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Former Cuban President Fidel Castro dies

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Fidel Castro
  • Former Cuban President Fidel Castro dies

Cuban revolutionary icon and former president Fidel Castro died late Friday in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television.

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” the president announced on national television. Fidel Castro was 90.

Raul Castro, who took power after his older brother Fidel was hospitalised in 2006, said that the revolutionary leader’s remains will be cremated early on Saturday, “in compliance with his expressed will.”

Raul Castro made the announcement just after midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday).

One of the leading world figures in the second half of the 20th century, Fidel Castro had outsized influence given the size of his small Caribbean island. He was said to have survived countless US assassination attempts.

The former Cuban president, who died aged 90 on Friday, said he would never retire from politics.

But emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 drove him to hand power to Raul Castro, who ended his brother’s antagonistic approach to Washington, shocking the world in December 2014 in announcing a rapprochement with US President Barack Obama.

Famed for his rumpled olive fatigues, straggly beard and the cigars he reluctantly gave up for health reasons, Fidel Castro kept a tight clamp on dissent at home while defining himself abroad with his defiance of Washington.

In the end, he essentially won the political staring game, even if the Cuban people do continue to live in poverty and the once-touted revolution he led has lost its shine.

As he renewed diplomatic ties, Obama acknowledged that decades of US sanctions had failed to bring down the regime — a drive designed to introduce democracy and foster western-style economic reforms — and it was time to try another way to help the Cuban people.

A great survivor and a firebrand, if windy orator, Castro dodged all his enemies could throw at him in nearly half a century in power, including assassination plots, a US-backed invasion bid, and tough US economic sanctions.

Born August 13, 1926 to a prosperous Spanish immigrant landowner and a Cuban mother who was the family housekeeper, young Castro was a quick study and a baseball fanatic who dreamed of a golden future playing in the US big leagues.

But his young man’s dreams evolved not in sports but politics. He went on to form the guerrilla opposition to the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista, who seized power in a 1952 coup.

That involvement netted the young Fidel Castro two years in jail, and he subsequently went into exile to sow the seeds of a revolt, launched in earnest on December 2, 1956 when he and his band of followers landed in southeastern Cuba on the ship Granma.

Twenty-five months later, against great odds, they ousted Batista and Castro was named prime minister.

Lawyer turned fighter

Once in undisputed power, Castro, a Jesuit-schooled lawyer, aligned himself with the Soviet Union. And the Cold War Eastern Bloc bankrolled his tropi-communism until the Soviet bloc’s own collapse in 1989.

Fidel Castro held onto power as 11 US presidents took office and each after the other sought to pressure his regime over the decades following his 1959 revolution, which closed a long era of Washington’s dominance over Cuba dating to the 1989 Spanish-American War.

And Castro’s dangerous liaison with the Soviet Union took the world to the nerve-jarring edge of nuclear war in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It was sparked when Moscow sought to position nuclear-tipped missiles on the island just 144 kilometers (90 miles) off the US state of Florida.

After a tense standoff between the rival superpowers, the world pulled back from the abyss as Moscow agreed to keep the missiles off Cuban soil.

Castro strode the world stage as a communist icon when the Cold War was at its height.

He sent 15,000 soldiers to help Soviet-backed troops in Angola in 1975 and dispatched forces to Ethiopia in 1977.

The United States has variously been infuriated, embarrassed and alarmed at Castro’s defiance, and intensely frustrated by his survival in power despite the economic embargo Washington hoped in vain would spark rebellion.

The tempestuous Cuban president himself repeatedly pinned the blame for Cubans’ economic hardship on the embargo. The United States had invaded the island nation before, he reminded his 11 million people constantly, and could do so again at any time.

After a cutoff of Soviet bloc aid in 1989 nearly collapsed the economy, Castro allowed more international tourism and slight economic reform on the Caribbean’s largest island.

