Thursday, 24 September 2020

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Tajudeen Adebanjo/ The Nation

Nigerians on social media have expressed their disappointment over what they described as a public show of shame between the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.

Dabiri-Erewa had gone on the social media to accused Pantami of using armed men to evict the NIDCOM staff.

She alleged that she and NIDCOM staff were locked and thrown out of their office.

She said: “In one year, we don’t have an office. The office we got, given to us by NCC (Nigeria Communications Commission)…but we were actually driven away by the Minister of communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami.

“Within two days, they drove us out with guns and what happened? The place was given to us by NCC….

“You know we all help each other, NCC as an agency of government said there is a place you can use to settle in, and just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought that it was a joke.

“I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday, this happened on Tuesday. By Friday, when I went to the office, guns, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke. But here is the thing, I’m a government employee, so is he. It’s government business.”

However, Dr Pantami responded on twitter by calling Dabiri-Erewa as a liar.

He tweeted: “This is a fat lie from her. The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directive to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, and I have no one.”

Responding to Pantami’s tweet, Dabiri-Erewa wrote: “An Islamic scholar should not lie, Hon Minister ( Phd). You did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since February. But please release all our office equipment. Public office is transient.”

The public exchange of words between the duo received backlashes from many on social media, who queried their maturity in handling intra-government affairs.

Awwal Nasir said: “I wonder when political office holders will learn to settle internal government politics away from media. These tantrums displays a lack of communication and trust between them, It is really sad and shameful.”

Mazi Olayinka Danladi wrote: “I am so sorry and so sad that this is happening. Public office is indeed a very bad adventure. I hope our dear brother and Shaykh and Mama Diaspora will do their best to see that this is resolved without further hullabaloo. This isn’t good for the image of the nation.”

@sadeniran urged both parties to sheath their sword, adding “@DrIsaPantami, Why not put a call through to @abikedabiri instead of this public show of shame! You are not helping the @NigeriaGov you are both serving with this open name callings… A tree can never make a forest! Hope good reasoning will prevail…”

Nsikanabasi Umoffong said: “Make una fight tear cloth Abeg, if that will send the #GovernmentOfCrooks parking…”

Emma Umeh wrote: “Government of confusion, just imagine the disorganisation going on in this administration. It’s just a shame.”

Yemisi Fakunle wrote: “My take is this, there is something grossly wrong with the seat of power in Nigeria! Where is the Fourth Estate of the Realm? Abike is like a Minister, if not pronounced as one! How on earth can agents of the same government have this kind of altercations in the public domain?

Abu Mu’meen pleaded with the duo to take their fight off the social media.

He said: “I’ll plead with you both, for Allah’s sake to take your fight off social media forum. The only things that are being damaged here are the excellent reputations that you both have.”

Published in Business and Economy
World Health Organisation said it has suspended a clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients.

The UN agency said it did so out of safety concerns.

It said it was concerned about safety of the drug, after a study from The Lancet revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drugs.

“The authors reported that among #COVID19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate”, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

He said hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump as a cure for coronavirus.

He even revealed he took the medication for two weeks as prophylactic

Tedros full statement:

On Friday, TheLancet published an observational study on hydroxycholoroquine & chloraquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised.

“The authors reported that among #COVID19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.

“The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.

“The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug

“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.

“The other arms of the trial are continuing.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in #COVID19.

“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

“WHO will provide further updates as we know more.

“And we will continue to work night and day for solutions, science and solidarity”

Published in Headliners

By Sheriff Folarin, Professor of International Relations, Covenant University

The traditional leadership and redeemer posture of Nigeria in Africa has, in recent years, been put into question.

Issues like corruption and infrastructural decay have held the country down from playing a leadership role in Africa. As have transitions from one poor leadership to another. A visionary leadership is lacking while public institutions are weak, inept and compromised. Decades of political patronage and nepotism have seen a corrosion of quality and performance in the public service.

In addition, the intractable problem of Boko Haram and Islamic State, coupled with kidnappings, have created a security crisis. All continue to shatter the myth of military invincibility and the might of the Nigerian state.

In the beginning, it was not so. From independence in 1960, Nigeria took upon itself the role of uniting Africa against western recolonisation. The continent, from then on in, became the centre-piece of its foreign policy. The fact that nations were living under foreign rule made it possible to galvanise them around a common cause. This led to the creation of the Organisation of African Unity – now the African Union – in 1963 and Economic Community of West African States in 1975.

Nigeria assumed a leading role in these events as it forged a foreign policy with a strong Afrocentric posture. In fact, so frenetic was its involvement in this role that it sometimes paid little attention to the home front.

