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Nigeria, Pakistan Target $1bn Trade Volume In 5 Years

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Nigeria and Pakistan
have signed a number of agreements to boost bilateral trade from less than $100 million to at least $1 billion within the next five years.
The deals were concluded last Tuesday at a bilateral discussion between President Goodluck Jonathan and his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Mamnoon Hussain, who is on a three-day State visit to Nigeria.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Jonathan said the agreements, meant to deepen ties between both countries, covered agriculture, industrial cooperation and cultural exchanges.
“In the next five years or so our target is that we should move from under $100 million to at least a billion dollars. We are now out to encourage more robust visits at the highest level.
“So, we have discussed a number of things, a number of issues and will continue to discuss more as we meet with the business community.
“We are doing all these things to make sure that we increase the trade relationship between Pakistan and Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, other areas in the agreement include trade and commerce, narcotics, anti-terrorism and security, poverty reduction and human capacity development.
Describing the current trade volume between both countries as extremely low, Jonathan said that Nigeria and Pakistan were committed to doubling it in the next years.
Jonathan described Hussain’s visit as “historic and extremely important to Nigeria” being the first ever state visit by any Pakistan president.
He said that the strong support given to Nigeria by Pakistan during the Nigeria’s quest for non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council attested to the cordial relations between both countries.
Jonathan assured Hussain that ‘‘Nigeria will reciprocate when it gets to the time of Pakistan.’’
He noted that both countries had high populations and huge natural resources that could be translated into wealth for their citizens if they work together.
“We have just had bilateral discussions which examined issues of common interest. This is quiet significant because just like Nigeria is suffering from terror attacks, Pakistan is also experiencing terror attacks.
“Pakistan and Nigeria have been relating extremely well from the period of our independence, because Pakistan gained independence earlier than Nigeria.
“It participated actively in the struggle to make sure that African countries gained independence.
“Pakistan has been relating very well with a number of African countries, they are members of so many international bodies, the UN, Commonwealth, D8.
“At all international level Pakistan and Nigeria relate very well,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan further said that he would soon pay a state visit to Pakistan in furtherance of the quest to deepen relations between both countries.
“Our foreign, defence and trade ministers are also encouraged to be part of such visits. Pakistan has developed in terms of defence and we are also developing.
“In the area of agriculture Pakistan is doing well and of course Nigeria is devoting attention to agriculture and now taking it as a business, enhancing the agricultural value chain,” he said.
In his remarks Hussain underscored the need to institutionalise areas of partnership between Nigeria and Pakistan.
Such areas, he said, included economic, air services agreement and exchange of prisoners in addition to the agreements on oil and gas, education, agriculture and industrial development.
Hussain said that a Pakistan Commercial Station had been opened in Lagos on Wednesday to give fillip to the cooperation efforts between the two nations.

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COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff

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At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.

This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.

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S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS

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South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.

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Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.

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