oil wells meant that they had lost access to resources used in supporting Boko Haram in Lake Chad sub-region. On his own part, he Iranian Vice President was emphatic that Nigeria and Iran can do a lot, “A lot can be done. We can do miracles. We have the vision.” He suggested four major areas of economic cooperation which includes petrochemical, power, irrigation agriculture and industry. In addition, the Iranian Vice President offered cooperation in counter terrorism, citing the routing of ISIS in Iraq and Syria as major contribution to the global anti-terrorism efforts. Conclusively, He used the meeting to brief the President on the political and security situation in the Middle East region.
President Buhari’s Active Diplomacy is A Plus, Not A Problem By Garba Shehu
Roughly three years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Kingdom of Morocco. He asked King Mohammed VI to give Nigeria from their rich phosphate mineral so that fertilizer can be produced here at home for the teeming farming population. Agreement reached, President Buhari set up a Presidential Fertiliser Initiative in his office. Three years down the road, 24 moribund blending plans are now working, providing 100,000 direct and indirect new jobs to Nigerians. The cost of fertilizer is down by more than 50 percent. Nigeria makes a saving of USD 200 million used for its annual import and a further N60 billion in budgeted annual subsidy. Nigeria wanted to build a power plant at Mambilla in the Northeast. The plant design had been made in 1959, a year before independence. We have dreams of modernizing our railway system because, without power and railroad, National development will continue to be a pipe dream. In planning for his trip to Beijing for a meeting with President Xi Jinping, President Buhari rightfully chose to prioritize his requests, put Lagos-Kano railway and Mambilla power plant on top: President Xi’s word is the silver bullet. Today, China is giving these projects together with the finance and many more. On the recent trip to Russia, President Buhari had a wish list that included railways, power projects and military procurements. He had a wish to get the Russians who own the Aluminum smelter plant, built at a whopping USD 4 billion to operationalize it; Ajaokuta Steel plant built at a similar cost, with 20,000 engineers trained to operate it, many of whom are now dead from hunger and lack of engagement is another 40 year – old problem. To these and others, President Putin held the keys to the solutions. President Buhari asked, and he was given. It will take volumes of books to document the achievements of these trips. When I go through the media, including yesterday’s edition of the Daily Trust, the social media blogs and those jokes, through funny cartoons, there is a mistaken sense that active diplomacy is the cause of some kind of governance deficit, assuming there is any.
Channels Television, recently confronted me with a litany of countries the President visited this year and the number of days he spent abroad. The mistaken opinion among many is that the President spends too much time abroad and this is affecting his domestic responsibilities. The reality is very different. The success of the visits to Morocco, China and Russia reported here represent just a fraction of the achievements recorded. Many countries and major corporations have listened to our leaders and agreed to come here and put their money in the economy in win-win deals. In the last few years, global giants like Siemens, Toyota, Hyundai, General Electric (GE), among others are talking to Nigeria about their commitment to investing billions of dollars through manufacturing and other forms of Foreign Direct Investment. Add these to the many Chinese companies that are involved with us in the construction of railways, roads, airports and power plants. These Chinese engagements are coming, complete with succession plans in which thousands of Nigerians are being trained over there, to ultimately manage the new projects. Other global giants are talking to the government at the centre and the States, with declared interests in projects like highways, metro rail networks, roads, railways and investment in the clusters of manufacturing hubs, the Special Economic Zones, in each of the geopolitical zones. In the coming years, the Qatari and Saudi sovereign wealth funds, the Russians and the Americans amongst the world’s richest are working with Nigeria towards investments in oil and gas and other infrastructure.
President Buhari’s strategy of selling Nigeria’s infrastructure priorities to countries with economic clout is paying off handsomely is in reality, doing Nigeria proud by tackling the gaps in infrastructure deficit. The records of some of his predecessors in office bespeak a greedy trail, when they go abroad they first ask: what is in it for me? What is there for my family? President Buhari is different. Understood correctly, he is an opportunity manager who knows the worth of person to person contact in a working relationship. Given the possibilities of economic development and jobs creation, no sensible critic will ever say that there is anything wrong with this government’s efforts at attracting foreign investment. The problem many of the critics have is that they are more interested in scoring cheap headlines and generating a gossip on social media. Many in the opposition are a frustrated lot. We understand that when they express their frustrations, they become happy. For one thing, President Buhari’s travels have not been excessive by the standards of this country’s past leaders and those of his counterparts in other countries. Given advances in modern travel and technology, a leader can maintain communication and govern from the air, on the road or at the sea.