Nigeria’s leadership role on the continent was a product of the vision, dreams and, sometimes, whims of the founding fathers. They were nevertheless premised on real national capacity. Jaja Wachukwu, Nigeria’s first external affairs minister noted in 1960 that:

Our country is the largest single unit in Africa… we are not going to abdicate the position in which God Almighty has placed us. The whole black continent is looking up to this country to liberate it from thraldom.

This defined the country’s behaviour and continental outlook and has continued to influence successive administrations – weak or effective.

Assuming a leadership role

The sheer size of Nigeria’s population – the largest on the continent which rose from 48.3 million in 1963 to over 200 million in 2020 — gave the country the idea that Africa was its natural preoccupation.

In addition, its colonial experience and the abundance of its oil resources and wealth have empowered Nigeria economically. This made it possible for the country to pursue an ambitious foreign policy. It also permitted Nigeria to finance its Civil War, strengthening its international independence. And oil made possible an unparalleled post-war recovery.

Nigeria has used its influence to good effect and to good ends. For example, it worked with other countries in the West African sub-region to establish the Economic Community of West African States in 1975. It went on to push for the prevention and resolution of devastating conflicts that engulfed Liberia in 1992. The conflict spilled over into Sierra Leone and other countries in the region. Nigeria spearheaded the cessation of hostilities and created the cease-fire monitoring group to bring a total end to the civil strife and restore democracy in both countries.

Many observers agree that the sterling performance of the monitoring group is unparalleled in the history of regional organisations the world over. It has now become a model to emulate for its operational efficiency and for giving regional actors pride of place in the resolution of regional conflicts.

Nigeria exerted similar efforts to ensure that democratic governments were restored to Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire and Sao Tome et Principe, after military take-overs in those countries.

It spent over US$10 billion in these peace campaigns and also lost soldiers in the process.

Nigeria has not limited its peacekeeping role to West Africa. It has also been engaged in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia-Eritrea.

The country also played the most important role in fighting apartheid in Southern Africa and supporting liberation movements on the continent.

Disappointments

But Nigeria has not been immune to challenges facing countries on the continent. Corruption, misappropriation of public funds, electoral malpractices, insurgency and terrorism have devastated its capacity and weakened its moral fortitude to lead the continent.

Amidst enormous wealth, poverty in Nigeria is endemic . It could even become the poverty capital of the world, according to The World Poverty Clock. Nigerians have been reduced to the behest of the politicians that tie them to gridlock of “stomach infrastructure”. This is a new trend which reflects institutionalised and structural poverty. Deprivation puts people in a vulnerable and compromised position where the desperation for survival makes them sell their votes and conscience.

The slow movement of the current administration is also killing the Nigerian spirit and leadership posture. South Africa, Ghanaand even Madagascar have acted faster in continental and global politics, including during times of emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. But Nigeria seems content with a spectator position.

What next?

Nigeria has been relegated to the background of international affairs. To turn this around requires a revisit to the roots – and mowing the lawns afterwards. Nigeria must take stock of its own performance and capacities and re-position itself – first from within.

If Nigerian leaders are increasingly determined to proffer African solutions to their problems, then political structures and institutions must be reformed to reflect conditions suitable for sustainable development. Without a formidable political base, the economy will remain weak and fragile. The political base is crucial, because, the state is the repository of all ramifications and dimensions of power – political, economic, technological and military. And the purpose of the state is to authoritatively allocate these resources.

There is also a need to empower people to mobilise their local resources and to use them for development. And, of course, public funds should not be concentrated in the hands of few individuals, who may be tempted to steal them. An accountable system is one in which money management has several checks.

Oil wealth has been the country’s nemesis, a curse that has promoted corruption and blatant bleeding of the economy. But it is declining in value and as source of national revenue. Now is the time for Nigeria to make good its repeated and well-advertised intentions to diversify the economy.

A de-emphasis on oil would open the door to smarter ideas about how to create wealth. It would also herald in getting rid of a great deal of the phlegm of corruption which has played such a central role in Nigeria’s infrastructural decay, eroded its influence and given it such a negative image.

Added to this is the succession of weak rulers since 2007.

African leaders do not look towards Nigeria anymore for counsel, inspiration and help. They think Nigeria has a lot on its plate already and needs help. The potential is still there for Nigeria to return to power; but it takes leadership to (re)build the auspicious atmosphere and to activate the country’s potential – the two steps required to regain that enviable frontliner spot on the continent.

Theconversation.com

Published in Parliament

Nigeria could be about to offer Harry Redknapp a route back into management as the Super Eagles consider their options

Harry Redknapp is being considered as the next manager of Nigeria.

Current Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr sees his contract expire at the end of the month and there is serious doubt over the German's future.

It has led the Nigerian hierarchy to review their options meaning Redknapp could be set for a return to management.

A Super Eagles source told the Star : “The feeling is Harry Redknapp will be coming to manage Nigeria soon.’’

The African nation and the former Tottenham boss have previously held discussions about the role.

