Despite the physical distance between our two nations, we have much in common. Our lands are richly endowed with natural resources but we also see nature at its most cruel. From the drought stricken Lake Chad region, to devastating bushfires in Australia, we both understand the havoc of such catastrophic events on our citizens. Now faced with a global pandemic that respects no borders and affects all our citizens it’s clear our interests are more aligned than ever.
Ours is not an aid relationship but one based on equality, a mutual commitment to multilateralism and recognition of the importance of global trade for the prosperity of our citizens. We are both modern democratic nations with a bright future. There is an energy that reflects our countries’ optimism and determination to be good global citizens. We are both committed to harnessing wisely our natural wealth and talents for the prosperity of our people. And we are both proud multicultural societies. Ensuring global security, peace and prosperity for all our citizens underpins both our foreign policy agendas.
Australia, a founding member of the UN and Commonwealth, has and will continue to provide core funds to international organisations, including WHO.Ensuring multilaterals have the core financing that enable them to sustainably operate in Africa is critical to ensuring global security and prosperity. It is through these institutions that we believe global challenges that affect us all are best addressed. This is why we focus our aid investments to Africa through our multilateral partners.
And it’s through financial contributions to these international organisations that we are working with global partners to support efforts to tackle COVID-19. We have contributed AUD 170 million to global partners working on the development and deployment of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. We are long-term funders of global health emergency, preparedness and response programs including AUD 35 million to WHO and the United Nations’ Emergency Response Fund. But it doesn’t stop there. We provide core funding to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations among many others. It’s through these core funds that the sustainability of international institutions to work in Africa is secured.
Through our active board membership in these international organisations we ensure Africa benefits. Through our steering group membership of the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility we enabled USD 15 million to be allocated to Nigeria’s COVID-19 response activities. Through our seat on the Executive Board of WFP, we ensured Africa received timely allocation of resources to deal with COVID-19. Ensuring resources are delivered where they are most needed, whilst improving accountability to affected populations, is a key objective of our membership to these multilateral boards.
So it should be no surprise that when the time is right, Australia supports an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak to clarify the facts around its genesis, global spread and the WHO’s response. An honest and independent assessment of events will be critical as we emerge from the pandemic and seek to improve our response to future crises. The World Health Assembly resolution on the ‘COVID-19 Response’ is an important step in that process. Both Australia and Nigeria’s leadership in co-sponsoring this EU led resolution, is testament to our shared values.
A key priority for both our countries is the development of an effective vaccine that is affordable and easily accessible to all.On May 4 our Prime Minister pledged over AUD 350 million to COVID-19 research and development with the aim to accelerate development and deployment of universally available vaccines, therapeutic drugs and diagnostic tests. At the same time, Australia’s top scientists are working with international partners to research, develop and test vaccines and treatments. Our scientists, universities and research organisations are some of the best in the world, which is why Australia is the world’s third most popular destination for international students.
Our focus on trade not aid will help contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Australia’s two way trade with Africa is over AUD 11 billion and has the potential to be significantly more. We have an open and globally integrated economy, making us a trusted partner for trade and investment. Our geographic location provides a gateway to do business in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. An increasing number of Nigerian students recognise the quality of Australian universities, and the networks throughout Asia that an Australian degree provides.
Our economies have complementarities that make us natural partners. Extractives and agriculture are major industries in both our countries. In Nigeria there are already Australian companies supporting the development of the mining sector – a sector key to the Government’s priority of diversification of the economy and one in which there is significant potential for job creation over many years. Our similar climates mean we understand the practicalities of farming in harsh conditions and have the technology to maximise productivity. Through our scholarship program we have helped build technical capacity in the mining and agricultural sectors, ensuring our engagement is one on a level playing field.
As global power is shifting, Australia and Nigeria have much to offer each other. Be it through increasing our two way trade potential, our continental positions and influence, or through our aligned priorities in the international system – to shape and protect rules and norms, to guard against threats to international peace and security, to protect the international environment for the prosperity of our nations, to reduce global poverty and respond to humanitarian crises, or now more than ever to reduce the potential for pandemics and other international health risks to our citizens.
Claire Ireland is the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria
Cameroon Striker Bahoken Issued Suspended Prison Sentence
Cameroon and Angers striker Stephane Bahoken has been handed a four-month suspended prison sentence with a fine of €2,000 for acts of domestic violence against his partner. He also has a three-month suspended sentence with a fine of €6,875 for traffic violation.
