Sunak Vows to ‘Crack On’ With UK Push to End Illegal Immigration - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
, Source: Home Office, Ministry of Defence
(Bloomberg) -- UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman is set to ramp up pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to slash immigration, highlighting divisions within the ruling Conservative Party after a bruising local election result.
With official statistics next week expected to show record net arrivals in the UK last year, Braverman will say the numbers must come down, according to remarks reported Monday by the Press Association. She’ll make the comments in a speech later at NatCon UK, a conference of the Tory right organized by the Washington-based Edmund Burke Foundation, a public affairs institute.
“There is no good reason why we can’t train up enough HGV drivers, butchers or fruit pickers,” Braverman is expected to say. “Brexit enables us to build a high-skilled, high-wage economy that is less dependent on low-skilled foreign labor.”
The remarks by Braverman — who oversees immigration policy and is seen as a standard-bearer for the Tories’s populist right — points to a split in government between those on the right who want to deliver on Brexit promises to greatly reduce immigration — and others who see the need for foreign arrivals to fill jobs in agriculture and road haulage that Britons won’t take.
Conservative governments for years have struggled to rein in immigration, despite a long-standing pledge through the 2010s to get it down to the “tens of thousands.”
Instead, net immigration rose to a record 504,000 in the year to June 2022, and Office for National Statistics data due on May 25 is expected to eclipse that. The Centre for Policy Studies estimates it could be as high as 997,000, a figure that’s likely to heighten criticisms that the government is failing to deliver on its Brexit problems.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps on Sunday said that he didn’t think the figure would hit a million, and pointed out that British programs to accept Ukrainian refugees and UK nationals from Hong Kong accounted for about 300,000 people. That’s a record the country “should be proud of,” he told Sky News.
While Sunak has said that he wants to get immigration down “over time,” his focus has been on reducing the number of people arriving on Britain’s shores in small boats.
The government says criminal gangs and people smugglers are at the root of the problem. Ministers are trying to end the crossings through deterrent policies including sending arrivals to Rwanda and banning them from ever claiming asylum or citizenship in Britain.
Legislation to deliver on that is working its way through Parliament, and during a debate in the House of Lords last week, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England whose position affords him a seat in the UK’s upper chamber, described it as “morally unacceptable.”
Nevertheless, Sunak remains undeterred by the opposition, telling the Mail on Sunday that he was leading meetings of a special panel twice weekly to discuss the immigration crackdown as the legislation progresses. A month after contracting the first barge to house people who cross the English channel, he promised to use “as many as it takes” to reduce the current bill for housing arrivals in hotels.
Sunak’s preparations for the incoming law mean that “from the moment that we have the green light we can crack on and deliver it,” he told the paper.
Ending small boats crossings is one of Sunak’s five core pledges that he’s asked voters to judge him on as he tries to turn around the flagging fortunes of the governing Conservatives, who have trailed the opposition Labour party by a double-digit margin in national polling for months.
But after the Tories lost more than 1,000 seats in local elections this month, the right of the party is increasingly emboldened to speak out against the government’s direction. Recent disquiet has also centered on housing policy and the high burden of taxation.
Many blame him for the ouster last year of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the darling of the party grassroots. That gave way to a calamitous 7-week tenure as premier by Liz Truss, before Sunak took over in a contest decided by Tory Members of Parliament.
Last week, other right wingers slammed Sunak for retreating from a pledge to scrap all legislation inherited from Britain’s membership of the European Union by year-end. Former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg compared him to the Borgias, a renaissance Italian family that became a byword for immorality. He sought to clarify that remark on Sunday, telling Sky News that Sunak “broke a promise, that was the point.”
Rees-Mogg is due to speak again the same conference as Braverman. Housing Secretary Michael Gove and Conservative Party Vice Chairman Lee Anderson are also due to address the three-day event.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel on Saturday blamed “bad decisions” and Tory “infighting” for the poor election results. Without naming Sunak, she lamented that his ascent to power without a vote of the party grassroots had undermined trust.
“Some parts of Westminster and colleagues have done a better job at damaging our party than the opposition,” Patel told the meeting of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, which seeks to expand the powers of rank-and-file Tory members. “We’ve got to stop this decline.”
US Imposes Visa Ban On Nigeria Politicians - NEW TELEGRAPH
The United States of America has once again issued a visa ban on Nigerians, particularly politicians who disrupted the just concluded 2023 general elections in the country.
The United States which made the announcement on Monday is yet to disclose the names of those affected by the ban.
In a statement issued on the US State Department website, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “The United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.
