President Buhari’s Address To Nigerians On Arrival In Abuja

I am deeply grateful to all Nigerians Muslims and Christians alike who have prayed and are continuing to pray for my good health.

This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the Government in its effort to tackle our country’s challenges.

The best way for me to repay you all is to re-dedicate myself to serving you, protecting your interests and keeping your trust. I thank you very much.

I am feeling much better now, there may, however, be need to have further follow-ups within some weeks.

Rather than sending delegation upon delegation to Abuja to welcome me, may I appeal to all Nigerians to continue to pray for our country’s unity, progress and prosperity.

I thank you very much and may God bless our Country!

Muhammadu Buhari
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Commonwealth Trade ministers pledge to harness ‘Commonwealth advantage’ to boost trade

Commonwealth trade and investment ministers concluded their two-day meeting in London today with a commitment to make full use of the ‘Commonwealth advantage’ to boost trade within the 52-member bloc.

Ministers and representatives from more than 35 countries attended the meeting, jointly convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

In her address to ministers, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “On trade, our family has never been more needed that it is today. We all know that we’ve been living in troubled times and together we will have to look very carefully at what advantages there are within our family.  Intra-Commonwealth trade has never been more important.

“There is a 19 per cent trade advantage within the Commonwealth. We must see how the global trade landscape can be changed in favour of that advantage and the particular factors that drive and differentiate intra-Commonwealth trade and investment be improved.”

At the meeting, ministers focused on opportunities for the Commonwealth to strengthen collaboration by promoting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment flows. They identified key challenges hindering trade competitiveness and discussed how to overcome them through mutual support.

Ministers underscored the importance of building a global economy that benefits all of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens, noting that developing countries need an enabling global trading environment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and a slowdown in worldwide growth, the Commonwealth is currently assisting more than 30 countries on their effective integration into the global trading system. It is building their capacity to take advantage of opportunities, including improving trade competitiveness.

Ministers also noted the important role of the private sector in facilitating trade and investment. They welcomed Commonwealth initiatives to forge business to business links and pledged to continue to engage with the private sector in a pan-Commonwealth setting.

Lord Marland, Chairman, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council said, “there is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to demonstrate global leadership on free and fair trade. Businesses want to see stability, transparency, predictability and the rule of law and the Commonwealth can work together to improve the ease of doing business in all member countries. This will allow companies, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, to have the confidence to trade and invest across the Commonwealth. Creating a conducive business environment and helping businesses find a route to market is core to the enabling role of our organisation. It was essential to have the private sector fully engaged in the Trade Ministers Meeting.”

Discussions took place on the likely impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, which could disrupt market access into the UK and Europe.

The Secretary-General stressed that “no country should be left behind” in the post-Brexit trade landscape. Ministers acknowledged that Brexit provides opportunities for broader cooperation on trade and investment between Commonwealth countries and committed to examining specific recommendations for practical initiatives that can be recommended to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2018.

How South Korea's political turmoil could upend ties with the US

The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye will usher in new leadership that could take a vastly different approach to South Korea-US relations.
Will the next leader in Seoul agree with the United States on key issues including North Korea and the placement of a US-built missile defense system on South Korean soil? Or will South Korea favor a shift? Will it seek closer relations with China, its largest trading partner?
State Department spokesman Mark Toner characterized Park's ouster as a "domestic issue on which the United States takes no position." He also stressed the close US ties with South Korea as "a linchpin of regional stability and security."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to arrive in Seoul next week.
What comes next
With Park's ouster, South Korea will hold a snap election within 60 days in what is guaranteed be a campaign frenzy. Opinion polls so far show the left-leaning Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in 2012, as the front-runner.
Liberals in South Korea typically favor a more conciliatory approach with Pyongyang, and many oppose the US missile defense system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is designed to intercept incoming missiles, conceivably from North Korea.
Meanwhile, conservatives such as Park have retained a more hawkish view on North Korea and generally support US policies, including THAAD.
"If progressives take power, I do think issues like THAAD and North Korea policy could be on the table, which would have huge consequences for the US right now," said David Kang, director of the University of Southern California's Korean Studies Institute.
After nine years of conservative leadership and a scandal-marred Park presidency, South Korea may be signaling it's ready for a change. The conservatives lost their majority in a shock defeat in parliamentary elections last year.
New leadership in Seoul could mark a shift on two key issues in US and South Korea relations -- the missile defense system and the position on North Korea.
THAAD and China: It's complicated
The first pieces of the THAAD defense system arrived this week in South Korea. The project has been fiercely opposed by China and Russia as a threat to their security.
China has raised significant economic pressure on South Korea to scrap the defense system through threats to a South Korean retail group and restrictions on Korean products and possibly travel to the country. These have triggered fears of a trade war, which would be crushing for South Korea since trade with China accounts for about a quarter of its exports.
Regardless of the pressure from Beijing, THAAD already has its share of critics within South Korea. Opposition parties have sought a vote on the missile defense system in parliament once the country's political uncertainty is resolved.
The THAAD missile defense system was due to be operational in South Korea by the end of the year.
The THAAD missile defense system was due to be operational in South Korea by the end of the year.
South Koreans generally don't want to weaken the alliance with the United States, but if the next leader walks back on THAAD, "we'd have a real change in the Korean policy toward the US," said Kang, who is also the director of the USC Center for International Studies.
Such a scenario would be a win for China and a blow for the United States.
Regardless of political ideology, South Korean presidents have sought better relations with China.
"Korean politicians, no matter left or right, are more welcoming of China than the Americans would like," Kang said.
There's the question of North Korea
North and South Korean relations have remained frosty during the last two conservative presidencies.
"The South Korean left has been more accommodating of North Korea, more willing to engage. The South Korean right has been more hawkish and more confrontational," said Robert Kelly, associate professor at Pusan National University's Department of Political Science and Diplomacy.
Liberal presidents have supported engagement with North Korea, including what's known as the Sunshine Policy in which Seoul refrained from criticizing Pyongyang's human rights record and struck a more conciliatory tone.
That era from 1998 to 2008 was marked by fractures in the US-Korea alliance.
The Sunshine Policy ended when conservative President Lee Myung-bak took power in 2008 and relations on the peninsula have stalled since. Liberal South Korean leaders such as Moon are critical of hard-line policies on North Korea, noting that they have not deterred the isolated regime's weapon testing and nuclear ambitions.
Their belief is that "engaging and interacting with North Korea is the sole way to change their main foe -- and bring long-term peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula," wrote Booseung Chang, a fellow at the Rand Corp. "In their scheme, one key to the success of this strategy is securing cooperation from Beijing. This change goes against existing US strategy toward North Korea and China."
But calling for engagement with North Korea may not be so easy given last month's high-profile assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un's half brother and recent missile tests, Kelly said.
"All this suggests that North Korea is a pretty serious global menace now, and it'd be really hard for the South Korean left to tell the US that we want to re-engage this country," he added.

