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Germany Offers Nigerian Returnees Resettlement Fund |The Republican News

Ingo-Herbert

Consul-General of Germany, Ingo Herbert

…Plans to build German House in Lagos

From: Emma Emeozor

Africa has become the second home of Ingo Herbert, Consul-General of Germany in Lagos. And he knows this. He and his better half live and work in the continent, fraternising with the people. His wife resides in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, where she works with a German Foundation. Perhaps, this explains his passion for the continent.

He is among Europeans who have had the privilege of traversing regions of the continent as envoys of their countries. Before his posting to Nigeria, he served as deputy ambassador in Tanzania and South Africa, respectively. A combination of his experience in the three regions makes him a walking compendium on African affairs.

In a chat with Daily Sun in his Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, office, he was full of optimism about Nigeria’s future, buoyed by the strong belief that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration could reposition the country to become prosperous and active in all sectors of human endeavour.

He also disclosed plans to build a German House in Lagos. When completed, it would accommodate all German interests in Lagos, including the consulate-general.

Nigeria in the eye of Berlin

Herbert disagrees with some analysts who argue that Nigeria is not on the priority list of Berlin. For this group, Berlin is only interested in pursuing its commercial interest in Nigeria.  But he insisted that Nigeria is Germany’s key partner. Through his explanation, the envoy tactfully deflected the insinuation that Germany has limited interest in Nigeria.

“Here in Nigeria, we have the embassy in Abuja and also a consulate-general in Lagos. It is in only two African countries that we have both the embassy and the consulate-general, Nigeria and South Africa. This shows the broad relationship that exists between Germany and Nigeria.

“If you ask me what is the embassy doing in Abuja, the embassy deals with political, security and cooperation matters while, here in Lagos, we carry out part of the consular work, we focus on business, economic, bilateral and scientific relations. And all the stakeholders (partners) are in Lagos.”

Maintaining an embassy and a consulate-general in the country is to facilitate mission’s easy and full coverage of the country. But more significantly, it shows the importance Germany attaches to its relations with Nigeria.

The United States, Britain and some other European countries also have both an embassy and a consulate-general in Abuja and Lagos, respectively. But unique to the German system is the presence of other groups who operate in Nigeria independent of the embassy and the consulate-general, though with the approval of the German government.

According to the envoy, such groups deepen bilateral ties between Germany and Nigeria while promoting people-to-people relations. “Besides the German companies that are active here in Lagos, we have the Goethe Institute (a cultural institute), the Trade Promotion Office and the Delegation of German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. For the academic exchange, we have the German academic exchange services located in the University of Ibadan and the University of Ife, respectively. In Abeokuta, we have a school where the German language is offered as a course.

“In order for you to understand how the German system operates, I will give you an example. Visa applicants come to the consulate but if you are seeking a German company that can supply you a compressor or refrigerator, you go to the Delegation of German Chamber of Industry and Commerce for enquiries. Similarly, if a German company needs information on a product in Nigeria, it contacts the German groups saddled with the responsibility of trade and commerce. In the academic sector, the Goethe Institute plays a major role in the arts, entertainment industry, language course, cultural exchange,” he said.

According to Herbert, the embassy and the consulate wet the ground for these groups to tread successfully. For example, the consulate may make contact with the Lagos State government to facilitate the entry/activities of a new company in the state.

Concentration of German companies in Lagos

The envoy said there are about 100 German companies operating in Nigeria, based in Lagos. The disclosure immediately triggered the question: why such a large number in Lagos alone? His answer: “They are historically grown.”

Continuing, he said: “Lagos was the first capital of Nigeria. After Nigeria’s independence, everyone came to Lagos as it established diplomatic relations with other countries. And Lagos developed to become a centre of socio-economic attraction. It became a hub for the country and the power (government). This explains why we have a concentration of our companies here. They all have their headquarters in Lagos though they operate across the country.

“Let me quickly explain that, for us, Nigeria is Germany’s second largest trading partner after South Africa. Of course, the centre of gravity of business, of economic development is in Lagos.”

Bi-National Commission  

In recent years, Germany has looked beyond trade and commerce in its relations with Nigeria. In order for the two countries to promote broad-based bilateral relations, a bi-national commission was set up by both countries. For the Consul, “the birth of the commission is a sign of the good relations we have.”

The commission has working groups on Political Consultation, Economic Relations, Power and Energy, Culture, Education and Migration. The envoy disclosed that meetings of the commission have been taking place in Abuja and Berlin.

“This month, there will be political consultations in Berlin,” he said.

He is confident that both countries have a lot to benefit from the activities of the commission when fully implemented. It marks a new era in the history of Nigerian-German relations.

