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Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli Appointed 19th Emir of Zazzau

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Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has approved the appointment of Ahmed Nuhu Bamali as the 19th Emir of Zazzau (Zaria)

He replaces the 18th Emir, Alhaji Shehu Idris who died last month.

A statement by Jaafaru Ibrahim Sani, the State’s Commissioner for Local Government Affairs confirmed the appointment.

Currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli is among the most visible diplomats in Bangkok, and that’s not only because of the elegant traditional outfits that make him stand out in a crowd.

The highly educated Nigerian ambassador has been an active member of the local diplomatic corps since coming to Thailand in November 2017. “I enjoy my work here and I am happy. What’s more, the Nigerian mission here is accomplishing our tasks and mandate,’’ said Mr Bamalli in a recent interview at his embassy in Bangkok.

During the course of the interview he explained that Nigeria is no longer a big consumer of Thai rice, but is now importing Thai rice processing equipment and expertise. He sees many more opportunities for next-level cooperation between Thailand and his oil and gem-rich nation.

Background

The ambassador was born on June 8, 1966 in Zaria city of Kaduna State, which is one of the oldest provinces in northern Nigeria. “It is an emirate, founded by my great-grandfather around 1804. Prior to that, it was a part of various kingdoms and settlements. But from 1804 there has been an emirate system operating in the whole of northern Nigeria, and it is still in place today.

“My late father, H.E. Nuhu Bamalli, held the princely title of Magajin Garin Zazzau. In the English translation it is much like lord mayor. The title is given to the second most senior royal family member in the Zaria emirate.

“On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became an independent state. My father was an important figure in the struggle for independence. He was appointed a junior minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 1960 and in 1965 became the Foreign Minister. In fact he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York that same year.

“After his passing in 2001 at the age of 84, I took over the Magajin Garin Zazzau title. However, since I am still pursuing my career I don’t stay in the emirate to oversee a district like most of the title holders. Therefore, I only retain the title and then advice the emir from time to time when the need arises. The emir assigns some responsibilities to me, especially representation in functions that he is not personally attending.

“I took my primary and secondary education in Kaduna city and then went to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study law. That’s my first degree; I also have a Master’s degree in international affairs and diplomacy, and I’ve taken courses at a number of educational institutes at home and abroad, mostly for short programs on leadership. I attended Harvard and Oxford universities as well as Northwestern University in Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Most of my professional life has been in the banking sector, even though I studied law and international relations. From conventional banking I moved to Nigerian Security Printing and Minting, which produces our currency as well as security papers for the Nigerian government. I held two positions there: executive director of corporate services and general administration, and subsequently, managing director on the board of directors, where I served for almost two years.

“After leaving the minting company, I went back to Oxford University to study. I was at the university when the present government invited me to be a part of the transitional committee in Kaduna State. After the transition period I was appointed to the Electoral Commission in my state, and a few months down the line I was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari to be Ambassador to Thailand. So as you can see, I came to diplomatic service in a roundabout way.

“I joined the Nigerian foreign ministry in late 2016.

This is the ministry where my late father and other top pioneer diplomats laid the foundation of foreign service in Nigeria. I accepted because I’ve always felt a connection with foreign services, and with my family and educational background I’ve found it very easy to adjust to this position. My younger brother is a career diplomat. He is currently an assistant director at the MFA’s Trade and Investment Department. He has served in Ireland and Ghana and is now back in Abuja (Nigeria’s capital), waiting for another posting.”

“I arrived in Thailand for the first time in November 2017, when I took my ambassadorial post. My first Asian trip was to Malaysia. My term is four years, which can be extended depending on the wishes of the government. I also cover Myanmar, where there is a large Nigerian community,” Mr Bamalli said.

“We have a good working partnership with the Thai government that builds on the cordial relations that began soon after Nigeria’s inception in 1962. That very year our two countries established diplomatic relations. Our embassy was opened in Bangkok in 2000,” said the ambassador.

“When I first arrived the embassy was in Sukhumvit Soi 71. We moved to the current location in Sukhumvit 61 in May 2018. I like this place. It is very good in terms of security and it’s a great neighborhood. There are a number of ambassadors residing in this area. It is a very quiet area. My family lives outside the embassy and we love the place.

“The embassy has seven officials from Nigeria and about 16 Thai employees. When our citizens need consular assistance they come here. We have an immigration and passport control area at the embassy and we do all the passport services here. Our Consular section is very busy because we issue documents to our citizens living in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Cambodia from here. A diplomat just took 200 passports from the embassy to our people in the Philippines. We have a consulate there but they don’t issue passports. We process everything here and send it to the Philippines or to other countries with our diplomats. It takes our nationals 17 hours to fly to Nigeria to obtain a new passport, which is not feasible.

“In 2018 about 1,400 Nigerians resided in Thailand, but I think the number has gone down significantly since then. Now it is maybe 700 to 800. Our nationals are not obliged to register with the embassy but we would prefer them to do so if they plan to stay here long-term.

“People don’t normally come to the embassy unless they have issues. The relationship between Nigerian citizens here and Thai authorities has improved significantly since my arrival and most Nigerian citizens here now have their documents in order and everything is valid. The harassment of our nationals has decreased. It used to be bad,” said Mr Bamalli.

“Some of our nationals hired Thai lawyers, but they couldn’t do anything because our people were taken straight away taken to the Immigration Detention Centre and deported. Some of those people were unruly and we don’t have any issue with their treatment. Others were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, however, and oftentimes it came down to a misunderstanding of what was needed from them.