Given the advances made with satellite feeds, a leader needs not to be tied to his desk to make important decisions. The days of frequent travel by leaders is the new norm, it is not something that will go away no matter the volume of crocodile tears shed by a critical opposition. In today’s interconnected world, international engagements of nations are calendared in specified times of the year. No nation will fail to take advantage of the important international gatherings to make their views known and express their concerns. Not many leaders will ignore invitations to the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, the Commonwealth, the African Union or that of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The attendance at these meetings is not mandatory. But it is an established norm, the absence from which, by an important country like Nigeria, will obviously be an issue of its own. Finally, to all those who say these visits must bring quick, tangible returns. Yes, quick returns are possible as we have with fertilizer. The breaking of the age long fertilizer jinx by the Buhari administration has brought good fortune to the farmers who now produce about all that is needed to feed the nation. The achievement by the Buhari administration on food self-sufficiency is the real independence after flag independence. So too for the President, who handsomely won the February 23 election with a margin of four million votes, most of it cast in his favour by farmers in full appreciation of his policies. This is clear evidence that facts and results, not social media following convince voters when it comes to making choices. But it is equally important that Nigerians accept the fact that, although active diplomacy as pursued by President Buhari fetches instant results, there are many instances where results take months, sometimes years to manifest.
- Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Media & Publicity.
Nigeria – Saudi Arabia in a Stronger Investment Partnership By The World Satellite
President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted an invitation from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for the establishment of Nigeria- Saudi Council aimed at promoting investments and enhancing relations between both countries. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity revealed this in a press statement issued on Thursday noting that the decision was the highpoint of a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian leader and the Crown Prince which took place on the margins of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference. According to the Press Statement, the meeting, which was initially scheduled to hold in the office of the Crown Prince but out of courtesy and respect for the Nigerian leader, Prince Salman insisted that he would meet with President Buhari in his hotel room at The Ritz Carlton, Riyadh. “The Council, which will be established in the next two months will be made up of government officials and business leaders from both countries and the areas of focus are: economic growth and development, investments in oil and non-oil sectors, and security cooperation. President Buhari and the Crown Prince agreed that the first assignment for the Council is to establish a legal and operational framework that will facilitate investments beneficial to both countries”, Garba Shehu explained. Garba Shehu disclosed that to ensure that relations between both countries remain active, it was also agreed that leaders of both countries, at the highest level, will meet at least once every year to review the progress of the joint council and ensure closer collaboration on issues of mutual interest.
In his remarks during the meeting, President Buhari thanked the Crown Prince for the Kingdom’s interest in investing in Nigeria and the initiative to establish the Council which would form the foundation for a stronger Nigeria-Saudi relationship. ”Nigeria has a large population mainly made up of dynamic, young people and partnerships of this type will help them to be productive and prosperous,” the President said, assuring that his government will continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country”, said President Buhari. Speaking on regional and international issues, President Buhari shared the view of the Crown Prince that with the collapse of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the next frontier for terrorism is the Sahel region. The Nigerian leader commended the concern by the Saudi authorities to keep the issue of the security situation in Sahel region on the front burner. The Press Statement further noted that earlier, the Saudi Crown Prince had noted that the security challenges in the Sahel should be seen as a global issue. ”Saudi Arabia is prepared to participate in the engagement and sensitisation of the whole world to the problems in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. On bilateral issues, the Crown Prince reiterated the preparedness of the Kingdom to support Nigeria’s development agenda, noting that the country had the potential to be among the top 20 economies in the world. ”Saudi Arabia is eager to support Nigeria and we want to be a part of Nigeria’s journey to be among the top 20 economies in the world,” he added. Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the President the Saudis have invested 40 billion U.S. dollars in India, 10 billion dollars in Pakistan and 20 billion dollars in Indonesia and are willing to do the same in Nigeria given the favourable business environment. The Nigerian President re-emphasized that enabling a conducive business environment will remain a priority for his administration.
Nigeria – US in Stronger Ties By The World Satellite
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the willingness of the Nigerian government to mobilize additional capital from development finance institutions for the upgrade of critical infrastructure in the country. Garba Shehu; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity in a statement, noted that the President met with the U.S Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin in Riyadh on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative and had positive discussions on investments in Nigeria under the new United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC), which provides $60 billion for investments in developing nations. According to Garba Shehu, President Buhari expressed Nigeria’s willingness in leveraging on the U.S facility to address current challenges confronting her power sector as well as general upgrade of infrastructure and thanked the U.S government for supporting Nigeria’s anti-terrorism efforts.
