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BIG STORY

Despite Wide Support, US ‘Opposes’ Okonjo-Iweala’s Emergence As WTO DG

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Despite wide support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate for the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the US has reportedly expressed its opposition to her emergence.

Recall that we had earlier reported that Okonjo-Iweala won the popular vote by a wide margin, with the expectation of an announcement after a WTO meeting in Geneva.

The heads of delegation of the WTO met by 3 pm but failed to reach a consensus.

After the meeting, Reuters is reporting that the US refused to support the candidature of Okonjo-Iweala, thereby protracting the process.

Bloomberg had initially reported that the US was leaning towards Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean candidate.

It was reported earlier today that Okonjo-Iweala had emerged winner of the race with support from 104 of all 164 member countries of the WTO.

Those countries include many in Africa and the European Union, where she had received public support.

Despite being an American citizen, sources say the US does not consider Okonjo-Iweala as being committed enough to the interests of the world power at the flagship trade body.

Unlike the World Bank where the US has a larger voting power than other countries, the WTO is run differently, by the consensus of every member country.

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole,” the WTO website reads.

“In this respect, the WTO is different from some other international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Where consensus is not possible, the WTO agreement allows for voting — a vote being won with a majority of the votes cast and on the basis of ‘one country, one vote’.”

The general council of the WTO will meet again to attempt a consensus or recourse to the vote.

The general council is the highest decision-making body of the WTO apart from the ministerial conference which meets every two years.

BIG STORY

Each Corps Member To Get N2m For Agriculture After Service Year —- NSPRI

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The Federal Government has said that it will empower members of the National Youth Service Corps that venture into agriculture after their one-year mandatory service with the sum of N2m.

The Executive Director, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Dr. Patricia Pessu, disclosed this on Monday while speaking at a workshop on value addition of agricultural commodities for 40 corps members selected from the 16 local government areas of Kwara State.

Pessu said the two corps members, who completed their service in Oyo and Abia states respectively, had begun to benefit from the programme, stating that they were selected from the last batch of trainees at NSPRI.

He decried the increasing number of unemployed youth in the country and added that a similar opportunity awaited any trainee of the current batch who submitted a promising proposal at the end of the service year.

The NSPRI boss added that “to put things into context, Nigeria’s unemployed youth of 13.9 million is more than the population of Rwanda and several other African countries.

“This youth population is also about 64 percent of total unemployed Nigerians, suggesting that the most agile working-class population in the country remains unemployed.”

Declaring the workshop open, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muritala Olanrewaju, said the government had promised to consolidate commercial agriculture through the provision of adequate machinery to assist genuine farmers in advancing their productivity, profitability, and competitiveness.

Olarewaju disclosed that the state government was repositioning the agricultural sector from being a mass social service to a profitable agro-business aimed at providing technical and environmentally friendly agriculture practice.

Also, the NYSC State Coordinator, Mrs. Francisca Olaleye, commended the agency for the opportunity given to corps members and gave the assurance that the beneficiaries would justify the gesture.

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BIG STORY

Fleeing Ex-Pension Boss Abdulrasheed Maina Arrested In Niger Republic

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Security agencies in Niger Republic have arrested the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in that country.

A top security officer confirmed to newsmen that Maina was arrested by Nigerian Security agencies on Monday.

Maina, who is being prosecuted on 12 counts of money laundering to the tune of N2bn by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, jumped bail, forcing the trial judge, Justice Abang Okon, to issue a warrant for his arrest.

He was said to have stopped attending his trial since September 29, 2020, prompting Justice Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the remand of his surety, Senator Ali Ndume, last Monday.

The court, however, granted bail to the Borno South senator last Friday.

The EFCC had earlier informed the court that it had sought the assistance of the United States and Niger Republic for the arrest of Maina.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment on Monday as calls to his phone rang out.

Also, the Commissioner of Police, Interpol National Bureau, Garba Umar, did not respond to calls seeking confirmation of the arrest.

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I Have Directed Armed Forces To Take The Fight To Insurgents ——- Buhari

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday, said he has directed the nation’s Armed Forces to take the anti-terrorism fight to the insurgents.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President disclosed this in a message he sent through his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, to the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum; the Shehu of Borno and the Zabarmari community where 43 rice farmers were killed by insurgents on Saturday.

The statement was titled, ‘High powered government delegation visits Maiduguri, President Buhari vows to end terrorism’.

According to Shehu, the President, in his message, described the massacre as “senseless, barbaric and gruesome murder.”

He further quoted Buhari as giving assurances of his continuous commitment to fighting insurgency and all forms of insecurity in Borno State and all over Nigeria.

He said Buhari committed himself to making more resources available to the military to prosecute the war, adding that he will “work closely with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.”

According to the statement, the President said, “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of the people. Everything is secondary when security is at a stake.

“As we mourn the loss of our sons in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis until we root out the terrorists.”

The President also commended Zulum for his leadership in running the affairs of the state.

The presidential aide said apart from the message from the President, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, spoke for the government team to the state.

Zulum was also quoted as thanking the President for “ensuring relative peace since his assumption of office,” stating that the situation is better than he met it.

The statement added, “The governor presented a number of requests on behalf of his people, including that the youth of the state should be enlisted in military and paramilitary organisations to play their roles in the defence of the nation.

“He called on the Federal Government to assist in the repatriation of Borno indigenes in camps in neighbouring countries and requested the National Assembly to tweak the draft budget now before them to allow better allocation of resources for the North East sub-region, which he alleged is being side-lined.

“At the palace of the Shehu of Borno, His Eminence Abubakar Umar Ibn Garbai, the traditional ruler described as ‘madness,’ the gruesome killings and urged his subjects to pray and offer useful information to the security agencies.

“He thanked President Buhari for his efforts in returning normalcy to the state.”

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