Showing posts with label foreign affairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foreign affairs. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Chinese supermarket in Nigeria shut for allegedly barring Nigerians

A Chinese-owned supermarket in Nigeria's capital has been shut by the authorities over allegations that it denies entry to African shoppers.

The supermarket in Abuja allegedly "exclusively permits individuals of Chinese descent to enter", Nigeria's consumer protection watchdog said on X.

It has summoned the supermarket's owner.

The Chinese chamber of commerce in Nigeria has denied the racism allegations.

The supermarket is a tenant in a building run by the China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC).

Boladale Adeyinka, an official at Nigeria's Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), said that the watchdog had launched an investigation into the allegations.

This follows widespread outrage on social media after some Nigerians shared their experiences of allegedly being turned away by security when they attempted to go to the supermarket.

In one of the videos, a man said he had discovered the supermarket online but was blocked from entering the complex where it is located.

"At the gate, the security people told me that the supermarket is strictly for Chinese people. If you are a Nigerian, you can't go inside or buy anything," he said in the clip posted on X, formerly Twitter.

In another video on X, a group of Nigerians are seen visiting a building to verify the reports that non-Chinese shoppers were being turned away.

A security guard outside the entrance appears to tell them that the supermarket had cut off access to Nigerians since January.

Several Nigerians have demanded the closure of the supermarket, including former senator Shehu Sani, who said that any store in Nigeria that was not accessible to citizens "should be forcibly opened or be pulled down".

In a statement quoted by local media, the CGCC said it stood for "equality and inclusiveness".

"Our principles are to enhance friendship between the people of both countries and promote economic development," it added.

The FCCPC quoted an administrator at the building, Sanusi Shuabiu, as saying that the supermarket mainly sold Chinese groceries and that while it was initially opened to serve the building's tenants, it permitted entry to outside shoppers, including non-Chinese visitors.

The supermarket's owner has not yet commented.

She has been summoned to appear before the consumer protection agency by Wednesday.

The watchdog says that the supermarket will remain closed until she complies with the summons.

Nigeria has a Chinese population of less than 10,000, according to the Statista website.

By Mansur Abubakar & Gloria Aradi, BBC

Related story: Video - Trade ties deepen between China and Nigeria

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Video - Trade ties deepen between China and Nigeria

China's growing demand for Nigerian goods is deepening trade relations between the two nations. Last year, trade volumes between Nigeria and China reached almost 23 billion U.S. dollars, marking a significant shift in the rising economic ties.


Related story: Rail projects in Nigeria drive home China's belt and road commitment to African infrastructure development


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Foreign Minister says Nigeria plans to join BRICS

Nigeria intends to seek membership in the BRICS organization after carrying out necessary measures within its state, according to Yusuf Tuggar, the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, who said this in an interview with RIA Novosti.

The head of Nigeria's Foreign Ministry arrived in Moscow for an official visit on Wednesday.

"We have this intention. As I've already mentioned, Nigeria has a democratic system with deliberative elements. Therefore, before taking such measures, we usually carry out active interaction with various interest groups and different internal bodies," said Tuggar.

The minister noted the significance of the presence of Nigeria's Vice President, Kashim Shettima, at the most recent BRICS summit in South Africa.

"We are extremely interested in this, and we look forward to this," stressed the Nigerian Foreign Minister.


Related story: Foreign Minister of Nigeria says No justification for Gaza carnage


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Foreign Minister of Nigeria says No justification for Gaza carnage

 Israel must stop its war on Gaza, and the world needs to drop its “double standards” over the killings in the besieged enclave, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Yusuf Tuggar told Al Jazeera.

Tuggar was visiting Qatar as part of a delegation led by Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Nigeria and Qatar signed a series of memorandums of understanding and discussed potential collaboration in sectors such as energy, trade, labour, agriculture and more.

The visit came at a time when Nigeria faces mounting economic and social challenges with armed attacks proliferating and an inflation rate at 30 percent.

Yet Nigeria, with a population of more than 200 million people and Africa’s largest economy, is also eyeing a greater role in regional and global affairs.

Tinubu leads the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) established in 1975. The bloc faces an uncertain future with Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announcing in late January they are quitting the regional grouping.

Al Jazeera sat down with Tuggar in Doha to learn more about what the government has in store for Africa’s largest economy.

