Press zooms in on confirmation of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as WTO DG, others

The confirmation of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director General of the World Trade Organisation on Monday and her…

The confirmation of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director General of the World Trade Organisation on Monday and her agenda for rebranding the international trade body dominate the headlines of Nigerian press on Tuesday.ThisDay reports that with her emergence yesterday as the first African and first female to be the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, unveiled her agenda, which include working with other members of the organisation in reforming and rebranding the global trade body.

Okonjo-Iweala, in her acceptance speech after the WTO’s General Council agreed by consensus to select her as the organisation’s seventh director-general, also highlighted the need for procedural reforms so that the WTO would better serve its members.

Her coronation as the WTO DG, after a nerve-wracking delay caused by former President Donald Trump’s objection to her candidacy threw Nigeria and other countries into a rapture with President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; President of the European Central Bank, Ms. Christine Lagarde; and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) showering encomiums on her.

She is to assume office on March 1, 2021, and her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025. According to her, the rulebook of the Geneva-based organisation is outdated and its rules lag behind those of some regional and bilateral trade agreements, which are incorporating many innovations.

The newspaper says that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, increased by 16.47 percent (year-on-year) in January compared to 15.75 percent in December, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The NBS blamed the 0.71 percentage points increase on higher food and commodity prices.According to the CPI report for January, which was released Tuesday by the statistical agency, the composite food index rose by 20.57 per cent in the period under review compared to 19.56 per cent in the preceding month.

The Vanguard reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.

Bawa, 40, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.

He has undergone several specialized trainings in different parts of the world, and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005. Bawa holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy.

The Guardian says that the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF) is enhancing surveillance at the nation’s points of entry to respond to recent outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring countries, especially, Guinea and the Congo DCR.

Nigeria’s Port Health Services have been put on alert on land, while sea and Air borders as well as major hospitals have also been put on notice for a keen index and to check patient travel history, especially at Outpatient departments, and report concerns to infectious disease focal persons and state epidemiologists.

This came as the Federal Government, yesterday, assured that the country would soon get safe and efficacious COVID-19 doses as promised, despite recent concerns over efficacy of the vaccines following emergence of new variants.

It was gathered that the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) had allocated 1.4 million free doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Nigeria, of which 500,000 doses are expected by the end of this month, courtesy of MTN’s donation of 7 million doses to Africa. The balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March 2021.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this at the PTF briefing yesterday in Abuja, noted that Nigeria was willing to send experienced volunteers from its Centres of Excellence on Viral haemmorrhagic fever, to support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) measures to contain Ebola resurgence in West African sub region.

The newspaper reports that troops of 21 and 26 Brigades of Nigerian Army supported by the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have neutralised 81 terrorists in five villages of Sambisa Forest.

Confirming the military operations yesterday in Maiduguri, Madu Bukar, a Civilian JTF leader assisting the army to fight terrorists disclosed: “Our troops inside the forest this month encountered stiff resistance from the terrorists, who planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) along the troops’ advance routes.

“We destroyed terrorists’ camps and recovered their gun trucks and other weapons, while they were fleeing the cleared villages.”

He, however, noted that one of the soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice and four wounded by explosives. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, applauded the troops and urged them to sustain the military operations. While paying tribute to fallen heroes, he said: “You’re to honour the memory by dealing with the terrorists ruthlessly.”

The Punch says that the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, may have gulped at least N11.20bn in one week as the rise in global oil prices pushed up the landing cost of the product.

On February 5, when oil price neared $60 per barrel, the expected open market price of petrol rose to over N200 per litre, based on the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.

The product is currently being sold at between N160 and N165 per litre at many filling stations in Lagos. Using an expected open market price of N190 per litre of petrol and an average current pump price of N162 per litre indicates a subsidy of N28 per litre.

With a daily petrol consumption of about 57 million litres and a subsidy of N28 per litre, it means subsidy gulped N1.60bn in a day and N11.20bn in a week (February 5 to 12).

The Nation reports that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the Federal Government to set up a social pricing window for vulnerable Nigerians to mitigate the impact of deregulation policy.

Its Director-General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, told reporters in Lagos that the government must prioritise mass transit to reduce the impact of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on transportation cost.

Yusuf noted that the removal of subsidy on PMS (also known as petrol) would cause some challenges, which could be for a short term if the right programmes are put in place.

He said: “I will say that the deregulation policy is something that should be sustained and we should be looking at how we can mitigate the short-term challenges on Nigerians. “In the short term, we can look at a social pricing window for the vulnerable segment of society.”