FRESH FM TOP NEWS THIS WEEK
Written by MaryGift Sunday on September 26, 2020
The hottest and most trending news articles for this week in all categories captured in one shot. Find articles ranging from News, to Sports, to Politics, to Entertainment, to Economy, to Metro plus, and many other categories. See below the top news for the week:
- NLC Insists On Monday Protest Despite Court Order
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28. In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices. The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
In the statement by Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobile at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am. Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also. The NLC Secretary also noted that all Presidents and General Secretaries are expected to lead and identify with their members at the take-off point.
- Do Not Join Labour Strike, FG Warns Civil Servants
The Federal Government has warned civil servants against participating in the planned nationwide strike called by the organised Labour. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliate unions had called on workers to embark on an indefinite industrial action on Monday over the price of petrol and electricity tariff. But in a statement issued on Saturday, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, asked civil servants to be at work, saying the government is engaging with the union officials over the issue.
“Accordingly, all officers on grade level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties. “Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are, therefore, enjoined to bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all concerned officers and ensure strict compliance,” the statement partly read. Yemi-Esan argued that there is a court injunction granted by the National Industrial Court with suit number, NICN/ABJ/253/2020 issued on September 24 on the matter. The court order, she noted, had restrained the NLC and TUC from embarking on any form of industrialisation action pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice.
- The Federal Government reiterates that the nation’s 60th independence anniversary celebration will be low-key.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this while briefing journalists on Thursday, in Abuja, said this is not unconnected from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The 60th independence anniversary celebration will be low-key just as the President has already announced. This is not unconnected from the global COVID-19 pandemic which has forced some safety protocols on nations around the world,” he said.
The Minister said that the celebration will last for a period of one year and end September 31, 2021. He explained that this doesn’t mean there will be daily activities between now and September 31 but there will be staggered events within the one-year period to commemorate Nigeria’s diamond jubilee anniversary. He however faulted the argument by some schools of thought who believe that there is no reason to celebrate Nigeria at sixty, considering the myriads of challenges facing the country. He insisted that the answer to that argument is contained in the theme for the celebration, which emphasises togetherness.
- COVID-19: We Have Commenced Distribution Of Palliatives Worth N10.9 Billion – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration has commenced the distribution of palliatives worth N10.9 billion to households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. He said this on Tuesday while delivering a speech via video-message, on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. According to him, the disbursement of the sum is part of efforts to reduce the suffering of Nigerians imposed by the COVID-19. “In order to mitigate its impact on Nigerians, our administration has commenced the disbursement of the sum of N10.9 Billion to households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives,” he said. Speaking further, the president restated Nigeria’s commitment to working with other member states to promote the well-being of citizens.
“I should also state that Nigeria is committed to working with other Member States in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being. “Nigeria will continue to partner with the WHO and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing, as well as uninhibited supply of safe and effective Coronavirus vaccines to all,” he said. In addition, President Buhari noted that the government has established a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households, while our Central Bank has launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.
- Buhari promises partnership with UN, demands co-operation on common problems
The Federal Government has pledged to work with member states of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to promote human health and general well-being. Making the pledge, President Muhammadu Buhari also declared that the country would continue to partner the World Health Organisation (WHO) to boost the development, manufacturing and supply of effective coronavirus vaccines to all. He made the pledges when he presented Nigeria’s national statement, via video message, on the first day of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly Debate. Shortly after the President’s presentation, however, a former ambassador and President of the Association of Foreign Relations Professionals of Nigeria, Gani Lawal, said the pledges might not be fulfilled as was the case in the past.
The President said: “As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us, they count on us. “If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.” He stressed the need for the future to guarantee human rights, dignity, prospects and prosperity, adding that the principles of ‘Leaving no one behind and doing no harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds.
- FG restates commitment to welfare of police officers
The federal government has reiterated its commitment to improving the welfare of police officers in order to encourage them to serve the nation better. Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, revealed this to newsmen in Sokoto State. According to him, this administration is interested in boosting the morale of the police especially as the nation faces the threat of banditry, insurgency and other criminals activities.
On human right abuse allegations against police officers, the minister said the government will ensure adequate punishment for those found guilty.
- NLC Insists On Nationwide Protest Over Fuel, Electricity Price Hike
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Tuesday insisted that it will organise workers across the country to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices on September 28. Speaking in Abuja at a press briefing, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba said the protest action was inevitable since the federal government has refused to reverse the increase in electricity and fuel prices. According to Wabba, the “privatisation of the electricity sub-sector, seven years down the line, have not yielded any positive report. “Whereas the entire privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion. We are also surprised that government, within the last four years, injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that was used to sell these very important assets. “And therefore NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continued exploitation of Nigerians.”
He noted that the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, will make life harder for the average Nigerian. “On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, these have further eroded the gains of N30,000 minimum wage,” he said. “In the light of all of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the federal government to try to reverse those obnoxious decisions. And also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28 of September will be a date that those actions will be challenged by Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and also other labour centres.”
- Nigerian doctor Tunji Funsho named one of TIME’s Most Influential People in the world
TIME has named Nigerian physician Dr. Tunji Funsho to the 2020 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. Dr. Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Rotary member to receive this honour for the organization’s work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.
“I’m honored to be recognized by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year,” said Dr. Funsho. “Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.” As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho has worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunization, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.
- Nigerian wins Bill Gates’ 2020 Changemaker Award
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has named a gender and disabilities rights activist Hauwa Ojeifo as its Changemaker Award winner for 2020. The 2020 Changemaker Award celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership. It recognised Ojeifo for her work promoting gender equality (Global Goal #5). Ojeifo is a sexual and domestic abuse survivor and the founder of She Writes Woman, a women-led movement giving the issue of mental health a voice in Nigeria.
The foundation made the announcement during the Gates Foundation Global Goalkeeper Award won by director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr. John Nkengasong. As part of its annual Goalkeepers campaign, the foundation also announced three other Goalkeepers Awards and launched two innovative partnerships that address the impact of COVID-19 on Kenya’s health and economy.
- Another Tanker Explosion Leaves Many Critically Injured In Lagos
Residents of the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos were on Thursday afternoon sent into a panic as a rancorous explosion rocked the neighborhood. What started out as a wet and rather calm day quickly turned into a frenzy at about 3:30 pm when a loaded gas tanker exploded around the Iju Hill axis of Ajuwon road. Some witnesses say at least one person died in the blast that comes at a moment when the nation is trying to come to terms with a similar carnage that left almost 30 including students, dead in Lokoja. The incident in Lagos left 16 persons critically injured, while scores of buildings and many cars were destroyed, some beyond repair.