Al Jazeera: Over the past week, there have been many meetings between Qatari and Nigerian officials. What are some of the key agreements and partnerships that have been made?

Yusuf Tuggar: Qatar has this Arabic concept of the word “irth” which is legacy, or inheritance. Nigeria is here to forge a common irth, legacy, inheritance with Qatar. They’re both major gas producers and if they work closely together, they can establish or expand further their market share.

We have cargo planes that go to Nigeria and come back empty. They take electronics and all sorts of other stuff from Qatar to Nigeria. They can be filled with agricultural produce because we have 12 huge river basin development authorities that we invested in during the oil boom in the 1970s, with dams ready for irrigation. Nigeria produces a lot of pineapple, a lot of mangoes that can be readily exported to Qatar.

There are so many opportunities. We want to see some of the big players here going to Nigeria and doing business. We’ve already signed several MOUs (memorandums of understanding). Even today, we signed MOUs on labour because we have huge human resources that Qatar can put to good use that we can apply to the medical sector and several others. The sky’s the limit.

And then of course, Qatar is also strong in services, airports. We have so many airports that are in existence that are underutilised that can be turned readily into cargo airports. We’ve got ports, we need more ports to be developed.

Al Jazeera: What are some of the upcoming gas projects?

Tuggar: There are several ongoing gas projects in Nigeria that we hope Qatar can invest in. We have so many opportunities for floating LNG projects. We’ve got an LNG plant that has run out of gas that is right next to us in Equatorial Guinea. All it needs is a pipeline, to pipe Nigerian gas to Equatorial Guinea and Bob’s your uncle. This is something that Qatar can take advantage of.

We have a Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline that is in the making to supply 15 African countries with gas and it can go on to Europe. I know Europe is looking to phase out gas but let’s work with the reality. The reality right now is that gas is still in demand.

We have a trans-Saharan gas pipeline. The leg of the pipeline within Nigeria has gone very far, it’s almost completed and it’s supposed to deliver gas all the way to Algeria. And you throw in Algerian gas and it can go all the way into Europe. These are all projects that are ongoing that Qatar can be a part of when it comes to gas.

But we’re not just looking at gas, we’re looking at agriculture, the health sector. All the relevant ministers are here; we’re looking at metals refining for rare earths; Nigeria is rich in lithium. This is something that can be taken advantage of.

Al Jazeera: Regarding the biggest conflict in the world right now, in Gaza more than 30,000 people have been killed. What are your thoughts on this?

Tuggar: There is no justification for the carnage that is going on in Gaza. It has to stop. There is no justification for the complete disregard for the proportionality of force that is being meted out on innocent civilians, on kids on children, on babies on women.

Nigeria has been consistent with its support for a two-state solution. The state of Palestine has every right to exist as an independent sovereign nation, the same way that Israel has a right to exist as an independent sovereign nation.

But this carnage is completely out of hand and totally unacceptable. There is no way to explain the double standards; it has to stop.

Al Jazeera: Regarding the war in Ukraine, the US and EU have been pressuring other countries to join in on sanctions against Russia. Nigeria has maintained a neutral, non-aligned stance. How difficult or easy has it been to maintain this stance?

Tuggar: [The non-aligned stance] has been the policy of the state of Nigeria since its inception, since it was created in 1960. Nigeria was part of the non-aligned movement and has remained so and at the moment we’re currently practicing what is now referred to as strategic autonomy.

We get along with all countries, and we’re not the only country that has that policy. Nigeria has always been an independent sovereign nation. So we are not compelled to follow any other country’s lead. We do what is right for our people, what’s in the interest of our people.

We get along famously with both of them [the US and Russia]. They also don’t have a problem with us being autonomous, being an independent country, with the freedom to maintain relations with all nations.

Al Jazeera: Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have announced they’re leaving ECOWAS. Is there maybe a need to reinvent ECOWAS in any way?

Tuggar: No, there isn’t. There’s a process [for leaving] and it takes about a year. It’s one thing to pronounce that you’ve left, it’s another to really disengage from ECOWAS itself because every citizen of ECOWAS carries a passport. (An ECOWAS passport guarantees visa-free travel within the bloc). We’re waiting to see if they’re even going to print the passports which is going to cost millions of dollars.

