Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab accused on Thursday “local and external parties” of pushing Lebanon deeper into crisis, the National News Agency reported.
“These parties play the game of raising the price of the United States dollar and speculating on the Lebanese pound,” Diab said without specifying who was impeding the government’s efforts to stabilize the exchange rate.
Diab’s remarks came during a cabinet meeting held at the Grand Serail in the presence of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon Salim Sfeir to discuss economic and financial developments in the country.
Diab has previously held Salameh responsible for the Lebanese pound’s collapse.
Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is holding negotiations with Lebanon aimed at restructuring the country’s debt, accused the central bank governor of the collapse of the Lebanese pound and the creation of a black market for the United States dollar.
The Lebanese pound has been weakening in an unprecedented way for the past few months due to the shortage in United States dollar in the country and the high demand on the foreign currency.
UN, United States commiserate with Lebanon over deadly explosions
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has commiserated with the people and government of Lebanon over Tuesday’s explosions in the capital, Beirut.
No fewer than 70 people died while 2,700 others were injured in the massive blasts at the city’s port, the Minister of Health, Hamad Hassan, said.
Officials said the two blasts originated from highly explosive materials stored in a warehouse although investigations were ongoing to determine the exact cause.
The UN chief’s reaction came in a statement by his deputy spokesman, Mr Farhan Haq.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims as well as to the people and government of Lebanon following the horrific explosions in Beirut today.
“He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured, including several United Nations personnel working in Lebanon.
“The United Nations remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time, and is actively assisting in the response to this incident,” Haq said.
United States Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, also reacted to the incident with a condolence message, in which she described the explosions as horrific.
“Having witnessed the horrific explosions at the port this evening, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims and their families.
“We mourn each loss from this terrible tragedy alongside the Lebanese people,” the embassy quoted her as saying in a tweet.
Edited By: Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)
Nadal to skip United States Open due to COVID-19 concerns, as organisers announce entries
World number two Rafa Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he would not defend his United States Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows.
His announcement came as organisers released the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play (at) this year’s United States Open,” Nadal said on Twitter.
”The situation is very complicated worldwide, and the COVID-19 cases are increasing. It looks like we still don’t have control of it.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four months stopped with no play.
”I understand and thank (everyone) for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”
The United States has the highest tally in the world with more than 4.7 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases and nearly 156,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
World number one Novak Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, headlines the men’s list along with last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
There are other top 10 players, including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
Swiss Roger Federer, a five-times United States Open champion, will also be absent after the 38-year-old was forced to undergo knee surgery in June which prematurely ended his 2020 season.
Nine of the top 10 women’s players, including 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.
As many as 13 Grand Slam champions are in the women’s draw.
These include Romania’s Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, and this year’s Australian Open champion American Sofia Kenin.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said eight additional wildcard entries would be selected in both the men’s and women’s fields.
Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for Aug. 31.
A number of players are also set to take part in the Aug. 20 to Aug. 28 Western & Southern Open in New York, which serves as a warm-up event for the United States Open.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
30 stranded Nigerians in Lebanon rescued, among 150 awaiting evacuation – NIDCOM
Thirty Nigerians, who were trafficked and left stranded in Lebanon have been rescued, and are among a total of 150 victims awaiting evacuation to Nigeria.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) made this known in a statement by Gabriel Odu of its Media, Public Relations and Protocol Unit on
The commission said the rescue came after a video footage of the stranded Nigerians making an appeal to the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid viral on the Internet.
According to it, the appeal for help by the stranded Nigerians led to their rescue by officials of the country’s mission in Lebanon.
The stranded Nigerians have already been relocated to a more conducive apartment.
“They will be part of 150 others to be evacuated to Nigeria after they were trafficked and left stranded in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Houssam Diab disclosed the evacuation plans when the Management of NIDCOM, led by the Secretary, Dr Sule Bassi, visited that country’s mission in Abuja,” Odu said in the statement.
He quoted Diab as saying that the 150 girls would be returned home in batches with the first group of 110 people leaving Beirut for Lagos on Aug. 12.
The second batch sws expected to arrive Abuja on Aug. 16.