Thursday’s explosion comes just a few hours after 23 persons were killed following a tanker explosion at the Felele axis of Lokoja the Kogi State capital. Over five vehicles were completely burnt in the road crash and eyewitnesses say some of the victims include students of Kogi Polytechnic. The accident occurred after a truck laden with Premium Motor Spirit lost control following a brake failure and rammed into five other oncoming vehicles. Eyewitnesses say over 50 people may have been killed in the blaze, including some residents who were waiting to board commercial vehicles by the roadside. Reacting to the explosion, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, expressed shock and sorrow. “It is very sad to learn of the tragic loss of lives, many vehicles, property and other valuables in the petrol tanker fire,” he said. Two-day mourning was declared in honour of the victims of the tanker explosion, but the masses ask for more to be done.
- PenCom approves shared service initiative to accelerate data recapture
The National Pension Commission (PenCom), has approved the proposal by the Pension Operators’ Association of Nigeria (PenOp), for an industry Shared Service Initiative (SSI), to expedite data recapture exercise (DRE) of all registered Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders, under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS). According to the Commission, DRE involves recapturing the personal data of all registered RSA holders, who must provide their National Identification Numbers (NIN), to their Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs), in line with the Federal Government’s directive that every Nigerian must have a NIN.
The Acting Director-General, PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the inability of some RSA holders to provide the NIN among other challenges, had affected the speedy conduct of the DRE by PFAs. She said the SSI involves engaging some vendors to conduct the DRE on behalf of PFAs, noting that the arrangement would enhance efficiency in carrying out the exercise, as it would enable a vendor to recapture all RSA holders in the same organisation. Speaking with newsmen in an interview, Dahir-Umar, said the initiative would surmount the challenges posed by the process of obtaining NIN. She maintained that the major criteria for selecting the vendors were their registration with National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and ability to carry out NIN registrations on its behalf.
- NUC to varsities: prepare for full reopening
Vice Chancellors of universities were told on Tuesday to conclude arrangements for the immediate and full reopening, following the decline in COVID-19 infection rates. The National Universities Commission (NUC), which issued the directive, said the Federal Ministry of Education has accepted its request for varsities to get set for immediate resumption of academic activities. The Director, Directorate of the Executive Secretary’s Office, Chris Maiyaki, conveyed the directive to the vice chancellors in a memo on behalf of NUC Executive Secretary Abubakar Rasheed. Copies of the memo titled: “Fresh directives for the safe re-opening of universities for academic activities during the Covid-19 pandemic”, were sent to Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono. In the memo, NUC stated that varsities can now conclude their resumption arrangements as long as they are in line with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines and other existing NUC assurance and guidelines.
- Delta demotes 41 teachers for exam malpractice
The Delta State Government has sanctioned 41 teachers for examination malpractice during the 2019 West African Senior School Certificate Examination. This is contained in a statement by Delta Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Patrick Ukah. Ukah said the decisions were based on the recommendations by the Examination Ethics Disciplinary Committee of the state. He said, “They are to suffer deferment of promotion by one year and banned from the supervision of any school examination for a period of three years.
“I have directed the Post Primary Education Board to implement the deferment of promotions by one year for the 41 affected teachers. “While others are being sanctioned, P.O. Okolo, is to be given a letter of commendation for a job well done during the examination. “The principals and examination officers of 13 public secondary schools and one private secondary school indicted for examination malpractice are to be issued with letters of warning by PPEB to desist from acts of negligence.”
Ukah also approved Anointed Secondary School, Ubogo, Udu Local Government Area, which was closed down last year for examination malpractice be issued a warning letter and allowed to reopen to give the school a second chance to abide by laid down examination ethics.The Examination Ethics Disciplinary Committee, headed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sam Dietake.
- Oyo begins interview for applicants
Oyo State Government on Monday began oral interview for 7,000 applicants who scored 50 per cent and above in the Computer Based Test (CBT) conducted by the state’s Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM). The Chairman of TESCOM, Pastor Akinade Alamu, who briefed reporters on the sidelines of the interview sessions, said that successful candidates would receive their letters before the end of November. A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Alamu as saying that applicants will only be employed based on merit and competence. Alamu, who said the exercise started about seven months ago before the outbreak of COVID-19, following an approval given by Governor Seyi Makinde to recruit teachers, added that teaching and non-teaching workers would be recruited into the service of the state.
He said: “When we complete the exercise for those we are interviewing today, they will resume work before the end of November.” “I am delighted with today’s exercise. We started about seven months ago when the governor gave the approval to recruit 7,000 teachers and about 3,000 non-teaching staff. People applied, uploaded their credentials and we conducted the test for 67,000 applicants. “The results came out and 10 per cent of those people succeeded in scoring 50 per cent and above. So, this is why we are starting the interview today of about 7,000 applicants, which include the physically challenged.”
- Ministry cautions states on schools reopening
The Ministry of Education has warned states against flouting the Safe School Readiness Template (SSRT) in states ahead of full reopening of schools. The minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, gave the warning on Monday at the opening of North West zonal stakeholders’ meeting on schools’ re-opening dialogue in Kano. Nwajiuba, who regretted that learners had lost huge grounds in their educational pursuit since the lockdown six months ago, maintained that states must ensure strict adherence to the implementation of the template. He explained that the Federal Government, with the support of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed the SSRT, an integrated approach with critical components that guarantee safe teaching and learning against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Although, the Federal Government has directed the re-opening of schools nationwide, the minister emphasised that the final decision rested on state’s preparedness and commitment to all safety measures. He added that Monitoring and Evacuation, as well as Quality Assurance and Compliance teams, would be deployed to states to ensure compliance. UNICEF, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and other stakeholders in the North East are meeting with the ministry for guidelines on schools’ resumption.
- Nigeria must use innovation to aid recovery – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has said Nigeria would need to use technological and innovative ingenuity to fight the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated on Monday at the virtual conference of the Centre for Lion Gadgets & Technologies (University of Nigeria, Nsukka), themed: “Technological Innovation for Holistic Sustainable Development”. The event also featured a virtual interaction between the Vice President and students, both from the university and the secondary school, in the UNN campus.
Speaking about the importance of technology and innovation in resolving society’s numerous problems, the vice president said: “We must creatively imagine and pioneer our way out.” According to him, “we are in one of the worst health and economic crises in living memory and our recovery must be innovative – we must employ never-before-seen methods to fight the never-before-seen plethora of issues before us. “Whether we are discussing the delivery of social services to vulnerable communities and promoting financial inclusion or we are talking about boosting agricultural productivity and promoting the security of our communities, how we harness technology is crucial.