We’re talking about 30 percent of, let’s say, Cote d’Ivoire, coming from Burkina Faso, and Mali, which means they would need new residencies or they will have to leave Cote d’Ivoire and the same thing with Nigeriens in Nigeria, in several other places. So it’s not as simple as it’s made out to be. The process of them leaving takes a lot more than just a simple pronouncement and there are certain procedures that have to be followed.

ECOWAS has shown clearly that there’s no bellicosity towards those countries because sanctions were removed out of humanitarian considerations. Fasting during Ramadan is coming up, and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the Chairman of ECOWAS, heads of state and government pushed for the removal of sanctions. The ECOWAS leaders endorsed it and the sanctions have been removed, borders have been opened.

There’s no compulsion in the membership of ECOWAS, it’s up to the regimes in those countries to make a decision. ECOWAS is a union of a community of people and the emphasis is on the community, on the people, on the citizens.

Al Jazeera: In Nigeria, between 40 and 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. How does the government plan for economic growth and to address the issue of poverty?

Tuggar: We’re talking about 300,000 training centres across the country. We’re talking vast exponential job creation through ICT, information technology that is happening. we’re talking about providing fast-speed internet to the youth. We’re talking about business process outsourcing.

So these are all a lot of the opportunities but even before that, there’s a social investment programme that is ongoing, that provides directly to the poorest section of Nigeria because we can’t wait until the jobs are created. There’s a direct government intervention that has been going on so these are some of the measures that are being taken towards addressing this.

Al Jazeera: The country is seeing an exodus of youth going abroad for opportunities. What would be the consequences for Nigeria to seeing all this youth leave?

Tuggar: We have what we refer to as the 4Ds in my Ministry of Foreign Affairs – That’s democracy development, demography and diaspora. And the fourth D, the diaspora, is where we look to engage other countries that are in demand of our human resources, get them to invest in certain sectors so that we will be able to train enough skilled workers for both ourselves and the country that is demanding for that.

So doctors, nurses, and at the moment you actually even have Nigeria supplying software engineers to places like Lithuania.

We need to do it in a structured way. We’re not saying that Nigerians cannot go abroad to work. By all means they should. But at the same time, for every nurse that goes abroad, we want to be able to create many more in Nigeria that would cater for our needs. We need to partner with countries that are prepared to invest in those sectors.

Al Jazeera: We’re seeing unprecedented inflation; Nigerians are struggling with the costs. The prices of food and transport have more than tripled since President Tinubu took over and removed the fuel subsidy, even though he promised to ease an already bad situation. What are your thoughts on this? Has he failed to deliver on his promise one year in?

Tuggar: He certainly hasn’t. This is something that was anticipated. This is one of the consequences and, unfortunately, we are feeling it even more because we delayed for so many years, subsidy removal.

This is a sort of bitter pill that Nigeria has to take but there are other measures that are being taken to serve as palliatives for the situation that we’re facing.

You have to bear in mind also that Nigeria is not the only country that is facing these economic challenges; it’s almost global. Inflation is something that a lot of countries are facing, but we have to bite the bullet and do what is right now, for the future.

We’re continuing to supplement and things are getting better. Our crude oil production has gone up, so has our gas production through LNG. We’re going to be feeling the effects of a spike in foreign exchange earnings, which would serve to ameliorate the situation and we’re plugging all the leakages in our economy.

Al Jazeera: There’s also been a surge in kidnappings across the country as well. Does the government bear any responsibility for this?

Tuggar: The government is always there to tackle the challenges.

At the same time, there are so many measures being taken to address these through the three different tiers of government. Because you have to bear in mind also that the responsibility is not simply on the federal government, the government at the centre.

Nigeria’s constitution prescribes rules for the three tiers. So you’ve got the federal government headed by Mr President, you’ve got state governments headed by governors and then you’ve got local government. We have 774 local government areas that are under state governments and they need to be working so that responsibility for them to work and work efficiently rests squarely on the state governors and the state governments.

By Mersiha Gadzo, Al Jazeera

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Nigeria imposes annual levy on expatriate workers

Nigeria has imposed a mandatory annual levy for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring them to pay $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other categories.

The move is meant to encourage foreign companies to employ more Nigerian workers.

Staff of diplomatic missions and government officials are exempt.

President Bola Tinubu has warned that the levy should not be used to frustrate potential investors.

He spoke while launching the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL) handbook on Tuesday, adding that the government was expecting to improve revenue and indigenisation.

