The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has warned President Muhammadu Buhari and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) not to throw Nigeria into an avoidable crisis over their desperation to sack the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen.
CJN Onnoghen will be arraigned on Monday by the federal government.
In a statement issued on Saturday by Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, the PDP candidate said the principle of separation of powers remains sacrosanct in a democracy irrespective of what President Buhari is being told by his advisers or the buttons they are pressing to forcefully remove the CJN.
Atiku said the plot to sack Justice Onnoghen is a preemptive move against the bench in the face of imminent defeat and knowing the role that the judiciary plays in the final outcome of elections.
“We have just been made aware of the plot by President Muhammadu Buhari the All Progressives Congress (APC) to sack Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen using flimsy assets declaration issues as a pretext. We are aware that there are plans to arraign Justice Onnoghen before the Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar led- Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday, January, 14, 2019. The charge against Onnoghen, we understand has already been filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory to his appearance at the Tribunal.
”But we warn that despite the clandestine meetings in the highest echelon of the APC and also involving some top officials of the federal government which include the Code of Conduct Tribunal, neither Buhari nor the APC can re-write the Nigerian Constitution just because of its impending defeat at the February 16, presidential election. Heavens did not fall when PDP lost to the APC in 2015. And heavens will not fall now that the APC is sure to lose to the PDP, seeing that the APC’s plan to rig in the forthcoming elections will not pull through,” the statement said.
Atiku added that Nigerians were aware that the linchpin of the plot, Mr. Dennis Aghanya, the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), the author of the purported petition seeking Onnoghen’s removal,was the National Publicity Secretary of President Buhari’s defunct political party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
The PDP candidate warned however that if Buhari and the APC succeed in the current plot, it then should be ready for an epic battle, the end of which no one can predict, and the consequences of which can only be imagined.
”We have the strength of character, the courage and the conviction to mount a sustained campaign in defence of justice, and in defence of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution, which is the ground norm of our democracy ,” Atiku warned.
Atiku asserted that even if the allegations against Onnoghen are true, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was wrong to have referred the petition to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
He said the Code of Conduct Bureau, according to Section 3 (e) of the third schedule (part 1) of the 1999 constitution, “shall receive complaints about the non-compliance with or breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct or any law in relation thereto, investigate the complaint and, where appropriate, refer such matter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).”
Atiku argued that since judicial officers are disciplined by the National Judicial Council (NJC), the CCB was wrong to have referred the matter to the CCT even if the allegations have been found to have any substance.
“The proper procedure would have been for the petition to be referred to the JSC of which Onnoghen is the Chairman, but he would have to excuse himself from the process. If found guilty, he could be asked to vacate his office as CJN, in addition to other punishments,” Atiku argued.
He further stated that Buhari’s desperation was to get Onnoghen out of the way and appoint an acting CJN whom he views as pliant and who will be made to superintend over election petitions in case his well-laid out rigging plan fails.
Atiku called on Nigerians to resist the current move to silence the judiciary, saying Nigeria’s democracy and not the judiciary is on trial.
“Buhari and his APC led government should not emasculate the judiciary as they tried to do the National Assembly and was resisted by the President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki. This is a brazen day light assault on the judiciary because he (Buhari wants) a pliable acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to sit on his election petition because he has seen the signal that he will lose the February 16 presidential election,” Atiku said.
AfDB President, Adesina wins All Africa Business Leaders Awards
African Development Bank, President , Dr Akinwumi Adesina received the African of the Year Award from the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA), Thursday, in recognition of his bold leadership and the innovation of the Africa Investment Forum which “opened up billions of dollars of investment into the continent.”
The ninth edition of the awards, organized by AABLA in conjunction with CNBC Africa, seeks to honour leaders who have contributed and shaped the African economy.
The Africa Investment Forum, inaugurated in 2018, has been a trailblazer in tilting investments into the continent. The second edition of the Forum which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa ended on 13 November. It was attended by over 2,000 delegates and secured investor interest worth $40.1 billion – up from $37.1 billion the previous year.
“It is indeed a great honour,” Dr Adesina said in remarks during the exclusive gala dinner held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, at which the awards were announced. Adesina added that he was overwhelmed to follow in the footsteps of his “big brother” President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who won the award in 2018. “My heartbeat is to serve the people of Africa,” Adesina said.
The event was attended by an A-list of business leaders, government representatives including David Makhura, Premier of Guateng Province, who gave the opening address. The event also attracted some of South Africa’s leading personalities. Vibrant music was provided by The Muses, a south African all-female string quartet and “Dr Victor And The Rasta Rebels.”
The awards are decided by a jury of continent-wide judges led by Sam Bhembe, CNBC Africa Non-Executive Director, following evaluation of a shortlist of finalists to determine the overall category winners.
Bhembe said the award reflected how the winner would “shape the future of the African continent,” and that the winner would brace the cover of a special edition of Forbes Africa.
In other categories of the 2019 awards, Nigerian Co-Founder of Kobo360, Obi Ozor won Young Business Leader of the Year; Naspers CEO: South Africa, Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa took the Business Woman of the Year award; while Nedbank, won the Company of the Year award.