- CBN disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 intervention cash
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had disbursed N3.5 trillion to different sectors of the economy to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. It will also contribute N1.8 trillion into the N2.30 trillion Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) through its Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs). CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele stated this on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele gave a breakdown of who got what out of the N3.5 trillion COVID-19 intervention as follows: Real Sector (N216.87 billion); COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (N73.69 billion); Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (N54.66 billion); Pharmaceutical and Health Care Support (N44.47 billion); and Creative Industry Financing (N2.93 billion). Emefiele said in addition to the initiatives, the apex bank “is set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.30 trillion needed for the one year ESP, through its various financing interventions using the PFIs.”
- Subsidy root of all fraud in oil sector, says Kyari
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, has said that subsidy on petrol was removed because it was characterised by fraud perpetrated by members of a cabal. According to him, the subsidy regime was no longer beneficial to the masses, who were the original target beneficiaries.
Kyari said that over N10 trillion was spent on fuel subsidy between 2006 and 2020 without a significant impact on the masses, but marketers, who were smuggling the subsidized petrol to neighbouring countries to make more profit, and others who faked documents to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported. The NNPC boss, who made the comments during a Hausa Radio programme monitored in Kaduna at the weekend, said the fuel subsidy was the root of all the atrocities and fraud in the oil sector. “This subsidy is designed to assist Nigerians, that is the intention. But in reality, the masses are not the beneficiaries. “It was not the masses of Nigeria that were enjoying this subsidy, except some members of a cabal, who are rich and powerful. They were enriching themselves with the subsidy money at the detriment of the masses who were the primary target.”
- LCCI pushes for immediate implementation of CAMA 2020
Amidst the controversies surrounding the new Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is pressing for an urgent gazetting of the law, saying that delay is creating uncertainties in business decisions anchored on the law. Director General, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday , noted that the delay in gazetting the law is yet another example of how bureaucratic bottlenecks are allowed to impede economic progress. “The legislation and the subsequent assent were widely applauded by the business community”, lamenting that six weeks after the legislation’s presidential assent it is yet to be gazetted.
He stated further, “The implication of this is that the formal copy of the law is not yet available to the public and therefore the law cannot be operationalized. This is yet another example of how bureaucratic bottlenecks could impede the progress of an economy. “Ordinarily, and in line with the ongoing digital revolution and the E- Government agenda of government, the law should have been uploaded on the Federal Government and National Assembly websites hours after the assent by the President. Being a major business legislation, the non-availability of the gazetted copy of CAMA 2020 has stalled many activities in the business environment. These are activities anchored on the new legislation.
“Additionally, the regulations that ought to be issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission on account of the new legislation have equally been stalled because there is no formal document to act upon.”
- Nigeria Has To Take Economic Diversification More Seriously – Sanusi
Former Central Bank Governor, Mohammed Sanusi (II), says Nigeria has to take economic diversification more seriously in order to experience growth and development. The former CBN governor who was the guest speaker on the second day of the Kaduna Investment Summit, explained that over-reliance on oil has left the country unproductive. Referencing Malaysia, Sanusi gave a breakdown of the economic growth of both countries within a 30-year period. According to him, for Nigeria “there was an increase in wealth but without any structural transformation”.
“We were growing but we did not diversify and that explains the huge levels of poverty in the country, it explains the huge levels of inequality in the country, it explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks, it also explains the relatively slow pace of growth because when Malaysia started, they started from a GDP per capita level lower than Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 1985. It started from $310 to $4,045 while we started from $345 to $2,055”. He also stressed the importance of the government creating the right environment and infrastructure for private businesses to thrive.
- Rising food prices in North send scary signal
Nigeria seems to be plunging a new dimension of economic crisis as food inflation reached a new high in northern regions, hitherto considered the food basket of the country. The North consistently led the country’s year-on-year (YOY) food inflation rate from June to August. In August and July, Kogi recorded the highest food inflation (22 percent and 20.1 per cent respectively), while Sokoto, with 17.9 per cent, took the lead in June. On the average, food inflation of 11 northern states — as against six southern states — exceeded the composite figure in each of the three months. In August, 11 northern states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)) and four Southern states, exceeded the national average, which was 16 percent. In July, the number of Northern states that surpassed the food inflation national average (15.48) was nine, as against seven from the South. Eight Southern states’ food inflation was above 15.18 (the combined average) in June, while 12 states from the North recorded higher figures.
According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the food inflation of Kogi, Kwara, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara and FCT exceeded the national average in all the three months. Ebonyi and Ekiti, on the other hand, were the only two Southern states that exceeded the general food inflation rate in the three months reviewed. The North also retained the top state with the worst food inflation rate back-to-back in the three months. The depressing inflation rate in the North, a zone considered as Nigeria’s food basket, speaks volume of the sad dimension the country’s hunger crisis is assuming. Dr. Ayo Teriba, chief executive officer of Economic Associates, said increase in prices of food items in the North was among the outcomes of the lockdown measures taken to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- JOHESU Suspends Warning Strike
The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has suspended its seven-day warning strike across the country.
In a statement issued by its National President, Biobékentóye Josiah, the health workers comprising five unions under JOHESU and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) were expected to resume work on September 21. “This is to bring to your notice that the 7-day nationwide warning strike embarked upon by the members of the Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU) would come to end midnight of today, September 20, 2020.“By this notice, all health workers under the five Unions that make up Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) shall return to work on Monday, September 21, 2020 across all Federal Health Institutions in the country,” the statement partly read.
Josiah also accused the Federal Government of resorting to intimidation and blackmail its members “using all forms of faceless organisation” rather than negotiating with the union. The health workers had embarked on the warning strike on September 14 following the failure of the government to meet their demands. Part of their demands included an upward review of COVID-19 special inducement and hazard allowances; the payment of all withheld salaries; and adjustment of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure since 2014, among others.
- UNICEF trains Plateau health workers on child feeding practices
The United Nations International Children’s Find (UNICEF) has organised a three-day training on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices for health workers in Plateau. The training was organised in collaboration with the Plateau State Primary Health Care Board (PSPHCB)The Chief of UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office, Mr Bahnu Pathak, who spoke at the event on Monday in Jos, said the training was aimed at preventing malnutrition among children in the state. Represented by Dr Rajia Sharhan, Pathak said UNICEF had a responsibility to cater for the nutrition needs and development of every child below the age of five. Dr Sharhan is the nutrition specialist at the UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office.
Pathak, who decried the soaring rate of malnutrition among children in the North, explained that the training would provide a long-term solution to the imminent challenge, particularly stunting. “UNICEF is responsible for the nutrition need and development of every child under-five, so this training is one vital exercise for the prevention of malnutrition in children. “It is developed and initiated to prevent future malnourished children. This simply means that we are not just concerned about the now, but the future consequences of malnutrition. “We have seen that malnutrition among children is on the rise, particularly in the North and if nothing is urgently done we will be in for it. “According to the indicators, Plateau situation is stable, but moderate acute malnutrition and stunting, which is irreversible is on the rise,” he said.