German-Nigerian bilateral relations robust

The envoy also insisted that relations between the two countries were robust considering the flow of trade and commerce so far. He noted that more German companies were coming to invest in Nigeria even in the face of recession. German investors and entrepreneurs are not scared as they believe the country’s future is bright, he said, stressing, “We see more and more of German companies coming to Nigeria and looking at the market for real investment.”

His optimism is inspired by what he described as the Buhari administration’s shift to the diversification of the economy with emphasis on local production: “There are now new initiatives, the government is trying to establish an industrial base. It has realised that Nigeria focused on oil and gas for too long.”

Balance of trade

But what is the balance of trade between the two countries? According to the envoy, Nigeria exports mainly oil and gas to Germany. It is to the tune of 2 billion euros, in 2015. Seven per cent of German oil is imported from Nigeria. On the other hand, Germany exported to Nigeria machinery, vehicles, chemical products, and pharmaceutical products to the tune of 1 billion euros in the same period.

“So, the balance of trade is in favour of Nigeria,” he noted.

Programme for Nigerian returnees

Commenting on the problem of migrants and asylum seekers, Herbert said Germany does not accept Nigerian migrants seeking asylum because Nigeria is a democracy. Therefore, Berlin does not see any economic reason to grant Nigerians asylum. However, the government has a special programme for Nigerians who trained in Germany and are resident in the country but are ready to return home. He said the German government would give such Nigerians funds for their resettlement in Nigeria.

He disclosed that 30,000 Nigerians are currently resident in Germany. Of the number, 1,500 are students: “I would say, in reality, they are there studying free.”

On the number of Nigerians applying for a visa, the envoy said the consulate in Lagos receives on the average 1,000 application monthly but “the denial rate is very high.” German visa costs 60 euros (N20,500).

Though he did not disclose the percentage of denial, he explained that many of the applicants present forged documents and the consulate is on the alert to detect fraudulent documents. Meanwhile, of the 600,000 foreigners in Germany with criminal records as at 2016, 1 percent is Nigerians.

Educational, civic activities of German groups in Nigeria

Herbert observed that public attention is more focused on the business activities of German companies. “But across the country, German organisations are actively involved in educational and civic activities.” Some of the groups are funded by the companies operating in Nigeria and others by the government and home-based charity groups. For example, the Delegation of German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been holding seminars and training programme on renewable energy.

Also, Nigerians are receiving training from German-sponsored vocational institutes, studying office management, mechanics as well as facility management. In addition, there is a project to train 10,000 young Nigerians, which started in 2016 with 1,500 Nigerians.

Constraints to doing business in Nigeria

Herbert, who has spent two years as Consul in Lagos, was quick to compare doing business in Nigeria to playing the Premier League. He said Nigeria has the population and the market potential is there but when it comes to doing business, “it is not easy.”

He wants the Federal Government to relax its import policy to enable foreign companies bring in components for production that cannot be sourced locally. He also wants the authorities to review the policy on forex to soften the difficulties investors are experiencing.

He raised the question of trust in doing business in Nigeria and explained that German companies are sometimes tempted to bring in people to carry responsibilities that, ordinarily, Nigerians should take. So, there is the problem of finding the right partners. He commended the Lagos State government for guaranteeing a reasonable level of security across the state, stressing that it has encouraged foreign companies to thrive in the state.

SMEs, champion of German economy

Responding to queries on the secret of Germany’s economic growth, Herbert said small-scale enterprises were the backbone of the economy. He said some of the small businesses were either family or group-owned but well managed such that they remove people from the streets as they provide employment. Some may employ 15, 20, 25 and 35 as they expand.

The German government operates a market economy and it encourages small enterprises to grow by creating the enabling environment. Some of the German businesses operating abroad, including Nigeria, are in the category of small-scale business in Germany.

“It is not really the big companies that you hear of that keep the German economy running; no, it is the small businesses. So, they provide big relief to the government through the employment opportunities they create as well as the economic gap they fill,” Herbert said.

On funding, he explained that many of the small businesses were funded by families and funds contributed by groups for the purpose of providing capital. According to the envoy, entrepreneurs don’t abuse the process, they work hard and make profit from which the financiers share dividend.

Germany’s new zest for Africa

Recently, Germany intensified its romance with Africa. What could have been responsible? With a calm and confident tone, Herbert went down memory lane, tracing the history of German relations with the rest of the world: Asia, Europe and Latin America.  The envoy observed that Germany has been active in all these regions, making immense contributions. In many countries of these regions, the impact of Germany is easily felt.

