Friday, 20 May 2022

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Nigeria, on Sunday night recorded 170 new cases of Coronavirus.

According to a tweet from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, (NCDC), Lagos State recorded 39 cases, Kano State had 29 cases, Ogun State had 24 cases, Bauchi State had 18 cases and Kaduna state recorded 15 cases.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Sokoto State recorded 12 cases each, with Katsina State having eight cases, Borno State had seven cases, Nasarawa State had three cases, Adamawa State had two cases and Oyo State had one case.

As it stands, 2558 persons have tested positive to Coronavirus in Nigeria, with 400 patients discharged, and 87 deaths recorded

•Ask government to learn from Ghana’s experience

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) on Friday spoke against the decision of the Federal Government to relax the stay-at-home order.

The umbrella body of Nigerian doctors described the move as premature and can potentially expose more Nigerians to the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The association warns that the country could experience a bounce in the number of coronavirus cases as health workers are grappling with numerous challenges like lack for bed spaces in epicenters of the pandemic, especially Lagos, unraveled cause(s) of deaths in Kano State and delay in the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to public and private hospitals, among others.

President Muhammadu Buhari had declared a two-week lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Teritory (FCT) Abuja during his first address on the pandemic on March 29, 2020, to enable the country tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 12, the President addressed the nation again on the same issue, announcing an extension of the lockdown by two weeks.

However, on April 27, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a ‘phased and gradual easing’ of lockdown measures in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun when he extended the lockdown by one week.

The relaxation of lockdown is billed to take effect from Monday, May 4, 2020.

At the time of filing this report, there were 2,170 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country with 238 new cases recorded nationwide yesterday.

The number of discharged patients was 319 while the number of deaths stood at 58.

The President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, in a statement in Abuja, said: “As the incidence of the COVID-19 hits the 2000th mark by this weekend, just seven days after hitting the 1000th mark, it figuratively tilts the epidemiological curve towards an upward spike.

“More so, the revelation by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that the nation lacks bed spaces in Lagos worsens this frightening scenario.

“The confusing situation in Kano is neither unraveled nor resolved. At the same time, some states continue to live in the delusion of zero COVID-19 incidences.

“The easing of the lockdown even in phases is very premature. Nigeria should learn from her neighbour Ghana where the same action produced 100 per cent increase in infection rate in just a week.

“Instead, the association believes that agencies of state should intensify efforts through mass enlightenment campaigns beyond current attempts to explain the dangers inherent in easing the lockdown prematurely in the face of rising infection rates; and also for the palliatives to reach the needy.”

The NMA condemned the pronouncement of the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Muhammed, mandating the use of chloroquine and Zithromax to treat coronavirus patients in the state.

It describes such approach as improper and unethical.

“The Association bemoans the rather meddlesome pronouncements by some state actors on the management protocols for COVID-19 in the country.

“In particular, we view the directive by the Bauchi State Governor for the use of a specific drug in the treatment of positive cases as improper and unethical.

“Medical doctors have the prerogative to use whatever treatment regimen they consider best based on evidence and presentation of the patients.

“We, therefore, implore our leaders to desist from distracting our time tested doctors and health workers.

“Instead, they should encourage them through the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), incentives and communication tools to interact with peers within the country and overseas as it is customary in the world of medical science to arrive at the best possible interventions for their patients,” he said.

He added: “With 113 healthcare workers in Nigeria reportedly infected with COVID-19 in the course of discharging their duties, NMA reminds all doctors and healthcare workers not to let down their guards in adhering strictly to infection prevention and control protocols.

“The Association re-emphasises that all healthcare workers should wear the proper PPE before attending to any patient as every patient is a potential COVID-19 patient.

“Furthermore, the Association notes with dismay the delay in distributing the available PPE to all public and private hospitals to prevent, detect and treat more patients as it ought to, and pray that the burgeoning bureaucracy is not a clog in the wheels of progress in this regard.

“We wish that the ‘Panel of Experts’ recently inaugurated by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is empowered to immediately commence their work of thinking, analysing, synthesising, collating and disseminating the most relevant medical information that informs the best management of our COVID-19 patients.

“Science and knowledge must inform policies and politics. We appreciate the FMOH for finally listening to the plea we made several weeks ago.

“We wish the nation and our people the safety and protection from COVID-19 while praying the authorities to continue to carry out all necessary and more invigorated knowledge-based interventions towards a zero COVID-19 Nigeria.”