Muhammadu Buhari returns home from London medical leave.>>>>>> President recently extended his medical leave, deepening suspicions that his health was far worse than officials admit.

Buhari was elected to power in 2015 on a campaign that vowed to root out corruption [Reuters]
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday he will continue to rest and undergo further medical tests in Britain within weeks, after returning home from two months of medical leave.

Buhari walked unaided from his plane after it landed at an air force base in the northern city of Kaduna. The former military ruler then boarded a waiting helicopter, state television showed.

The 74-year-old, who took power in May 2015, left Abuja on January 19 for treatment in Britain.

He had originally planned to stay 10 days but stayed longer to rest after consulting his doctors, deepening suspicions that his health was far worse than officials are publicly admitting.

"I deliberately came back towards the weekend, so that the Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) will continue and I will continue to rest," he said in Abuja.

"All I will need is to do further follow ups within some weeks."  

Al Jazeera's Ama Boateng, reporting from Kaduna, said Buhari's return was announced last-minute after he remained out of sight for weeks.

"He has finally returned to the African soil," she said, adding that even though Nigerians are usually very sympathetic towards sick leave, there were concerns about how the country can run efficiently when the commander-in-chief is absent.

The statement on Thursday from special adviser Femi Adesina said Buhari's "holiday" had been extended on doctors' recommendations for further testing and rest. It gave no details about the health of the president.

"President Buhari expresses appreciation to teeming Nigerians from across the country, and beyond, who had prayed fervently for him, and also sent their good wishes," the statement said, giving no medical details.

Earlier on Thursday, the presidency had published pictures of a smiling Buhari meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in Abuja House, part of the Nigerian High Commission in London.

No official pictures of Buhari's meetings in London had been posted since February 15.

The government had sought to allay concerns of a void at the helm of Africa's biggest economy and most populous country by stressing that Buhari, who was elected to power on a campaign that vowed to root out corruption, had given Vice President Yemi Osinbajo full powers as acting president during his leave.

Osinbajo, a lawyer, held in Buhari's absence cabinet meetings and finished work on an economic reform plan needed to secure a World Bank loan to help to plug a deficit caused by low oil revenues.

On Thursday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that Nigeria's next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in February 2019.

INEC said the early release of the election timetable was "to allow for proper planning by the commission, political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders".

Putin-Netanyahu meeting focuses on Iran's role in Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday there could never be peace in Syria as long as there was an Iranian presence there.

"We discussed at length the matter of Iran, its objectives and intentions in Syria, and I clarified that there cannot be a peace deal in Syria when Iran is there and declares its intention to destroy Israel," said Netanyahu, shortly after his meeting at the Kremlin.

Iran, Israel's arch-enemy, has been one of embattledSyrian President Bashar al-Assad's staunchest backers in the six-year-long civil war and has provided militia fighters to bolster his weakened army.

"(Iran) is arming itself and its forces against Israel including from Syria territory and is, in fact, gaining a foothold to continue the fight against Israel," he said in reply to a reporter's question.

"There cannot be peace when they continue the war and therefore they have to be removed."

Russia, another key Assad ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria's future.

At UN-led talks Geneva last week, Russian pressure helped UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura get the two warring sides to agree to a framework for the next round of talks.

Israeli leaders have pointed to Tehran's steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Shia Muslim armed groups, especially Hezbollah.

Israel has carried out dozens of strikes against the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah in Syria.

Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire.

Putin was set to meet with Turkish Presdient Recep Tayyip Erdogan later on Friday for talks that were also expected to focus on Syria.

Happy Family

  Aisha Buhari the wife of Nigerian president with her younger brother and her son are looking bright and beautiful.