He said Africa has not been visible in the development process, an observation that made “the new President of Germany and former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to say ‘Africa and Germany are close as neighbours but nevertheless far,’ so, suddenly Africa became of interest, a focal area for many reasons.

“There is also the issue of migration, especially through the Mediterranean Sea. We have refugees coming from the Middle East and Syria; it is a tragic experience, we have refugees coming from West Africa, most of them come from Nigeria,” he said.  (The Sun)

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O’odua Nationalist Coalition Calls On The Yoruba To Prepare Own Sovereign Nation

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Oodua people

As the turmoil rages in the country which has now engulfed the youths of Nigeria in a calamitous nationalist’s rhetorics and the probable breakup of the country, every nation, region and ethnic groups are making statements that seem to portray the fragile unity in the union called Nigeria.
Here the group known as O’odua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC) has released their press statement portraying their stand in the state of the country.
See press release below:
 
The O’odua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC) has called on Yoruba people to prepare for their own sovereign nation in Coalition, the lingering problems and conflict built around the national question that has stunted the growth of Nigeria for over a century.
 
This conflict has again reared its head, 50 years after a civil war that inflicted pain and misery on the Yoruba people apart from distorting the development plan of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo for the South West.
 
ONAC is made up of 18 Pan Yoruba groups including the Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC), Oodua Liberation Movement, (OLM), Oodua Republic Coalition, (ORC), Yoruba Revolutionary Congress, (YORC), Oodua Muslim-Christian Dialogue Group , (OMDG), Yoruba Students Nationalist Front, (YOSNF), Oodua Hunters Union, (OHUN) and 11 other groups. The statement was signed by Micheal Popoola, Oluwole Suleiman and Mrs Aduke Fadahunsi on behalf of the coalition.
 
The group called on Yoruba people in the territories of the Hausa-Fulani North to be guided by a strong sense of history and the fact that they will not be spared by those who claim to be their hosts. We advise them to begin to make alternative plans for the inevitable upheaval being promoted by the Fulani oligarchy.
 
The group said the North has always been the aggressor because of the region’s loss of power and the unhidden desire to make Nigeria the irreversible extension of the Fulani emirate. What we see is a violent conflict of civilisations which can only be resolved when each region go her own way. In the bid to keep Nigeria as one country, millions of people have been killed and the lives of children wasted, the future pauperized and the potentials of Yoruba young men and women bottled or chained with fetters of iron.
 
“Today, we make the historic declaration that Yoruba people are ready for our own Oduduwa Republic. We have watched events these past days. The cloud is getting thicker. The poisonous rain appears ready to fall. It is time for the Yoruba people to be ready to defend our homeland from being seized by local imperial elements and their collaborators. We assert Yoruba self-determination and sovereignty. We shall work for it. We will actualize it,” ONAC said in the statement issued at the weekend.
 
The groups said the Yoruba people have suffered unprecedented hardship in the form of human and material destruction since 1960 when the country attained independence.
 
“Our leaders beginning from Chief Obafemi Awolowo were jailed on trumped up charges. 28 leaders of Yoruba were imprisoned unjustly. Chief M.K.O Abiola was murdered. The industrial bases built by Awolowo were destroyed by the military rookies appointed to control the South West region, our culture destroyed and the future of our young people put asunder. Today, many Yoruba people have become scavengers across the world fleeing from a hostile, bloodletting and malicious country that hold no promise of good and abundant life for the long-suffering and exhausted population.
 
The group stated further “we call on Yoruba people all over the world to prepare for a sovereign nation for the people of the South West. We are over 50 million and far more than the population of 140 countries in the world. Yoruba will be the third biggest nation in Africa and about the 28th biggest nation in the world. We are big and knowledgeable enough to be a sovereign nation. We assert the Yoruba self-determination without any further delay.”
 
The Pan Yoruba group said with the position of Northern youths asking Igbo to quit the North, the outright demand for Arewa sovereignty by the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF), and the legitimate demand for Biafra by Igbo, the call for a Niger-Delta Republic “It is time for the Yoruba people to stand for the Oodua Republic without any further delay. Yoruba people this time will not support any attack on Self-determination.We shall mobilise the masses and prevent Yoruba people from being used for any attack on the long-suffering indigenous peoples of the South East and the South- South”
 
ONAC said the quit notice issued by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, (AYCF) and the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF) was not against the Igbo alone but also against the Yoruba since Igbo is not written on the forehead of residents in the North.
 
ONAC stated “ This is not the first time we have called for the Oodua Republic. In April 2015, we organised a massive rally demanding for the Oodua Republic. But today, this demand has become even more crucial than any other thing.
 
