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Lake Chad: Buhari Seeks Tighter Border Security to Consolidate Gains against Terrorists




President Muhammadu Buhari has again called for tighter border security in the Lake Chad region to consolidate the gains of security agencies against terrorist activities in the Sahel region of West Africa.

The president made the call in his opening address at the 16th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

Buhari, who is Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government, said the threat by terrorists in the region had been relatively brought under control, while the influx of weapons posed fresh challenges.

He said: “It must however be stated that in spite of the successes recorded by the gallant troops of the MNJTF and the various ongoing national operations in the region, terrorist threats still lurk in the region.

“Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in the Lake Chad Region.

”A substantial proportion of the arms and ammunition procured to execute the war in Libya continues to find its way to the Lake Chad Region and other parts of the Sahel.

“Weapons being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter into the region.

“This illegal movement of arms into the region has heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which continues to threaten our collective peace and security in the region.

Buhari said that there was the urgent need for expedited collaborative actions by border control agencies and other security services to stop the circulation of all illegal weapons in the region.

The Nigerian leader said Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) deserved commendation for various operations that had brought measurable stability to the Lake Chad Basin.

“The threat of Boko Haram terrorism in the Lake Chad area no doubt brought to the fore, the imperative of enhanced collaboration among the defense forces of the region in the face of a common aggressor.

”I am pleased that through the Multinational Joint Task Force we responded to the challenge, proving beyond reasonable doubt that with the requisite commitment and determination, the region can solve its challenges in the best ways possible.

“The MNJTF has indeed become a model, breaking physical barriers, and affirming the workability of the common approach to conquer challenges in the area.

“Permit me, therefore, to pay tribute to the untiring efforts of the officers and men of the Multinational Joint Task Force and our various National Armed Forces who continue to make remarkable sacrifices in the fight against terrorism in the region.

”The efforts and memories of these gallant soldiers, some of whom have paid the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty for the survival and restoration of stability to the region, will never be forgotten,” he said.

Buhari further reiterated that during the period under review and with the support of Heads of State, efforts and funding were sustained for the MNJTF to ensure that it delivers on its mandate of ensuring a safe and secure environment in the region.

“You will recall that consequent on the deteriorating security situation in the region, the Extraordinary Summit of Dec. 15,  2018, held here in Abuja, directed the conduct of continuous operations to completely eradicate the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism from the region.

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“I am glad to inform my dear brothers that in keeping with that decision, the MNJTF has since then, successfully conducted three major operations:

”Ops‘YANCIN TAFKI (I&II) and Ops Lake Sanity I, with, the fourth one, Ops Lake Sanity II, being planned.

”The next phase of the operation will take cognisance of lessons learned from previous exercises and effectively consolidate the gains attained by preceding Ops.

”I am glad to note that during the execution of Ops Lake Sanity I, regrouping terrorists in the Lake Chad Islands were effectively decimated,” the President added.

Buhari urged the leaders to complement the fight against terrorism with development.

Buhari said: “Although terrorist threats have been significantly decimated in the region, it is worthy of note that military actions alone cannot effectively win the war against terrorism.

”There is the overriding need to complement military operations with the provision of sustainable development projects that will ameliorate the living conditions of the affected people in the region.

“Government presence must be positively felt in the area to restore the confidence of citizens in the ability of the State to protect them and provide basic infrastructure for all.

“It is in view of the foregoing, that the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilisation, Recovery, and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the region must gain further traction without any delay.

“I am glad to note the development, costing, and validation of the territorial action plans for the eight Boko Haram most affected territories of the region.”

According to him, these action plans were the basic building blocks for the implementation of the strategy for the developmental needs of the people of the area.

”While we commend these initiatives, we must immediately commence efforts at their operationalization.

“In this regard, I urge our partners to continue to support us as we redouble the ongoing efforts at developing the region, to win the hearts and minds of the citizens in the area,’’ he urged.

 Buhari said the Lake Chad region was faced with a complex security situation that was highly dynamic, constantly changing, and increasingly influenced by the impact of climate change and other variables, including sadly, some external factors.

