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Saturday, 04 May 2019

A US Department of Defense Boeing 737 plane from Guantanamo Bay skidded off a runway into shallow water in Jacksonville, Florida, late Friday, but officials said there were no serious injuries, according to a report by ABC News.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said 21 passengers were transported to the hospital, all in good condition. There were two “very minor” injuries, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The plane was carrying 136 passengers and seven crew members. Flights from Guantanamo Bay typically carry civilian employees, contractors and military families.

“At approximately 9:40 p.m. today, a Boeing 737 arriving from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into Naval Air Station Jacksonville crashed into the St. Johns River at the end of the runway,” Naval Air Station Jacksonville said in a statement.

“Navy security and emergency response personnel are on the scene and monitoring the situation.”

The mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, earlier tweeted it was a commercial plane, but it was actually a 737 contracted by the Department of Defense. He later said “all lives have been accounted for.”

Authorities also said teams were working to control jet fuel which had leaked into the water.

The plane skidded off one of two runways at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The base specializes in anti-submarine warfare and training pilots. It is also home to Naval Hospital Jacksonville.

Published in World

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, has formally declared his intention to vie for the presidency of the 74th UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Muhammad-Bande made the declaration at a cocktail party attended by world diplomats and delegates in New York on Friday evening.

This came barely eight days after the current UNGA president, Ms Maria Espinosa, announced him as the first candidate for the position.

Election of the president of the 74th UNGA will hold at the UN headquarters on June 4.

In a statement on its website, UNGA said the presidency of the 74th session was zoned to Africa in “full respect of the established principle of geographical rotation”, among other reasons.

The current president, who is the Foreign Minister of Ecuador, was elected on June 5 and assumed duty on Sept. 18, 2018.

Thus she will step aside on Sept. 17, as the UNGA presidency runs on a one-year tenure

According to the statement, an informal interactive dialogue with Muhammad-Bande is scheduled for May 13, in line with UNGA’s resolution 71/323 titled “Revitalisation of the Work of the General Assembly”.

At the session, the Nigerian permanent representative will have the opportunity to respond to questions from other stakeholders.

Addressing guests at Friday’s event, the candidate pledged to make the organisation stronger and work better for its member states and their citizens.

He said as president of the 74th Session, he would focus on the effective implementation of existing mandates, and make a contribution in all defined follow-up areas.

The candidate promised to promote international peace and security, prevent conflict, strengthen global action to tackle climate change, ensure inclusion, human rights, and the empowerment of youth and women.

He also pledged to ensure that the decisions reached and resolutions passed at the general assembly were implemented for the benefits of citizens.

Muhammad-Bande, who hails from Zagga in present-day Kebbi, has had an outstanding career as a scholar and diplomat.

He holds M.A in Political Science from Boston University, USA, in 1981 and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.

Between January 2000 and February 2004, he was the Director-General of the Centre African de Formation et de Recherche Administrative pour le Development (CAFRAD) in Tangier, Morocco.

CAFRAD is Africa’s premier institution with responsibility for training and research in public administration and management.

Besides other positions both locally and internationally, he was the Director-General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) between 2010 and 2016.

He served as the Vice-President of the General Assembly during the 71st session and remains active in several fora, including as Chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34); Member, Advisory Board of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, and Chair of the ECOWAS Group (2018-2019).

Muhammad-Bande has also been an assessor for the National Merit Award (Nigeria) and for professorial positions in universities.

He has won merit awards and honours from institutions and Governments, including the United States and China.

Most notably, he is a recipient of Nigeria’s Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one of the country’s highest national awards.

Published in World

The need for protection of freedom of the press and opinion dominated speeches at an event to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

Various speakers took turns to decry the “growing dangers to press freedom around the world’’, calling for action against those responsible.

In a message, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said he was “deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity’’ targeted at media workers around the world.

Almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018, with hundreds imprisoned, says the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO),

This brings to a total of 1,307 the number of journalists killed between 1994 and 2018, according to the organisation.

The UN chief noted that when journalists and other media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

Guterres emphasised that “a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights’’.

On the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’’, he stated that democracy was incomplete without access to transparent and reliable information.