Social distancing for the foreseeable future means beaches, popular sights and hotels will be operating at a reduced capacity

Holidays abroad feel like a lifetime away and the travel sector has said that it is bracing itself for several years of chaos because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers are facing pressure to offer holidaymakers certainty after the Foreign Office upgraded its travel advice to warn against all non-essential travel abroad indefinitely.

Consumer group Which? said the restrictions, which were initially in place for 30 days until April 15 have now been extended for “an indefinite period”, will plunge travellers into “a huge amount of confusion”.

Social distancing for the foreseeable future means beaches, popular sights and hotels will be operating at a reduced capacity, allowing less visitors in - if any at all.

Several countries have also warned of how resorts will implement two metre guidelines - particularly in and around public spaces, reports MirrorOnline.

It raises important questions about how travel will get back on its feet once borders are relaxed across Europe.

Here is the latest from some of the most popular holiday destinations...

Italy

Italian ministers have warned that holidays will never be the same again - with queues outside its once busy attractions, such as the Colosseum, set to be tightened in line with social distancing guidelines.

(Image: shared content unit)

The country said it's been one of the worst hit by the pandemic, with 27,967 lives claimed to date and billions wiped off its economy.

The tourist board, Confturismo, has warned that the crisis will cost its economy €22billion, with the country reporting 205,463 cases of coronavirus to date.

It's not yet known when the measures, including restrictions on movement, will be lifted. Some medical experts advise that social distancing must continue until the end of the year.

Italy's tourism secretary Lorenza Bonaccors, said: "It will take one or two years to get back to where we were, but 2020 might as well be written off.

"It is still impossible to say when Italy... will come out of the health emergency.

"This might be the time to move away from mass tourism, towards one more respectful of the environment.

"You will not see the long queues outside the Colosseum you used to."

The tourism association Corti also thinks the industry will have to change.

They said: "Who will have the courage to get on a high speed Freccia Rossa (train) carriage filled with 80 passengers or a low-cost airline with 270?"

Spain

Spain, meanwhile, is still in talks to reopen its borders, but said UK travellers would most likely be off the cards.

The country's death toll has been falling steadily over the past week, but holidays are still under discussion, Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said.

(Image: Getty Images)

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, she said: "We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person...

"The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis.

"Therefore, I do not have the solution of when [they will be able to open].

"On how you will be able to enjoy our beaches, we are defining different scenarios.

"It is very important that the sanitary recommendations are maintained, we are going to have to internalise what we are already doing now, hand washing, social distancing ... even on the beaches.

"Those patterns will be in our day to day for a time, you cannot take a step back."

Greece's tourism minister Harry Theoharis has spoken about "specific new rules" for tourism during the coronavirus crisis.

Theoharis, who is set to hold talks with his EU counterparts tomorrow, said: "If we are to think of the possibility of travelling this year it has to be under specific new rules.

"We have to have new rules for hotels, new rules for beaches, new rules for pools, new rules for breakfast buffets, new rules for tour buses."

The regulations could include temperature checks and blood tests as passengers land in the country.

In the same interview, Theoharis said he was looking to establish a common set of rules for EU countries that would allow people to move between country and at the same time make "economic sense".

He said: "If, for example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight."

The Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation estimates that the country's tourism industry will make just 30% of what it made in 2019 due to the pandemic, and there are fears for the knock-on effect on the economy.

The plane had only just taken off from the holiday island of Crete

But if the warm weather brings a reprieve, it said says Greece could open to holidaymakers in July.

While this sounds like good news, it may only be available to those from eastern and central Europe if air links continue to be suspended.

He said: "Once measures are relaxed a good month will be required to prepare the ground for the [tourism] engine to get started.

"Tour operators are waiting and hoping we can come up with the right rules so that we can start bringing visitors in. We have to strike the right balance … be cautious, tough it out and make the best of it.”

Greece is expected to lose billions of euros in tourism as the mainland and islands close their borders to visitors, with 65% of hotels facing bankruptcy.

Cyprus

Cyprus could be back on the travel map by July - but not to British visitors.

The popular island, which has seen just 817 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus, still has strict lockdown measures in place - but ministers are keen to pick up its tourism levels again.