- Commonwealth doctors seek more investment in health workers’ care, safety
As the world marks the 2020 World Patient Safety Day (WPSD), with the theme: “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety.” the Commonwealth Medical Association, CMA, has called on governments and other stakeholders to make greater investments and sustained commitments to the working conditions, occupational health and safety of healthcare workers. In a message to mark the day in Nigeria, the President of CMA, who was former President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Dr Osahon Enabulele maintained that health worker safety was essential for patient safety. Enabulele said investments and sustained commitments to health worker safety were critical to the delivery of quality healthcare and patient safety.
His words: “A physician or health professional who is not physically, mentally, and psycho-socially fit, or who works in unsafe conditions, is very unlikely to deliver quality patient care. “For anyone that was ever in doubt of the important nexus between health worker safety and patient safety, the experiences from the current Covid-19 pandemic provide enough learning points and convictions on the critical need to adopt a more comprehensive strategic framework that gives emphasis to both health worker safety and patient safety.”
Acknowledging the efforts of governments to provide for health worker safety and protection, he lamented reports from various countries indicate that there are still very huge gaps to be filled, particularly in terms of protecting physicians and other healthcare workers from assaults and acts of violence.
- Over 170 million Nigerians without health insurance
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and non-passage of the amended National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act have further slowed uptake of health insurance packages and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria. More than 170 million Nigerians are still paying out-of-pocket to access medical services, forcing households and individuals to incur catastrophic health expenditure. This can exacerbate the level of poverty, analysts told newsmen. Critics worry that the NHIS has remained abysmal and coverage rate dropped, from over 10 per cent (5.6 million Nigerians) 10 years ago, to just barely 1.72 per cent (one million Nigerians) in updated statistics.
A study published in The Lancet, a medical journal, noted that more than 90 per cent of the Nigerian population were uninsured, despite the NHIS that was established in 2006. Less than five per cent of Nigerians in the formal sector are covered by the NHIS. Only three per cent of people in the informal sector are covered by voluntary private health insurance. Uninsured patients are at the mercy of a non-performing health system.”
Yet, another study showed that only three to five per cent of Nigerians (about 1.7 million and 2.8 million people) are on any form of health insurance.
- Godwin Obaseki Re-Elected As Edo State Governor
Mr Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has defeated Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to win a second term as governor of Edo State. Governor Obaseki was returned elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after polling the highest number of votes in the keenly-contested poll conducted on Saturday. INEC Returning Officer for the poll, Professor Akpofure Rem-Rukeh, declared the governor as the winner on Sunday at the office of the electoral umpire in Benin City, which doubled as the final collation centre.
“That Godwin Obaseki of PDP having satisfied the requirements of the law in meeting the 25 per cent in two-third of the local government areas in the state and having a margin of lead higher than the cancelled votes is hereby declared the winner and returned elected,” Professor Rem-Rukeh who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Petroleum Resources, stated. The governor secured 307,955 of the total votes, 84,336 more votes than his closest rival Ize-Iyamu, who got 223, 619 votes. A total of 14 political parties fielded candidates to jostle for the office of the governor in the state. It is the first governorship poll to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
- Buhari Congratulates Obaseki, Reiterates Commitment To Free, Fair Elections
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Godwin Obaseki on his re-election as governor of Edo State. He congratulated him on Sunday in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, urging him to continue to show grace and humility in victory. The President also commended the election process in the state, reiterating the government’s commitment to free and fair elections. “My commitment to free and fair elections is firm because without free and fair elections, the foundation of our political and moral authority will be weak,” he said. “I have consistently advocated for free and fair elections in the country because it is the bedrock of true democratic order. “Democracy will mean nothing if the votes of the people don’t count or if their mandate is fraudulently tampered with.”
Speaking further, President Buhari also commended the people of the state, the parties, candidates and security agencies for conducting themselves responsibly.
It was a dramatic process that saw Obaseki run a governorship race against Ize-Iyamu for a second time in four years. Both men faced each other in 2016, albeit with Obasek flying the flag of the APC and Ize-Iyamu flying that of the PDP. A political rift between the governor and Oshiomhole which spiraled beyond the state to national politics, saw both men switch parties and square up against each other on platforms they once criticised. The campaign, characterised by drama and controversy that did not spare the State House of Assembly, was tempered by the intervention of the Oba of Benin to calm fears that the poll could turn violence heightened. A peace accord was also signed by all the candidates days before the poll as stakeholders made concerted efforts to ensure a successful poll. Overall, most of the stakeholders rated the exercise as largely peaceful, free and fair.
- Dino Melaye, Edo residents mock Oshiomhole after APC defeat
Jubilant residents of Benin City on Sunday trooped out to celebrate the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party over the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the Saturday poll. Some of the residents mocked a former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, who was the major promoter of Ize-Iyamu. Former member of the National Assembly from Kogi State, Senator Dino Melaye, also mocked Oshiomhole and the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.Obaseki polled a total number of 307,955 votes to emerge winner of the poll while Ize-Iyamu scored 223,619 votes. Obaseki had contested on the platform of the APC in 2016 governorship election against Ize-Iyamu who was then the candidate of the PDP and Obaseki won. However, Obaseki and Oshiomhole, who is also a former National Chairman of the APC, fell apart and the crisis cost Obaseki the APC governorship ticket. Ize-Iyamu, who had defected to the APC ahead of the APC governorship primary election, was given the ticket.
While celebrating Obaseki’s victory on Sunday, Melaye said Oshiomhole had been reduced. “Fellow countrymen and women, I salute you once again. I am reaching you directly from Edo. What we used to have as Osho Baba has now been reduced, downgraded and degraded to Osho pikin. Nobody should call Osho Baba again, never! The only thing you now have is Osho pikin…..
“How can you expect that a man with the umbrella will not win during the rainy season? Definitely, the PDP won. APC, how market? Oshiomhole, how market?” Melaye said before bursting into a song to mock Oshiomhole and Tinubu, who had released a video ahead of the election, urging the people of Edo to reject Obaseki. “The dollars brought in a bullion van to Edo have gone down the drain,” Melaye added.
- God Used Obaseki To Fight Godfatherism, Says Wike
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council for the Edo State governorship election, Nyesom Wike has reacted to the just concluded election in the state. Wike, who is also Rivers State Governor, said congratulated the PDP candidate and incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, on his electoral victory in the poll. Addressing PDP supporters in Benin, Wike said God used Obaseki to end godfatherism in Edo State.
