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Buhari Approves 50 Volunteers For Liberia

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Monrovia, Liberia said that Nigeria will this year provide 50 volunteers in the field of education and health to support Liberia addresse its challenges in those field. 

This, the President said would be done through the nation’s Technical Assistance Programme. 

President Buhari also assured that the continent’s largest nation was also prepared to deploy additional volunteers in the other fields, in order to contribute to the capacity building in Liberia.

Buhari who conveyed the felicitations of Nigerians to their brothers in Liberia, said “Today represents yet another significant milestone in the life of the brotherly nation of Liberia. 

“Nigerians rejoice with all Liberians on this momentous occasion. It is a matter of pride that Liberia, the first country in Africa to gain its Independence, has successfully preserved its unity and cohesion, despite the tragic events that culminated in an unfortunate civil war.

“I am here to celebrate with you this remarkable achievement while at the same time recalling the enormous contributions and sacrifices made by Nigeria in your recent history.”

The Nigerian leader further assured Liberians of continued support of the country to its development: “As Liberia sustains its notable efforts towards economic recovery, I wish to assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to continue to partner with the country, for all possible assistance with a view to making our modest contributions that will positively impact on the security and economic well-being of the Liberian people.

Speaking on Nigerian experience, the president explained that having realised the futility in continuing to subject the Nigerian economy to the vagaries of  its mono-product dependence, his administration has instituted policies aimed at diversifying the national economy which were yielding positive results.

He added that the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan launched by his administration in 2017 was creating  the enabling environment for growth, security and economic revival.

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“Our government had to adopt appropriate measures including diversification and reforms to address such underlying causes exemplified by our continued dependence on a single-commodity, crude oil, lack of fiscal buffers, leakages, corruption and high governance costs.

“Furthermore, in our efforts to stimulate the economy, our government initiated bold policy interventions that are beginning to yield positive results,”he stated.

Buhari, who was honoured at Liberia’s 172nd Independence Anniversary occasion with the country’s highest award, the “Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers of the Republic of Liberia with Grade of the Knight Grand Cordon”, said he accepted it ” on behalf of all Nigerians and as a tribute to all our country men who paid the supreme price in aid of Liberia’s unity and stability.”

He also thanked the Government and people of Liberia and expressed his resolve to continue to strengthen cooperation within the sub region.

Buhari added that,  “This gesture can only strengthen my resolve to rededicate myself to the service of my country, work for the prosperity of our people in the sub-region.”

The President likened the Liberian economic situation to what obtained in Nigeria when he assumed office in 2015 and praised the administration of President George Weah for its social intervention programme.

He told President George Weah that, “I am fully aware that on assumption of office, your country was experiencing severe economic challenges occasioned by the fall in commodity prices, the main source of revenue for Liberia. This situation is akin to what I inherited on my election in 2015. That was a difficult period for the Nigerian economy which later lapsed into recession.”

He commended Weah’s leadership and vision for initiating since coming to office, people oriented projects and programmes including the “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development” (PAPD) launched in 2018.

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“I am convinced that this well-articulated programme which is quite similar to our Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020, if well implemented, could bring the desired transformation and sustainable development to Liberia.”

The President encouraged his Liberian counterpart to take decisive actions to further stimulate the economy of the country:  “Mr. President, Liberia under your leadership may wish to learn from our experience by taking courageous steps to diversify its economic base by developing the productive sector that would complement earnings from rubber, iron ore and the increasingly dwindling funds from Development Partners.

“In this regard, the need for proper management of human resources and investment in agriculture, solid minerals and other sectors such as tourism where the country has comparative advantage, cannot be overstated.”

Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Liberia, Mer. James Dimka told newsmen that the what was deserving because, “We have done what no other African President has done to the country.  We have had close relations (Nigeria and Liberia) and this has only strengthen our relations. Liberia was in war for 14 years and the major country that stood by them was Nigeria. Our military just left this country about a month  ago. At some point the United Nations, ECOWAS were but Nigeria stayed till the end.

“And so you will recognize that there is a strong relations between Nigeria and Liberia.”

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti said, Nigeria has sacrificed so much for the country even though Liberia is older going by flag independence record. 

He said: “Nigeria has done a lot to keep Liberia one. This is the first country we sent the first ECOMOG to and several Nigerians lost their lives to. Uptil very recently, a Nigerian, Gen. Abdulrahman was Chief of Defence Staff  here and he lost his life in the course of serving this country. Before him other Nigerians headed their military, Gen Obiakor was the head of mission. I spent sometime here on the flip side of the conflict as the mediator and negotiator in the difficult days here. President Obasanjo was critical in the management of the conflict and President Buhari followed on in that capacity and he is still doing a lot for peace in West Africa as Chairman of ECOWAS.

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“So, it is a fitting and proper honour done to him and by extension to all of us in Nigeria. Because, somethings Nigerians wonder why we do so much in the subregion and Africa without getting much in return. Return comes in various forms and recognizing with the highest honour in the land shows how grateful the Liberians are in the role Nigeria continues to play in the country. 

Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe  said, the honour is for President Buhari and Nigeria considering the role he is playing in the west Africa subregion and the continent.

