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Northeast: $848m Required For Humanitarian Projects, Says UN

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More than 7.1 million of the 13.4 million people Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are facing the brunt of terrorists’ attacks, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), has said.

The UN agency also said $848 million would be required for 183 projects to address the humanitarian crisis by insurgency in the Northeast this year.

These were contained in the details of presentations by UN-OCHA) at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in Abuja .

In the document, UN-OCHA officials, led by United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, expressed grave concerns that the ongoing crisis in the Northeast had sacked thousands from their homes.

Besides, the Director-General of European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO Nigeria), Mr. Thomas Conan and representatives of other donor agencies reaffirmed commitment to help Nigeria resolve some outstanding challenges.

A director in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Dr. Sanjo Faniran, emphasized the ministry’s appeal that all Nigerians should do their best by contributing in whatever way they can.

“There is crisis in the North East today, but while no one prays for it, challenges could happen in other any other place in future,” Faniran stated in his appeal.

Acknowleding only a marginal reduction in last year’s number of victims in the Northeast, OCHA officials noted that many returnees in various parts of the Northeast still find it very difficult to go their respective homes while significant numbers of children are sleeping under trees in spite of the chilly harmattan breeze.

According to OCHA officials, numerous facilities and projects, including the UN camp for thousands of internally-displaced persons in Rann, Borno State, have either suffered devastations or reverses after terrorists overran various areas.

They said: “The number of people estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance has dropped by eight per cent compared to 2018, from 7.7 million to 7.1 million; the reduced number of people in need is attributed to improved provision of humanitarian assistance, in particular with regard to food security.

“The number of people who will be targeted for assistance has increased from last year, from 6.1 million to 6.2 million.

“Although the Food Security, Nutrition and Education sectors significantly reduced their targets, the Early Recovery and Protection sectors have increased.

“Financial requirements have decreased 19 per cent , from $1.05 billion to $848 million, reflecting a sharper and more focused approach to the humanitarian response by sectors, and taking into account additional funds for Northeast Nigeria outside of the humanitarian sphere, such as those pledged at the High Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region in September 2018 and international financial institution monies that have been or are due to be disbursed,” the OCHA stated in its 75-page draft “Humanitarian Response Strategy”.

An estimated total of 6.2 million people being targeted for humanitarian assistance, including food, health and water, include one million persons from Yobe state, 1.3 million from Adamawa and 3.9 million from Borno while others in dangerous localities are categorised as ‘hard to reach people’.

“I’m honoured to present the 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy, with a one-year response plan targeting 6.2 million of the most vulnerable people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states for humanitarian assistance; the financial appeal this year has reduced from $1 billion in 2018 to $848 million, reflecting a sharpened focus in the response and an increase in funding for development activities.

“Despite a significant scale-up of the humanitarian response by the United Nations and partners since 2016, in support of the Government of Nigeria, the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria continues. Civilians still hear the brunt of a conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement, abuse, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

“New and protracted displacement, triggered by the conflict, continues to affect access to basic services and disrupts the livelihoods of millions of people. Acute malnutrition among children under the age of five is above emergency thresholds in many parts of the Northeast.

“In line with a strong commitment to principled humanitarian action, humanitarian partners will seek to address humanitarian needs wherever they may be located in north-east Nigeria; strong partnerships between national and international actors are critical to ensuring people receive the life-saving assistance they need.

“In 2018, donors funded the appeal very generously. The $1 billion appeal was 67 per cent funded, representing over $698 million; other large-scale crises also require donor support, however it is essential to continue this positive momentum and build on the results achieved last year.

“Should we fail to meet our targets, it could undermine the progress made to date. This 2019-2021 Humanitarian Response Strategy provides a way forward to tackle the challenges inherent in planning and responding to large-scale needs in a complex setting.”

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Zainab Ahmed: States Put Pressure on us to Spend all the Money Instead of Saving in ECA

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Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, says representatives of states often put pressure on the federal government to spend all the income realised when some could be set aside in the excess crude account.

The minister made this known on Friday while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group.

“The ECA is an account where we put our savings from excess crude sales,” she said.

“We are supposed to be making these savings as a matter of routine but over the years we have not been able to do that.

“But we will try to start saving in the ECA routinely.

“The NSIA is supposed to be funded from the ECA but unfortunately because the build-up is very slow, we have only increased our investment in the NSIA periodically.

“So we want to change that to make it as a matter of routine that every FAAC once we pass a certain threshold, we save.

“We need the cooperation of the states as well because often times we see the states putting pressure, that they want all the funds to be used for the running of their states.”

The excess crude account is supposed to hold funds when oil prices are sold above the budget benchmark.

Abebe Selassie, head of the African department at IMF, had described Nigeria’s excess crude account as one of the worst managed sovereign wealth funds in the world.

