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Tillerson, US secretary of state, to visit Nigeria

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Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, would visit Nigeria and four other African countries from March 6 to 13, says the US department of state.

Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the department, said Tillerson would also travel to Addis Ababa, Djibouti, Nairobi and N’Djamena.

During his visit to Abuja, Tillerson is expected to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries.

Nauert said: “On his first official trip to Africa, Secretary Rex Tillerson will travel to N’Djamena, Chad; Djibouti, Djibouti; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya and Abuja, Nigeria, March 6-13, 2018.

“Secretary Tillerson will meet with leadership in each country, as well as the leadership of the African Union Commission based in Addis Ababa.

“This is to further our partnerships with the governments and people of Africa.

“In particular, he plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment.”

During his trip, Tillerson will also meet with the US smbassy personnel and participate in events related to US government-supported activities.

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‘I don’t believe foreigners are involved in Nigeria killings’ – French envoy contradicts Buhari

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Denys Gauer, outgoing French ambassador to Nigeria, says he does not believe that foreigners are involved in the killings across the country.

The French’s envoy position contradicts that of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had said that the killings are as a result of the influx of mercenaries from the Sahel region.

“It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region,” the president had said when Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, visited him in London back in April.

But speaking with journalists on Friday in Abuja, Gauer said impunity is encouraging the killings in the country and those responsible must be punished.

The envoy spoke to journalists in commemoration of the 2018 French National Day.

“The reason for the killings is demography; some people are fighting for land, so there must be direct policy to develop agriculture and animal husbandry,” he said.

“I think impunity is encouraging the killings and those responsible must be punished. I don’t believe foreigners are involved in the killings.

“The second is justice. When there is that kind of killing, there must be proper prosecution and perpetrators must be properly sentenced. If that does not happen then, it cannot end.”

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INEC: Smartphones can be used at polling units but not inside voting cubicle

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has not banned the use of smartphones around polling unit areas.

The electoral body says the rule only comes into effect once a prospective voter enters the voting cubicle to cast his or her vote.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to INEC chairman, made the clarification in an interview with NAN on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said this while reacting to a statement issued by Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), condemning the decision of INEC to ban the use of smartphones at polling booths.

Secondus had alleged that the decision was to perfect a rigging formula for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

But Oyekanmi said the challenge of vote-buying and selling had prompted many stakeholders to call on INEC to devise innovative ways to tackle the problem.

He said: “In consultation with other stakeholders, the Commission came up with new measures to solve the problem, one of which is to disallow the use of smartphones and other electronic devices in the voting cubicles on election day.

“In other words, INEC is not banning phones around the polling unit area, but the ban takes effect from the moment a prospective voter collects his or her ballot paper and enters into voting cubicle to thumbprint and thereafter drop the folded ballot paper into the ballot box.

“After that, the voter can have access to his or her phone.”

Oyekanmi urged Nigerians to disregard any attempt by any individual or group to politicise what was purely a preventive measure.

NAN

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Report: Over 40% of world’s poorest will live in Nigeria, Congo by 2050

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More than 40 percent of “extremely poor people” in the world will be living in Nigeria and DR Congo by 2050, a report by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has revealed.

In the 2018 goalkeepers report released Tuesday, the foundation said by 2050, Nigeria will have 152 million people in extreme poverty out of a projected population of 429 million.

It blamed this on the lack of investment in human capital to correspond with the increasing population growth.

Nigeria is currently the seventh most populous country in the world with an estimated population of 198 million.

The annual report, produced in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, tracks progress being made on the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In June, Brookings Institution reported that Nigeria had overtaken India as the nation with the highest number of poor people , with 87 million of its citizens in extreme poverty.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also said in March that Nigerians are getting poorer due to the lack of coherent and comprehensive economic reforms.

The goalkeepers report said while more than a billion in the world have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty since 2000, “extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan African countries”.

“By 2050, that’s where 86 percent of the extremely poor people in the world are projected to live. The challenge is that within Africa, poverty is concentrating in just a handful of very fast-growing countries,” the report said.

“By 2050, for example, more than 40 percent of the extremely poor people in the world will live in just two countries: Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Even within these countries, poverty is still concentrating in certain areas.”

It warned that decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling.

This, the report said, is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else. “If current trend continues, the number of poor people in the world will stop falling – and could even start rising,” it said.

THE WAY OUT

The foundation said to address the poverty crisis, adequate investment would need to be made in young people, especially in areas of education, health and human capital development.

The education and health sectors in Nigeria have suffered neglect over the years. In 2018, N542 billion was earmarked for the education sector while health got N356 billion – out of the N9.1 trillion budget.

“Investing in young people’s health and education is the best way for a country to unlock productivity and innovation; cut poverty, create opportunities and generate prosperity,” the report added.

“The next step is making sure children don’t merely survive but also thrive.”

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