“Many times they had the proper documents but didn’t know what they were supposed to present. So I went to see high-ranking officials at the ministries of foreign affairs, Interior and Justice to request English translations of the relevant documents so that we can at least assist our citizens in understanding and fulfilling the visa requirements.

“Many Nigerians were arrested simply because they ​could not understand the documents written in Thai language or converse with the immigration police because of language barrier. Thereby contributing to the delay in renewing their stay permit and other related issues,” pointed out Ambassador Bamalli.

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Man punches nurse in the face multiple times after his wife is vaccinated for Covid

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Police are looking for a man in Canada they say punched a nurse in the face multiple times, knocking her to the ground after she administered a Covid-19 vaccine to his wife without his permission.

On Monday, around 9:15 a.m., a man walked into a Brunet Pharmacy in Sherbrooke, a city in southern Quebec, and accused a nurse in her 40s, who police have not named, of vaccinating his wife, Sherbrooke Police spokesman Martin Carrier told CNN.

“Right at the beginning, the suspect was very angry, very aggressive, he asked the nurse why she vaccinated his wife without approval, without his consent,” Carrier said. “And he punched her right in the face multiple times so the nurse didn’t have the time to defend or explain herself … and she fell to the ground and the suspect left running out of the drugstore.”

There are no laws in Canada that say individuals need their spouses’ permission to get vaccinated, and it is unclear if his wife had given consent.

The nurse was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance where she was treated for the “multiple injuries to the face” he said.

As a result of the incident, the pharmacy told CNN partner, CBC, that they suspended vaccinations. CNN reached out to the pharmacy but they refused to comment on whether or not vaccinations were being administered Thursday.

Brunet Pharmacy’s parent company, The Jean Coutu Group Inc., also declined to comment but told CNN they “fully condemn this act which is unacceptable towards the pharmacy teams who have been providing essential services since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Canada has vaccinated 69.8% of its population, surpassing the US by 15.6%, according to data from Our World in Data, seen in CNN’s vaccine tracker.

Although most Canadians have welcomed public health measures and the country has one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide, case counts and hospitalizations are on the rise, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, especially among younger, unvaccinated Canadians.

Police do not have a name or photo of the suspect or security footage of the incident, Carrier said. They do however have a description of the man and are hoping with the public’s help, they’ll be able to identify him and charge him with assault.

The suspect is described as, 30 to 45-year-old-man, 6-feet tall, medium build with darker skin, short brown hair, thick eyebrows, two small ear piercings on each ear and a tattoo on his hand that appeared to be in the shape of a cross, Carrier said

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NPA vows to upgrade country’s maritime hub status

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Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

In a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Olaseni Alakija, Bello-Koko disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun,  at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors.

The theme of the retreat was “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence.”

He noted that investments in modern deep seaports would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

The statement said Bello-Koko disclosed that a lot had been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from ports.

Such efforts, he said, were in line with the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise NPA’s aspirations,

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa,” he said.

The statement said the acting managing director described the board retreat as very timely, as it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision.

According to him, the vision is one in which the executive management works closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate and embraces an all-inclusive strategic outcome for the organisation with the requisite buy-in of the board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the board with regards to the executive management’s limitations in actualising some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat,” he added.

The NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He, however, explained that some of the benchmarks which were yet to be achieved were dependent on “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

He said that NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape.

He enumerated the constraints as conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.

He informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand NPA’s revenue streams, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

According to him, unlike the practice in sister Francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, the NPA was responsible for funding its.

This, he said, has put a lot of strains on its resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.

“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.

“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.

Bello-Koko explained that the authority was blessed with prime real estates which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones.

* Apapa Wharf

“They are mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

The Acting MD also disclosed that management had opened correspondence with some multilateral financial institutions such as the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp).

He explained that these were all part of plans to access long term low interest credits for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“In making the Nigerian seaports more business friendly, we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.

“A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

“The authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lily Pond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.

“The trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform and the authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

He added that other solutions being implemented was the push to link all seaports to the national rail network, as well as optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Bello-Koko said that currently the authority was streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

He said that the Bonny Seaport project in Rivers, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South-South and South-Eastern regions.

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BREAKING: Former CBN Deputy Governor Obadiah Mailafia Dies at 64

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A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, has passed on at the age of 64.

Mailafia, who was a columnist with The PUNCH was said to have died at midnight after a brief illness.

The former deputy governor, who was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the 2019 election, was a known government critic and had advocated for public sector and exchange rate reforms.

Mailafia was born on December 24, 1956, in the Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

He later graduated top of his class at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1978 with a First Class B.Sc.Honours Social Sciences degree (Politics, Economics, and Sociology). He also has an M.Sc. from the same institution.

He subsequently won a French Government Scholarship to France, where he earned a Certificate in French Language and Civilisation from the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1985.

Mailafia later proceeded to the United Kingdom as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar at Oriel College, earning a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1995.

He joined partisan politics in 2018 amid the rising killings in Southern Kaduna.

Despite losing, he remained an ardent government critic and got into trouble with the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when he alleged that a northern governor was a Boko Haram commander.

This earned multiple invitations by the Nigeria Police Force, forcing him to recant his statement.

In his last interview with The PUNCH, Mailafia said the refusal of the CBN to sell foreign exchange to bureau de change operators may not yield the expected result because corrupt bankers would frustrate it while the BDC operators were being shielded by a “Jigawa cabal”.

He had also lamented that Nigeria was operating a “dollarised” economy which was hampering economic growth.

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