“Today, I am announcing that we have taken steps to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle.”
He noted that the visa ban is specific to certain individuals and is not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole.
According to the statement, these individuals, under US Immigration and Nationality Act, will be subject to restrictions on visas to the United States under a policy covering those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy.
He said that the decision to take steps to impose visa restrictions reflects the continued commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
During the February 25 presidential election, many politicians were reported to have carried out violence, intimidation, and other acts, including hate speech that were seen as inimical to the free and fair electoral process for which some actors were reported to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC which is currently investigating the allegations.
According to records available at the NHRC headquarters in Abuja, those mentioned by petitioners include Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, MC Oluomo, a political ally of President-elect, Bola Tinubu and Bayo Odunuga, an APC spokesman, and many others.
Sudan Crisis - Nigerian Embassy Facilitates Students' Transfer to Egyptian Universities -
"In this regard, Nigerian students from Sudanese universities who are interested in transferring to Egyptian universities are expected to send..."
The Embassy of Nigeria in Cairo, Egypt, is to facilitate the transfer of Nigerian students from Sudanese universities to Egyptian universities.
The embassy, in a statement on Sunday, said this was in the light of requests by both parents and students caught in the ongoing conflict in Sudan.
The embassy said that it was collaborating with the Central Administration for International Students (Wafeden), under the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to achieve this.
"In this regard, Nigerian students from Sudanese universities who are interested in transferring to Egyptian universities are expected to send their full names, faculties required, academic level/year completed, transcripts of the academic years completed.
"(They should also send) passport data pages and contact details (phone number and email) to enable the embassy and the Wafeden to start working on them before the portal for international transfers opens."
The embassy cautioned students that any of them that is transferred to Egyptian government universities would not be eligible for an Egyptian Government Scholarship.
It also provided a link for the transfer for interested students to fill and attach the required documents between May and June in order to join the 2023/2024 academic session commencing in September.
"After filling the above form, interested students should also send their below details and documents to this email: [email protected] with the following:
"a. Full Name:
"b. Faculty required:
"c. Academic Year/Level Completed:
"d. Transcripts of the Academic Years/Level Completed (attachment)
"e. Passport Data Page (attachment) f. Contact Details: Phone number(s) and email address."
Foreigners Buy Most Luxury Homes in Singapore in Almost a Decade - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- The number of luxury condominium units bought by foreigners rose to the highest in almost a decade before Singapore doubled taxes on purchases by the demographic.
Foreigners bought 159 non-landed, luxury homes in Singapore’s core central region in the first quarter, according to a report by OrangeTee & Tie Pte. That’s up from 71 units a year earlier.
The number of luxury condominium units bought by mainland Chinese buyers increased to 111 units, up 158% on-year, the real estate company said.
Singapore authorities last month doubled property levies for foreigners to 60%, the highest among major global cities, as part of efforts to cool the housing market. The government has said that the policy is a preemptive move as investment demand for residential property is likely to continue to grow otherwise.
“The cooling measures may not affect buyers’ perception of Singapore as one of the best places for property investment,” said Christine Sun, a senior vice president at OrangeTee, citing economic fundamentals. “Some high-net-worth individuals may continue to park their wealth here as luxury properties are pricey in many other cities.”
Singapore’s home sales surged 80% in April from a month earlier to a seven-month high as more projects were launched, government figures showed Monday.
Foreigners bought 70 units in April, the most since May 2022, according to Lee Sze Teck, senior director of research at Huttons Asia Pte. Most purchases were in the S$2 million ($1.5 million) to S$5 million category, he said. Geopolitical tensions may have led more foreigners to buy Singapore properties as a safe-haven asset, he added.
U.S. imposes election-related visa restrictions on Nigerians - REUTERS
WASHINGTON, May 15 (Reuters) - The United States has imposed entry restrictions on more Nigerians for undermining the democratic process during the African nation's 2023 election cycle, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.
"These individuals have been involved in intimidation of voters through threats and physical violence, the manipulation of vote results, and other activity that undermines Nigeria’s democratic process," Blinken said in a statement.
Additional details were not provided.
The action is the latest in a series of visa restrictions imposed on Nigerian individuals in recent years.
Nigeria's election tribunal this month was to begin hearing opposition petitions challenging president-elect Bola Tinubu's victory in the disputed February presidential vote, court records showed.
Tinubu, from the ruling All Progressives Congress party, defeated his closest rivals Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party and the Labour Party's Peter Obi, who have alleged fraud and have launched a court challenge.
