- China Warns of War Risk as Trump Rattles Saber at North Korea
China warned that a war on the Korean Peninsula would have devastating consequences as the U.S. threatened military retaliation against North Korea if it proceeds with a nuclear test this weekend.
As U.S. Vice President Mike Pence heads to Asia on a 10-day trip that will include South Korea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged all parties “to stop provoking and threatening each other and not to make the situation irretrievable.”
“Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but losing all round and no one could become a winner,” Wang told reporters in Beijing on Friday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The world is watching North Korea as speculation mounts that Kim Jong Un’s regime will carry out a ballistic missile or nuclear test this weekend to mark the 105th birth anniversary of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the nation’s founder, on Saturday.
While President Donald Trump’s administration is ratcheting up pressure on China to contain its neighbor and ally, the U.S. says it’s also willing to act on its own. Administration officials said Thursday it’s considering economic sanctions and military options if a provocation by North Korea occurs.
Pence will discuss the U.S. response when he visits South Korea and Japan as part of his Asian tour. He’ll arrive in Seoul on Easter Sunday, a day after North Korea’s biggest holiday. White House foreign policy aides who requested anonymity to discuss the vice president’s travel say North Korea has telegraphed the possibility of a test to coincide with the occasion.
Pence’s trip comes after Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to the waters around the Korean Peninsula. Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site obtained by 38 North, a program devoted to analysis of the country at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, showed activity at the site suggestive of preparations for a nuclear test.
“North Korea is a problem,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “The problem will be taken care of.”
Any U.S. military strike risks leading to a war between the world’s biggest economies that would threaten to devastate South Korea and Japan, two American allies in striking range of retaliatory attacks. China has backed North Korea since the peninsula was last at war in the 1950s, in part to prevent having an American ally on its border.
The Chinese military dispatched 20 submarines in waters around the peninsula, Yonhap News reported Friday, citing Taiwanese media outlet CNA.
‘Vicious and Aggressive’
Trump’s policy toward North Korea is more “vicious and aggressive” than previous administrations, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryo said in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday.
“We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” he said. “We will go to war if they choose.”
While not publicly defining its plans, the White House has said that all options are on the table to prevent North Korea from acquiring the ability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Despite the saber rattling, Trump has found little support — publicly or behind the scenes — from allies South Korea and Japan.
A U.S. strike may prompt North Korea to immediately unleash artillery fire on Seoul and its surroundings, which is home to just more than half of South Korea’s 51 million people, according to a report published by Stratfor last year. It then may activate air or naval assets and larger ballistic missiles that can target South Korean, Japanese or American bases in the region with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The White House expects South Korean officials to discuss responses during the vice president’s visit, and Pence also plans to meet troops and discuss possible military steps with Army General Vincent Brooks, the commander of United States Forces Korea. He’ll promote the deployment of the Thaad missile-defense system in the region, a move that has annoyed China.
Despite the higher tensions, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have shown signs of warmer ties since they met last week in Florida. Trump on Wednesday highlighted China’s move to ban coal imports from North Korea, noting that a fleet of cargo ships had turned back.
“That’s a big step, and they have many other steps that I know about,” Trump said at a news conference. He later said he thought Xi “means well and I think he wants to help.”
The Global Times, a Communist Party-affiliated Chinese newspaper, argued in an editorial this week that Beijing should support stiffer UN sanctions against North Korea, including the limit of oil exports, if the country conducts another another nuclear test.
Even so, China is getting increasingly alarmed at the brinkmanship.
“The situation now is similar to the time before a storm, and this kind of dangerous situation worth of our attention and we must be alert,” Wang, China’s foreign minister, said on Friday. “No matter who the nation is, if it continues to provoke wars in the Peninsula, it has to bear this historical responsibility and pay its price.”
INEC Official Prepares Ahead of Continuous Voter Registration
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it’s working within its timelines for the nationwide resumption of continuous voter registration (CVR) on June 28.
Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, stated this in an interview with the Newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.
Okoye said that the commission was on course, especially with the development of an online portal to be deployed for the exercise.
“The online registration portal is almost ready and will be rolled out for the continuous voter registration slated to commence on June 28.
“The online portal has been demonstrated and adjustments made. It will have an online locator of registration areas and polling units. The commission is progressing and working within the framework of its timelines,” Okoye said.
Reports state that INEC had fixed June 28 for the resumption of its suspended CVR, with new technology. The commissioner also outlined some critical activities within the timelines, leading to the restarting of the exercise.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had earlier announced that the exercise would continue until the third quarter of 2022.
Yakubu also announced that the commission would replace its Direct Data Capture (DDC) machine, introduced in 2011, for voter registration, with a new technology called INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED).
These, according to him, include expansion of voter access to polling units by May 11, building and testing the online registration portal by May 15 and arrival of the new IVED by May 31.
He listed other activities like recruitment and training of voter enrolment staff, June 14, and restart of CVR, June 28.
Buhari Leaves Abuja To Attend African Finance summit in Paris
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Sunday for Paris, France, on a four-day official visit to attend African Finance Summit.
The Summit according to the statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja is expected to focus on reviewing the African economy, following shocks from the Coronavirus pandemic, and getting relief, especially from increased debt burden on countries.
The statement further explained that the Summit, to be hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, will draw major stakeholders in the global financial institutions and some Heads of Government, who will, collectively, discuss external funding and debt treatment for Africa, and private sector reforms
“During the visit, President Buhari will meet with the French President to discuss growing security threats in Sahel and Lake Chad region, political relations, economic ties, climate change and partnership in buoying the health sector, particularly in checking the spread of Covid-19, with more research and vaccines, ” it said.