He said the award shows how much respect the President commands from his counterparts in the region.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said award is in recognition of all the country has done to help Liberia. 

“This country with the longest history of independence but couldn’t hold together and was helped majorly by Nigeria, with everything we had, our armed forces, resources in other to help them to remain as one united people.

“It is also in recognition of Nigeria’s support for Liberia to rebuild. He has offered 50 technical aid corp to Nigeria and has promised many more in case there is need.”

Foreign News

Husband of Slain Kenyan Runner Tirop Seeks Plea Bargain

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The husband of slain Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop is seeking a plea bargain after initially denying a charge of murder, his lawyer said yesterday.

Tirop, a rising star in the world of athletics, was killed last October in her home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub in western Kenya for top runners.

Emmanuel Ibrahim Rotich was arrested after a dramatic late-night chase the day after Tirop’s body was found with stab wounds, and has been in custody ever since.

The 41-year-old denied a charge of murder at a November court appearance.

But in the latest twist in the legal saga, his lawyer Ngigi Mbugua told the Eldoret High Court that Rotich was willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of attracting a more lenient sentence.

The prosecution said it was not against the idea of a plea bargain but wanted Tirop’s family to be involved in the process.

A hearing on Rotich’s request will take place on 22 September.

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US Beach Returned to Black Owners after 98 Years

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A prime beachfront resort seized from its black owners nearly 100 years ago has been returned to their descendants by officials in Los Angeles.

Bruce’s Beach was purchased in 1912 to create a beach resort for black people at a time of racial segregation in southern California.

Located in the desirable city of Manhattan Beach, it was forcibly taken by the local council in 1924.

But on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials voted to return the land to the family.

Willa and Charles Bruce bought the two lots of land for $1,225 in 1912. The beach is now worth an estimated $20m (£16.45m).

Willa told a reporter at the time: “Wherever we have tried to buy land for a beach resort, we have been refused, but I own this land and I am going to keep it.”

Over the next decade, Bruce’s Beach became a “citadel for African Americans coming there for leisure from all over the rest of southern California,” family spokesman Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard told the BBC last year.

But the local police department put up signs limiting parking to 10 minutes, and another local landowner put up no trespassing signs, forcing people to walk half a mile to reach the water, he said.

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When those measures failed to deter visitors, the local authorities seized the land under eminent domain laws – designed to let the government forcibly buy land needed for roads and other public buildings.

Officials claimed they planned to build a park. That did not happen until many decades later, and the area remained vacant in the interim.

On Tuesday, the motion to return the land acknowledged, “it is well documented that this move was a racially motivated attempt to drive out the successful black business and its patrons”.

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NATO to Agree on Biggest Defence Policy Changes since End of Cold War

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NATO leaders are expected to sign off on a major reinforcement of the alliance’s Eastern European members on Wednesday when they meet in Madrid to project a united stance amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision is a fundamental shift of deterrence and defence in the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as the three-day summit began on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg was echoing previous comments ahead of the summit that described the move as “the biggest overhaul of (NATO’s) collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War.

The war in Ukraine has breathed new purpose into the Western alliance after years of internal discord as tensions grew between Europe and the U.S. under former U.S president Donald Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron even remarked in 2019 that NATO was experiencing brain death as doubts grew about the alliance’s direction over trans-Atlantic tensions.

The chaotic end to the U.S. and NATO’s 20-year intervention in Afghanistan helped little until the Ukraine war underlined the alliance’s central aim: collective defence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made even clearer how important NATO is for the future, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the start of the summit.

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As well as new confidence, NATO is also attracting new members with Sweden and Finland deciding to abandon neutrality and pursue membership in view of the Russian invasion.

In an early boost to proceedings, Turkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its veto of Sweden and Finland’s entry to the alliance after significant pledges from both countries to combat terrorism.

Ankara had opposed both countries’ entry for weeks, charging both nations with supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.

A Kurdish militia based in Syria, both of which Ankara classified as terrorist groups. Sweden and Finland refuted this.

On Wednesday the trans-Atlantic alliance is set to agree to position more equipment near Russia, including heavy weaponry; to boost troop numbers in multinational NATO battlegroups in Eastern Europe.

It will also expand rapid reaction forces from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is usually under national command but can be requested for deployment to another ally by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

NATO allies are still finalising details of the exact composition of the expanded battle groups in Eastern Europe, with some alliance members seeking to avoid costly permanent bases.

The Baltics, especially Estonia, have pushed NATO hard to shift tactics in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and move to the fully-fledged defence of alliance territory in Eastern Europe.

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This would replace a model to relinquish and later recapture lost ground.

The 30-strong Western defensive alliance was to also agree on a new strategic concept outlining NATO’s security tasks and missions, the first update since 2010.

The alliance’s security blueprint for the next 10 years is expected to categorise Russia as the most direct threat to NATO as well as address China for the first time.

NATO partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea were also taking part, a sign that the war in Ukraine has not completely occupied the alliance’s attention.

NATO members also planned to commit to providing Ukraine with long-term support including more equipment, supplies, training and help to transition away from Soviet-era military equipment.

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