Atiku and Obi want the tribunal to invalidate Tinubu's victory, arguing that the vote was fraught with irregularities, among other criticisms. Tinubu, who is set to be sworn in on May 29, says he won fairly and wants the petitions dismissed.
There have been numerous legal challenges to the outcome of previous Nigerian presidential elections but none has succeeded.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Hugh Lawson
UK’s Sunak Announces 10,000 Extra Seasonal Farm Worker Visas - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK government will allow an extra 10,000 seasonal agricultural workers to enter the country next year in response to demands from farmers.
The premier on Tuesday told the UK Farm to Fork Summit that ministers had rolled over to next year a seasonal workers program that allows for 45,000 temporary laborers to enter the country for horticulture and poultry, his office said in a statement. There will be the capacity for an extra 10,000 visas if needed, he told attendees.
Sunak also vowed the government won’t lower standards in its pursuit of trade agreements. He detailed two concerns that have frequently been voiced when discussing a potential deal with the US, saying: “So no chlorine-washed chicken. No hormone- treated beef. Not now. Not ever.”
Attack on US Convoy in Nigeria Probed After Four People Killed - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- The US is helping Nigerian security agencies investigate an attack on an American convoy in the West African nation in which at least four people were reportedly killed.
The attack took place in Nigeria’s southeastern Anambra state on Tuesday, a US Mission Nigeria spokesperson said in response to questions, without giving further details. “US Mission Nigeria personnel are working with Nigerian security services to investigate.”
At least four people died and three others were abducted in the incident, Agence France-Presse reported. Among the dead were two members of Nigeria’s Police Mobile Force and two US consulate staff, it said, citing police spokesman Ikenga Tochukwu.
“No US citizens were involved, and therefore there were no US citizens hurt,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a briefing at the White House on Tuesday. The US State Department is looking into the matter, he said.
A separatist group in southeastern Nigeria, the Indigenous People of Biafra, has waged an increasingly violent campaign to create an independent state of Biafra. A thriving kidnapping-for-ransom industry has also emerged in recent years. Security agencies and individuals have been targeted in the violence.
President-elect Bola Tinubu, who will be inaugurated on May 29, has pledged to beef up the military to tackle insecurity in the country, which has also been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency and terror attacks in northern Nigeria. US Secretary of State held talks with Tinubu on Tuesday and promised the US’s “continued comprehensive security cooperation, and reforms to support economic growth.”
Uncertainty as Nigeria Air fails to fly 11 days to Buhari’s handover - PUNCH
LILIAN UKAGWU examines the possibility of the national carrier flying before the end of Buhari’s administration
As Nigerians look forward to the May 29 inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, into office, the prospect of Nigeria Air, the country’s national carrier, flying before the end of the current administration continued to be shrouded in doubt.
Last month, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, assured Nigerians that Nigeria Air, which has been embroiled in controversy, would commence operation before May 29.
Speaking at the National Aviation Stakeholders Forum 2023 in Abuja, the minister stated that the national carrier would commence local and international flights before May 29.
“Negotiation meeting with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria ongoing. “Next step: Federal Executive Council approval of the Full Business Case,” he asserted.
However, aviation pundits have argued that this may be another failed promise from Sirika.
The Nigeria Air project was launched amid fanfare in 2018. The Nigerian government promised to establish a national carrier to compete with other successful African airlines.
Meanwhile, the project has been enmeshed in controversies since it was launched. The first thing attracted criticism was the initial branding of the airline, with many Nigerians questioning the suitability of the logo and name. Many also frowned at the government’s decision to maintain a sealed lips about the details of the project.
There was news that the project had been put on hold indefinitely in September 2018, but government officials repeatedly assured Nigerians that the project was on course, though there were no physical developments to buttress their claims.
Less than two weeks to the inauguration of a new government, the fate of Nigeria Air remained on clear.
The country has been without a national carrier since the collapse of Nigeria Airways, despite several failed attempts to float one.
In September 2022, the Federal Government named Ethiopian Airlines Consortium as the preferred bidder for Nigeria Air.
The Minister of Aviation, Sirika, said Ethiopian Airlines won the bid with a consortium and would have 95 controlling shares in the airline.
While noting that only Ethiopian Airlines met the bidding evaluation criteria and the deadline, Sirika said it would hold 49 per cent equity with other consortiums holding 46 per cent.
According to the minister, the Federal Government will have only a five per cent equity in the project.
Also, in a statement released by the Ministry of Aviation said Nigeria Air would launch with Boeing 737-800 (NG) aircraft, adding that B787 aircraft, which would be for international operations, would follow thereafter.