Adesina dedicated his award “to the people of Africa who inspire me… I do not work alone.” He also said it was very rewarding to be at the helm “of an organisation that paves the way to progress.”
Soyinka, top musical artists, business leaders rally for children’s rights
Leaders from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry on Thursday joined Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka for a reading of his poem A Child Before a Mirror of Strangers, dedicated to children around the world in commemoration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates a milestone 30th anniversary this year.
“There is one common bond among all of us — and that bond is childhood,” said Prof. Soyinka. “We have the responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of that sole common bond, which is pertinent to all humanity.”
The event, a collaboration between UNICEF and the British Deputy High Commission, brought key leaders and influencers from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry together to discuss how these sectors can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of children’s rights.
“Achieving the SDGs and achieving child rights go hand-in-hand,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.
“Both will only be achieved if all sectors of business are fully engaged. Child rights and the SDGs need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people. That is good for children, good for business and good for Nigeria.”
With a population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands on schools and health facilities, and growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.
In an appeal directly to children, musician, producer and songwriter Cobhams Asuquo said, “You are all that is right in Nigeria because you are the chance to rewrite all of wrongs that generations before you have done. You have a chance and a clean state to make this country the place we all dream of.”
A strong push will need to be made by all if Nigeria is to meet the SDGs by 2030. The private sector could be a critical key in unlocking opportunities for young people, and also addressing poverty, combatting inequality and tackling environmental problems.
“We are pleased to work with UNICEF, the private sector, and young people themselves on ideas that will contribute to a better Nigeria for current and future generations of children,” said Harriet Thompson, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria.
“With the anniversary of the CRC this year, the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child next year and only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, we must work together and with urgency to scale-up solutions in Nigeria that will improve our planet and all people’s lives, especially our children.”
World food prices jump in November – Report
World food prices rose significantly in November, reaching their highest point in more than two years, driven by jumps in the international prices of meat products and vegetable oils.
The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 177.2 points over the month, up 2.7 percent from October and 9.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose by 10.4 percent in November, as palm oil price quotations rose amid robust global import demand, increased use for the production of biodiesels and expectations of possible supply shortages next year. Rapeseed and soy oil values also rose.
The FAO Meat Price Index increased by 4.6 percent, its largest month-on-month increase in more than a decade. Price quotations for bovine and ovine meats rose the most, buoyed by strong import demand, especially from China ahead of year-end festivities. Pig and poultry meat prices also rose.
The FAO Sugar Price Index rose by 1.8 percent from October, buoyed by mounting indications that world sugar consumption in the coming year will surpass production – which is being hampered by less-than-ideal growing conditions in Thailand, India, France and the United States of America.
The FAO Cereal Price Index, by contrast, declined by 1.2 percent amid stiff competition among the world’s leading wheat exporters. Rice values also fell while U.S. maize export prices remained under downward pressure even as those for Argentina and Brazil were generally firmer.
The FAO Dairy Price Index rose marginally from October, nudged up as milk production in Europe entered its seasonal low and global demand remained strong.
Record cereal production expected for 2019
FAO also released a new worldwide cereal production forecast for 2019, anticipating an all-time high harvest of 2 714 million tonnes, which would be 2.1 percent higher than in 2018.
The latest upward revision, contained in the new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief also released today, reflects higher-than-previously predicted coarse grain yields in China, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
World output of coarse grains including maize is now forecast at 1 433 million tonnes, marginally short of the record level registered in 2017. After an upward revision for the European Union, global wheat production in 2019 is now forecast to rise by 4.8 percent from 2018 to reach 766.4 million tonnes. World rice production is likely to reach 515 million tonnes, a mere 0.5 percent drop from the record set in 2018, with Egypt, Madagascar and Nigeria all poised to spearhead a rebound for African rice production this season.
FAO’s world cereal utilization forecast for 2019/20 stands at 2 709 million tonnes, up around 21 million tonnes from the previous season. World cereal stocks at the close of seasons in 2020 are now expected to reach 863 million tonnes. At this level, the global cereal stock-to-use ratio would approach a relatively high level of 31 percent, underscoring a comfortable global supply situation.
World trade in cereals in 2019/20 is forecast at 416 million tonnes, some 1.1 percent higher than in 2018/19.
Weather hits cereal harvests in East and Southern Africa
There are 42 countries today in need of external assistance for food, according to FAO’s quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, also released today.
Compared to the September issue of the same report, Zambia, affected by drought conditions and record-high staple food prices, has been added to the list, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe.
The report also provides details on floods that followed earlier severe dryness, cutting harvest expectations in East Africa, and adverse weather conditions that caused a steep production decline in Southern Africa. Unfavorable harvests and significantly high staple food prices in Zimbabwe, set against an economy that has sharply deteriorated, will likely almost double the number of food-insecure people in the country during the first three months of 2020.
While the cereal output of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in Africa is expected to decline due to adverse weather that of LIFDCs in Asia is projected to increase, notably in Afghanistan and Syria.
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