That was back in 2016 but negotiations broke down, however they are confident of completing a deal this time round.

Harry Redknapp could be about to return to management (Image: Getty)

The vast majority of Nigeria's players ply their trade in Europe and are well known.

Friendlies are also held in London on a regular basis given the amount of Nigerians playing in the Premier League which could prove advantageous in discussions.

Redknapp has never tried his hand at international management despite being heavily linked with the England job back in 2012.

He was favourite to replace Fabio Capello who had resigned just months before that summer's European Championships.

Nigeria came third in last year's Africa Cup of Nations (Image: REUTERS)

The FA ultimately opted for Roy Hodgson despite Redknapp guiding Tottenham to the Champions League quarter-finals 12 months earlier.

His hugely successful spell in north London came to an end in 2012.

Since then he has taken charge of QPR and Birmingham - helping the former achieve promotion from the second tier back in 2014.

His last job was at St Andrews but he was shown the door in September 2017 and subsequently said there was "every chance" it was his final job in football.

During his career Redknapp has also led Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth and Southampton.

Mirror.co.uk

Published in Sports

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has celebrated his victory at the tribunal with his deputy governor, Edward Onoja and his aides.

The Kogi Governorship Election Tribunal had on Saturday dismissed the case filed by Musa Wada, the PDP candidate against the election of Bello.

Yahaya Bello celebrates victory with deputy governor and aides

The three man panel of judges, led by Justice Ibrahim Kaigama gave its delayed ruling in Abuja on Saturday.

The victory has led the governor to celebrate his victory with his deputy and aides.

Yahaya Bello celebrates victory with deputy governor and aides

Yahaya Bello celebrates victory with deputy governor and aides

Published in News & Stories

Engr. Musa Wada, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in last Kogi Governorship election, has vowed to appeal the victory of Governor Yahaya Bello at the electoral tribunal on Saturday.

The Kogi Governorship Election Tribunal had on Saturday dismissed the case filed Wada, against the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.

However, in an interview with Channels Television in Abuja on Saturday, Wada said he would appeal the judgment.

Musa had filed a petition challenging the election of Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi State.

But in a judgment of two to one, delivered by the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kashim Kaigama, the tribunal held that the petitioner had failed to prove the allegations of over-voting, massive thumb printing, voter intimidation, and other electoral malpractices.

The tribunal also awarded a cost of one million naira to be paid by the petitioners, PDP and Musa Wada to INEC, Yahaya Bello and APC who are the respondents.

Meanwhile, in a dissenting judgment, Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele nullified the election of Governor Yahaya Bello and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections in seven local government areas where the petitioners proved their allegations of over-voting, thuggery, voter intimidation, massive thumb printing, and other electoral malpractices.

In reaction, Wada said the dissenting judgment by Justice Ovbragele is a clear indication that the election of Governor Bello was flawed.

He, therefore, insisted that the majority judgment of the Tribunal is not a true representation of the events of November 16, 2019, in Kogi State

Published in Headliners
Saturday, 23 May 2020 03:02

Africa COVID-19 cases top 100,000

The COVID-19 pandemic on Friday reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases.

The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago.

Despite crossing this threshold, the pandemic, which has struck with such devastating force in much of the world, appears to be taking a different pathway in Africa.

Case numbers have not grown at the same exponential rate as in other regions and so far Africa has not experienced the high mortality seen in some parts of the world. Today, there are 3.100 confirmed deaths on the continent.

By comparison, when cases reached 100,000 in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, deaths stood at more than 4,900. Early analysis by WHO suggests that Africa’s lower mortality rate may be the result of demography and other possible factors.

Africa is the youngest continent demographically with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Older adults have a significantly increased risk of developing a severe illness. In Europe nearly 95% of deaths occurred in those older than 60 years.

African governments have made difficult decisions and were quick to impose confinement measures, including physical and social distancing, which will have significant socio-economic costs. These measures, which along with contact tracing and isolation, expanded or increased hand washing have helped to slow down the spread of the virus.

“For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “It is possible our youth dividend is paying off and leading to fewer deaths. But we must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”

The continent has made significant progress in testing with around 1.5 million COVID-19 tests conducted so far. However, testing rates remain low and many countries continue to require support to scale-up testing. There is a need to expand the testing capacity in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, and provide additional test kits.

Cases continue to rise in Africa and while overall it took 52 days to reach the first 10,000 cases, it took only 11 days to move from 30;000 to 50 000 cases. About half of the countries in Africa are experiencing community transmission.

More than 3.400 health care workers have been infected by COVID-19. It is important that health authorities prioritize the protection of healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection at medical facilities and communities. There is also a need to provide enough personal protective equipment to health care workers and raise their awareness as well as increase infection prevention and control in health facilities.