But as even China loosened economic reins, Havana backtracked and held tight to the centralized economic model. Instead, a new ally, Hugo Chavez, president of oil-rich Venezuela and also a foe of Washington, began bankrolling Castro’s regime.

Known widely among Cubans as simply “Fidel” or “El Comandante,” Castro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States in 1961 and expropriated US companies’ assets totaling more than one billion dollars.

In April 1961 he weathered an invasion attempt by some 1,300 CIA-trained Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs.

But the island suffered from an exodus of people and capital abroad, mainly to Florida where a large anti-Castro movement thrived.

Castro kept his private life largely private, but in recent years, more details became public.

In 1948, he married Mirta Diaz-Balart, who gave birth to their first son, Fidelito. The couple later divorced.

In 1952, Castro met Naty Revuelta, a socialite married to a doctor, and they had a daughter, Alina, in 1956.

He met Celia Sanchez, said to have been his main life partner, in 1957 and remained with her until her death in 1980.

In the 1980s, Castro reportedly married Dalia Soto del Valle, with whom he had five children: Angel, Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis and Alex.
After stepping aside in 2006, Fidel Castro recovered slowly from surgery and kept rallying on the sidelines to push his Revolution into the 21st century. It made it, in decidedly rough shape.

President Raul Castro, the former defense chief who is now (born June 3, 1931) himself, in the past few years kept dissent largely in check and economic reform limited, with the island’s economy in very dire straits.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Fiscal Federalism: Lagos Demands One Percent in Revenue Allocation Formula

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Sanwo-olu - Investorsking

Lagos State Government on Monday demanded a one percent share in the revenue allocation formula, maintaining that the special status of the State and its prosperity directly or indirectly have multiplying effects on the South-West region and the entire country.

Lagos State Government also proposed that the revenue sharing formula should be 34 percent for Federal Government including one percent for FCT – Abuja, 42 percent for State Governments, 23 percent for Local Governments and one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) as against the current revenue allocation formula, which are 52.68 percent, 26.72 percent and 20.60 percent for Federal Government, 36 state governments and 774 local governments respectively.

The demands were made by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the opening of a two-day South-West Zonal Public hearing on the review of revenue allocation formula by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) held on Monday at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a memorandum on review of Revenue Allocation Formula he submitted to the RMAFC declared that allocating one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) and allowing the three tiers of government to share 99 percent in a new revenue sharing formula is very straightforward, self-justifying and in no way controversial.

He said the review of the current revenue allocation formula is long overdue, noting that the best way to guarantee national progress and development is by paying attention to sub-national development because the national is a summation and a reflection of the sub-national.

He also reiterated the call for Lagos State to be accorded special status in recognition of its huge financial commitments to infrastructure and provision of basic amenities for the increasing population of its residents, as well as its preeminent contribution to the national coffers.

He said the call, which has been re-echoed at different fora and at various levels and tiers of government, cannot be overemphasized, especially against the backdrop of the current economic situation of the country, the aftermath of the EndSARS protests a year ago, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which Lagos has been the national epicenter.

“Our demand is a sharing formula that is just, fair and equitable; reflecting the contribution of stakeholders to the common purse, and also one that enhances the capacity of state and local governments to deliver high-quality services and the full dividends of democracy to the greatest number of our people.

“Lagos State is no doubt the nation’s commercial capital, and population center. The level of funding required to service the State’s social and public infrastructure is so significant that it will be difficult for the State to bear the burden for much longer under the present arrangement.

“I should say that it will actually be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is, therefore, necessary to give due consideration to all the variables that support our advocacy for a Special Status.

“The call for a special status for Lagos is not a selfish proposition; it is in the best interest of the country and all Nigerians, for Lagos which accounts for about 20 percent of the national GDP and about 10 percent of the nation’s population to continue to prosper,” the Governor said.

Justifying the need for Lagos State to be accorded special status, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Lagos is more than just another state in the Nigerian federation, noting that there is no tribe in the country that has no significant stake in Lagos State.