“The diplomat commended efforts of the Lebanese Community and the Oyo State Government who is sponsoring the return of 55 of the girls,” he said.
Responding on behalf of the NIDCOM Chairman/CEO, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Secretary of the commission, who acknowledged the excellent ties between Nigeria and Lebanon, urged both countries to sustain the cordial relationship.
Bassi also lauded the Nigerian Ambassador to Lebanon, Amb. Goni Madu Zanna Bura for his dedication and commitment.
He also commended the staff of the Nigerian mission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Oyo and Ogun state governments and other strategic partners for their efforts.
“As part of the Nigerian Embassy’s Consular responsibility, the ladies in the said video that went viral and many other distressed Nigerian domestic workers were located and relocated to a safer place.
“Suffice it to say that 150 of these stranded victims are expected to be evacuated next week and handed over to NAPTIP, the agency responsible for (dealing with human) trafficking.
“A break down of the evacuees shows that Oyo State had 41, Ogun 21, Lagos 12, Ondo 18, Osun 26, and Imo 3.
Others are Kwara– 9, Enugu — 1, Ekiti — 6, Kogi — 1, Edo — 1, Delta — 3, Ebonyi — 1, Benue — 1, Abia — 1, Akwa Ibom — 1, and Anambra — 1,” he said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Digital economy: Nigeria must shift focus from certificate to skills – Pantami
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has advocated for shifting of focus from certificate to skills education for the actualisation of Nigeria’s digital economic drive.
Pantami made the call at the Graduation Lecture of the National Defence Collage Course 28, titled; “Digital Economy and National Development in Nigeria”, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister added that emphasis on certificate must be reduced in engaging labour force, urging that focus should be shifted to skills if the nation must catch up with development.
He said that many developed and developing countries such as China, United States and Morocco had shifted attention to skills rather than certificate, adding that many of them had established skills centres.
According to him, certificate is important but secondary to skill and that is why we must pay attention to skills in our journey to digital economy.
“The digital literacy and skills pillar recognises the fact that citizens are the greatest assets in any economy, including the digital economy. It will support the development of a large pool of digitally literate and digitally skilled citizens.
“We recently provided a platform, the DigitalNigeria.gov.ng platform, to enable Nigerians receive training in diverse digital skills. Over 36,000 Nigerians have enrolled on the platform since the 2nd of April, 2020.
“We are championing a paradigm change that lays emphasis on skills, in preference to merely having degrees without skills.
“The National Defence College is an institution that supports the development of skills and there are many digital techniques that can support the great work that you are doing here,’’ he said.
Pantami stated that the digital economy was a prime catalyst for development, adding that in less than one year, government’s modest efforts had already yielded remarkable results.
According to him, the recent first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that ICT contributed an unprecedented 14.07 per cent to Nigeria’s total real GDP.
He explained that emerging technologies came with different solutions to security challenges of every nation such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotic technology, drone and many more.
“These are some of the emerging technologies that will go a long way in promoting security of nations. The security officials are in better position to look into and see how to customize them and make use of them.”
Also, the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, said the Federal Government had taken steps to adopt, adapt and internalise the digital economy in a functional manner.
Magashi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, said it was important that security and defence establishments show more than a cursory interest in the digital economy.
He added that the adaptation of digital economy could result in increased cybercrimes thus undermining national security.
“I wish to commend the Commandant, staff and the entire College community for their collective efforts in pursuing the ideals of the College.
“In particular, I commend you for organising the graduation lecture, which was exciting, educative and would be helpful to the economic and security needs of the Nigerian nation,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Commandant of the collage, Rear Adm. Markson Kadiri, said the lecture had become a key component of the training programme of the College and a major highlight of its annual graduation ceremonies.
Kadiri said that a total of 107 participants had successfully completed the course comprising 67 officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, seven Senior Police Officers and 15 participants from key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Others according to him, include 18 senior military officers from the Armed Forces of friendly nations.
“The Course was conducted under the theme “Economic Diversification and National Development in Nigeria”. Economic diversification is a broad based strategy designed to cause positive and multi-sectoral economic growth and development,’’ he said.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)