“Let me now formally introduce the newest governor, the man who God used to fight godfatherism. If for nothing, we have achieved that there is nothing called godfatherism again in Edo politics. “Edo people have spoken and Edo people have said ‘look, we cannot alter our fate on one man’s hands. That was what Edo people did yesterday,” he said.
Obaseki polled 307,955 votes to defeat his closest rival APC’s Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who garnered 223,619 to win a second term as governor of Edo State. INEC Returning Officer for the poll, Professor Akpofure Rem-Rukeh, declared the governor as the winner on Sunday at the office of the electoral umpire in Benin City, which doubled as the final collation centre. A total of 14 political parties fielded candidates to jostle for the office of the governor in the state.
- APC Congratulates Obaseki On His Re-Election
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has congratulated Governor Godwin Obaseki on his re-election as the governor of Edo State. The chairman of the APC national caretaker committee, Mai Mala Buni said in a statement that the peaceful conduct of the election and its outcome represents a victory for Nigeria’s democracy. He said the party and the president remain committed to free and fair elections to strengthen the foundation of the country’s political and moral authority. He commended INEC, security agencies, and all political parties that contested the election for the successful conduct of the election.
He also commended the party’s flagbearer Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for his tenacity and leadership while appreciating the efforts of the immediate past national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and other members for demonstrating unwavering support for the party and its candidate in the election. Governor Buni added that it is time to unite to move the country’s democracy forward and put an end to the era when the electoral contest becomes warfare.
- We have finally caged lions from Edo politics ― Obaseki
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo has said that his re-election in the just concluded governorship election for another four years has finally sent the lions and tigers into the zoo to be caged permanently from Edo politics. Obaseki disclosed this on Monday in Benin while addressing a crowd of PDP supporters at the popular Kings square shortly after a victory match round the Benin Metropolis. The Governor was accompanied by his Deputy Gov. Philip Shaibu, Chairman Edo PDP Campaign Council, Dan Orbih, House of Rep. Member, Ogbeide Ihama, among others. According to him, the message of Saturday’s governorship election means I should go and work for Edo people. It is clear, the Edo people have spoken loud and clear.
“You have helped me caged the lions and tigers in the State, you will never see them again in Edo because they are all in the zoo now where they belong. “Today, I promise you that we will work for Edo people because no one will hinder us from delivering the dividend of democracy to Edo people. “My Deputy, Philip Shaibu, and I will go back to the office and work for Edo people. I want to thank everyone residing in the state; you spoke and we have heard you and ready to ever work for you.
“The next four years in the state will be the one that all citizens will live to remember as we will consolidate on our developmental achievements in the State. Thank you all,” he said.
- Obaseki Extends Hand Of Fellowship To Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu
The re-elected Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has extended a hand of fellowship to leaders and members of the opposing party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Obaseki while receiving his certificate of return on Tuesday at the INEC office in Aduwawa, Benin City, said the fight is over between him and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole who is also the former Chairman of the APC. He called on the flagbearer of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and other members to join in the administration of the state. “I am using this opportunity to extend a hand of fellowship to my brother Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other colleagues in the APC to join us and work with us so that we can move Edo forward.
“On a specific note, I want to use this opportunity to call on the former Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house where he was part of laying the foundation. We have no malice. The only thing we disagree on is the approach in moving Edo State forward,” he said. Obaseki adds that both members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and APC are one family and cooperation is needed in moving Edo State forward. “To our friends and brothers on the other side of the divide, we are one family in the pursuit to provide services and public goods for our citizens. “Our citizens have decided that for now, they trust us more to provide the leadership. It does not mean that they do not have a role to play. It does not mean that they are not part of the family,” the governor stressed.
- APC suspends Ekiti governor Fayemi, accuses him of funding PDP
The State Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has suspended Governor Kayode Fayemi and accused the governor of funding the campaign of People’s Democratic Party’s candidate in the last governorship election in Oyo State, Seyi Makinde. “Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State is hereby suspended from the Party in view of his numerous anti-Party activities especially his role in the recent concluded governorship election in Edo State which is contrary to the provisions of Article 21 (A) (ii) of the APC Constitution,” Ekiti State APC SEC said in a statement. “For five days prior to the Edo elections, Gov Fayemi hosted PDP big wig Mr. Femi Fani- Kayode in the government house in Ado Ekiti in the run-up to the Edo elections. It was here they perfected the coup against our party in Edo State.
“This is the same Fani-Kayode who daily abuses President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the APC as a party as well a vital section of our country. We have evidence of that meeting.” Ekiti APC SEC claimed that Fani-Kayode specifically said he has gone on his tour as part of an effort between him and Fayemi to build a cross-party alliance and few hours after leaving Ekiti he fired a shot at APC national leader Bola Tinubu. The party also accused Fayemi of supporting the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate to defeat the APC candidate in the gubernatorial election in Oyo State.
- ‘It Was Key’: Wike Attributes Edo Election Success To Visa Ban On Riggers
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said that the international community played a huge role in ensuring a smooth governorship election in Edo State. Speaking in an interview on Friday, the governor explained that threatening to place a visa ban on anyone found guilty of rigging, forced people to act appropriately. “One thing that played out and which I noticed was the role of the international community. For example, the US, the UK came out and said that there would be a visa ban if anybody tries anything in terms of violence or rigging and they have gone further to ban some governors,” he said.
“Everybody was being careful, saying, I don’t want to have any problem, I don’t want my children and family to have any problem. We all go to the UK everytime. “Infact they should even go further, not only politicians, but security agencies, then you’ll see everybody will sit up and say look, I cannot jeopardize the future of my children and mine, simply because you want me to rig the election, so it’s very key”. When asked about his role in the election, the governor said he didn’t play any special role and it the success of the election was a result of the joint efforts of all the stakeholders, particularly the governors of Oyo and Delta state.
- Mali junta chief demands end to economic sanctions
Mali’s military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Tuesday demanded an end to potentially crippling economic sanctions imposed after last month’s coup in the poor Sahel state. Addressing reporters during a ceremony marking 60 years of Malian independence, Goita said the recent nomination of a civilian as interim president meant that West African leaders must end their trade embargo. The 15-nation West Africa bloc ECOWAS shuttered Mali’s borders and imposed trade restrictions after Malian military officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18. Last week, the trade bloc also insisted that it would maintain the measures unless Mali’s ruling officers appoint civilian leaders swiftly. “The international community is watching us… which is why we accepted the ECOWAS principles,” Goita said on Tuesday.
