ARTS AND CULTURE
By Kazeem Ugbodaga
With the deadly Coronavirus still sweeping massively across the nation, Nigerians must be extremely careful where they travel to or else, they will be brought down by the pandemic.
Currently, Nigeria has raked in 8,915 confirmed cases of Coronavirus since February. It has been able to discharge 2,592 patients who survived the pandemic, with 259 people who died from the pandemic. Nigeria has 6,064 active cases of the virus to deal with as at Thursday, May 28.
Of this skyrocketing figures, 10 states in Nigeria play major roles in ramping up the virus. These states are dangerous to travel to right now. Some people who travelled to them in recent time came back with the virus.
The states are:
Lagos is simply the epicentre of Coronavirus in Nigeria. It contributed to almost half of the coronavirus infections in Nigeria. As at Thursday, 28 May, Lagos has raked in 4,123 confirmed coronavirus cases, discharging 745 patients who survived the virus and ramping up 47 deaths.
The State’s active coronavirus cases stand at 3,331. Right now, the state is not a desire destination for tourists and Nigerians except those who can take the risk. Some have done so and came back with the virus. Lagos is experiencing serious community infections. It is simply the New York of Africa in terms of Coronavirus infections.
Kano is certainly not a place to visit right now, as the deadly coronavirus is sweeping through the land. Currently, Kano has ramp up 939 cases of the virus, discharged 139 survivors and lost 41 people to the pandemic, leaving 759 active cases for the state to manage. Those still insisting that they must travel to Kano must be extremely careful or they find themselves in isolation centres.
The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja is another dangerous place to travel to right now as the virus has ravaged the nation’s capital. Abuja has so far recorded 535 confirmed cases of the virus, with 158 discharges and 14 deaths, leaving 296 active cases to manage.
Katsina has ramp up 358 coronavirus infections, 51 discharges and 14 deaths, with 293 active cases of the virus to manage. The state is now a danger zone as it has been infested with the deadly virus, couple with the fact that more tests are not being conducted.
Ever since its governor, Seyi Makinde contracted Coronavirus and later recovered, Oyo State has not looked back. The state has been raking in cases of the virus. It now has 260 confirmed cases, 88 discharges and six deaths, with 166 active cases left to manage. Oyo is a danger zone for travellers because you don’t know who has the virus.
The Northeast state has so far garnered 258 coronavirus infections, with 160 discharges and 25 deaths. The State is another area to look out for by travellers. It is risky travelling there.
Ogun State recorded the first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria, with the visit of the index case, an Italian. Since then, the state has ramp up 246 infections, 128 discharges and nine deaths, with 109 active cases. Ogun is currently, like others, experiencing community transmission of the virus, making visitors at risk, especially as the state shares border with Lagos, the epicentre of the virus.
Jigawa State is fast gaining notoriety in coronavirus infections. The state has recorded 241 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 78 discharges, with four deaths. It has 159 active cases still to manage. Travellers to Jigawa must be extremely cautious.
Edo State has recorded 240 cases of Coronavirus. It has also discharged 69 patients and recorded 13 deaths, leaving 158 active cases of the virus to manage. Edo is another risky area for travellers. They must exercise extreme cautiousness if they must travel.
Bauchi has recorded 234 cases of Coronavirus. The state has discharged 205 survivors and recorded seven deaths. It now has 22 active cases to manage. The state has achieved great results, but travellers must be careful as there is still community transmission.
The US and the African Development Bank have fallen out over allegations of corruption against the bank's Nigerian head, writes former BBC Africa Business editor Larry Madowo.
Akinwumi Adesina is a sharp dresser known for his expensive tailored suits, immaculate white shirts and an endless supply of colourful bow ties.
But the clean public persona of the 60-year-old president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is now being questioned after a string of corruption and abuse of office allegations from his own staff spilled into the open. Mr Adesina has denied all the allegations.
The board of governors of the 55-year-old institution met on Tuesday to discuss whether to bring in an outside investigator into the allegations concerning the Nigerian's conduct just days after the US rejected an initial inquiry that cleared him.
The prospects of an independent probe comes only three months before he was expected to be re-elected unopposed at its annual general meeting in August.
The 20-point allegations of "impunity and bad governance" from unnamed employees have exposed a rift between Mr Adesina and ordinary staff.
The "Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AfDB" claimed that Mr Adesina has used the bank's resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge but undeserved severance packages to staff who resigned mysteriously, and favouring his fellow Nigerians.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin personally signed a letter to the board rejecting an internal investigation that cleared Mr Adesina.