“Nigeria Air, the new airline will be owned by a Nigerian private Investor Consortium together with a five per cent Federal Government holding, including Ethiopian Airline’s shareholding. Bringing Nigeria Closer to the World,” the statement read.
In October same year, the Minister of Aviation said the national carrier would kick off before the end of December 2022, noting that 20 aircraft with petrol engines had been ordered for training purposes, nine of which had been delivered.
Sirika at a recent ministers’ retreat noted that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had given a marching order to ensure that the carrier was launched.
He said, “When I came in as a minister, we didn’t arrogate to ourselves knowledge and wisdom. We believe in the stakeholders on whose behalf we are serving. The national carrier is in the works and we have advanced significantly. And just yesterday, Mr President, in concluding the retreat, directed that this airline must work between now and December. And it will work by God’s grace.
In November 2022, eight local airlines and their association took the government to court, listing Nigerian Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as defendants.
Among other prayers, the indigenous airlines wanted the court to stop the national carrier deal and withdraw the Air Transport Licence already issued to Nigeria Air by the Federal Government/Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
They also claimed that the firm which served as Transaction Adviser for the transaction was incorporated in March 2021 and alleged that the company was linked to the aviation minister.
The local airlines further alleged that ATL issued to Nigerian Air did not pass through the normal security clearance.
According to them, the Federal Government’s partnership with Ethiopian Airlines on the project will send domestic airlines out of business by opening up the domestic air travel market to Ethiopian Airlines.
However, despite the court order, the minister has insisted that Nigeria air must fly, stating that the project was 98 per cent ready and all equipment had been procured.
At the end of the day, the court ordered the government to suspend the project indefinitely.
However, despite the court order, the minister had insisted that Nigeria Air would fly, stating that the project was 98 per cent ready and all equipment had been procured.
He said, “Nigeria Air Limited. I did say that we will get it going before the end of this administration and I have not withdrawn my words. We have everything in place. The aircraft, offices, operational centres, staffing and everything needed are in place. We are doing the last minute checks and waiting for the issuance of the AOC and it will fly.”
In April this year, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos also restrained the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Nuhu Musa, from issuing an Air Operator’s Certificate to the proposed national carrier.
This development came several months after Nigeria Air got an Air Transport Licence.
The latest court order obtained by the domestic airline operators barred the government from taking any step with regards to the national carrier project until further notice.
Responding to the order of the court barring the NCAA from issuing an AOC for Nigeria Air, the Special Assistant to the Minister on Public Affairs, James Odaudu, claimed there was no such order.
According to Odaudu, there was no High Court sitting on the matter, adding the reports on order of the court barring the NCAA from issuing an AOC for Nigeria Air were the work of “mischief makers”.
He argued that the reports were based on a letter sent to the NCAA by the lawyer for the Airline Operators of Nigeria, noting that letter reminded the NCAA of an injunction previously issued by the court, which stated that status quo should be maintained.
Odaudu claimed that the reports were sponsored and that the journalists who wrote them lacked the capacity to interpret the letter properly.
He said,” There was no High Court sitting on the matter last week, not to talk of an order. The report was the work of mischief makers.
“What happened was that the lawyer for AON wrote a letter to NCAA reminding them of the injunction earlier issued by the court stating that status quo ante be mentioned. I believe that the reports were sponsored.
“Check the reports again. Did any of them refer to a sitting, a judge, a date, etc.? Probably they did not have the capacity to interpret the letter properly. I wonder what has happened to interpretative journalism.”
Key players in the sector have expressed diverse views regarding the Nigeria Air. The Chief Executive Officer of TopBrass Airline, Capt Rolland Iyayi, said the Ethiopian Airline was poised to benefit most in the Nigeria Air project.
He said, “The issue of the national carrier is very important. It is something we are all paying attention to. We just want to make sure we get it right. There have been some misgivings. Some issues have been raised. But there are issues that need clarification.”
In the same vein, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, criticised the engagement of another country’s airline to own a major stake in Nigeria’s national carrier, warning that it may be counterproductive.
The former military commandant at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Capt John Ojikutu (retd), while speaking about mistakes the government had made with Nigerian Airways, which Nigeria Air must avoid in order to survive, blamed government officials for being part of the reasons the airline ceased to operate.
He said, “Let it be sustained as a national carrier and not a government carrier. Let it be sustained by that national name carrier, not a government carrier. Nigeria Airways was virtually turned into a government carrier that virtually most officials who travel by Nigerian Airways were not paying the real fare for the class they sat in. It was either they do not pay at all or they do not pay the real fare.