Shehu in the statement said before returning to Nigeria, President Buhari will receive some key players in the oil and gas sector, engineering and telecommunications, European Council and European Union Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Commission, and members of the Nigerian community.
The President will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, and Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
Also on the trip are National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Mohammed Monguno (rtd) and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
Restructure Nigeria Before 2023 Polls, Afenifere Tells Buhari
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to bury the idea of holding elections before restructuring the country.
The Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who made the call at the group’s meeting held at his Ogbo residence in Odogbolu local government area of Ogun State, said: “there must be a country before elections are held”.
Adebanjo said: “We urge Buhari to bury the idea of holding an election before returning to federalism by restructuring the country.
“There must be a country before elections are held, it would be patriotic of him to heed this advice. If Gen. Buhari is sincere about keeping the country together, he must restructure the country now this is the only answer to halt the disintegration of the country. To save Nigeria, restructure the country now.
“We should be proud as inheritors of a noble heritage, the party (Afenifere) was founded on the political philosophy of federalism due to the multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious nature of our country”.
“Failure to adhere to this principle has been the cause of the instability that has plagued our country since Independence. Our consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on the founding philosophy of the party”.
“It is for this reason that the founding leader of the party is known as the father of federalism in Nigeria”.
“It is the only political system that can keep the country together in peace. It is mischievous for President Buhari’s government to accuse advocates of restructuring as secessionist and separatists”.
“It is the system that our founding fathers, The Saudarna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmad Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe agreed to before the British government granted us independence in 1960, after the collapse of Macpherson constitution in 1953”.
“The present constitution which is the cause of instability in the country is imposed on us by the military-dominated by Northern Muslims after the coup of 1966”.
“The clamor for the return of the country to federalism is born out of the obnoxious provision in the constitution which has made economic and political progress impossible and this has been the main cause of instability in the country”.
“Our resolve for the restructuring of the country back to federalism is unshakeable. We assert we are no secessionist. It is those who oppose restructuring that are enemies of a United Nigeria. That all opponents of restructuring give impetus to secessionists”.
“We do not believe in the National Assembly which is a product of this fraudulent constitution to amend the constitution, it is immoral and illogical for a product of fraud to amend the fraud.
Six years ago, I warned the nation of the danger of voting for Gen. Muhammad Buhari, I accused him of being a feudalist by birth, a dictator by training and a religious fanatic”.
“I accused him of being a tribalist who has no respect for the rule of law. We were bombarded with the propaganda that he will ruthlessly fight corruption which they said was the bane of Jonathan administration”.
“They even told us that as a military man, he would wipe out Boko Haram in 6 months. But after six years in office, we now know better. Buhari has failed in his promises to the electorate”.
“Our economy is in tatters, corruption is growing in arithmetical proportion. Our security has collapsed to the extent that Buhari’s government has become so helpless that it now negotiates with Bandits who are so powerful that they dictate the terms of the negotiation. Kidnapping, murder, rape and various acts of criminality pervade the length and breadth of the country unabated”.
“The clamour for Gen. Buhari to resign or be impeached is growing louder and louder every day”.
“As a cover-up for his misdeeds, Gen. Buhari has resorted to silence the opposition by raising the false alarm that former military officers and prominent leaders of the ethnic organization and some Emirs are planning a meeting to pass a vote of no confidence in him. You will wonder even if that allegation is true when is it illegal or unconstitutional in a democracy for citizens to associate. Freedom of association is embedded in our constitution”.
“He also raises a false alarm that people are planning a coup. I assert Gen. Buhari has failed woefully, he has no clue about the problems facing Nigeria. He should go now before he plunged the country into a crisis the end of which nobody can foretell”.
“The Yoruba people are the only ethnic group that has never called for secession. We have invested in a united Nigeria that we will resist any act that will lead to its break up. We will be in Nigeria as equal partners in a federal Nigeria. A Nigeria in which we will play a second fiddle is most unacceptable”.
Therefore, our irreducible minimum condition of staying in Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria. Anything short of that is ‘‘to thy tent, oh Isreal.” The unity of the horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the rider and we the horse is most unacceptable.
Afenifere by our resilience and consistency over the years has proved to be the most reliable and dependable organization in the country”.
“I assert very confidently that from the First Republic we are the only national party in the country”.
“It is our consistent and persistent agitation for the right of minorities that has given birth to Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states in the South and Benue, Plateau, Borno, Kwara and the Adamawa States in the North”.
“Our party manifesto of Free Education, Free Health and Integrated Rural Development as successfully implemented in the West is not confined to Yoruba land but applicable and implementable beyond Yoruba land across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Afenifere is the beacon of progressive politics. The political philosophy of federalism propagated by our leader the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo is now the sing-song all over the country today.
I hereby appeal to all our members who for one reason or another have sojourned in the other parties to come back home, you will be welcome with open arms. There is room for the youth to rise to leadership on the merit of their performance.
“It is cheering that the call for the restructuring is no longer limited to Afenifere, PANDEF and Middle-Belt forum, The Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum have joined the crusade”.
While declaring the group support to the decisions of the Southern governors in their efforts towards tackling the problem of insecurity facing the country, Chief Adebanjo said, “Afenifere welcomes and endorse fully the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum. And we hope Gen. Buhari in the interest of Nigeria unity, peace, tranquillity and economic progress give serious attention to the recommendation”.
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