"Mnuchin's move is significant because it has now cast a limelight on governance issues and on [the] importance of an independent investigation to uphold the integrity of the AfDB," said Barbara Barungi, the bank's former lead economist on Nigeria. "There are very few people that were willing to stick their necks out."
Besides the core 54 African countries, the US is one of the 27 non-regional members of the AfDB and its second largest shareholder.
"I think AfDB is Africa's most valuable institution," said one insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"But what you have now is the biggest paymaster, the US, in a stand-off against the Africans. If you read Mnuchin's letter carefully, it has put the bank on notice."
The BBC has obtained the original whistleblowers' email from January 2020, sent to two executive directors of the bank, Yano Takuji (Japanese) and Steven Dowd (American), and the British director for its Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department Alan Bacarese.
In an April update circulated to a wider pool of senior managers, the whistleblowers said the Ethics Committee headed by Mr Takuji failed to examine their concerns.
The committee later carried out an investigation and declared that Mr Adesina was "totally exonerated of all allegations made against him" and recommended that the board of governors adopt its conclusions.
In early May, the board's chair - Ivorian Planning Minister Nialé Kaba - wrote to shareholders that the African finance ministers who supervise the bank's management intended to clear Mr Adesina.
"We fear that the wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance," Mr Mnuchin wrote back.
"Therefore, the United States cannot support dismissing the allegations at this stage," he added.
Mr Kaba said in a statement that a decision had not been made about Mr Adesina and he remained in office.
"The bureau, which I chair, wishes to reassure the public that it is seized with the matter and it is treating it with the utmost seriousness that it deserves," he said.
The whistleblowers have accused Mr Adesina of major conflicts of interest in his dealings with current and former employees, unethical conduct and preferential treatment.
Sources: AfDB; Forbes magazine
Mr Adesina, who holds a PhD in agricultural economics from Purdue University in the US, did not respond to BBC requests for comment but released a statement.
"In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the bank's governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity," he wrote.
"I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution."
The AfDB board meeting is said to have agreed to an independent investigation into the allegations concerning Mr Adesina's conduct after Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland supported the US position, Bloomberg news agency first reported.
"Should it surprise the world that we're getting a second investigation backed by no African country? What does that say about the other countries that have lined up behind the US?" wonders Debisi Araba, a friend of Mr Adesina's.
"He's due to run unopposed but you want to muddy the waters with this stain of corruption. I believe he will be vindicated."
Mr Araba worked for Mr Adesina in the Nigerian government and was also an intern at the bank while doing his PhD in 2009.
He says the bank has always had a culture of salacious rumour and gossip but faults the US for formalizing the "crass, bargain basement reasoning" into a complaint.
This was denied by a US Treasury spokesperson, who told the BBC: "The United States continues to value the AfDB and its efforts to promote development, reduce poverty, and address the current health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the African continent."
Some policy analysts at think-tanks in Washington, DC, worry about the timing of the American pushback and its longer-term consequences in Africa.
"A prolonged battle will be a distraction for the AfDB when its resources are more desperately needed than ever for its borrowers," Nancy Birdsall, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development told the BBC.
She said it was not good for the AfDB if Mr Mnuchin was unhappy and suggested that "the US Treasury should look for some form of quiet compromise in which no-one loses face".
Ms Birdsall also reiterated a recommendation she made in a 2018 paper for the leadership of the AfDB to open up its shareholding, including to China and oil-rich economies.
But Daniel F Runde, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, disagreed.
He said the Abidjan-based bank that lends exclusively to African governments represented one of the few non-China-led and western-funded approaches to development on the continent.
"If Adesina is cleared, the US may need to mend fences with the management because China will probably go on a shopping spree in Africa after Covid-19, and we will need every non-Chinese tool to respond," he said.
Mr Runde saw Mr Mnuchin's letter as "disruption" and called it a good tactic but a poor strategy.
"Now that the Trump administration has caused disruption and perhaps made a point, they have to decide when this plays out," he said.
Last October, the 81 shareholders of the bank pledged extra funds to more than double its capital to $208bn (£170bn).
Missouri Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, who sponsored a bill backing the capital increase in the US House of Representatives, came out in support of the new inquiry.
"Independent accountability measures strengthen institutions and reinforce their legitimacy - both domestically and internationally. I am pleased the African Development Bank's Board agreed to take this important step," the Democrat told the BBC in a statement.
