The Presidential Villa has recorded three major events last week, including UNESCO’s invitation to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The other epochal events witnessed at the Villa were the defection of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode from the PDP to the APC and the visit of FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari commenced the week under review on Sept. 13 with a special invitation from the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, to the organisation’s 75th Anniversary, scheduled for November in Paris, France.
Azoulay was in Abuja for the 33rd session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere programme.
The president had earlier declared the conference opened where he urged the global community to promote and respect natural habitats for conservation of biodiversity to ensure a healthy planet.
Buhari urged all concerned global community to gear their effort towards ensuring a healthy environment to sustain livelihoods on earth.
The president, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, thanked UNESCO for enabling Nigeria to host the global summit on the continent of Africa for the first time.
Nigeria joined UNESCO in November 1960, becoming its 58th member state.
On Sept. 14, Buhari virtually declared open the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in Abuja.
At the conference, the president disclosed that N300 billion has so far been disbursed to 3.1million smallholder farmers of 21 different commodities, while 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer programme.
He said the commodities included Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soybeans, Groundnut, Fish, cultivating over 3.8 million hectares of farmland.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had also participated virtually at a conference themed: Climate, Conflict and Demography in Africa jointly hosted by the International Crisis Group, the Royal African Society and African Confidential publications on Sept. 14.
“Much of the global investment in clean energy will need to go into Africa.
“However, instead of prioritising efforts to redirect global capital to our nations, efforts are currently underway to limit the development of gas projects in Africa, violating the principles of equity and justice enshrined in global agreements,’’ Osinbajo said at the conference.
In the past, Osinbajo had at different fora, raised the issue of financing of gas projects in developing countries, like Nigeria, advocating for a just transition and more effective engagements towards the target of Net-Zero Emission by 2050.
The president also presided over the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Sept. 15, where the council approved N38.4 billion for the completion of some inherited road projects in five States of the federation, namely; Benue, Bayelsa, Anambra, Imo and Nasarawa.
The council also approved N10.7 million as augmentation for the completion of Middle Rima Valley Irrigation Project in Sokoto State.
NAN also reports that the council meeting was preceded by the swearing-in of three National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Those sworn-in include Dr Baba Bila representing the North-East, Prof. Sani Adam, North-Central, and Prof. Abdullahi Abdu, representing North-West zone.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who also addressed State House correspondents after the council meeting, confirmed that the Federal Government may soon lift the ban on activities of microblogging giant, Twitter.
According to him, a lot of progress has been made in the ongoing dialogue with Twitter.
The presidency also expressed concerns over attempts to disrupt President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to New York for this year’s United Nations General Assembly by Yoruba Nation agitators and IPOB.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, raised the alarm in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
The presidential aide opined that it was wrong for agitators of Yoruba Nation to associate themselves with an outlawed organisation like IPOB to destroy the image of Nigeria abroad.
According to him, for Nigerian diaspora groups to use the world’s largest platform – the United Nations General Assembly – to garner attention to their causes is not unexpected.
”It was, however shocking, to see ‘Yoruba Nation’ advocates yesterday unequivocally throw their lot in with Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
”IPOB is a designated terrorist organisation. It has now publicly revealed a 50,000 strong paramilitary organisation.
”It regularly murders security services and innocent civilians, with a significant uptick of violent attacks this year. And it is currently attempting to hold Nigerian states hostage with orders to stay-at-home under threat of terror.
‘ ‘Without doubt, Nigerians and the entire world will judge Yoruba Nation by the company it keeps,” the statement read in part.
On Sept. 16, Buhari hosted a FIFA delegation led by President Gianni Infantino, and which also had the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, where he declared his administration’s commitment to use football for girl-child’s development and also inspire young people to have rewarding careers in the game.
He called on the top echelon of football’s world governing body to see Nigeria as “one of its greatest assets when it comes to the development of football’’.
On women’s football, Buhari expressed delight that Nigeria has produced excellent role models to inspire the next generation of stars to take up the sport.
The president on Sept. 16, formally welcomed former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, who recently defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Fani-Kayode was led into the President’s office by the Caretaker Chairman of the APC and Governor of Yobe, Malam Mai-Mala Buni, as well as Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.
Buhari was also represented at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political situation in the Republics of Guinea and Mali, which held in Accra, Ghana, by Vice-President Osinbajo on Sept. 16.
Nigeria has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to insist on a short transition programme that would usher in a new civilian government in that country.
Osinbajo, therefore, expressed Nigeria’s determination to ensure a prompt return of democratic rule to Guinea after the recent military coup in that country.
In a communique issued at the end of the extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders resolved to freeze the financial assets of members of the military junta, place a travel ban on them, while also demanding that the junta return Guinea to constitutional rule within six months.
Also on Sept. 17, the Nigerian leader approved the inclusion of Dr Yusuf Sununu as the representative of House of Representatives on the Health Sector Reform Committee.
Sununu is the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services and had previously served as a past Secretary-General of the Nigerian Medical Association, an Associate member of the World Medical Association.
The Health Sector Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has members drawn from private and public sector healthcare management professionals and development partners.
Other members of the committee were representatives from the National Assembly as well as the Nigeria Governors Forum, among others.
The Presidency in a statement on Sept. 18, said a total of 15 projects, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, would be financed with more than $4 billion from multilateral institutions.
The loan is under the 2018-2021 medium term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
It stated that Buhari had already requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as grant components of $125 million for the proposed projects.
On the foreign scene, the Nigerian leader extended heartfelt condolences to President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of Algeria, on the death of the country’s former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The president, in a statement on Sept. 18 by his Spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, on Saturday in Abuja, also commiserated with the family of the former president and the Algerian people “as they mourn the loss of the remarkable leader’’.
Late Bouteflika, aged 84, ruled Algeria for 20 years. (NAN)