He added: “These factors have made it imperative for us to regularly review the development and counterterrorism strategies that are operational in the region.”

Buhari said the member-countries must continue together to proffer ingenious solutions to the challenges confronting them.

The president urged: “We must, through the commission, continue to make concerted efforts to provide the desired leadership, and ownership.

“We must also ensure that our experts and troops are adequately motivated and supported to achieve our objectives.

“We must strive to continue to view our region through the lens of equity, fairness, diversity, and inclusion.

“It is imperative that we all see ourselves reflected in the kind of leadership we provide for the region.

“We must continue to support and contribute to the success of the organization.”

Buhari called on the leaders to rise and face the challenges of the region headlong in order to deliver the bright future we envisage for our region.

The president said budgetary concerns remained a challenge for all member countries, considering the declining global inflows and increasing demands.

‘Buhari said: ”We must, however, never lose sight of the vision of the Founding Fathers of the commission.

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”We must continue to strive and make collaborative efforts aimed at upholding the ideals for which the LCBC in its nearly 60 years of existence has continued to pursue.

“To our gallant troops in the field, ensuring the safety and stability of the region, we recommit ourselves to sustaining the ongoing counterterrorism efforts by providing you with the requisite needs to function optimally.”

The president assured that their welfare would continue to remain greater priority, and urged them to rededicate themselves ”as we take the final push towards eradicating terrorism from our Region.

Buhari said: ”Together, we shall restore and transform the Lake Chad Region to its former glory.

“As Chairman of the Summit of Heads of Government and State of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, I commend and thank you all for the vibrant solidarity, enhanced strong cooperation, and support we continue to share.

“I equally express sincere gratitude to our partners for the support they continue to offer us in our joint collaborative efforts to fight the challenges that have hampered the sustainable development of the region, particularly climate change and terrorism.

”Together, we have shown that with commitment and with the desired support, we can achieve success.’’

The president urged the leaders to remain committed to ensuring that the diversity in the region continued to be a source of strength and a positive cohesive force for the people of the Lake Chad Region.

Buhari said: “My dear brother-presidents, we must remain unrelenting in providing the needed political and material support for the LCBC/MNJTF in its efforts at delivering regional initiatives that will revamp Lake Chad and revitalise the socio-economic activities of the region.

”The fight against Boko Haram and other forms of criminality in the region must remain issues on the front burner of discourse in the region.

“I thank you all for your support to me as Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and call on you in the spirit of true African brotherhood, to extend the same support to my successor.

“I also wish to thank the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Head of Mission of the Multinational Joint Task Force, Amb. Mamman Nuhu, and his team for their efforts at delivering on the mandate of the Commission.”

He urged them to keep the lofty ideals of ensuring that the people of the region optimally benefit from the resources of the region.

The president welcomed the State of Libya to active participation in the activities of the commission.

“This is a positive step in the quest of our sister nation to rise beyond its current travails and to return to active engagements in the comity of nations.

”Together, we shall collectively pursue our shared objectives of joint development of the Lake Chad region,’’ he said.

On his stewardship as Chairman of the LCBC, Buhari said the meeting provided a platform to holistically review collective efforts at sustainable management of shared heritage, Lake Chad, and to reinvigorate efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the region.

Buhari added: ”It equally provided an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far since 2018 when my dear brothers bestowed on me, the task of steering this unique organization, an honour for which I am grateful.

“In the last four years, the commission and indeed the region witnessed several challenges. However, with your support, we rose to the task of addressing them.

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“As my mandate as Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission comes to an end, I am proud of the great strides we continue to collectively make to ensure that we ultimately restore the Lake Chad Region to its once enviable state as a hub of economic development.

“Our sustained sacrifices at restoring peace and stability to the region and enabling the people in the area to return to their normal lives and activities are highly commendable.

“During the period under review, we intensified our efforts at ensuring that the drive to revitalize the Lake Chad through the Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project attracted regional and international attention.”

The president acknowledged the concerted efforts of the commission, in consonance with its partners, towards giving life to this laudable and all-important project.