In addition, The President and Mnuchin discussed areas of strengthening Nigeria’s ongoing collaboration with the United States on stopping terrorist financing. Furthermore, Garba revealed that Mnuchin was accompanied by Brent Macintosh, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and Marshall Billingslea, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the United States Treasury Department. The Treasury Secretary used the occasion to introduce Macintosh who was recently promoted Under Secretary for International Affairs by President Trump after the previous Under Secretary David Malpass was elected President of the World Bank. The Nigerian leader congratulated Macintosh on his elevation and requested for his continued support to Nigeria especially in accessing the $60 billion infrastructure fund under the USIDFC.
NIGERIA – RUSSIA; Increasing Commercial Partnership Our Reporter
Nigeria and Russia recently in Sochi, Russia, signed an important Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will enable both countries’ oil giants; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Russia’s Lukoil to elevate commercial relationship to a government-to-government backed partnership. With signing of the MoU, NNPC and Lukeoil will work together in upstream operations and revamp Nigeria’s refineries. Group Managing Director of NNPC; Mele Kyari and Vagit Alekperov; President of leading Russian oil company, Lukeoil, signed the MoU, which entails cooperation in deep offshore exploration of oil in Nigeria, production, trading and refining. The signing ceremony, which took place on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit, was witnessed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva. Earlier in his remarks at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Lenin, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was prepared and willing to work with Russian businesses “to improve the efficiency of our oil and gas sector which provides us with the much-needed capital to invest in our security, infrastructure and economic diversification programmes”. While taking note of the agreement between NNPC and Lukeoil, President Buhari gave an assurance that his administration will “ensure this initiative is implemented within the shortest possible time.”
RoLAC; Strengthening Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Crusade in Nigeria By Kennedy Eberechi
Funded by the European Union, the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme is implemented by the British Council to strengthen the application of law and curb corruption. The programme, which was launched in 2017 focuses on advancing the timely, effective and transparent dispensation of criminal justice, strengthening access to justice for women, children and persons with disabilities at Federal and State levels, strengthening the fight against corruption by reinforcing prevention mechanisms and building the capacity of anti-corruption agencies to effectively address corruption in public procurement, the criminal justice system and the extractive sector, and to enhance civil society and public engagement in the fight against corruption and the criminal justice reform process. In an effort to further demonstrate the commitment of the Probramme’s overall objective of enhancing good governance in Nigeria, RoLAC held a 2 day retreat for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the Role of the Bar in the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 in the FCT.
The retreat, which was held at the Treasures Suites & Conferences Centre Limited, was designed for the Bar to achieve a common vision of ensuring that there is justice for all members of Nigerian society particularly the citizens of Federal Capital Territory. In attendance were Selected members of NBA Branches in the FCT (Bwari, Unity and Gwagwalada), and Media Personalities. It provided a veritable platform for members of the Bar in the FCT to seek Participatory and complementary attitude for an “in-depth understanding of their role in the implementation of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 in the FCT. The Act which was signed into law in May 2015 has a 495-section law divided into 49 parts, providing for the administration of criminal justice and for related matters in the courts of the Federal Capital Territory and other Federal Courts in Nigeria. With the ACJA, Nigeria now has a unique and unified law applicable in all federal courts and with respect to offences contained in Federal Legislations. The law repeals the erstwhile Criminal Procedure Act as applied in the South and the Criminal Procedure (Northern states) Act, which applied in the North and the Administration of Justice Commission Act. Analysts have described the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) as the hottest Law in Nigeria presently and it is without doubt due to its wide applicability and revolutionary nature. The Law comes in handy for both lawyers and non-lawyers.
Welcoming participants at the retreat, RoLAC’s Programme Officer; Peter Omenka expressed the joy and belief of the British Council in having a shared responsibility with the members of the NBA Abuja Branches to enhance good governance in the country by contributing to strengthening the rule of law, curbing corruption and reducing impunity. This he said is the fundamental essence of governance hoping that the outcome of the retreat will go a long way in attaining SDGS 16 and 17 respectively – Peace, Justice and strong Institutions. In his own remarks, Servant One/Chairman, NBA Bwari Branch; Barrister Clement Chukwuemeka described the retreat as an opportunity for the Bar to gather and brainstorm on the full implementation of ACJA 2015. “It is a forum for us as leaders of the Bar to see how the NBA branches can effectively play their vital roles in this direction. To see how we can further the course of Justice and use the benefits of our relationship and partnership with RoLAC to engage our institutions and persons working in the Criminal Justice system for the benefit of all”, Barr. Clement explained. While expressing hope and optimism that ACJA 2015 and its provisions have far reaching effect in the Justice delivery system, he however noted that it has its own challenges. “As practitioners we all know that as good as this legislation may be, it has its own challenges. I propose further that the dialogue on how to make it better must be all engaging and the platform for continual engagement must be sustained by the Bar and with the needed support from RoLAC and all the stakeholders”, he added. Barrister Chukwuemeka further informed that majority of victims who face the consequence of disobedience to the Provision of ACJA 2015 are found in rural or suburbs and not in urban environs. Therefore, according to him, even when the Branches of NBA are eager to assist victims and law enforcement agencies in such local places, they are faced with absence of mobility to access such places which ordinarily through constant sensitization and interaction will go a long way in educating concerned stakeholders and likely victims.