“They will sit in business class, first class, but they will pay for economy class. I have a lot of experience with them. I am very sorry to say without any reservation that these things were done during the military era and it is not going to be different under this political dispensation with the way we are even handling it. That is one aspect of it. Then, commercial agreement. Let commercial agreement be commercial agreement.”
He went further to condemn the partnership between FG and Ethiopia, questioning the government’s stake in the flagship of Nigeria Air.
A captain in the industry, who preferred not to be named, told The PUNCH in an interview that there was no way Nigeria Air would be launched on or before May 29. Giving his reasons, he said, “I cannot see how this can happen because I do not see any tangible structures in place. I mean, where are the crew, the cabin crew, the ground handlers, the ticketing desk, and all that? I do not see it happening. I might be wrong.”
Reacting to this, the spokesperson for the Airline Operators of Nigeria and chairman of United Airlines, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, stated that there had been an order from the court that the status quo should be maintained months back.
“Unless someone is violating this order, everything related to Nigeria Air should have been halted three months ago.
”I am not a stakeholder in Nigeria Air. So, I don’t attend their meetings to know their plans but if the minister had said it will fly before May 29, I think he should be the one to give you the assurance of the possibility.”
Foreign airlines in Nigeria are frustrated by the blocking of their funds – The Economist - BUSINESSDAY
Will the new president urge the central bank to hand over the cash?
International airlines with bases in Nigeria are looking hopefully at the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as president on May 29th, since their fate may rest in his hands. They want the country’s new chief pilot to tell the central bank to let them have their cash. Of the $2.2bn in airlines’ blocked funds across the world, the wodge stuck in Nigeria, almost $800m, is the biggest, says the International Air Transport Association (iata). That figure has doubled since September. Nigerians are frequent flyers, thanks in part to their huge, helter-skelter diaspora, but, unless the bank acts fast, frustrated airlines may make it harder for any of them to get anywhere at all.
Dwindling oil revenues, meagre exports and currency interventions have drained Nigeria’s foreign-exchange coffers. The central bank must decide how to parcel out scarce cash. Every fortnight or so it promises airlines a morsel of all the dollars their accumulated revenues in naira should equate to, at an exchange rate almost 50% less advantageous than its official one. Even then, it does not guarantee when the pledged money will arrive. klm, the Dutch carrier, which has been flying to Nigeria for 75 years, is waiting for funds promised in September. Emirates, fed up with waiting for an estimated $500m, pulled out last year, despite the popularity of its route.
In 2022 about 3.5m people flew in and out of Nigeria. Once a profitable route, it should have offered airlines an opportunity to recoup lockdown losses. “It should be lucrative, but it’s not if you can’t get your money,” says iata’s Willie Walsh. Airlines have to keep paying interest on their own debts, even as they chase the arrears they are owed.
A manager at one of Nigeria’s leading banks notes that some airlines unlawfully sell tickets in dollars within the country. Others are taking on more cargo. Faced with the prospect of reducing its Nigeria-bound flights, klm resorted to selling only the priciest of tickets to Nigerians and as a last resort increased its prices in naira to make up for the added risk. But passengers grumble that they are being fleeced.
As carriers run out of tricks, more may leave. Rising jet-fuel costs and other levies are obstacles enough. Every so often the central bank gives a “special allocation” of funds to placate rankled airlines as a temporary reprieve. The aviation minister has called for patience.
In the long run larger airlines may be able to absorb the losses, but Nigerian passengers will be certain to lose out. Unless Mr Tinubu’s crew finds a way to replenish reserves and disburse the cash, foreign flyers may stop coming. “We’re not talking years here,” says Mr Walsh. “We’re talking months and weeks.”
This article was first published in The Economist
Tinubu’s Inauguration: FG Orders Closure Of Major Abuja Roads - DAILY TRUST
The Federal Government has ordered the closure of roads linking Federal Secretariat Complexes of Phase I, II, III and Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2pm…
- By Abbas Jimoh
The Federal Government has ordered the closure of roads linking Federal Secretariat Complexes of Phase I, II, III and Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2pm on Friday May 26, to Monday May 29.
The Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office, Office of the Head of the Service of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), Dr Ngozi Onwudiwe, said this in a circular on Friday in Abuja.
Onwudiwe said that the order is in line with security arrangements by the Presidential Transition Council (PTC), for the smooth conduct of the inauguration parade for the swearing-in ceremony of President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29.
“Accordingly, officers and intending visitors to the affected areas will not be allowed access till Tuesday May 30 when work will resume in earnest,” the circular said.
Tinubu alongside Senator Kashim Shettima will take oath of office as President and Vice-President on