Users of the Rivers and Onne Ports have complained about losses as a result of the arrest of port workers by the state COVID-19 task force on the orders of Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers state. Wike, who has imposed a 24-hour lockdown on Port Harcourt and Obi Akpor LGAs over the COVID-19 pandemic, refused to classify port workers as essential contrary to the guidelines of the presidential task force of COVID-19 which classified port operations as essential services. The FG had said that despite the lockdown, ports should remain open to trade so as to facilitate importation and delivery of essential goods, such as foods and medical supplies. In the last one week, many port workers, including staffers of the regulatory Nigerian Ports Authority, terminal operators, shipping agents and dockworkers have been arrested, and the vehicles conveying them to work impounded. Speaking with TheCable, Daniel Kalu, the MD of Africa Atlantic, said that a vessel transporting 4,500 metric tons of frozen mackerel fish has been unable to berth at the Rivers Port for about two weeks, a situation which he said could make his company lose the entire consignment. The same vessel had called in and discharged cargo at the Lagos ports before heading to Port Harcourt.
Ibrahim Gambari, 75, a professor of political science and Nigeria’s former permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), will be announced as the new chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, multiple news reports say. He will be presented during the virtual meeting of the federal executive council (FEC). Although his appointment has not been officially announced, news reports cite unnamed presidency sources as saying that he will replace Abba Kyari, who died from COVID-19 complications last month. Gambari, from Ilorin, Kwara, was minister of external affairs when Buhari was military head of state between 1983 and 1985. He is currently the founder/chairman of the Savannah Center External Link in Abuja, a think-tank for research, training and public policy debate on the nexus between diplomacy (conflict resolution), democracy and development in Africa. His last assignment at the United Nations was as the joint special representative of the Secretary-General and chairperson of the African Union Commission/Head of the UN and Africa Union hybrid mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from January 2010 to July 2012. During his tenure, UNAMID was the world’s largest international peacekeeping mission.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives has approved President Buhari’s request to borrow ₦850 billion ($2.36 billion) to fund the country’s 2020 budget. The Senate had in last month upon resumption from recess, okayed the request plan amidst controversy. The loan, according to Buhari, is needed to replace previously approved external loans, as the conditions from international capital markets are not conducive for borrowing. The approval was however given by the House at the plenary on Tuesday within about seven minutes. The FG had earlier submitted to the National Assembly a revised 2020 budget, with reduced revenue and expenditure expectations, to reflect the current reality of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
About 23,000 residents in northwest Nigeria ravaged by violence have left the region to seek refuge in Niger Republic since April this year. This has raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the region, the United Nations Refugee Agency said on Tuesday. The number of people leaving the area and running to neighbouring Niger due to the nefarious activities of terrorist groups has almost tripled from last year when the agency reported the first influx of 20,000 people following an insurgency and banditry in northern Nigeria. The organisation reported that the latest influx of mostly women and children came after attacks by gunmen in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states last month. The deadliest attack was said to have claimed 47 lives in Katsina State, prompting airstrikes by Nigerian security forces already stretched tackling a decade-long insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram in the northeast. The UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said they are working closely with authorities in Niger to relocate at least 7,000 refugees to safety as discussion are also ongoing to recognize on a prima facie basis the refugees fleeing the West African Country and arriving in the region. Nigeria had closed all land borders in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 4,600 people in the country with 150 deaths. It first shut parts of its borders last year to fight smuggling but people could still cross both ways. However, the refugees from Nigeria are being allowed to seek protection in Niger despite border closures with people in need of food, shelter and basic services including healthcare, the agency said.