Officials say the island will see a loss of €1.5billion in tourism income as 60% of all holiday bookings are expected to be cancelled.

A new order is also to be introduced to allow tour agents to issue vouchers over refunds, while also prioritising domestic tourism as a method to bring money in to the tourism industry short-term.

Cyprus Deputy Ministry of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, said: "We hope to know in a few weeks when tourists will be able to come from these countries".

He added: "The important thing is that travel agents have Cyprus in mind…there are positive signs from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries, Greece, Israel and perhaps the Netherlands."

Turkey

Turkey has plans to introduce a certificate for Brits to prove they don't have coronavirus in order to be allowed to visit.

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said the normalisation phase in Turkey could begin as early as the second week of May.

He told local media that holidaymakers will need an official document detailing their health status while new measures are also to be introduced across the tourism industry.

The certification system will include three pillars covering transportation, facilities and passengers who use the previous two pillars.

He explained an immunity certificate would also be required of international visitors.

"This will probably be an example to the world that we have developed. By gradually including all NGOs in the commission, we aim to finalise this certification system quickly in the first week of May," Ersoy said.

Staying in the UK

Staycations also remain banned, with Brits facing £60 on-the-spot fines for 'non-essential journeys'.

The Government has stated that essential travel is very straightforward.

We are only to go outside of our homes for food or health reasons or travelling to and from work but only where you cannot work from home. UK staycation breaks and travelling to second homes is also not allowed.

Holidaymakers will also be unable to visit seaside towns or other tourist hotspots in the UK for "some time to come" as the coronavirus crisis continues.

NIGERIA'S president was left red-faced after he appointed a man who died more than two months ago to a top job.

Muhammadu Buhari, 77, has previously appointed at least five other dead people to the boards of government agencies - meaning its the sixth time he's made such an error.

 Muhammadu Buhari is nicknamed 'Baba Go Slow'. Pictured addressing the nation on April 27.
Muhammadu Buhari is nicknamed 'Baba Go Slow'. Pictured addressing the nation on April 27.Credit: Reuters

President Buhari - who is nicknamed "Baba Go Slow" - appointed Tobias Chukwuemeka Okwuru to Nigerian agency the Federal Character Commission.

He appointed the man despite his funeral taking place in February.

Applications for the job were reopened when journalists pointed out the error, with Mr Okwuru dying aged 59.

The president's aides have hit back and claimed the embarrassing mistake was actually down to the long screening process for the role.

It comes after he had previously handed out at least five top jobs to the dead back in 2017.

Among those promoted was Francis Okpozo, who had been dead for almost a year when he was named chairman of the board of the Nigerian Press Council.

President Buhari earned his nickname due to that fact he took six months to name his first cabinet in 2015.

And back in 2018 he was forced to deny rumours of his own death and that he had been replaced with a body double named Jubril.

He was previously Nigeria's military ruler for two years between 1983 an 1985 after leading a coup, and has blamed democracy for slowing him down.

Previously, the president said: "It’s not Baba that is slow but it is the system, so I am going by this system and I hope we will make it."

 Tobias Chukwuemeka Okwuru got a promotion despite being dead for two months
Tobias Chukwuemeka Okwuru got a promotion despite being dead for two monthsCredit: Sahara Reporters Headlines/Facebook

The late Mr Okwuru's name was part of a list of 37 new appointees which was read aloud to the senate.

President Buhari's media aide Lauretta Onochie defended the move - saying he wasn't dead when the recruitment process started.

She said: "He even came to update his CV in readiness for the appointment after the senate screening.

"When he sadly passed away while waiting for the screening by the senate, that information was not communicated."

Friends of the deceased politician slammed the government for the mistake.

Dr Chike Onwe said: "Please, in God’s name, leave us alone to mourn our dead. Keep your belated appointment."

Kitzito Nwankwo added: “We all waited for it, and it came only when you had gone, deepening the hole in our hearts, reminding us the vacuum your departure created."

 President Buhari pictured with Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018
President Buhari pictured with Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018Credit: AP:Associated Press

President Buhari was first elected in 2015, and was re-elected last year in a landslide by more than 3million votes.

He came under critcism back in September, 2016, after he was found to have copied Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

The leader later blamed "overzealous staff" - and his team were given anti-plagiarism software to make sure it didn't happen again.