“Testing as many people as possible and protecting health workers who come into contact with suspected and confirmed cases are crucial aspects of this response. Despite global shortages, we are working hard to prioritize the delivery of testing kits and personal protective equipment to low- and middle-income countries that have the most vulnerable populations, based on the number of cases reported,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Despite the relatively lower number of COVID-19 cases in Africa, the pandemic remains a major threat to the continent’s health systems. A new modelling study by WHO predicts that if containment measures fail, even with a lower number of cases requiring hospitalization than elsewhere, the medical capacity in much of Africa would be overwhelmed.

Now that countries are starting to ease their confinement measures, there is a possibility that cases could increase significantly, and it is critical that governments remain vigilant and ready to adjust measures in line with epidemiological data and proper risk assessment.

WHO has offices in every country on the continent and is working closely with the Africa Centres for Disease Control, Ministries of Health, United Nations agencies and other partners to support the scale-up of the response through coordination, technical expertise, the provision of much needed medical supplies and assisting with data collection and analysis.

WHO has trained more than 7000 health workers, including 1000 district health teams to support the decentralization of the response. So far, more than 225 experts have been deployed to over 39 countries in Africa and over 900 staff have been repurposed at the regional and country level to support the response.

Published in News & Stories

Ten members of a family in Kaduna State have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.

El-Rufai who broke the news on his Twitter handle on Friday gave no details, but he said the cases were among the 18 confirmed on Thursday night by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said all the new cases were recorded in Kaduna North, Zaria, Chikun, Sabon-Gari.

Fourteen of them were in Kaduna North, two in Zaria and one each in Chikun and Sabon-Gari.

He appealed to residents to adhere strictly to safety measures put in place to check the spread of the virus in the state.

The state government had risen from its special meeting with Islamic scholars in the state to declare that there will not be Eid-el-Fitr congregational prayers in Kaduna as part of measures to avert community transmission of the virus in the state.

Published in Headliners

By Tsvetana Paraskova - May 22, 2020, 12:30 PM CDT

A UK judge dismissed on Friday a lawsuit against Eni and Shell brought by the Nigerian government alleging that the oil and gas supermajors knew about US$1.1 billion in bribes given to secure an oil license in Nigeria nearly a decade ago.

The judge in London dismissed the case on the grounds that the UK has no jurisdiction to try the lawsuit that is basically the same for which Shell and Eni are currently under trial in Italy, Bloomberg reported.

Eni and Shell are on trial in Milan for allegedly knowing that an alleged payment of US$1.1 billion in bribes was made to the former Nigerian government back in 2011, for which Eni and Shell secured exclusive rights to develop the now infamous oil block OPL-245 offshore Nigeria.

The 2011 acquisition of block OPL 245, according to Italian and Nigerian prosecutors, involved a transfer of money to personal accounts held by the Nigerian oil minister at the time.

The sum of the OPL 245 deal was US$1.3 billion, an investigation revealed, of which US$1.1 billion was used to bribe politicians and businessmen to secure the deal. Shell and Eni have always insisted that at the time, they were unaware of any wrongdoing.

Eni and Shell were ordered to stand trial in Milan under the Italian legislation that mandates companies be liable for crimes committed by directors and executives when a suspected unlawful conduct has benefited the legal entity.

In January this year, a key witness for the prosecution in the Milan trial backpedaled on previous testimony that he had seen evidence that Eni and Shell were involved in bribery over the oil deal in Nigeria. While the trial in Milan is in its final stages, other lawsuits are pending elsewhere over the same Nigerian oil deal. Shell, for one, faces prosecution from the Dutch authorities over the acquisition of block OPL 245.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Published in Business and Economy
South Africa on Thursday reported 1,134 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest daily record since the country recorded its first case in early March.

With the newly-added cases, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa stood at 19,137, the highest on the African continent.

“Regrettably, we report 30 more COVID-19 related deaths – this brings the total national deaths to 369,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

According to Xinhua, the new deaths also broke the daily record since March 5 when the country’s first infection was detected.

Nationwide, a total of 525,433 tests have been conducted to date, with 18,572 tests done in the past 24 hours, said Mkhize. The Western Cape province has 12,153 cases, the highest among all the nine provinces, to be followed by Gauteng with 2.453. The Western Cape also reported a total of 235 deaths, comprising about two thirds of the national death toll.

According to Western Cape Governor Allan Winde, the transmission in the province has been concentrated around essential services clusters, care homes and the poorest communities in Cape Town.

“We are on the upward part of the curve as per the nature of the pandemic and are expecting to see case numbers increase more rapidly, with associated increases in hospitalization and deaths,” Winde said.

The province, he said, is scaling up isolation and quarantine off-site, but this will reach its limit soon as the number of infections rise in line with the ascending curve. The number of undetected cases will continue to grow unless major increases in testing capacity is provided, Winde said.

Published in Headliners
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