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WTO: Buhari gets fresh Europe support for Okonjo-Iweala

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  • Nigeria reaches out to US

The European Council has expressed its continued support for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her bid to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

President of the European Council, Mr Charles Michel, reiterated the council’s support in a video conference held with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, stated this on Friday.

This came as the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who doubles as the Chairperson of the Campaign Strategy Team for Okonjo-Iweala, Amb. Mariam Katagum, said Friday at an emergency virtual meeting that she convened that Nigeria had reached out to the United State, the main opposotion to the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as WTO’s DG.

The President is leading Nigeria’s charge for Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s former Minister of Finance, to emerge as the first black and female WTO DG. But the bid has been opposed by the United States.

Buhari thanked the European Council for its support for Nigeria’s candidate.

The minister at her conference said, “Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO.”

A key group of the WTO ambassadors had proposed Okonjo-Iweala to lead the trade organisation on Wednesday, expected to clear the way for her to emerge the first African to head the global watchdog in its 25-year history.

The candidacy of the former World Bank director had received a boost last Monday when the 27-member states of the European Union backed her for the job.

The 55-member African Union also supported the former Nigerian finance minister over her sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

Okonjo-Iweala had also won the goodwill of a group of Caribbean and Pacific States as well as others from Asia.

The US representative at the special WTO Head of Delegations’ meeting in Geneva was the only strong opposition to Okonjo-Iweala’s confirmation after the last round of consultations with member-countries.

The US faulted the outcome of the consultations, despite that all other member-countries present were unanimous in their insistence the rules were transparent.

The US government said it opted to root for the Korean Trade Minister as the next WTO director-general because of her credentials as a trade expert, who has distinguished herself as a successful trade negotiator and trade policymaker.

Other issues discussed during the conference with Buhari are debt relief for Africa, EU-African relations and recharge of the Lake Chad.

The Lake Chad has shrunk to less than one-third of its usual size, thus throwing about 130 million people that depend on it into dire straits.

Recharge of the Lake Chad is an issue the Nigerian President has vigorously canvassed at diverse global forums, according to the statement.

Buhari expressed appreciation to Michel for the expected positive developments on the issues.

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Some public servants earn more salary than the president – RMAFC boss

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Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC)

Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), says some political appointees earn more salary than President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shehu disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television on Thursday.

The RMAFC boss, who spoke on the commission’s plan to review judicial and political holders’ salaries, said some officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) collect salaries higher than the president.

He said the country needs to review allocations as some agencies remit less revenue. 

“The severance package of the president is just N10.5 million. This is after the president leaves office. You can imagine after spending four or eight years, that would be the only take-home. The salary of Mr President is not up to N1.3 million a month,” he said.

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“There are people in the private sector and others in other public sectors that earn twice, three times or four times. No public servant should earn a salary bigger than Mr President. But we do have public servants that earn salaries bigger than Mr President, such as in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), etc.

“My argument has always been that no public servant should earn allowances, severances, or salaries larger than the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and I stand by it.”

Speaking further on how salaries would be reviewed, especially on current realities, Shehu said salary review would go through processes.

He, however, added that salaries may be reviewed upward after going through due processes.

“When you do a review, the takeoff point is not immediate. And this is a process that has to go to the president and then to the national assembly, and then it becomes a law,” he added.

“I can not tell you whether we can afford it or not, but what I can tell you is there are unremitted revenues out there, probably estimated from N6 trillion to N7 trillion that should be remitted to the federation account.

The Cable

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Buckingham Palace aide resigns over racist comments

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A Buckingham Palace aide has resigned and tendered an apology over racist comments reportedly made to a black British guest at a reception hosted by the Queen Consort.

Ngozi Fulani, the founder of a charity supporting victims of domestic abuse, alleged that she was repeatedly asked by a royal aide at a Palace function where she was “really from” in Africa.

The palace said it was taking the incident “extremely seriously”.

An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, confirmed the account and told the BBC the questions put to Ms Fulani were “offensive, racist and unwelcoming”.

Reid said she had a “sense of incredulity” about the exchange with a member of the Royal Household, in which Ms Fulani was “interrogated” about where she was from – even though she had explained she was born and lived in the UK.

Ms Fulani is the founder of the London-based charity Sistah Space, which supports black women who have faced domestic and sexual abuse.

Along with 300 guests, she had been invited to a high-profile reception at the Palace on Tuesday, where the Queen Consort, Camilla, had warned of a “global pandemic of violence against women”.

But after the event, Ms Fulani described her conversation on Twitter, where she was challenged by a royal aide to explain where she was from.

She recounted how she said: “We’re based in Hackney,” and the aide replied: “No, what part of Africa are you from?”

She said, “I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records”, and the Palace member responded, “Well you must know where you’re from, I spent time in France. Where are you from? Here, UK.”

“No, but what nationality are you?”

“I am born here and am British.”

“No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”

She said that members of the Royal Household were circulating at the reception and making “chit chat” – but she said it became a “really unpleasant interaction”, when despite Ms Fulani’s replies there was an insistent questioning about her background.

Ms Reid said they were “stunned into silence” afterwards and says that Ms Fulani should receive an apology and those working for the palace should receive training.

Both Ms Reid and Sistah Space have decided not to name the royal aide believed to be involved.

Palace reacts

In response, Buckingham Palace said, “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.

“In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made.

“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

“All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

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Adeleke denies sacking workers, monarchs

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Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke

Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, has denied making executive orders to sack traditional rulers and workers in the state.

He said he only set up a review panel and nobody has been sacked.

His Chief Press Secretary, Olawale Rasheed, who in spoke Rave FM in Osogbo, said executive order one to five shows the intentions of the administration to review, nullify, and set aside while the instrumentality to effect the orders was order six which is the composition of the panel.

He said: “There was never sack of any worker or traditional ruler. We only set up a review panel. It is impossible to sack and put a review panel in place.

“The review panel is to look at the numbers of the people that were employed, due processes of the employment, and qualification among other things.

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“Before our taking over, there were issues of backdating of employment, even till last year. So, order 1-5 will be operationalised by order 6 which are the panels.

“Those that were employed from July 17 till our takeover are still at work presently, they have not been sacked. The staff audit will review the employment.”

However, a statement by Rasheed said the governor has approved the dissolution of all non-statutory boards in the state with immediate effect.

“As a follow-up to the pronouncement of Governor Adeleke, on Sunday, November 27, 2022, all non-statutory boards, commissions and parastatals, including those of tertiary institutions (with exception of UNIOSUN) are hereby dissolved in the state, forthwith.

“Consequently, all accounting officers of such boards, parastatals and commissions are to take charge with immediate effect.”

Sun

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