He said that its aim was to balance employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

"The goal is to close wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labour force while increasing employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians in foreign companies in the country," he said.

There are more than 150,000 expatriates in Nigeria, according to local media citing data from the interior ministry.

They mostly work in the oil and gas, construction, telecommunication and hospitality sectors.

Nigeria is one of Africa's biggest oil producers. Its oil and gas exports account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The move comes as Nigeria is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a generation, which has led to widespread hardship and anger in recent months.

Labour unions and government workers on Tuesday held demonstrations to protest against economic hardships.

Mr Tinubu acknowledged that Nigerians were going through a difficult period.

He said efforts were being made to improve the country's finances and grow the economy.

The levy applies to employees who work for at least 183 days in a year.

The scheme imposes fines of up three years and jail terms of up to five years for a person or organisations that do not comply, including failure to provide accurate information.

The Nigerian Immigration Service will be responsible for enforcing the levy.

Local media quoted Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Oj as saying that it would be operated on a public-private partnership model between the government, the immigration service and a private firm.

Nigerian economist Abubakar Abdullahi says the levy is good for the country and won't frustrate potential investors as "they'll love to see the country grow as well"."I believe Nigeria stands to benefit from this levy as more companies will start looking inwards as there are qualified Nigerians from all sectors," he says.

By Basillioh Rukanga, BBC

Related stories: Over 10,000 doctors left Nigeria for UK in last 7 yrs

Nigeria suffering from medical brain drain

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Video - Trade between Nigeria and China records significant growth

Data from the Chinese Customs Authority shows bilateral trade between Nigeria and China has reached 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. Experts forecast trade volumes between the two sides to accelerate in the years ahead as they deepen their relations. 


Related stories: China to invest $40b in Nigeria

Nigeria receives China-made armed reconnaissance drones



Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Defense chief of Nigeria accuses nations withholding arms sales over abuses of ‘double standards’

Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell his military weapons because of human rights concerns.

Gen. Christopher Musa’s comment underscores one of the biggest challenges for Africa’s most populous nation in combating a deadly and complex security crisis, from the Islamic militant insurgency in northeast to the dozens of armed groups targeting travelers and communities in the northwest and central regions.

“Even with our money, it is difficult getting equipment,” Musa told reporters in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, acknowledging a huge need for items such as helicopters, drones and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

“Some say human rights, some say ‘You have killed’ … but again, sometimes, people pointing fingers at you have done worse and yet nobody is holding them to account. It is these double standards that (are) making the world more dangerous,” Musa said.

He declined to name the countries in question when asked by The Associated Press.

Nigeria’s security forces for many years have faced allegations of extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests. The United States and other major arms suppliers at one point or another have withheld the sale of weapons over those accusations.

In December, at least 85 civilians were killed when a Nigerian army drone erroneously targeted a religious gathering in northwest Kaduna state, the latest of several such incidents.

Musa said Nigeria’s military has continued to improve on its human rights record and is holding its personnel to account. Alleged abuses are often investigated, and a report on the December incident will be released soon, he said.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces have the capacity to secure Nigeria (and) the entire region,” Musa said, but added that the lack of needed weapons will continue to limit that capacity.

However, there is little evidence to show that Nigeria’s military has improved on its human rights record, according to Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria.

“Protecting civilians should be their priority (and) they should look at all human rights violations they have committed to ensure accountability,” Sanusi said.

U.S. military support to Nigeria has at times included training on how to mitigate risks to civilians, according to a State Department statement in January on security cooperation. It said that in August, Nigeria delivered the first payment for 12 attack helicopters worth a total of $997 million.

By Chinedu Asadu, AP

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Rail projects in Nigeria drive home China's belt and road commitment to African infrastructure development

Building railways and bridges in Africa are a key focus for Beijing, after senior diplomat for African affairs Wu Peng announced that China will support infrastructure development in Nigeria, while on a trip to the West African nation last month.

It is a sign that China is still committed to enhancing ties and financially backing growth in African nations. But observers have also said that a change in banks financing a major rail project in Nigeria points to China's desire to commercialise its overseas lending.