Mr Adesina is an eloquent advocate for Africa and the bank and a good fundraiser, but his detractors say he promises more than he delivers.
"His administration hasn't always been fantastic and perhaps he has run roughshod over some people. Maybe the practices haven't always been what they should be, and the feeling is that the board just whitewashed the investigation," the insider said.
The whistleblowers also accused Mr Adesina of preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians.
"I don't think we should trivialise the issues and reduce them to anti-Nigerian sentiment," said Ms Barungi, the Ugandan-born, Lagos-based former bank employee.
"It's really more about governance concerns that require attention and the investigation to help clear the air," she added.
Mr Araba, a Nigerian, said talk of the "Nigerianisation of the bank" was false as the country was under-represented in employee numbers despite being the largest shareholder.
As the crisis at the bank escalates, employees, consultants and government officials in African capitals, as well as American foreign policy nerds, wonder how this impasse will end.
But at the Treasury building right next to the White House, Mr Mnuchin and his advisors are doubling down.
"Undertaking an independent evaluation of facts is not at odds with a presumption of innocence, and by promoting transparency and good governance, it can only strengthen the AfDB's capacity to deliver results to people across Africa," the spokesman told the BBC.
Mr Adesina's carefully curated career could crumble if a new investigation criticises his reign at the AfDB. His style is solid, but the substance is now under scrutiny.
THE process to reopen schools and worship centres in the country has begun.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has met with Christian and Islamic leaders to fine-tune the conditions for reopening churches and mosques, it was learnt.
Also on Wednesday, the PTF urged states, local governments and private proprietors to begin to take steps towards the return of pupils and students.
Ensuring the kids go to school safe is the critical issue before the reopening, Minister of State, Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, said at the daily briefing by the PTF in Abuja.
Schools, from primary to tertiary were closed nationwide by the government in March at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic spread.
Since then, pupils and students have been at home. Some schools have been organising virtual lessons and lectures.
PTF Chairman Boss Mustapha using the advantage of the Children’s Day celebration, assured “them and their parents that all hands are on deck to reopen schools at a safe time.”
Listing some of the conditions, the minister, who denied that the government had given a June 8 date, said: “Those who are listening to us here should begin to listen to these plans. We don’t want to keep saying we are not ready. It is a forewarning to private and state governments that the only condition for which we are going to be reopening anywhere is that these places become ready to receive students and bring them home safely.”
The minister added that the reopening of schools may be staggered between students in junior and secondary levels to allow for social and physical distancing.
He said the government would consider introducing afternoon classes to ease crowdedness.
“We will do the same thing for primary school children where we may limit the number of children per class.
“What this may mean also is that we may have classes in the mornings, and then, have classes in the afternoons. So, whichever is convenient for you will now be divided. So that the whole of the infrastructure we have provided can serve us at different times.
“I am not sure whether there will be classes at night. We can do with morning and afternoon at the moment.”
The minister said that the ministry would also look at the sanitary condition of the schools before reopening, noting that schools must be ready to display manually-made hand sanitisers’ machine and be ready to receive the students by providing all the needed materials to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Nwajiuba explained that for tertiary institutions, there would be need to have a semester within a semester for the students.
He added that while some courses would do their semester first, others would follow suit in a bid to maintain social distancing measure.
He urged lecturers in tertiary institutions to use the period to upgrade themselves.
“Period like this should not be wasted and tertiary institutions must be functioning.’’
For secondary school students, the minister said that those in senior secondary might resume before their junior counterparts.
He said the plan was that the children should resume by the time schools had achieved the physical distancing measure.
He said: “For our secondary schools, we expect those who run them; our school based management committee (SBMC) should be able to look at what they need to do to manage them (schools) so that when we say that we are ready, there will be some readiness alongside everybody.
“We are going to publish a specification as to what we expect Covid -19 or post-covid-19 to look like. We are not talking about coping with COVID -19. There is a difference. We have come to understand that Covid -19 May not necessarily go away. So, we expect that we will adapt in the presence of Covid-19 what to do not in the absence of it. This is in spite of Covid-19 we will still have to work.
By Taiwo Okanlawon/ PM News
Controversial Nollywood actor, Uche Maduagwu, has stated that he does not regret supporting singer, Cynthia Morgan, because she is born to win like ex-Big Brother Naija star, Tacha.
Cynthia Morgan in an Instagram live video, with Ex-Miss Globe Nigeria, CASSANDRA, had revealed why she disappeared from the music scene despite becoming a household name.
