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‘Nigeria’ll engage relevant people to make Okonjo-Iweala WTO MD’

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The Federal Government has said it will ensure that Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emerges as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation by engaging relevant stakeholders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this in a statement on Thursday. It was signed by the spokesperson for the ministry, Ferdinand Nwonye.

“Nigeria will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the lofty aspiration of her candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation is realised,” it stated.

The ministry noted that the former Managing Director of the World Bank had secured the support of the majority of the WTO members with only the United States opposing her.

It stated that a meeting of the General Council of the WTO had been scheduled for November 9, 2020, for the final decision on the election process.

It said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the third and final round of the selection process of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization was concluded on Tuesday, 27th October 2020, and the result was formally announced on Wednesday, 28th October 2020.

“The candidate from Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has secured the support of the majority of the member countries but is yet to be declared and returned the winner.

“This is because apart from winning the election, all the 164 Member States of WTO were expected to adopt the winner by consensus, in accordance with the rule of procedure of the WTO.

“It is important to highlight that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has secured cross-regional backing with only the United States opposing the consensus.”

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We’ll recover semester, session lost to strike – ASUU

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ASUU’s National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, AEFUNAI, Ebonyi chapter, says it will cover grounds lost to the eight-month called off in October.

The union, therefore, appealed to stakeholders to prevail upon the Federal Government to “avoid engaging in any activity that could plunge the nation’s public university system into another needless strike”.

The lecturers’ body disclosed this during a peaceful protest on Wednesday.

Dr Egwu Ogugua, the ASUU-AEFUNAI chairperson, while addressing newsmen, said that the lecturers were duty-bound to complete teaching for the backlog of academic semesters and sessions lost due to the strike.

He alleged that government, instead of working to find a permanent solution to the crises in the universities, had resorted to the implementation of policies that would worsen the situation.

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He recalled that the ASUU strike was suspended based on the intervention of Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the court order.

“Ladies and gentlemen, recall that on October 14, ASUU decided to suspend their eight-month strike following the intervention of Femi Gbajabiamila and the Appeal Court ruling ordering us to go back to work.

“It is important for the world to know that since the said intervention and the court order, the government has not paid lecturers for eight months and decided to casualise intellectuals by prorating our October salaries.

“We, the members of ASUU, AEFUNAI branch, therefore, reject in totality, this alien casualisation of intellectuals, demeaning the centrality of the ivory towers in Nigeria and insulting the sensibilities of the intelligentsia.

“Yes, we were in the trenches for eight months – February 14 to October 14, now that we are back, we are duty-bound to complete teaching for the backlog of academic semesters and sessions lost due to the strike.

“The word ‘lost’ does not entail a permanent loss because most officials of the federal government have consistently believed in the alternative truth that the lost semesters have been lost permanently.

“In AEFUNAI, following the suspension of the strike action, we have almost concluded the remaining first semester of the 2021/2022 academic session.

“We are under enormous pressure to complete the whole session before April and commence the 2022/2023 session.

“We use this opportunity to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians and various stakeholders – religious leaders, traditional rulers, parents, students – to prevail on government not to further desecrate the sanctity of the future of our children,” Mr Ogugua said.

He accused the federal government of not placing the education sector among high-priority areas.

He lamented that government’s decision to place university lecturers on pro-rata would deepen the crisis in the entire public university system.

“It is worthy to note that the recently released November salaries have recorded a high degree of deductions.

“As a people, we shall not keep quiet and we shall continue to scream like the voice in the wilderness for the survival of the public university system in Nigeria.

“If the body of intellects is shabbily treated, then we can sing to the rooftops that government has no regard for education,” he stated.

NAN

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Updated: Ghana lead 3-2 Vs Korea, Cameroun bounce back in six-goal thriller

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Ghana are currently playing 3-2 against Korea in the ongoing FIFA World Cup competition in Qatar.

The second half of the match just kicked off but Ghana leading 2-0 at half time, went to sleep and conceded two goals within two minutes.

As of half time, Ghana has reportedly erupted in jubilation as if the game was over.

But the Koreans mounted pressure as the second half resumed and it paid off in the 57th and 59th minute with two quick goals.

Ghana score a third a few minutes later to make it 3-2.

Earlier, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon kept their hopes of making the last 16 of the World Cup alive on Monday after fighting back from two goals down to draw a thrilling Group G encounter with Serbia 3-3.

Both Ghana and Korea are looking for their first win, with South Korea drawing 0-0 against Uruguay last Thursday, and Ghana losing 3-2 to Portugal.

Both Uruguay and Portugal are highly fancied, and the two teams need a win to keep their hopes of the knock-out stages alive.

South Korea were the better side in the opening stages and dominated the game and territory.

In the Cameroon Vs Serbia match, the Rigobert Song’s team looked almost dead and buried after goals from Strahinja Pavlovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Serbia a 3-1 lead early in the second half.

But substitute Vincent Aboubakar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting snatched a draw with two quick-fire strikes just after the hour mark to leave both Cameroon and Serbia on a single point, two behind group leaders Brazil and Switzerland.

Had they lost, Cameroon would have been relying on the Swiss beating Brazil in order to not be eliminated with a game to spare, but instead, the west Africans still have a chance of getting out of the group stage for the first time since 1990.

Cameroon have a tough task ahead as they play Brazil in their final match, which according to reports they will play without first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana who was dropped from the matchday squad just hours before kick-off following an unspecified disciplinary issue.

Media reports suggest that Onana has been sent home from the World Cup after a disagreement with Song, but that pre-match turmoil did not stop Cameroon from putting in a fighting display against a Serbia team who probably deserved to win on the balance of play.

The AFP reports that neither side could find a winner in an end-to-end finish to the game and their bids to make the knockouts will go down to the final game.

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Lagos Fourth Mainland Bridge to have three tollgates, three bidders shortlisted

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Lagos State Government has shortlisted three bidders for the construction of the $2.5 billion Fourth Mainland Bridge project for the state.

The legacy bridge project will have three tollgates, according to the state government.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Public-Private Partnerships, Mr Ope George, said this while briefing newsmen in Ikeja.

He gave names of the three bidders shortlisted for the Request For Proposal, RFP Stage II as Mota-Engil (Nigeria and Africa) CCCC and CRBC consort; CGGC-CGC Joint Venture and CCECC and CRCCIG Consortium.

He said, “On completion, the bridge is expected to become the second longest in Africa, featuring three toll plazas, nine interchanges, a 4.5 kilometre Lagoon Bridge and an eco-friendly environment.

“The bridge is expected to span about 37 kilometres, starting from Abraham Adesanya in Ajah, on the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe corridor and transverse from the North-West towards the lagoon shoreline of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway via Owutu/Isawo in Ikorodu.”

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