“At a time when disinformation and mistrust of the news media is growing, a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights,’’ he said.

In her statement, President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), Ms Maria Espinosa, said she was marking the day with a “heavy heart”, citing the UNESCO’s statistics.

Espinosa noted that the media space was shrinking across the world, “as restrictive laws and policies are enacted, and media workers and their families are subjected to threats and reprisals.

“Women are disproportionately affected, contending with sexist abuse and sexual harassment online, as well as physical sexual violence, including rape. Too often, these attacks go unpunished,’’ she said.

The PGA said that high-quality journalism and diverse media was needed more than ever at a time when extremism, hate speech and lies spread “like wildfire”.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, said it was important that freedom of opinion was guaranteed through free exchange of ideas and information “based on factual truths.

Azoulay said societies that valued a free press needed to be “constantly vigilant’’, adding that nations must act together to protect the freedom of expression and safety of journalists.

The Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists also noted that freedom of expression was indispensable for good governance, informed decision-making, democracy, free and fair electoral processes and accountability of governments.

The event, which featured a panel discussion on the theme of the day, was organised by the UN Department of Global Communications and UNESCO.

Published in World

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has begun a 28-million-euro project, sponsored by the Netherlands, to accelerate the fight against child labour in Nigeria and four other African countries.

This was announced by the Ambassador of Netherlands to Nigeria, Marion Kappeyne van de Coppello, on the sideline of a two-day workshop on the project in Abuja on Friday.

The project, Acceleration of Action in the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL), was also being carried out in Mali, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt and Uganda.

The ambassador said the project was a long term one which focused on the causes of child labour.

“The Netherlands is financing this project; it is actually a project that is going to be undertaken in five different countries in Africa; Nigeria is one of them.

“The total funding for this project from the Netherlands for these five countries is 28 million euros.

“It is a long-term project and is expected to take at least five years to reach the results that are expected.

“We think that a child should have the opportunity to go to school, to be a child but we also understand, we had the same situation in Europe two centuries ago, that it is not just child labour.

“It has to do with the whole of the economy, with the social situation, the economic situation of the parents and so forth,” she said.

She said that ILO was trusted by the government of the Netherlands to facilitate the project in African countries.

“It is a complicated project; that is why we are happy that the ILO is taking this up, they have a good track record on joining employers, employees and state authorities to work together.

“I also see here in this workshop, preparing the work for Nigeria that all the stakeholders are present and that is a collaborative effort that will bring the most chance of success,” she said.

Mr Dennis Zulu, Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, said the organisation had been working with the federal government to develop a policy on child labour.

Zulu explained that the project would focus on the supply chains in cocoa and mining in the country and work with local authorities to facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Now this project which is kindly being supported with funding from the Netherlands government will be looking at the supply chain in cocoa and artisanal mining.

“This is because those are some of the supply chains where there is quite a high level of child labour.

“So basically, the project will work with the local communities and support the provision of alternative livelihoods.

It will also withdraw children from child labour and support them by placement in schools.

“So we will be working with local authorities and local governments to see how the children who are withdrawn from child labour can be placed in schools, providing some means of support to the families.

“It is really working in a number of areas to ensure that Nigeria works towards the achievement of the SDG goals by 2030,” he said.

The director added that the ILO was working with stakeholders to ensure opportunities of child labour in the cocoa and mining production processes were reduced or possibly eliminated.

“We are trying to work with the communities to educate them but also to ensure that those who depend on child labour families are given alternative livelihoods so that they do not rely on children.

“We are working with different stakeholders from the local communities we are working in and we will build the capacities of these stakeholders including law enforcement agencies and the communities where the children come from.

Addressing newsmen, ILO Chief Technical Adviser, ACCEL Africa, Mr Minoru Agasawara, said the project would work with stakeholders according to the priorities identified in the different countries.

“We are looking at legal framework, policy framework, capacity building, awareness raising, community mobilisation and also working with employers.

“In addition to the employers and workers’ organisation, we also have the Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Ministry of Mines because they are working in the artisanal mine area in Niger State and Ministry of Agriculture because they are working in the supply chain of the cocoa in Ondo,” she said.

The project is a four-year one, starting from Nov. 2018 and would end in Oct 2022.

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