SIGNED
 
Oluwole Suleiman
 
Michael Popoola
 
Mrs Aduke Fadahunsi

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Opposition To Grazing Right In The South, Quit Notice To Igbo Are Unconstitutional -Tanko Yakasai

yakassai

 

An elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has said the quit notice served to Ndigbo by northern youths and the refutation of grazing right to Fulani herders are unconstitutional.

Yakasai said this while reacting to the ultimatum given to the Igbos by some Northern youths.

He said, “The quit notice to Igbos by some people in the north and the purported denial of grazing right to Fulani herders in the south are against human rights provisions of the Nigerian constitution, which guaranteed freedom of movement to all Nigerians.”

In an interview with Daily Trust, Yakasai described the denial of Fulani herders from grazing their animals as an infringement on the constitution.

He said, “I read the joint position paper by the Arewa Citizens Action for change. First of all, I believe there is only a Nigerian citizenship, as long as we have a Nigeria. It is a good beginning, but I think we needed a deeper and more serious examination of our situation, which I believe is overdue.

“It does not matter whether Nigeria will continue as a single political entity or not. We in the north need to have a kind of master plan for our future and the future of our people. It is wrong for us to be living in the way we are without any plan for our development for the present and for our future.”

He, therefore, opined that a meeting should be held for a call for action and with people from different disciplines coming together to discuss how to uplift the society.

He pointed out, “A preparatory committee should be set up to define the objectives for the meeting. I for one never believed that Nigerians will be better off in separation.

“I have been having this conviction right from 1953 and my position remains the same till today. But, it will be foolhardy to sit idly by in the face of one agitation after another. In a period of uncertainty, it is wrong to assume everything is normal.

“It is better to have as many options as possible at your disposal. Even if the need to use any option shall not arise, in the end, you have nothing to lose by being prepared for the unexpected.”

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FG Should Let Biafrans Go, Northern Youths Insist |The Republican News

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IPOB members and Nigerian security forces in Aba 

Bayo Akinloye

The Coalition of Northern Groups has called on the Federal Government to initiate a process allowing the Igbo to vote in a referendum that will allow them to have an independent state of Biafra.

The group, which comprised of the Arewa Citizens Action for Change; Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Arewa Youth Development Foundation; Arewa Students Forum; and the Northern Emancipation Network, in a statement issued on Thursday, following the backlash that greeted its Tuesday statement in which a three-month ultimatum was issued to Igbo living in the North to leave the region.

“We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria as a matter of urgency to initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. Let them go. We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.

“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognised international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and the UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualisation of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation,” the group said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman.

The group, which had on Tuesday urged Igbo leave the North for “their newfound country in order to allow other people have peace” said its statement was twisted out of context, hence the need for clarification.

“We are today compelled to make this further statement to clarify our stand on some issues that trailed the Kaduna Declaration made on Tuesday. After meeting to review the fallout of that Tuesday’s declaration, our groups have arrived at the following fundamental observations: That some elements have for reasons best known to them, mischievously distorted the intent of our original script by alluding to such words as ‘violence,’ ‘threat,’ ‘war,’ and ‘mass action’ to it.

“We find this mischievous because as cultured, thoroughbred northerners we have never anywhere and at any time, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution. In strict observance of that tradition we never employ violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications,” it said.

The coalition noted that despite the minor distortions that caused some measure of anxiety, many Nigerians were in support of its position, describing them as people “who have been tormented and menaced by the irredentist proclivities of the Igbo.” (Punchng.com)

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Residents Flee As Boko Haram Attacks Maiduguri |The Republican News

boko-haram

Olaleye Aluko and Kayode Idowu

The Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday engaged troops of the Nigerian Army in a gun battle, after attempting to capture Jiddari Polo community in Maiduguri, Borno State.

Our correspondents learnt that an undisclosed number of the terrorists were shot dead, while some escaped with gunshot injuries.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, who confirmed the attack, said the troops repelled the invasion and killed most of the terrorists.

Residents of Jiddari Polo fled their houses to neighbouring communities, as the terrorists, whose number was reportedly overwhelming, attacked the area.

Many residents of the town were forced to stay indoors as bullets flew on the streets of Jiddari Polo, an area on the outskirts of the troubled town.

A resident of Jiddari Polo, Janet Ibrahim, who spoke to one of our correspondents at about 8 pm said, “There were bullets flying everywhere, and all of us were in a panic.”

She said, “I cannot tell you the number of casualties now. But I can say the insurgents tried to gain entrance into Maiduguri and they were engaged by the military for about two hours.”

Ibrahim added, “They (insurgents) fled back when the military aircraft came hovering over the area. The situation was bad as you can still see bullets all over the streets.”