“In the coming days ECOWAS must remove these sanctions for the happiness of the Malian people,” he added. The demand comes after a group of officials selected by the junta chose retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president on Monday. The 70-year-old will lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before staging national elections, according to a plan endorsed by the junta. But it remains unclear how West African leaders will react to Ndaw’s nomination. Hauled back from retirement, the former defence minister spent his career in Mali’s military, where he occupied a series of senior positions. Goita himself will remain as vice president of the transition government. ECOWAS’ mediator in Mali’s crisis, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, is expected in the capital Bamako on Wednesday.
- Ginsburg Supreme Court: Trump plan an abuse of power, says Biden
Donald Trump’s move to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the presidential election is an “abuse of power”, his Democratic rival Joe Biden says. Mr Trump has said he will nominate a woman to replace the longstanding liberal justice. Mr Biden has urged Senate Republicans to delay a confirmation vote. Ginsburg, a liberal icon and feminist standard-bearer, died on Friday, aged 87.
The appointment of judges to the Supreme Court is a political decision in which the president chooses who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – that choice. Democrats fear Republicans will vote to lock in a decades-long conservative majority on the country’s highest court. The ideological balance of the nine-member court is crucial to its rulings on the most important issues in US law. Mr Biden on Sunday said the president had “made clear this is about power, pure and simple”. “The United States constitution allows Americans the chance to be heard – and their voice should be heard… they should make it clear, they will not stand for this abuse of power,” he said. “I appeal to those Senate Republicans – please follow your conscience, let the people speak, cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.”
- Trump Refuses To Promise Transfer Of Power If He Loses US Vote
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to guarantee that he will transfer power if he loses the November election, earning scorn from his Democratic challenger Joe Biden and even from within his own party. “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump responded when asked at a White House press conference whether he is committed to the most basic tenet of democratic rule in the United States — the peaceful handover of power upon a change of president. Biden, who holds a steady lead over the Republican incumbent in opinion polls ahead of the November 3 vote, expressed incredulity. “What country are we in?” the former vice president said, when asked about Trump’s comment by reporters. “Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.” Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a frequent but rare party critic of Trump, went further, saying that any hesitation on the core constitution guarantee was “unthinkable and unacceptable.” “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” he tweeted.
Trump followed up his remarks — unprecedented in modern times for a US president — by resuming his near daily complaint about the fairness of the election. Apparently referring to the increased use of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said: “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.” Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to mass fraud and are being encouraged by Democrats to rig the election. However, there is no evidence that ballots sent through the postal service have ever led to significant fraud in US elections. At the press conference, Trump seemed to suggest annulling what are expected to be the huge numbers of mailed-in ballots, noting that in such a scenario, he would remain in power. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation,” he said.
- NASA plans for return to Moon to cost $28 billion
NASA on Monday revealed its latest plan to return astronauts to the Moon in 2024, and estimated the cost of meeting that deadline at $28 billion, $16 billion of which would be spent on the lunar landing module. Congress, which faces elections on November 3, will have to sign off on the financing for a project that has been set by President Donald Trump as a top priority. The $28 billion would cover the budgetary years of 2021-25. In a phone briefing with journalists Monday on the Artemis mission to return human beings to the Moon, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine noted that “political risks” were often the biggest threat to NASA’s work, especially before such a crucial election. Barack Obama cancelled plans for a manned Mars mission, after his predecessor spent billions of dollars on the project. If Congress approves the first tranche of $3.2 billion by Christmas, “we’re still on track for a 2024 moon landing,” Bridenstine said.
“To be clear, we’re going to the South Pole,” he said, ruling out the sites of the Apollo landings on the Moon’s equator between 1969 and 1972. “There’s no discussion of anything other than that.” Three different projects are in competition to build the lunar lander that will carry two astronauts — one of them a woman — to the Moon from their vessel Orion. The first one is being developed by Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. The other two projects are being undertaken by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and by the company Dynetics. The first flight, Artemis I, scheduled for November of 2021, will be unmanned: the new giant rocket SLS, currently in its test phase, will take off for the first time with the Orion capsule. Artemis II, in 2023, will take astronauts around the Moon but will not land. Finally, Artemis III will be the equivalent of Apollo 11 in 1969, but the stay on the Moon will last longer — for a week — and will include two to five “extravehicular activities.”
- EU sanctions three firms for breaking UN arms embargo on Libya
The European Union (EU) on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies – one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian – for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya, drawing an angry reaction from Turkey. At a regular meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers signed off on the measures, which freeze any EU assets held by the companies, cut them off from EU finance markets and bar them from doing business with anyone in the bloc.
Two individuals were also hit with sanctions for human rights abuses in Libya, where the UN-recognized government in Tripoli has been under attack from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who runs a rival administration in the east.
The EU has a naval mission operating in waters off Libya which is tasked with policing the embargo and collecting intelligence on violators. “These new listings show the EU’s strategic use of its sanctions regime and ability to react to developments on the ground in support of the political process and to deter past and present perpetrators from further violations,” the EU said in a statement.
- Navalny discharged, full recovery ‘possible’: Berlin hospital
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who the West believes was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, has been discharged from hospital after just over a month, the Berlin medical facility treating him said Wednesday. “Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible,” Charite hospital said in a statement, adding however that it remained too early to assess any long-term effects of his severe poisoning. The 44-year-old Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia last month and was hospitalised there before being flown to Berlin. He spent 32 days in the Berlin hospital, including 24 days in intensive care, before his release.
Germany has said toxicology tests provide “unequivocal proof” that he had been poisoned by the Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent, which was also used in a separate poisoning in 2018 on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain. France and Sweden have since said tests they ran independently corroborate with Germany’s conclusions. European leaders have demanded explanations from Moscow, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that “only Russia can and must” provide answers on the poisoning. Navalny’s allies say he may have been poisoned by a cup of tea he drank at Tomsk airport in Siberia. But the Russian doctors who first treated Navalny said their tests did not find any toxic substances, and the Kremlin has rejected international calls for an investigation. In his first blog post since emerging from coma, Navalny said on Monday that the three European labs had found Novichok “in and on my body”. He noted that Russia had still not opened an investigation but that he “did not expect anything else.”
- Tech Giants Strike Deal With Advertisers Over Hate Speech
Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform. The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online. In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform. And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.” The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.
According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content. The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads. “As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.
- Saudi Arabia to gradually resume Umrah pilgrimage
Saudi Arabia will allow pilgrims living inside the country to undertake the Umrah pilgrimage, beginning on October 4, after a seven-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency Saudi Press Agency has reported. In March, the country had declared a freeze on Umrah, which is an Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina undertaken any time of the year, attracting 19 million people last year. Saudi Arabia will now allow 6,000 citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform Umrah daily, representing 30 percent of a revised capacity of 20,000 that takes into account precautionary health measures, SPA said.