Cynthia Morgan had alleged that Jude Okoye seized her accounts, made her stop using her name as well, and not promote her and does not own rights to the music she produced while still under Northside Inc, losing virtually everything.
However, Cynthia Morgan was dragged on social media after Jude Okoye released copies of the contract between the singer and his record label, Northside Entertainment.
Uche Maduagwu, while reacting to the new development stated this in a post he shared on Instagram on Wednesday.
“I dont regret supporting #Madrina, shes born to win like Tacha. It has never been about the contract she signed in the past and this is where a lot of people are getting it wrong, its about her survival as a woman in a male-dominated #music industry…,” the caption read.
Cynthia Morgan, now Madrina, later wrote an open letter of apology to her former record label boss, Jude Okoye and former manager, Joy Tongo, for blaming her career challenges on them.
She wrote, “I Cynthia Morgan, would like to use this platform to appreciate all the love, well wishes and support from everyone… My heartfelt appreciation once again goes to Jude and Joy. It is the pain speaking, not Cynthia. Thanks for giving me the platform to grow the Cynthia Morgan brand.”
LAGOS State Government will from July introduce what it describes as First Mile and Last Mile (FMLM) mobility solution to replace banned Okada and tricycle.
Transportation Commissioner Frederick Oladeinde, speaking yesterday at the 2020 ministerial press briefing at the JJT Park, Alausa, Ikeja, said: “Following the restriction of motorcycles and tricycles for commuter operations in some areas in the metropolis, the government is working on implementing a First Mile and Last Mile (FMLM) mobility solution.”
He explained that Okada and tricycle are not part of the state’s transport architecture, adding that they are constituting nuisance on the roads and responsible for the high rate of accidents and crimes.
“We have identified 285 last mile routes within the seven bus reform initiative zones across Lagos. We have developed bus specifications and shared same with potential bus manufacturers. We expect these to be rolled out in the next two months,” Oladeinde said.’
Lagos State Government has inaugurated 37 roads and carried out repairs and rehabilitation of more than 354 others.
It said that ongoing and uncompleted projects inherited from past administrations would be completed to improve the living standard of Lagosians.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructures, Aramide Adeyoye, who spoke yesterday at the 2020 ministerial press briefing at the JJT Park, Alausa, Ikeja said that one of the major projects inherited by the administration, which would be completed, was the Agege Pen Cinema flyover bridge designed to reduce travel time for residents of Ifako-Ijaiye, Agege and Alimosho local governments.
She said the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration will make the 4th Mainland Bridge a reality, adding that the administration plans to expand the Agege-Berger Road to reduce travel time.
By Nimot Sulaimon/ PM News
Canadian gospel singer, Jonathan Steingard has said that he no longer believed in God.
Steingard, in a lengthy Instagram post, admitted that after a lifetime as a Christian, he no longer believed in God and would be leaving the band.
He goes further to explain the reasons why he came to such a conclusion.
‘‘I still find myself wanting to soften that statement by wording it differently or less specifically – but it wouldn’t be as true”, he said.
Read his post below:
The 36-year-old Canadian musician went on to write that losing his religion occurred over several years.
His former band ”Hawk Nelson” released a statement on Wednesday, supporting his choice to leave the band.
Governor Godwin Obaseki has a big obstacle to overcome to clinch a second term ticket of the All Progressives Congress as the party’s big guns backed another candidate.
He is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, from Obaseki’s constituency.
In a major move on Tuesday night, the faction that has been fighting Obaseki picked Ize-Iyamu as its consensus governorship candidate.
The faction is loyal to National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s former godfather now his biggest political foe.
Ize-Iyamu, was a former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) and rejoined the APC from PDP last year. He lost the governorship to Obaseki in the 2016 election.
He is expected to slug it out with Governor Godwin Obaseki for the direct primary of the party slated for June 22.
He was presented by chairman of the screening committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena, the representative of Edo North Senatorial District.
The screening committee has as members a former Edo Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen; Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe; ex-Edo Speaker Thomas Okosun.
Others are former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives Samson Osagie; ex-member of the House of Representatives Patrick Obahiagbon and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki on Wednesday said no man can stop him from being governor for a second term in the state.
Obaseki is having a running battle with his godfather and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Oshiomhole’s faction of the party, had on Tuesday night endorsed the candidacy of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the consensus candidate of the party for the Edo poll.
But Obaseki, in an interview on Channels TV, said he was confident of returning to power as first man of the state because “power comes from God.”
The governor said he is a man of peace and not a violent person.