Wu, the Chinese foreign ministry's director general of African affairs, previously announced the signing of a finance agreement for the Kaduna-Kano railway, a landmark project in the Belt and Road Initiative in Nigeria.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

It came after a promise in October by Chinese President Xi Jinping to finance and complete the Abuja-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects during a meeting with Nigerian Vice-President Kashim Shettima on the sidelines of the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

China had agreed to provide 85 per cent financing for the construction of the two railway projects, while Nigeria was to pay the remaining 15 per cent. This money has since been earmarked by Nigeria for the project, according to Shettima's office.

The funding was originally meant to come from state-owned policy bank China Eximbank, but it pulled the plug back in 2020, citing the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about Nigeria's ability to repay the loan.

But now the money is being provided by another state-owned policy bank, the China Development Bank (CDB). According to observers, this illustrates China's wish for the commercialisation of overseas loan financing.

And it is not an insignificant sum. For example, with the 203km (126-mile) Kaduna-Kano railway section, after China Eximbank stopped its funding in 2020, Nigeria courted CDB last year.

Previous estimates had put the total cost of the Kaduna-Kano section of the line at US$1.2 billion. The Nigerian government committed US$380 million, with the revised cost to be borrowed set at US$973 million.

Documents put before Nigeria's parliament in April 2023 showed that the Chinese lender would advance a 15-year loan at an interest rate of 2.7 per cent plus the six-month Euro Interbank Offered Rate.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) has been responsible for most of the project, which will connect the northern city of Kano with the capital Abuja.

The rubber-stamping of the rail project, according to observers, points to a predicted rise in Chinese lending to Africa in 2024 - a year, they noted, in which Beijing is expected to host the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Tim Zajontz, a research fellow at the Centre for International and Comparative Politics at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, said the financing agreement shows that Nigeria's infrastructure sector remains important for China.

Not only are Chinese contractors widely mobilised across the Nigerian market, "one must also not forget that Abuja has actively sought funding from non-Chinese sources after China Eximbank had pulled out," he said.

"Considering the intensifying geopolitical competition over African infrastructure, President Xi's recent commitment to continue to fund Nigeria's 'railway renaissance' is not surprising," said Zajontz, who is also a lecturer in global political economy at the University of Freiburg.

Although China Eximbank and CDB are both state-owned policy banks, the switchover is "an example of China Eximbank's more restrictive lending policy and indicates a further commercialisation of Chinese overseas loan financing", he said.

Zajontz, who is author of the book, The Political Economy of China's Infrastructure Development in Africa: Capital, State Agency, Debt, also talked of a wider shift in China's overseas development finance.

"Chinese funding is now more restrictive and the focus has shifted from concessional to commercial lending," he said.

Yunnan Chen, a senior research officer at the London-based Overseas Development Institute think tank, said the CCECC is hugely dominant in Nigeria, so it makes sense that they would be the natural contractor for the project.

"CDB loans will likely be more costly and less favourable in terms," she added.

Eximbank also withdrew funding for a section of a railway in Kenya. It had previously financed the US$5 billion leg from the coastal port city of Mombasa to capital Nairobi, with an extension to the central Rift Valley town of Naivasha.

But the bank declined to fund the next section to Malaba, a town on the border with Uganda due to concerns over the project's commercial viability.

However, Kenya is in a much weaker bargaining position than Nigeria, Chen said. "Nigeria is always in a more comfortable position to borrow, at least for the time being, because it has the oil revenues, which make it creditworthy."

According to Chen, Kenya is trying to negotiate the terms of its existing Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) loans, while also trying to ask for new financing for the extension to Uganda. "It's a difficult bargaining position to be in."

Mark Bohlund, a senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence, said that Nigeria - similar to Tanzania - is one of the major African economies with a relatively low level of Chinese borrowing. "And it is in this perspective that I view this new loan," he said.

"My assumption is that China Eximbank will be more active than CDB in Africa over the medium term but I think Nigeria might be an exception to the rule in this regard as their oil export revenue allows them, in theory, to take on more debt at commercial terms, which is the majority of CDB's lending, than other African countries."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

South China Morning Post

Related stories: President Xi Jinping commits to more investments in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria celebrates landmark infrastructure projects built through Belt and Road Initiative

Video - Electric train linking mainland Lagos with island starts operations in Nigeria

Thursday, January 25, 2024

America determined to remain strong security partner for Nigeria

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said the United States is determined to remain a strong security partner for Nigeria, whose military is backed by the U.S., Britain and other allies in a long war against Islamist insurgents.

