By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has departed Abuja Sunday for Japan to participate in the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) holding in the City of Yokohama, August 28-30, 2019 and is expected back in Nigeria on Saturday, August 31.
According to the Presidency, Buhari’s participation would be his second, having attended TICAD6 in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2016.
With the theme, “Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future,” the Opening Session of TICAD7 would be performed by the Japanese Prime Minister and host, Shinzo Abe.
President Buhari would deliver Nigeria’s Statement during Plenary Session Three in which he will appraise Nigeria-Japan relations and takeaways from TICAD6. He will attend a State Banquet and also honour the invitation of Emperor Naruhito to a Tea Reception at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo.In addition to a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Abe, the Nigerian President will also attend some side-events and meet chief executive officers of some Japanese companies with huge investments in Nigeria.
Formed in 1993, the now triennial TICAD, which has been convened alternately in Japan and Africa since TICAD6, according to the organisers, is the largest international conference held in Japan which “provides an open forum that generates innovative discussion among various stakeholders on African development.” Participants are drawn not only from African countries, but also international organisations, private companies and civil society organisations involved in development.
TCAD7 would focus on Africa’s “economic transformation and improvements in business environment and institution through private investment and innovation; promotion of resilient and sustainable African society for human security; and peace and stability in support of Africa’s domestic proactive efforts.”
Nigeria has gained tremendously since her participation in TICAD6 at the highest level, during which Japan pledged $30 billion investment “for the future of Africa combined with the private sector;” $10 billion infrastructure investment, and $500 million for vocational training of 50,000 Africans.
Since the Nairobi Conference, Japanese government and companies have been very active in supporting Nigeria’s agriculture, healthcare, electricity and youth empowerment.
The President and his delegation are expected in Yokohama to push for broader Japanese assistance in the areas of science and technology, innovation, human resource development, education, agriculture, power, health and disaster risk reduction, among others.
President Buhari was accompanied by Governors Babagana Zulum, AbdulRaham AbdulRazaq and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Borno, Kwara and the Lagos States respectively; ministers and other top government officials.
Husband of Slain Kenyan Runner Tirop Seeks Plea Bargain
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.
US Beach Returned to Black Owners after 98 Years
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.
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”.
NATO to Agree on Biggest Defence Policy Changes since End of Cold War
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.
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.
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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