According to him, progress had been made towards procuring the services of a world-class firm to conduct in-depth feasibility study on the improvement of the hydraulic capacities of the major tributaries of the Lake and to improve the retention capacity of the Lake itself.

”This is the first and most important step towards ensuring that the project is executed in conformity with international best practices and that the solutions we seek today are sustainable,”he said.

Buhari said it was heartwarming to note the various interventions that had been carried out through the commission to complement the developmental initiatives of various governments in the region.

The president noted that through the Regional Stabilization Strategy and its implementing components, the people of the region affected by the scourge of Boko Haram had continued to receive the support they needed towards ensuring that they effectively returned to their normal homes.

“You will recall that following the demise of our dear brother, H.E. Idriss Deby ITNO of Chad, in April 2021, I, under the umbrella of the Commission, convened an Extraordinary and enlarged Summit of Heads of State and Government of the region on 25thMay 2021 to review and consider the situation in Chad,”Buhari said.

He said, this was aimed at ensuring stability and a peaceful transition in that nation.

“With your support, and in execution of the decisions of the Extraordinary Summit, I have taken several measures including, appointing an accomplished diplomat, Amb. Baba Gana KINGIBE, in June 2021, as the Special Envoy of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to facilitate the transition in Chad.

“Through his efforts, I have remained actively informed of the situation in Chad.

“Accordingly, I wish to reiterate to the government and people of the Republic of Chad, our collective commitment to actively work with them to navigate the processes of the transition in that country to a successful conclusion,’’ Buhari stated.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the LCBC, Amb. Mammam Nuhu, said two reports of the 68th session of the Council of Ministers would be presented, and a report by the Special Envoy for Chadian transition.

Those in attendance  of the Summit included  Prof. Faustine Archange TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic; Mohamed BAZOUM, President and Head of State of Niger Republic and Patrice TALLON, President of the Republic of Benin.

Others were; Mahamat Idriss Itno,  President of the Transition Military Council of Chad, and Mohamed AL-Menfi, Chairman, Presidential Council of Libya. (NAN) 


Men Can Also Suffer Breast Cancer – BRECAN




By Prosper Okoye, Abuja

The Founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Chief Betty Akeredolu, has called on all Nigerians irrespective of their gender to subject themselves to regular cancer checkups and noted that the disease could better be treated when detected early enough.

“Cancer progresses with time, you may ignore that lump because it is painless, but you might just be sitting on a time bomb.

” Chief Betty, who is also the First Lady of Ondo State said while speaking at the BRECAN’s third Annual General Meeting held on Friday, in Abuja.

 “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997,” she recounted her ordeal. “Because I had the knowledge about early detection, when I noticed something abnormal I went to the doctor, and after the entire test it was confirmed that I had breast cancer,” she said.

Mrs. Akeredolu further narrated that while she was set to undertake surgery at the University College Hospital, she met so many other women who had breast cancer but at various degrees of affliction.

“There were various degrees of affliction in the sense that some women’s cases had gone out of hand; you’d see soreness in some women’s breasts and maggots swimming inside. In some cases, the breast gets so swollen that it bursts.” She explained that such cancer escalations were caused by ignorance.

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“These fake pastors will tell them that an enemy has put something in their breast; and many will believe them because but they don’t know that if one has an open wound, it will attract flies, and when a fly perches on it, it will lay eggs on it and cause the wound to deepen and produce maggots,” she said; adding that BRECAN was created after her successful surgery to combat such ignorance.

BRECAN’s National President, Amb. Tolu Taiwo said the organization has grown geographically in Nigeria, and in its intervention scope; and was further exploring health interventions that would be beneficial to the male folks for gender equality’s sake.

“The re-launching of Abuja’s chapter is BRECAN’s move to provide an avenue for professional assistance; to tell people that they can’t die of breast cancer, cervical cancer, or prostate cancer if detected and treated earlier. We have been doing this for the past 25 years. We have been living up to our slogan: ‘giving hope, and saving lives,’” she said.

While delivering her welcome address, BRECAN Abuja Chapter Chairperson, Mrs. Nkem Olusola-oke, said the addition of cervical and prostate cancer to BRECAN intervention areas would reposition the organization to better fight cancer in Nigeria.  “In 2001 BRECAN received an award as the best cancer non-governmental organization; today, we are more than ever determined to lift the organization to greater heights,” she added.