Blinken also discussed challenges to democracy and security in the region during his meeting on Tuesday with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu in a visit that comes after last year's coup in neighboring Niger, one of a series of coups or attempted power grabs over the past few years in West and Central Africa.

"The United States is determined to be and remain a strong security partner for Nigeria," Blinken told reporters.

Blinken added that he discussed how it is vitally important there be a focus on ensuring civilians are protected and humanitarian considerations.

Observers have noted a pattern of deadly aerial assaults by the Nigerian military that have killed civilians, which was the subject of a Reuters special report last year.

The U.S. faced a setback in its fight against militants in the Sahel when military officers toppled Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum, a key ally, in July last year.

The coup in Niger was one of a series of military takeovers or attempted power grabs that occurred in West and Central Africa over the past three years.

The instability has raised concern, particularly as juntas have cut ties with traditional Western allies such as the European Union and France, which withdrew thousands of troops from the Sahel last year.

Blinken, speaking in Abuja as part of a four-nation tour of Africa taking him to Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola from Jan. 21-26, also said repatriation of capital and corruption were among challenges that need to be tackled for companies to invest in Nigeria.

Africa's biggest economy has about $7 billion in forex forwards that have matured, a major concern for investors as foreign currency shortages continue to weigh down the naira currency, despite assurances by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to clear the backlog.

So far, about $2 billion of the backlog across sectors such as manufacturing, aviation, and petroleum have been paid, CBN spokesperson Hakama Sidi Ali said in a statement.

By Chijioke Ohuocha and Felix Onuah, Reuters

Related story: Video - Secretary Blinken joint press availability with Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Maitama Tuggar

Video - Nigeria recruits nearly 30,000 police officers to tackle insecurity

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Video - Secretary Blinken joint press availability with Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Maitama Tuggar

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken holds a joint press availability with Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Maitama Tuggar in Abuja, Nigeria, on January 23, 2024.


Nigeria "essential" to global future according to U.S. Secretary of state

Yusuf Tuggar tweeted Anthony Blinken's visit focused enhancing trade relations and deepening democracy in West Africa.

Nigerian president Bola Tinubu held discussions with the US secretary of state ahead of a press conference.

The US top diplomat said Nigeria had an essential part to play in how Africa could shape the global future.

"Nigeria as Africa's largest country, largest economy, largest democracy, is essential to that effort [Editor's note: referring to the role Africa has in shaping the future globally]."

"We are doing a lot of work together already to drive in a positive direction. We're we're we're driving climate action. As partners in the Global Methane Coalition, we're pushing for permanent representation for African voices in the U.N. Security Council, in other international organizations."

"The United States is committed to strengthening genuine partnerships on the continent, to work to solve shared challenges, and also to deliver on the promise and the fundamental aspirations of our peoples," Blinken said.

His trip is part of President Biden's attempt to tout the USA as Africa's key economic and security ally.

Nigeria is Blinken's third stop on his tour of African nations, following Cape Verde and Ivory Coast. He will travel next to Angola.

Africa News

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Video - Dubai looking to boost trade with Nigeria

Dubai International Chamber recently opened its seventh office in Nigeria. The wider oil-rich Gulf region is seeking to leverage its unique geography with sound investment opportunities in the region.


Thursday, December 14, 2023

ECOWAS Court rejects US prisoner’s request for transfer to Nigeria

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has rejected a request to order the transfer of a Nigerian convicted of fraud in the United States to complete his jail time in Nigeria.

The court, in a judgement delivered on Thursday, said it lacked jurisdiction to grant Richard Ugbah’s request.

Mr Ughah had told the court he had already served eight years of the 12 years jail time imposed on him, and that he was due for release in May 2026, according to a statement by the court’s communication unit highlighting the key issues decided in Thursday’s judgement.

He approached West Africa’s regional court to order for his transfer to Nigeria, claiming to have satisfied the requirements for such a transfer.

But delivering judgement, a member of the court’s three-member panel, Sengu Koroma, the Judge Rapporteur of the panel, declared that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The court upheld the preliminary objection raised by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sued as the first respondent, declaring the applicant’s claims as “unfounded and without legal basis”.

The judge also ruled that Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice sued as the second in the case, was not a proper party before it.

The court consequently dismissed all the prayers of the applicant.