In 2016, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, had said that there was no political will to save during her second term as finance minister.

“In my second time as a finance minister, from 2011 to 2015, we had the instrument, we had the means, we had done it before, but zero political will,” she said.

“So we were not able to save when we should have. That is why you find that Nigeria is now in the situation it is in. Along with so many other countries.”

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We Are Recruiting, NNPC Confirms

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has opened its portal for recruitment of fresh graduates and experienced professionals into the system.

Mr Ndu Ughamadu, its Group General Manager, (Public Affairs Division), confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that the portal for the recruitment was opened on Wednesday.

The recruitment portal address is https:/careers.nnpcgroup.com.

“The portal was opened today and I have received hundreds of inquiries weather it is correct or not.

“We are going to recruit people from different engineering fields , especially fresh graduates and equally in the administrative areas,” he said

Ughamadu said that recruitment would be in three categories of fresh graduates, senior officers/ supervisory cadre and managerial cadre.

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Huawei Goes On A Charm Offensive

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Chinese telecom giant Huawei insisted on Wednesday its products feature no security “backdoors” for the government, as the normally secretive company gave foreign media a peek inside its state-of-the-art facilities.

Huawei has kicked off the year with an aggressive PR campaign to counter US warnings that it could be used by Beijing for espionage and sabotage, with reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei denying the fears in a series of foreign media interviews.

The charm offensive went into another gear Wednesday as Huawei welcomed news organisations to its facilities in southern Guangdong province.

That included a stop at Huawei’s Independent Cyber Security Laboratory, whose director Wang Jin waved off the US fears.

Huawei’s mobile phone production line in Dongguan

“Our most basic red line is that our products cannot have any backdoors,” Wang said.

Journalists also toured a huge factory floor with 35 highly automated assembly lines in the city of Dongguan, where an array of robotic arms put together a Huawei P20 smartphone every 28.5 seconds.

Foreign journalist visits are hardly routine at Huawei’s facilities in Guangdong, where high-tech labs and manufacturing facilities employ more than 60,000 people, but these are unusual times for the company.

Meng Wanzhou of Huawei: faces extradition to US from Canada

The United States says Huawei equipment could be manipulated by China’s Communist government to spy on other countries and disrupt critical communications.

Washington is urging governments to shun the company just as the world readies for the advent of ultra-fast 5G telecommunications, an advancement that Huawei was expected to lead and which will allow wide adoption of next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence.

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Ren’s daughter, also faces a court hearing on Wednesday in Vancouver on a US extradition request. Two Canadians have been detained in China in suspected retaliation over her arrest.

During the tour, journalists were served coffee in cups featuring an image of a lighthouse and the words: “Lighting a beacon for Wanzhou’s early return.”

The US Justice Department accuses Huawei and Meng of circumventing US sanctions against Iran. Two affiliates also have been charged with stealing trade secrets from telecommunications group T-Mobile.

Christopher Balding, a China expert at Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City, said Huawei’s sudden PR outreach shows its concern over the US stance, but that the company shouldn’t suffer too much damage.

“They should be able to ride this out,” Balding told AFP.

“It’s not realistic to expect the entire world to shun Huawei and that probably wouldn’t be good anyway.”

Founded by Ren in 1987, Huawei has espoused a relentless “wolf” ethos that executives say fuelled its rise to become the world leader in telecom network hardware.

It remains to be seen how the new charm offensive will play out, but the wolf may already smell blood.

After intense recent lobbying by Huawei, reports have suggested Britain and New Zealand may walk back earlier indications that the company would be frozen out of their telecom plans.

At the world’s top mobile industry fair in Spain last week, Huawei bagged 5G commercial contracts or partnership agreements with 10 telecom operators — including Switzerland’s Sunrise, Iceland’s Nova, Saudi Arabia’s STC and Turkey’s Turkcell.

On Thursday, Huawei Chairman Guo Ping will hold a news conference at the Shenzhen headquarters that may be the real reason for the media tour’s timing.

The New York Times on Monday cited anonymous sources saying Huawei this week will announce plans to sue the US government for barring American federal agencies from using the company’s products.

The topic of the news conference has not been disclosed, but a big announcement would allow Huawei to seize back the narrative from Meng’s extradition hearing.

Huawei declined to comment publicly on the Times report.

Opening its sprawling grounds also is a chance for Huawei to show that it is a global player not to be trifled with.

Its Shenzhen headquarters — near Dongguan — has cutting-edge laboratories, hotels, swimming pools and fitness centres, a dozen cafeterias, and a Huawei University where it trains staff as well as foreign customers and partners.

Huawei strenuously denies any connections to China’s government.

Sceptics, however, say it is highly unlikely that Ren, a former Chinese army engineer, could have steered his company to such heights in such a strategic sector without the support of Beijing, which has clearly stated its goal of becoming the world’s high-tech leader.

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