He said: “As the former capital of the country for 77 years (compared to the 30 years that Abuja has been the Federal Capital Territory), Nigeria’s largest metropolis still bears the heavy brunt of being home to all Nigerians; irrespective of age, class, gender, religious affiliation or tribe.

“There are several statistics that show the number of people that comes into Lagos every day, however, there are clear indications that most of these people migrate with the intention to make Lagos their new home and in pursuit of personal dreams due to the opportunities the city-state seemingly possesses, and this portends additional responsibilities on the government.

“Additionally, Lagos still harbors a huge number of federal establishments which could not be moved to Abuja. These include military cantonments and barracks, Police, Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence, Prisons, Road Safety and security/intelligence establishments.

“There are several reasons to justify the call for a special status for Lagos apart from the aforementioned factors and by extension, a review of the Revenue Allocation Sharing Formula.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu also said that it would be unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear the burden of the massive destruction experienced by the State during the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums and the COVID-19 pandemic without assistance from the Centre.

“This month marks one year after the massive destruction experienced by the State in the violence that accompanied the hijacking of the EndSARS protests. Public buildings were burnt down, and historical infrastructure was destroyed.

“Although we have put that experience behind us and forged ahead, the reality of this unfortunate incident remains with us; resources that should be committed to other areas of need are now being used for the restoration of these public facilities. It will be totally unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear these huge expenses without assistance from the Centre.

“COVID-19 pandemic is another issue that has once again, supported the justification for Lagos to be accorded the privilege of special status. As much as this affects the entire country, it is a fact that the degree of the havoc caused by this virus differs from State to State.

“Lagos was the epicenter for this virus, the same way it was for the Ebola virus some years ago. The management of these unforeseen occurrences comes with huge responsibilities and financial commitments on the part of the State Government,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu commended the Chairman and members of RMAFC for taking a bold step, which he believed will “result in a fundamental alteration of the current revenue sharing formula, in favour of one that is truly fair and equitable, and that takes into full consideration the specific and more pragmatic fiscal contexts of the sub-national governments of the Federation.”

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FG Places 3,964 Nigerians on Watch List, Suspends Passports

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Nigerian passport - Investorsking

No fewer than 3,964 Nigerians are currently on the watch list of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The names of the affected individuals, it was gathered, have been placed with security agencies at the nation’s international airports where they will be arrested on sight.

According to the 2020 NIS annual report suspect index, 308 persons were placed on the watch list in 2019, 166 in 2020, while 51 persons were stop-listed in two years.

No fewer than 3, 438 passports are also being watch, while 23 are on the exemption list.

The report states, “Suspect index reviews and maintains the list of persons whose entry into Nigeria is prohibited or on whom special instructions are in place with respect to entry and departure from Nigeria. The travel documents are the instruments used to achieve this objective through synergy with other law enforcement agencies and court of competent jurisdiction.”

In a related development, the NIS has revoked 149, 875 stolen or lost passports and uploaded them to Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database via the Web Services for Data Management platform.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the FG may not meet its 2021 revenue projection from NIS services.

Findings show that there might be revenue shortfall from visa; e-PASS, ECOWAS Residence Card, the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card and other documents issued by the NIS due to the reduced number of foreign visitors and expatriates in the country following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Immigration sources said the number of Italians, Britons, South Africans, Chinese, Indians, and other Asians, who constitute a large percentage of expatriates in the country, had reduced on account of travel restrictions imposed by their respective countries.

The erstwhile Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede had said the service recorded a 40 per cent revenue shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures from the NIS showed that in 2018, the immigration service generated N20.3bn from CERPAC; N40.7bn in 2019, and N16.7bn in 2020.

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Government

Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy

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Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria- Investors king

Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.

This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.

Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.

According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.

He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.

“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.

“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.

“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.

“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.

“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.

“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.

“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.

Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.

Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.

Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.

The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.

He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.

He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.

Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.

She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.

“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.

“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.

“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.

“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)

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