That will expand to 75 percent of capacity on October 18. Beginning on November 1, the kingdom will allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe to perform Umrah at 100 percent of the revised capacity, until the end of the pandemic, SPA added.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is developing a mobile application that will be available a week before the Umrah resumes, so that pilgrims can register and book on it. They will also need to follow the health guidelines provided in the app. The decision to resume Umrah came after the kingdom organised the smallest Hajj in modern history in late July, with only up to 10,000 Muslims allowed to take part in total – a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated last year. Health authorities said no coronavirus cases were reported at the holy sites during the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
- Zimbabwe leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development
Zimbabwe’s leader on Thursday appealed at the United Nations for support to end Western sanctions, saying that they set back development goals.
In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed to a recent UN report that found a negative impact from sanctions on Zimbabwe as a whole. “These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe’s capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development Goals,” including the eradication of hunger, he said. “We, therefore, call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions,” he said.
Zimbabwe has faced Western sanctions since the early 2000s but they have been focused primarily on the leaders, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement of an economy that has seen eye-boggling inflation rates. But a report in November by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, said that sanctions contributed to a poor climate for business and investment. “These economic sanctions worsen the existing inequalities and do not have any actual impact on their supposed targets,” she wrote in the report, which found that 60 percent of Zimbabweans were food insecure.
- Plans for fans to return to sport events in October called off
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed plans for fans to return to watch live sport events in England from 1 October will not go ahead. The plans were placed under review after a rise in coronavirus cases. The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has moved to 4, meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially”. “We have to acknowledge the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen large sporting events,” said the prime minister. In an address to the Commons on Tuesday, he announced new restrictions for the country and those included the halting of the phased return of fans. “We will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities,” he added.
“The chancellor and the culture secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.” The prime minister also said current restrictions are likely to remain in place for the next six months. The pilot programme, which was to trial events of up to 1,000 spectators, has also been paused. Bath’s Premiership game with Gloucester on Tuesday (17:30 BST) had been part of the pilot scheme but will now go ahead behind closed doors. The majority of sports in England have been played behind closed doors since the coronavirus lockdown in March, including Premier League football, the FA Cup final, England’s Test cricket matches and two Formula 1 races at Silverstone. Sport events that took place with full crowds in March shortly before all fixtures were postponed and the UK locked down have come under scrutiny.
- Tokyo Olympics Could Take Place Without Vaccine-IOC chief
Olympic boss said Thursday that the Tokyo Games could take place next year even without a coronavirus vaccine, pointing to the success of the Tour de France. Striking an optimistic note at a meeting with Tokyo 2020 organisers, he vowed to make the postponed event a triumph despite the uncertainties of the pandemic “We can see that sport is coming back slowly but surely, and that a number of big sport events have been successfully organised recently, including matches in different Japanese leagues,” he said via videolink “Also very complex events like the Tour de France and others, which showed to us and showed to the world that we can organise safe sport events even without a vaccine.”
But a vaccine and progress in rapid testing “would of course greatly facilitate” holding the event, said Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) The 2020 Games were postponed earlier this year as the deadly new illness spread around the globe. They are now set to open on July 23, 2021, and organisers are insisting they will go ahead in some form — and be safe for all involved. Drugs companies are racing to produce an effective jab to counter a virus that has now killed more than 970,000 people around the world and infected almost 32 million. Several leading vaccine candidates are currently in late-stage trials.
- Osimhen is young lad with head of a 40-year-old, says Gattuso
Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is notoriously hard to please but he dished out rare praise on Sunday when describing new Nigerian signing Victor Osimhen as a “young lad with the head of a 40-year-old,” reports Reuters.
Osimhen, who became Napoli’s record signing when he joined from Lille in the summer for a reported 70 million euros, was brought on for his debut after an hour of yesterday’s Serie A match at Parma and made an instant impact in their 2-0 win. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is notoriously hard to please but he dished out rare praise yesterday when describing new Nigerian signing Victor Osimhen as a “young lad with the head of a 40-year-old,” reports Reuters. Osimhen, who became Napoli’s record signing when he joined from Lille in the summer for a reported 70 million euros, was brought on for his debut after an hour of yesterday’s Serie A match at Parma and made an instant impact in their 2-0 win.
“I was struck by Osimhen’s serious attitude,” said Gattuso. “He hasn’t forgotten where he came from and the sacrifices he made. “He built himself up on his own and I congratulate him for his will and desire. He is a young lad with the head of a 40-year-old, I hope he doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t change his attitude.” Osimhen, 21, grew up in a tough district of Lagos, lost his mother at a young age, and, along with his brother and sister, sold bottled water to drivers stuck in the Lagos traffic to help his family make ends meet.
- Ghana approves football restart
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday announced the return of professional football as part of a loosening of restrictions following a fall in the number of coronavirus cases. But the West African country’s land and sea borders remain closed, and its beaches, bars, cinemas, and night clubs will also stay shut, for the time being, he said in a televised address. “Now more than ever, we must be even more disciplined in our adherence to the personal hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing measures that have become part of our daily routines,” he warned.
The loosening of restrictions means training in contact sports can resume, while Premier League and Division One football will resume on October 30, he said. Players and support staff will be regularly tested, he added. Wearing of masks will remain mandatory until December 14. “No spectators will be allowed at the training centres, and, when actual competition resumes, seating at all stadia will be limited to twenty-five percent capacity to ensure social distancing,” the president said. The resumption of other sports would be discussed on a case-by-case basis between the sports ministries and the federations concerned, he added.
- I’m not desperate for CAF presidency – Pinnick
President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, says he is not desperate to contest for the presidency of the Confederation of African Football, adding that he is yet to take a decision on gunning for the continent’s top football job. Speaking to our correspondent after the unveiling of the official logo and brand ambassadors of the National Principals’ Cup at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday, Pinnick said consultations were ongoing to determine if he would contest. “I’m still consulting because the CAF presidency is not a cup of tea,” the NFF president said.
“You have to ask God for direction, ask your wife because she is also a boss and if she says no it is a no. You have to ask your children, who are your immediate family, then the extended family who are the football family, the (NFF) Technical Committee, the (NFF) congress, political stakeholders. “After you must have gotten endorsement, you have to go to the (sports) ministry, the Presidency, and from there I need to inform my zone because I’m in WAFU B, I will also have to talk to my friends.
“We are on all those things and if it works out it is fine but if it doesn’t I might find myself with the FIFA Council. We are not doing it out of desperation but there are a lot of things people would not understand.”