“I am not a violent person. But I am confident that the way I got into power is the same way I will return.
“God gave me power. If he wants me to return I will continue. No man can stop me. Power comes from God,” he said.
He said he had always canvassed for peace and believed election should not lead to bloodshed.
On the rift within his party, Obaseki said that he was not distracted, adding that his focus was on developing Edo State.
“We have always canvassed for peace. What are the issues in Edo and what are the issues that cannot be resolved in a democracy. Our concern is to use the resources of the people to develop the state.
“This shouldn’t lead to bloodshed. We will not accept to be cowed and intimidated because some people think that they can manipulate rules and cut corners,” he stated.
When asked if it’s not the resources of the people of Edo State that was used for him to become the governor, Obaseki said, “I have friends with resources. I worked for eight years behind the scene before I became governor.
“So all that insinuations about using somebody’s resources…I became Governor on the platform of the party and I am grateful for it.”
Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.87 per cent (year-on-year) in the first quarter of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
In a posting on its website on Monday accessed by The Nation, NBS said the performance was recorded against the backdrop of significant global disruptions, resulting in sharp fall in prices and restricted international trade arising from the COVID-19 public health crisis.
It said the Q1 2020 performance represented a -0.23 per cent point drop when compared with Q1 2019, and 0.68 per cent point dip relative to Q4 2019, adding that this was a reflection of the earliest effects of disruption, particularly on the non-oil economy. In the review period, the NBS report indicated that quarter-on-quarter, real GDP growth was -14.42 per cent compared to 5.59 per cent recorded in the preceding quarter.
Also in Q1 2020, aggregate GDP stood at N35,647,406.08 million in nominal terms, NBS said, pointing out that this performance was higher when compared to first quarter of 2019, which recorded N31,824,349.67 million, with a nominal growth rate 12.01 per cent year-on-year.
The report indicated that relative to Q1 2019, the nominal growth rate was higher by 0.11 per cent points but lower than the preceding quarter by -0.32 per cent points.
NBS said in the review period, an average daily oil production of 2.07 million barrels per day was recorded, stating that the production level was higher than the 1.99 million barrel per day recorded in the same quarter of 2019 by 0.08mbpd and the fourth quarter of 2019 by 0.06 million barrels per day (mbpd).
The report indicated that non-oil sector grew by 1.55 per cent in real terms during Q1 2020, saying this was lower by -093 per cent points compared to the rate recorded during the same quarter of 2019, and -0.72 per cent point slower than the corresponding period of last year.
It said the non-oil sector was driven mainly by Information and Communication, Financial and Insurance, Agriculture and Mining.
It said in real term, the Non-Oil sector contributed 90.50 per cent to the nation’s GDP in the review period, which was less than its share in the first quarter of 2019 put at 90.78 per cent and the forth quarter of 2019 which contribution was put at 92.68 per cent.
The NBS report listed activities that witnessed weaker performance relative to Q1 2019, including quarrying, road transport, accommodation, food, services, as well as real estate.
By Abankula/ PM News
A former director-general of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), Mr Theophilus Okere, stabbed his wife to death early on Monday and he did not seem to know he had committed murder.
When asked about his wife after the murder, he replied: ‘My wife is sleeping”.
The murder happened at Imerinwe community in the Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area.
According to reports, the police have arrested the man.
Okere’s wife, Beatrice was described as a retiree of the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo.
The couple had been married for 50 years. She was in her 70s.
Some reports said Okere ran away from home after the killing.
But the police arrested him following a tip off.
A source in Imerienwe said the 85-year-old former IBC boss had been suffering from dementia.
According to the source, Okere most times is not aware of his actions.
The source disclosed that the family had been managing Okere’s dementia for some time.
”Okere has been down with dementia and the family has been managing the problem.
”Even today that he stabbed his wife to death, when he was asked why he did it, he responded that his wife was still sleeping.
”The other Sunday, Okere went to church and said that his car was missing when in fact the car was parked in his compound,” the source said.
The spokesman of the Imo State Police Command, Mr Orlando Ikeokwu, who confirmed the incident, told NAN that the police had commenced investigation into the matter.
“It is true that the former director-general of the state-owned broadcasting corporation, Mr T.C. Okere, about 85-years, allegedly stabbed his wife to death this morning.
”The command has commenced investigation into the matter,” Ikeokwu said.
Imo state Commissioner of Police Isaac Akinmoyede also said investigation is ongoing to ascertain if the man committed the heinous crime.