- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Jonathan and sundry African issues
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has been busy on the diplomatic front over the past weeks in an effort to resolve some nagging African problems, including the Somali food crisis and trans-border crimes in the West African sub-region. For the Somalia situation, he was hoping to mobilise the support of the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards a common response to the food shortage which has led to the death of many people particularly children in the war-torn country.
ECOWAS will discuss the matter during its Ministerial Council and the Authority of the Heads of State and Government meetings next month, while a pledging conference is scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next Thursday. As the current chairman of ECOWAS, Jonathan is expected to announce the contribution of the sub-region towards alleviating the plight of the East African country.
Somalia is becoming an embarrassment for African leaders who are seen as being too slow in responding to the famine in the Horn of Africa. Whereas western countries and other public-spirited individuals and international organisations concerned about the heart-breaking occurrence are putting together food supplies and other resources to starving population, braving the threat posed by extremist Islamists in the country, little is happening on the African side towards this direction.
Jonathan himself admitted that the case is worrisome and that African leaders need to react appropriately to the humanitarian catastrophe. He therefore wants his co-African leaders to show a commitment to help the people of Somalia at their most critical time of need.
Apparently in response to criticism, the African Union (AU) appointed former Ghanaian leader, Jerry Rawlings, as its high representative for Somalia as it hopes to shake off the continent’s lethargy over the crisis. Rawlings has been going round to meet the African leaders in an effort to drum home the extent of the starvation and convince them of the necessity for quick action to provide succor for the people. He was in the State House, Abuja to discuss with the president and to urge for a concerted African governments’ action. Rawlings painted a gloomy picture of Somalia where he observed that the famine has degenerated to a situation where children have to carry other children on their backs and walk for up to 80 kilometers in search of food. He was pained by the lack of prompt action by the leaders which he noted was capable of giving the continent a bad name.
He said that the chairman of the African Union, President Obiang Nguema Mbassogo of Equatorial Guinea, expected political and corporate leaders on the continent to show a commitment to seeking a solution to this problem as “I cannot be calling on the international community without showing that the African leaders are also trying to assist their own brothers. That is what brought me here (State House). This is an opportunity to demonstrate that we are capable of helping ourselves in Africa.”
Another worrying problem that Jonathan sought answers to last week is the issue of trans-border crimes, which he said had to be stemmed to ensure the safety of citizens. He expressed Nigeria’s commitment to taking definite steps to strengthen security cooperation with all its neighbours in order to check the trend. This was when he held bilateral talks with Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou at the State House, Abuja, where both leaders agreed that terrorism and trans-border crime posed a serious threat to both nations. “Terrorism and trans-border crimes pose a serious security threat to all our countries, so we will strengthen border patrols and other areas of cooperation with our neighbours, to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Jonathan had emphasised.
He was also bothered by the threat of coups on the African continent and did not mince word as he warned that no attempt to seize power by force would be tolerated again anywhere in Africa. He promised Niger Republic, whose membership of ECOWAS had been suspended as a result of an earlier military intervention, that it would now be re-admitted following the restoration of civilian rule in the country. Jonathan rounded off the week’s diplomatic initiatives with a call for the cooperation of the neighbouring Niger Republic in the areas of food security, power, water supply, agriculture, rail transport, and desert encroachment.