The attack made some residents of Jiddari Polo flee into other parts of Maiduguri as they fear they might be caught up in the crossfire.

One resident that fled the area, Abraham Haruna, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that “I just had to run from my house when the gunshots seem to be coming closer.”

He added, “I am not returning home tonight, I will have to sleep in our church within Maiduguri.”

Confirming the attack, the Deputy Director Army Public Relations 7 Division, headquarters in Maiduguri, Lt. Col. Kingsley Samuel, in a press statement, asked that the residents of the town should not panic.

He said, “The situation in Maiduguri is under control. The general public is requested not to panic and stay calm.”  (Punchng.com)

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Only Divine Powers Will Stop Nigeria From Breaking, Says Doyin Okupe

 

DoyinOkupe

Doyin Okupe

 

Former media aide to the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe has said that only God holds the key to the nation’s continuous indivisibility.

In an article, he entitled, “Drums of war and Cries for Separation,” Okupe relied on the supernatural forces to keep the country in one piece.

He wrote, “Yes, again and again, there are drums of war, rumours of Coups and heightened cries for separation. Yet Nigeria will not break. I repeat as God liveth Nigeria is not about to break up.

“Those who rely on what is seen physically and those who are not too knowledgeable about life may want to hold this assertion in derision.

“Yet there is more than meets the eye in matters that controls the affairs of Nations and Men.

“True, all the Ingredients required to justify a dismemberment of our union are fully present: inequality, injustice, nepotism, corruption, deception, sectional neglect and lack of inclusivity, mutual distrust etc; fortunately or unfortunately it is not in the manifest destiny of this great Nation to disintegrate.

“To anyone who is discerning, it has been crystal clear that God has shown His guiding hand in the affairs of Nigeria since the June 12 debacle. God does not act in vain but for a purpose. It will be preposterous to assume that the purpose of God’s intervention in the affairs of Nigeria in the past 25 years is to lead us to a breakup.

“In truth, the Nigerian experiment or marriage is grossly imperfect and obviously not working.

“The Nigerian Union presents some of the outstanding features of a dysfunctional marriage.

“There is sustained anger, mutual contempt and distrust, lack of openness and poor communication among its component parts.

“In recent times the health of Mr President has been a source of concern to all. But more importantly, the North is more apprehensive in view of the previous experience with late President Yaradua.

“But they are not willing to discuss this openly. Official handling of the situation suggests sectional protectionism rather than presenting a national problem seeking for a national solution.

“Afterall this is a President loved and voted for by nearly a fanatical nationwide followers. Why should his adversity be borne and protected only by a section or just a few disciples?

“On the other side are those, mainly southerners who gloat over the President’s health challenges and cannot wait for power to be handed over to the Vice President and for the latter to actually assume the full status of the President, almost immediately.

They rely exclusively on the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, totally ignoring the main and the central abiding political philosophy of power sharing in Nigeria.

“Obviously there are serious and genuine fears across the divide. But as typical of a dysfunctional union, nobody is ready or willing to discuss these fears openly or even within leadership caucuses.

“What we then get are heightened calls and counter calls for the breakup of the country, calls for restructuring and official rumours of Coups.

“This is not the way to develop a great Nation. There is the need for a unity of purpose, an abiding faith in the Unity of the Nation.

There is an urgent need to develop a national platform from which we can nurture the emergence of an elite political “consensus from where we can always look at our problems as national problems and bring about unified national solutions.

Then and only then can our Nation be on its ultimate journey to its divine destiny of greatness.

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Nigeria’s New UN Envoy Wants Stolen Assets Returned |The Republican News

Nigeria's new UN envoy wants stolen assets returned

The Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN Office and Other International Organisations (UNOG) Amb. Audu Kadiri, in Geneva has sought the assistance of the UN to­wards expeditious return of the country’s stolen assets stashed abroad.

Clement Aduku, Spokesperson in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday in a statement said Kadiri, made the call when he presented his Credentials to Mr Michael Møller, the Director-General of the UNOG, in Geneva.
Kadiri, specifically called on the UN Sec­retary-General, Antonio Guterres to facil­itate the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets.
On the Security challenges in the North­east occasioned by Boko Haram terrorism, Kadiri told the director-general that Nige­ria has made significant progress in the decimation of the capacity of the terror­ists group.
He also briefed the director-general on the recent of 83 of the Chibok girls as well as Government’s effort in addressing the emergent humanitarian situation in the North East.
Kadiri urged the UN Secretary-Gener­al to use his good offices in facilitating the delivery of the commitments undertaken at the International Donor Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region held on Feb. 24, in Oslo Norway.       (Authority)

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