The suit

The applicant, a Nigerian citizen and resident in the US, was convicted by the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on 14 February 2017.

He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.

The ECOWAS Court’s statement said, he additionally, pleaded guilty to another count of conspiracy to commit fraud on 15 November 2017, and judgment was entered on 22 November 2017.

The applicant further told the ECOWAS Court that having served eight years of the sentence, he was due for release on 8 May 2026.

He urged the court to issue the orders for his transfer to Nigeria to complete his jail time, having, according to him, satisfied the necessary conditions in line with the provision of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Handbook on the International Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

He also maintained that the transfer of sentenced persons is considered to be an important means of cooperation to prevent and combat crimes.

He said crimes combatting and preventing crimes are the main purposes of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotic Substances of 1998, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

The applicant further argued that all three conventions cited refer to the possibility of concluding agreements to facilitate the transfer of persons convicted abroad for the offences covered by the conventions to another state to complete their sentence.

Nigeria opposes suit

The Nigerian government sued as the first respondent in the suit opposed the suit. It filed a preliminary objection contending that the applicant’s initiating application was incompetent by virtue of Articles 9 and 10 of the Supplementary Protocol (A/SP./01/05).

It added that its Ministry of Justice sued as the second respondent, is neither a Community Institution nor a signatory to the Economic Community of the West African States Treaty to be competent to be sued before the court.

The government further claimed that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain this suit. It, therefore, urged the court to strike out the notice of registration for want of jurisdiction and lack of cause of action.


In its decision, the court struck out the second respondent’s name as a party in the suit, based on the agreement reached by both sides in the suit.

The court went on to rule that the applicant failed to show a valid reason for his complaint against the respondent.

Premium Times

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Nigeria leads as fastest-growing student population in Canada

Nigerians have emerged as Canada's fastest-growing international student population in the first half of 2023. This is according to a recently released report on Nigerian study permit trends in Canada, highlighting growing visa numbers and which provinces Nigerians are studying in.

The report published by ApplyBoard revealed that Nigerian student mobility to Canada is increasing at a momentous rate. According to the report, the Canadian government issued just over 3,000 student visas to Nigerian nationals in 2019. By 2021, that number had doubled, and in 2022, it doubled again. Now, amid record numbers of international students coming to study in Canada, Nigerians have become the country's fastest-growing student population.

Growing Canadian Student Visa Numbers for Nigerian Students

Key findings from the article reveal Nigerians submitted more than 43,000 study permit applications across the first six months of 2023 and appear likely to become Canada's second-largest cohort of inbound students this year.








Out of the 43,000 applications, nearly 18,000 Canadian study permits were issued to Nigerians across the first six months of 2023, more than for any other country of origin but India. Insufficient finances were cited as a refusal reason in 74% of study permit refusals for Nigerians in 2021 and 2022.










Nearly 18,000 Nigerian students came to Canada to study in the first half of 2023. This was more inbound students than any other country excep India.

The report also noted that the study permit approval rates for Nigerians continued to rise across the first six months of 2023, to just under 40% - more than double what approval rates were in 2020.

Another interesting insight from the report showed that Nigerian students are more evenly distributed across Canada than average. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, each accounted for more than 5% of study permits issued to Nigerians from January to June 2023.

Eight of 10 provinces saw more Nigerian students issued study permits in the first half of 2023 than in the previous year.











Across these four regions, Ontario and BC accounted for around 63% of study permits issued to Nigerians in the first six months of 2023.

While Ontario and BC were the top destinations, Nigerian students are far less centralised in those two provinces than average. Nova Scotia's growth is particularly notable, with more than twice as many study permits issued as in full-year 2022. That was the third most behind Ontario and British Columbia.

Given the increasing centralisation of international students at Ontario colleges, the report concludes that the Nigerian student population is an important corridor to maintain the long-term health of Canada's international education sector.

By Victor Oluwole, Business Insider Africa

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Nigeria and Germany sign $500 mln renewable energy and gas deal

Nigerian and German companies on Tuesday signed two accords in Berlin that include a $500 million renewable energy pact and a gas export deal, further strengthening economic ties between the two nations, a presidential spokesperson said.

Union Bank of Nigeria and Germany's DWS Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on renewable energy. The agreement seeks to harness $500 million in investment in renewable energy projects across Nigeria, mostly in rural communities, spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement.