“Towards this end, it is pertinent to say that Nigerian Bar Association, Bwari Branch has drafted a one year Action Plan from this August 2019 to July 2020 on the implementation of ACJA 2015 and it is working towards equally forming a committee to be known as IMPLEMENTATION OF ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2015 COMMITTEE”, the Servant One concluded. High point of the retreat was the presentation by the Chairman, NBA Ikorodu Branch; Mr. Bayo Akinlade (Esq) who dealt extensively on advancing the priorities of the ACJA from the NBA approach. More so, he took the participants on the issue of guidance in developing the capacities of the NBA to implement the provisions of the ACJA, 2015. Broadly, participants at the retreat while highlighting their personal experiences on criminal justice administration and reforms in the course of their professional duties acknowledged that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, if properly implemented has the potential to provide the long-awaited revolution for the delivery of criminal justice in the state. While testifying that the Retreat gave better insight to ACJA’s effective implementation, participants agreed that it provided a better platform on how the branches can work better as a team, since they share collective destiny and are all stakeholders in the administration of Justice in the FCT.
- Kennedy Eberechi is a Publicist, and resides in Abuja (07064715591, email@example.com)
NIGERIA – GERMANY; Promoting Increased Diplomatic and Economic Cooperation By Kennedy Eberechi
Nigeria and Germany are taking more proactive steps in strengthening bilateral relations between both countries through the promotion of increased economic cooperation. One priority area of this economic relations is cooperation in the energy sector. It would be recalled that in August 2008, the founding document of the Nigerian – German Energy Partnership was signed in Abuja. The Energy Partnership was extended for another five years in October 2013. The two sides meet regularly to promote joint projects with focus on the rehabilitation and further development of electricity production in Nigeria – especially by means of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency – and greater involvement of German companies in developing energy sources in Nigeria.
As an expression of the will of both countries to further solidify this already warm and cordial economic cooperation, the Federal Government of Nigeria and German-based Siemens recently signed an Electricity Road Map Agreement. The Road Map agreement was the outcome of a meeting President Buhari of Nigeria earlier held with German Chancellor; Angela Merkel in Aug. 2018. The Letter of Agreement was signed on behalf of the Federal Government by the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); Mr Alex Okoh, and the Global Chief Executive Officer of Siemens: Joe Kaeser. Speaking shortly after signing of the agreement, President Buhari tasked Siemens and other stakeholders in the power sector to work hard to achieve 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by 2021, and 11,000 megawatts by 2023. “We all know how critical electricity is to the development of any community or indeed any nation. And in Nigeria, we are blessed to have significant natural gas, hydro and solar resources for power generation. We are still on the journey to achieving reliable, affordable and quality electricity supply necessary for economic growth, industrialisation and poverty alleviation,” he said. According to him, our goal is simply to deliver electricity to Nigerian businesses and homes. “My challenge to Siemens, our partner investors in the Distribution Companies, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Electricity Regulator is to work hard to achieve 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by 2021 and 11,000 megawatts by 2023 in phases 1 and 2 respectively.