- COVID-19 threatens Eagles’ friendlies as case rises in Austria
Super Eagles’ international friendly games against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire and the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia billed to hold in Austria next month could be cancelled or moved to another country if the current rise in COVID-19 cases persist in the European country. According to reports, Austria has started a second wave of coronavirus infections. The country’s chancellor on Sunday urged citizens to comply with reinforced rules to keep low the numbers, suggesting that companies keep employees working from home if possible. From Friday to Saturday last week, the Austria reported 869 new cases, more than half in the capital of Vienna, the highest daily figure since late March.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced at the weekend that the government would re-impose measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in shops, warning that the mark of 1,000 daily cases would be reached within a few days if the virus continue spreading the way it is now. Austria, which has about 8.9 million people, has recorded more than 33,000 infections and seen 750 virus-related deaths. Experts say all numbers in the pandemic are undercounts due to missed mild cases and limited testing.
- Eiffel Tower Evacuated For 2 hours After Bomb Threat
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated for two hours Wednesday after an anonymous caller threatened to blow up the great edifice in the heart of the French capital, police said. After an inspection, nothing suspicious was found and the Eiffel Tower was able to reopen to visitors. “A man phoned up, shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ and said he was going to ‘blow up everything’” at the Eiffel Tower, said a police source, who asked not to be named. A security cordon was put around the monument, traffic diverted and the Eiffel Tower evacuated at 12:15 pm (1015 GMT).
Its operator SETE said in a statement that after a thorough search nothing was found and the tower was able to reopen at 2:15 pm. The monument had reopened on June 26 after its longest closure since World War II forced by the coronavirus pandemic. The Eiffel Tower usually receives about seven million visitors a year, some three-quarters from abroad, although even after reopening numbers are down sharply due to travel restrictions amid the pandemic.
- Zendaya becomes youngest actress to win Emmy
Disney-actress-turned-drama-star, Zendaya has made history by becoming the youngest actress to bag an Academy Award. The 24-year-old star of HBO’s “Euphoria” beat out acclaimed actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney, becoming the youngest to win best lead actress in a drama.
The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech, New York Times reports. “This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.
She beat out older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26. “Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.” The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there. And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you,” the actress said.
- StarTimes in Nigeria adds Hollywood channel, TNT Africa, “Jenifa’s Diary”
Pay-TV platform, StarTimes, has expanded its entertainment offering by introducing Hollywood movie channel, TNT Africa, and, the recent season of popular comedy series, Jenifa’s Diary. TNT Africa offers action-driven, a pulseraising slate of movies, mixed with romantic gems and hilarious comedy, alongside original TNT productions aimed at keeping its movie fans glued to their screens. As part of its September launch on StarTimes, TNT Africa has an exciting line-up of never-before-seen titles with the premiere of its latest TNT Original Movie, Human Capital; a fan month block dedicated to the best titles of Denzel Washington.
Owned by Warner media that has a longstanding relationship with StarTimes in French-speaking African regions distributing Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, WarnerTV, TOONAMI, CNN and TCM Cinéma across the continent. This new TNT Africa deal will further diversify its channel offering giving StarTimes’ viewers access to the high-quality blockbuster movie channel tailored for African viewers. “The launch of TNT Africa on StarTimes demonstrates our unremitting commitment to deliver quality content to African families, making top family entertainment accessible to more audience across sub-Saharan Africa,” Lazarus Ibeabuchi, StarTimes PR manager says.
- 14-year-old girl raped to death in Ogun
A 14-year-old secondary school pupil, Fathia Ojewoye, has been raped to death at the Agbeloba-Oriyonrin area of Abeokuta, Ogun State. The teenager had on Wednesday been declared missing by her parents, but her corpse was found three days after with some of her personal effects in an uncompleted building in the area. When reporters visited the residence of the deceased’s mother, who had separated from her husband, sympathisers were seen consoling her. Reporters attempted to speak to her, she asked to be left alone. She, however, vowed to ensure that the killer(s) of Fathia, whom she gave birth to while in secondary school, was brought to justice.
A source in the area told reportes that Fathia was sent on an errand by her mother to refill the gas cylinder around the area, but she did not return home. The teenager was reported to have been last seen with a young man, while she was going to the gas station. The young man, who lives around the area, was said to have run away, apparently to avoid arres It was gathered that her corpse was found in an uncompleted building near her grandmother’s residence. She was reportedly defiled in a brutal way and later murdered by yet-to-be identified person(s). The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident. Oyeyemi said investigation into the brutal killing of the teenager had commenced. He gave an assurance that the command would ensure that the perpetrators were apprehended soon.
- 16-year-old boy caught with gun in Anambra school
A 16-year-old boy caught with a double-barrelled gun inside a school in Anambra State has been arrested . The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, disclosed this in a statement on Monday. He said the boy was among the 80 suspected cultists arrested during a raid on various criminal hideouts and black spots across the state. Mohammed stated that 40 of the suspects had been charged, 15 screened and released unconditionally, five placed under police supervision for being underage, while 20 were undergoing investigation. He listed exhibits recovered from the suspects to include two pump action guns, 10 machetes, five axes, two daggers, three barrettes, one double-barrelled gun, two locally-made pistols and three live cartridges.
The PPRO stated, “In order to stem the tide of cultism and other nefarious activities in the state, especially during this period of ‘ember’ months, the command’s Special Anti-Cult Unit raided various hideouts and black spots, where cultists were suspected to be hibernating, at various locations within the state. “From the raids carried out, a total of 80 suspects were arrested out of which 40 were charged, 15 suspects were screened and released unconditionally, five suspects were placed under police supervision for being underage, while 20 suspects, including a 16-year-old boy and confessed cultist, who was arrested with a double-barrelled gun inside his school compound at Igboukwu, are undergoing investigation. The command thanked the residents of the state for providing it with intelligence and reassured the public of adequate protection.
- We’ve arrested suspected terrorists, kidnappers in Oyo park –OPC
The Oodua People’s Congress said its members have arrested four suspected terrorists and kidnappers at the Old Oyo National Park. The Coordinator of OPC in Oyo State, Rotimi Olumo, who said this in an interview with our correspondent in Ibadan on Monday, added that four AK-47 rifles were recovered from the suspects. Olumo said the suspected terrorists had been handed over to the Police Area Commander in Igbeti. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, gave the confirmation in a text message in response to the inquiry of newsmen.
The: message read, “On September 20, 2020, around 7pm, a combined team of the police and vigilante groups encountered bandits in the forest in the Igbeti Kisi areas in their hideout and three suspects were arrested while some escaped with bullets wounds.” The PPRO added that Special Anti Robbery Squad was investigating the case. The PPRO added that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was investigating the case.