President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the release of $8.5 million to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to enable the swift evacuation of Nigerians caught up in the Russia-Ukraine war.
The president gave this directive in an approved joint memo delivered to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which is presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday,2nd March at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Disclosing the update to newsmen, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, alongside the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, revealed that the amount is to evacuate at least 500 Nigerians stranded as a result of the ongoing crisis.
The ambassador further revealed that the federal government has contracted Air Peace and Max Air airlines to provide three aircraft and run as many shifts as possible to facilitate the evacuation.
In another update, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, disclosed that about 2,090 Nigerians will return to Nigeria from Ukraine on Thursday after finding their way to Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. The Ambassador disclosed that chattered flights will depart on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, to pick up Nigerian evacuees back home.
He also pointed out that the first batch of evacuees is expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Addressing newsmen, the ambassador declared: “The capacity and route of the airlines are as follows: Max Air to Romania 560 persons, Airpeace to Poland 364 persons and Air peace to Hungary 360 persons.”
Investors King recalls that the Speaker of The House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila in a statement released on Monday, 28th February, disclosed that evacuation of Nigerians caught up in the conflict will begin Wednesday, 2nd March.
It now appears that efforts to evacuate Nigerians caught up in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine are on the way and this is a commendable action from the Nigerian government. However, as expressed by the speaker in his earlier statement, there is a need to create a legislature that addresses emergencies like this in a swifter manner.
The crisis between Russia and Ukraine has existed for a while now but only escalated to war on Thursday, 24th February when Russia invaded Ukraine. However, it took the Nigerian government less than a week to begin preparation to extract Nigerians caught up in the conflict by virtue of their location.
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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