Continuing, Mr. President expressed hope that with the Federal Government’s strong commitment to the development of Mambilla Hydroelectric and the various solar projects under development across the country, the long-term power generation capacity would ensure adequate energy mix. He added that it would ensure sustainability in the appropriate balance between urban and rural electrification. The president further recalled how previous administrations had made futile attempts in the past to fix the nation’s energy problem. However, he expressed hope that this opportunity from Germany through Siemens was a good one that could provide the needed solution. “Now, we have an excellent opportunity to address this challenge. This Government’s priority was to stabilise power generation and gas supply sector through the Payment Assurance Facility, which led to a peak power supply of 5,222 MW, Buhari noted. President Buhari, therefore, stressed that the agreement would be structured strictly under a government to government framework, adding that no middlemen would be involved in order to achieve its goals. In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Siemens; Mr Joe Kaeser attributed the signing of the agreement as a milestone in the relationship between Nigeria and Germany. “The journey to this landmark started in August 2018 when the German Chancellor and the Nigerian President met to talk about the opportunities on how to strengthen our populations. “The two leaders said energy was top on their agenda, because it was evident that without affordable, reliable and sustainable energy in supply, Nigeria cannot be able to achieve sustainable economic development. With this agreement and the support of the German government, Nigeria is stepping up to meet this challenge,” he said. In addition, Kaeser revealed that Egypt mega project was handled by Siemens, adding that the company had successfully managed to boost Egypt’s power generation capacity by more than 40 per cent by connecting 14.4 Gigawatts to the Egyptian national grid. In conclusion, he expressed optimism that the power agreement would aid the activities of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the eleven DisCos within the country, including software maintenance and support for four years.
NIGERIA JOINS AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA By Kennedy Onyegbado
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Nigeria on Sunday officially joined this African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Agreement in Niamey at the opening of the African Union (AU) Summit. According to the statement released by Femi Adesina; Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, President Buhari appended his signature to the treaty in the presence of African Heads of State and Government, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media attending the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA. According to Femi Adesina, President Buhari, in his remarks shortly after signing the agreement, declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration have never been in doubt nor was it ever under threat. He told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA. ‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade. ‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population. ‘‘I wish to assure you, that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want,’’ Femi Adesina quoted to President.
The Nigerian leader also congratulated Ghana on being selected to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA. President Buhari stated further: ‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. ‘‘This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018. ‘‘In fact, you will recall that the treaty establishing the African Economic Community was signed in Abuja in 1991. ‘‘We fully understand the potential of the AfCFTA to transform trade in Africa and contribute towards solving some of the continent’s challenges, whether security, economic or corruption. ‘‘But it is also clear to us that for AfCFTA to succeed, we need the full support and buy-in of our private sector and civil society stakeholders and the public in general. ‘‘It is against this background that we embarked on an extensive nationwide consultation and sensitization programme of our domestic stakeholders on the AfCFTA. ‘‘Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services. ‘‘It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods’”. ‘‘Some of the critical challenges that we identified will require our collective action as a Union and we will be presenting them for consideration at the appropriate AfCFTA fora. ‘‘Examples are tackling injurious trade practices by third parties and attracting the investment we need to grow local manufacturing and service capacities.’’ President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s signing of the AfCFTA and its Operational Launch at the 12th Extraordinary Summit was an additional major step on the AU’s Agenda 2063. In the meantime, with Nigeria and Benin Republic signing the Agreement at the Summit, 54 out of 55 African countries have signed the world’s largest free trade area deal, encompassing 55 countries and 1.2 billion people. Eritrea is the only African country yet to sign the agreement. A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing her instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit. The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019 thirty days after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29 April, 2019 in conformity with legal provision.
VACLAV HAVEL’S AUDIENCE; Commemorating 30 years of Czech Democracy By Kennedy Eberechi
Vaclav Havel, the last president of Czechoslovakia and the 1st President of the Czech Republic was a playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician who wrote more than 20 theatre plays and numerous non-fiction works which have been translated internationally. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs. He is considered by some to be the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. In his works, Havel explored the self-deluding rationalizations and moral compromises that characterize life under a totalitarian political system. As an expression of the appreciation of Havel and his plays, his most popular work; Audience was performed by the Jos Repertory Theatre for Nigerians and the diplomatic community in Nigeria in commemoration of 30 years of Czech Democracy. Written in 1975, and forming part of the Vanek Plays trilogy, Audience is a cleverly-constructed satire on power and those who wield it. The main character is Ferdinand Vanek, the playwright’s alter ego who is a distinguished intellectual forced to work in a brewery because his writing has been banned by the Czechoslovak Communist regime. His boss, the foreman, an uneducated drunkard, calls him very often to his office for awkward talks. While gallons of beer are being consumed by the foreman, the absurd point of these calls is revealed only by the end of the play. At the performing event which held at the Embassy of Brazil Amphitheatre in Abuja, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Nigeria; Amb. Marek Skolil summarized the plot while relating to the happenings in Czechoslovakia at that time. While thanking the Embassy of Brazil in Nigeria for accepting to host the event at their Embassy, he noted that on the African continent, Vaclav Havel plays have been performed in collaboration with Czech Embassies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Nigeria.
As a show of friendly network of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Nigeria, the event attracted several diplomats, Nigerian businessmen and women, top government functionaries, etc who were treated to traditional Czech refreshments and drinks after the performance.