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In a virtual lecture titled: ‘Volunteering,’ Dr. Johnson Olaniyi, talked about the need for Nigerians to give their time to social courses that would promote the general welfare of Nigerian society. He said such volunteer acts could bring social, emotional, physical, and professional benefits to the one who volunteers.

Promise Ihezie also facilitated a robust session on the theme of Advocacy and Partnership. He taught that the theme was essential to achieving programme goals.

Both sessions followed interactions and questions by the participants who were present and those who participated virtually.

Other highlights of the event were the dance, drama, speech presentation, and music renditions by the students of British Nigeria School, Abuja.

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Foreign News

UN Deputy Chief, Amina Mohammed Concludes 3-day Trip to Rome




UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, on Friday concluded her 3-day trip to Rome where she met with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani.

UN Spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, told newsmen at the UN headquarters in New York that it was at the meeting with Tajani that she informed him about the Food Summit.

“In the meeting, it was announced that Italy would host the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, which will take place in Rome from July 24 to 26.

“The aim of the high-level meeting is to provide opportunities for countries to report on progress made at the national level since the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, as well as their contributions to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,’’ he said.

Dujarric said countries would review progress towards transforming food systems worldwide at a three-day meeting in Rome.

The so-called UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment is the first global follow-up to a 2021 summit convened to change how the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.

The high-level event falls at the halfway point for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development (SDGs), which provide a blueprint for a more fair, equitable and “green” world.

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“I am looking forward to Italy’s leadership in bringing together stakeholders to create the evidence that food systems transformation is a critical SDGs accelerator,’’ Mohammed quoted as saying.

Mohammed further stressing that “more sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems directly impact people’s lives and livelihoods as we strive for a better future for people and for the planet.”

During the Stocktaking Moment, countries will share stories of success and early signs of transformation, while maintaining the momentum needed to ensure resilient food systems.

It will take place from July 24 to July 26 at the headquarter of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Italian capital.

Italy will host, in collaboration with FAO and two other UN agencies – the international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – which are also based in Rome.

The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, which supports governments in developing and implementing agrifood system transformation, and the wider UN system, are also organisers.

The three-day meeting will provide an opportunity for countries to report on progress made since the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, held online, where more than 50,000 people, including 77 world leaders, committed to accelerate action on transformation.

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At the Stocktaking Moment, governments will also assess their contributions to achieving sustainable development despite a current global context that has substantially changed.

The UN reports that the number of people worldwide who cannot afford a healthy diet rose by an additional 112 million between 2019 to 2020, to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising food prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Italy has welcomed its role as host and co-organiser, said Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“Italy, with the strategic involvement of its strong and innovative agrifood sector, is committed to play an increasingly active role in supporting the efforts of the international community to promote food security and transformative and innovative solutions for sustainable and efficient food systems throughout the world,” he said.

“As one of the oldest and most influential food cultures of the world, we intend to play our part in addressing one of the key challenges for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.”

The Stocktaking Moment will further highlight the central role of food systems transformations in overall SDG advancement ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September.

The UN and Italy urged countries and stakeholders to “prepare and seize the opportunity” to reaffirm global commitment to act with urgency, in line with the promise of the SDGs. (NAN)

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Business News

Progressives Govs Meet Buhari Seek Another Extension for Naira Swap




By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the Progressives Governors Forum of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as they pleaded for the review of the redesigned currency notes to run concurrently with the old notes and gradually phased out due to the scarcity of cash in the country.

The President also urged citizens to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria to change high value Naira notes with new ones.

Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said the currency re-design will give a boost to the economy and provide long-term benefits while expressing doubts about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the policy. 

According to the Progressive Governors, the cash crunch was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.

The President also indicted some bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on the scarcity of the naira notes in circulation, accusing them of selfishness and inefficiency.

“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves. Even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away,” the President said.

He said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension will be used to crackdown on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.

“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” Buhari assured.