A second MoU on gas export partnership was agreed between Riverside LNG of Nigeria and Germany's Johannes Schuetze Energy Import AG. Under the accord, Nigeria will supply 850,000 tons of natural gas to Germany annually which is expected to rise to 1.2 million. The first deliveries will be in 2026, Ngelale said.

The deal will help process about 50 million cubic feet per day of natural gas that otherwise would have flared.

Nigeria holds Africa's largest gas reserves of more than 200 trillion cubic feet, but flares, or burns off, about 300 million cubic feet daily due to inadequate processing facilities.

President Bola Tinubu, who is attending the G20 Compact with Africa conference in Berlin, welcomed the deals, Ngelale said.

On Monday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will invest 4 billion euros in green energy projects in Africa until 2030, noting these could in turn help Europe's largest economy achieve its own transition to carbon neutrality.

Germany will need to import large quantities of green hydrogen going forward, including from Africa, if it is to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2045, he said at a German-African business forum in Berlin.

The forum preceded the G20 Compact with Africa summit that aims to drum up investment in the world's poorest but fast-growing continent by coordinating the development agendas of reform-minded countries and identifying business opportunities.

Under Tinubu, Nigeria has embarked on the boldest reforms in decades, scrapping a popular petrol subsidy and lifting restrictions on foreign exchange trading.

Tinubu is seeking to make Nigeria attractive to investors as he strives to revive its economy that is weighed down by sluggish growth, record debt, double-digit inflation and theft of crude oil, its main export.

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

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Germany looking to buy natural gas from Nigeria. The move is part of Germany's efforts to diversify its energy supplies.


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Germany willing to invest in Nigerian gas and minerals

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday his country was willing to invest in gas and critical minerals in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, as he started a two-nation visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

This is the third visit to the region by Scholz in two years and comes as conflicts elsewhere highlight the growing importance of an energy-rich region in which Berlin has traditionally had little involvement.

"There is a willingness to invest, especially in critical minerals," Scholz told reporters at a joint briefing with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu in the capital Abuja.

On gas, he welcomed Nigeria's efforts to expand its LNG capacity.

"If we are successful, if there is a better chance of exporting the produced gas ... it is then the question for German companies to do their private business," said Scholz.

Tinubu said he had "a very deep discussion" on the issue of gas and encouraged German businesses to invest in pipelines in Nigeria.

Nigeria is also seeking to woo investors to its mining sector, which has long been underdeveloped, contributing less than 1% to the country's gross domestic product.

Without giving details, Scholz said there was also a willingness from German companies to build railways in Nigeria. That sector is currently dominated by Chinese companies, which have won contracts to expand rail lines in Africa's biggest economy.

Scholz also met the president of the commission of West African regional group ECOWAS and said it was necessary to work with the bloc "to prevent that putsches will become a trend" following recent military coups in Niger and Gabon. 

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

Friday, October 20, 2023

President Xi Jinping commits to more investments in Nigeria

China's President Xi Jinping pledged on Thursday for his country to increase investments in Nigeria's power generation sector and its digital economy, the Nigerian vice president's office said in the wake of a Belt And Road Initiative forum in Beijing.

Nigeria's National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and three Chinese partners signed contracts for new projects valued at $2 billion, Vice President Kashim Shettima's office said.

It added that another $4 billion worth of letters of intent was received for new projects and investments in different sectors of the economy.

Nigeria is seeking to attract investments to boost sluggish growth in Africa's biggest economy, which is saddled with mounting debt, high inflation and unemployment.

The agreements signed include vehicle assembly projects, solar products, vehicle design and production, drone technology transfer, clean energy utilisation and the development of an industrial park.

Nigeria also signed contracts with China Harbour Engineering Company for the construction of the Lekki Blue Seaport in Lagos.

Shettima met Xi, who asked for the protection of Chinese workers in Nigeria, according to the vice president's office.

China had committed to rail projects in Nigeria in the past and to a seaport in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta. But the projects are still waiting for loan disbursements after securing approvals from China Exim Bank and Nigeria's parliament.

At the Belt And Road Initiative Forum, China also committed to refinancing the completion of two rail projects that stalled due to a cut in China's funding commitments. China had earlier agreed to provide 85% of the financing for the rail projects. 

By Felix Onuah, Reuters

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