Buhari Jets To Portugal For Ocean Conference Without Ministers Of Environment,  Transport, DG NIMASA

President Muhammadu Buhari will today depart for Portugal to attend a conference on the Ocean where key environmental issues would be discussed.

However, the president will be attending the conference without key members of his cabinet most relevant for the conference.

An unsigned statement posted by Garba Shehu on Tuesday, June 28, on his Facebook page announced that the president will depart Abuja to Portugal at the invitation of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. 

He said those on the entourage of the president include Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare and Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

Others are National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Interestingly, the conference has key environment themes and six broad areas of action which include tackling the climate crisis, advancing sustainable fisheries, fostering sustainable blue economies, promoting marine protected areas, supporting maritime security and combating marine pollution .

But Buhari is traveling without top representatives of two key ministers and the agency responsible for the environment and regulating marine activities.

The Ministry of Environment has the mandate to formulate policy on environmental services matters.  The ministry also promotes sustainable use of natural resources, maintains the ecosystem  and preserves biodiversity.

The current minister of environment is Mohammed Abdullahi, who was redeployed to the ministry  on April 6, 2022. 

The Ministry of Transportation enacts public transportation policy direction and control,  supervises, monitors and evaluates the implementation of all transportation policies and programmes.

Although there is no minister of transportation, as the former minister, Rotimi Amaechi,  resigned ahead of the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress. But the ministry has a permanent  secretary who has been acting in the absence of a minister.

Similarly, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,  which regulates the country’s marine activities, will not be represented in the trip. The agency is under the supervision of the ministry of transport.

However, the statement announcing the president’s trip noted thatthe President, who will hold official talks with his Portuguese counterpart,  will be conferred with the country’s National Honour and decorated with ‘Great Collar of the Order of Prince Henry.’

The two Presidents are expected to chair an enlarged bilateral meeting and witness the signing of some agreements bordering on issues of mutual concern, the statement said.

President Buhari will also visit the Portuguese Parliament and hold discussions with its president, Dr Augusto Santo Silva, as well as the Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa according to the post.

In the course of the visit, the statement further notedthat   the President is scheduled to address a Forum of Nigerian and Portuguese businessmen and hold separate meetings with select Portuguese Chief Executive Officers and prospective investors to Nigeria. 

President Buhari will then proceed to participate in the United Nations Ocean Conference, which began in Lisbon on Monday, June 27, and runs till July 1. 

The Conference is being co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal and supported by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

It aims to accelerate the adoption of science-based innovative solutions to challenges facing oceans and the global marine ecosystem.

“The Nigerian leader is also expected to engage members of the Nigerian community in Portugal on matters affecting them and developments at home,” the statement added.

 Buhari is expected to return to Abuja on Saturday, July 2.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, did not respond to THE WHISTLER ‘s inquiry when contacted.

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