The Cameroon international striker was arrested by the French police earlier this week for allegedly assaulting his spouse and also threatening her with violence.
He came out of police custody after he was charged to court where he was punished for the traffic offence he committed in the summer and the domestic violence.
Bahoken released a statement through his lawyer, Florine Talon, vowing not to make anyone talk about him beyond the football pitch.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office has chosen a measure of appearance on prior admission of guilt, an alternative option to the classic trial before a criminal court, chosen when the personality of the defendant and the relative gravity of the charges justify it,” the statement read.
“Mr. Bahoken, who is unknown to the courts, spontaneously explained himself and showed himself to be extremely cooperative with both the gendarmes and the magistrates.
“With regard to the acts with which he was accused, it emerges from the investigation that in isolation, Mr. Bahoken and his partner may both have had regrettable attitudes and words which fortunately remained at the stage of words, in the absence of blows.
“Be that as it may, Mr. Bahoken who has never wished to harm his partner, bitterly regrets these heated exchanges and wishes their separation will continue in the best interests of the child.
“In any case, Stephane Bahoken accepts his reprehensible behaviour, accepts the sentence without complacency. And does not intend to make anyone else talk about him beyond the football stadiums.”
Bahoken played for 80 minutes as Angers defeated Rennes 2-1 at the Roazhon Park in a Ligue 1 game. He now remains a doubt for their next league game at home against Nice this weekend having missed a lot of the training sessions this week due to his detention.
Tusker FC Sign Former Gor Mahia Defender Ochieng
Kenya Premier League side Tusker FC have confirmed the signing of former Gor Mahia defender Wellington Ochieng.
Tusker FC have been strengthening for the new season as they look to challenge for the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Premier League title.
“Ochieng’ is now our player, he signed with us yesterday [Thursday],” Tusker FC chairman Daniel Aduda said.
“He is an experienced player who will give us much-needed experience at the back. Ochieng’ is also versatile and I believe he will be a valuable asset to the team.”
A couple of weeks ago Ochieng was released by his club alongside Edwin Lavatsa.
The defender is the third player signed by Tusker FC in the transfer window. They started by getting experienced centre-back Eugene Asike to extend his stay at the club by one year. Goalkeeper Robert Mboya also extended his stay at the club by another season as well.
Christopher Oruchum was the first signing for the former champions from the 13-time champions AFC Leopards.
“One of the things that motivated me to sign for Tusker is that Tusker is one of the biggest clubs in Kenya whereby we stand a chance to be exposed to big teams in Africa and outside the country,” the defender said after completing the move.
“Having joined a team that was high-flying the previous season, I hope and pray that I will also add something and also help the team to achieve more than they achieved last season.
“There was a time I was really close to signing for Tusker when I was at Thika United but the deal did not materialize then I ended up going to AFC Leopards, then from there I have the chance again of joining this great club, which I have longed to play for.”
Tusker FC last won the league trophy four years ago.
Akpeyi recalled by Nigeria for Sierra Leone games
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has been recalled to the Nigeria national team for November’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying double-header against Sierra Leone.
Akpeyi’s last game for the Super Eagles of Nigeria was in November 17, 2019 against Lesotho at the Setsoto Satium, Maseru where Nigeria won by 4-2.
Injury to the Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper led to his exclusion from the Nigerian squad that faced African Champions Algeria and later Tunisia in October’s international friendlies.
Akpeyi has now been invited to the Super Eagles squad and is set to compete for a starters spot when Nigeria faces Sierra Leone in the 2022 AFCON qualifier.
“Daniel Akpeyi returns to the Nigerian team for their upcoming Group L home and away games against Sierra Leone,” a statement from Chiefs read.
“Akpeyi who has already played in the Super Eagles’ opening two games of the qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho, will face Sierra Leone at home in Benin City on 13 November and in Free Town on 17 November.”
The shot-stopper missed out on Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 defeat by Mamelodi Sundowns, but made a return to the team when his side got a 1-0 away victory against Chippa United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Sierra Leone are looking to qualify for the AFCON tournament for the third time, but the are at the bottom of Group L having started their qualification campaign poorly.
The first leg of the double-header will be played on November 13 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Nigeria, while the return leg will be held four days later at the National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have featured at the biennial showpiece 17 times, emerging victorious on three occasions, finishing as runners-up four times and third for a record eight times.
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