The Governors told the President that, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good and they are fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.

They told the President that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming. They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent flourish of the new and old notes till the end of the year. 

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The President said when he considered giving the approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes will be printed in a foreign country and they in turn gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower, and equipment to print the currency for local needs. He said he needed to go back to find out what was happening.

President Buhari told the Governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and will act in a way that there will be a solution.

An unconfirmed report has it that some bank CEOs had taken a huge chunk of the new naira notes to the house of some politicians.

It was gathered that the APC Governors had expected to get a direct response from the President to allow both the old and new naira notes to circulate concurrently to ease the suffering of Nigerians.

The Governors met with President Buhari over the hardship Nigerians are facing as a result of the naira swap introduced by the CBN.

Briefing some journalists in the Hausa language, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, of Kaduna State, alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, mopped up over N2 trillion of the old note but printed only N300 billion, which he said was not enough and has contributed to the hardship the masses are facing.

el-Rufai, flanked by his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, they should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion. 

The governor said the Progressive governors had informed President Buhari that the masses are suffering and traders are losing their goods due to lack of patronage. 

He gave the example of a tomato seller that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy, so they appealed to the president to reconsider his stance. 

He said, “We the governors of the All Progressives Congress under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum have met with the President and informed him about the issue that is bothering us and the problems the people are going through because of the currency redesign policy. 

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“The President explained to us what they have told him and we have seen that the Central Bank Governor (CBN) and the Minting and Printing did not tell Mr. President the truth about the things that are happening in the country. 

“What’s the truth? Firstly, we are told that they have mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes and printed only N300 billion of the new notes. Why will you retrieve such an amount of money and then print only N300 billion? That is why there are problems, the money is not enough. 

“If you also look at some state and local governments that don’t have banks and the problems they are facing from POS.  People don’t have money to buy things in the market, but they can’t go shopping, tomatoes sellers took their products to Lagos and could not sale till they spoiled. 

“We have narrated all these issues to Mr. President and he said he will meet with CBN, other stakeholders, and even the deposit money banks. He will see what they will tell him before he takes a decision. But he didn’t indicate to us that this issue has ended, there will be no extension and he did not tell us that he will extend it. 

“He only told us that until he gets certain about what is going on. We have told him about things that are happening in our states and the trouble people are encountering. 

“Our fear is that, if there is no solution to this, it may cause a crisis and affect the general elections and the election may not even hold completely. The President said he will look into it.”

Asked what precisely the APC governors want the president to do, he said, “What we the governors want is to give an extension on this policy so that everyone can exchange his money. Because of N300 billion, there is no how it will be equal to N2 trillion. N1 trillion should be printed not N300 billion. The money is not enough that is the problem. 

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“Our advice is that both the old and new notes should be used until the old notes are gradually faced out. They should print new notes that will be enough, for now, they are not enough for circulation. Those who say the printed new notes are enough are telling lies to the President.”

Further asked on what he will tell those accusing him of looking for a godfather that is why he is criticizing the President, he said, “I don’t criticize President Buhari. I have never criticized President Buhari, it’s only those working with him who are telling him lies, they don’t tell him the truth, and they don’t tell him what the people are going through on these policies or decisions that are taken. 

“What President Buhari brought, we support it. We know the reason he wants to do something but this thing they are not doing it right and they don’t tell him the right thing. We the true followers of Buhari are not using him to get money for shopping, we are mandated to tell him the truth, and that’s what we’ve done. 

“President Buhari himself knows me, he knows how we have been together. All these allegations I’m used to hearing them. Which godfather am I looking for? 

“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our Presidential Candidate we want him to win the election. I have told Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ten times I don’t want government work, I don’t want to work with him. He is the one saying he wants to work with them at all costs. I swear, I’m bigger than saying he is my godfather, I’m not seeking work, I’m not seeking shopping money, what I am seeking is from God and not man.”

el-Rufai said the president did not tell them yes or no, adding that the chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, had gone back to meet the President privately with the hope to convince him.

However, the Kebbi state governor did not brief members of the State House Press Corps that had waited for him on the outcome of his meeting with the President.

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