Mubarak Bala, head of humanist association, taken to Kano after Facebook posts criticising Islam

A prominent Nigerian humanist accused of blasphemy has been arrested and taken to the northern city of Kano, according to figures close to him.

Mubarak Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was taken from his home on 28 April in neighbouring Kaduna state and taken to Kano, where a warrant for his arrest was issued, Leo Igwe, a fellow Nigerian humanist and human rights advocate, said.

“We condemn his arrest and are extremely worried because this came after several threats made by the religious community in Kano,” Igwe said. “They are likely to try him under sharia law in Kano, which could lead to capital punishment.”

Sharia law is applied in 12 states across the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, including Kano where blasphemy is punishable by death.

Igwe said police had denied Bala access to a lawyer and had not said what the charges were, heightening fears for his safety.

“Our worst fear is that he would be taken to Kano because there are many figures who have been threatening him and promising to end his life,” Igwe said. “The Kano police told me he was in their custody, but for days now they haven’t given us any more information.”

Police in Kano would not confirm whether they were holding Bala.

In a statement, Humanist UK, the leading British humanist society, said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the arrest of our humanist colleague Mubarak Bala by the Nigerian authorities, who have accused him of ‘blasphemy’, which can carry the death penalty.”

Nigeria is a deeply religious country, mainly Christian in the south and largely Muslim in the north.

Bala, the son of a widely regarded Islamic scholar, has been an outspoken religious critic in a staunchly conservative region, where open religious dissent is uncommon. After renouncing Islam in 2014, he was forcibly committed to a psychiatric facility by his family in Kano before being discharged.

After Bala posted comments critical of Islam and religion on his Facebook profile recently he had received a surge of online accusations of blasphemy and threats, Igwe said, largely from figures in Kano.

On Facebook on Monday, Bala said that after recent threats he would resort to more mildly critical posts and humour.

Igwe said Bala had helped create a community for thousands of atheists, particularly in northern Nigeria. “To speak out and say you’re an atheist or humanist in Nigeria can be dangerous, but Bala is very passionate about creating a space for those who do not subscribe to Islam or religion,” he said.

Over 216 people have been arrested and convicted for violating lockdown order in Niger State. Twelve out of the 216 were discharged.

Majority of the offences involved not wearing face masks while others were driving vehicles during the lockdown, organising social events, conveying passengers during the lockdown, and carrying more than the prescribed numbers of passengers required.

Police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun said those convicted were given varying degrees of sanctions, including six months imprisonment or fine.

Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode has attacked Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje for asking the Federal Government to relax the lockdown in Kano less than a week it was declared.

Coronavirus is tearing Kano apart with 80 new cases recorded on Thursday alone, taking its total to 219 cases, with more people expected to be infected.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday, during a nationwide broadcast shutdown Kano for two weeks in order to check the spread of Coronavirus.

But Ganduje, on Thursday asked the Federal Government to relax the 14-day total lockdown imposed on the state.

“We would engage the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to seek permission to relax the total lockdown imposed on Kano.

“We are making this appeal on behalf of our people who are presently running out of food items. We would love the federal government to relax the lockdown for a period of time to enable people stock their homes, especially now that majority of us are fasting. It will also ease the economic hardship in the state,” Ganduje said.

Reacting to this development, Fani-Kayode said it amazed him that Ganduje could be asking for a relaxation of the lockdown in the state because of Ramadan.

“It amazes me that the Governor of Kano can be asking for a relaxation of the lockdown in his state because of Ramadan even when his people are still dropping dead like flies.

“Did Christians ask for a relaxation of the lockdown during Easter?

“The greatest achievement of this generation is the famous handshake across the Niger between the SE, SW, SS and MB which took place in Enugu in Jan. 2018.

“We built a strong bridge & bond on that day & we must not allow anyone to break it. United we stand, divided we fall,” he said.

Gilles Peterson and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers pay tribute to the Fela Kuti collaborator, described by Brian Eno as ‘perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived’

The Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who is credited with creating Afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79 in Paris on Thursday, his manager said. “We don’t know the exact cause of death,” Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

“He was in great shape,” said Trosset. “It was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1pm then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital, where he died.”

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band, Africa ’70, in the 60s and 70s. During that time the pair created Afrobeat, combining west African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with US jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th-century African music.

Over Allen’s thrilling beat, Kuti laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent. “Few people have the kind of communication that Fela and I had when we played music,” Allen said.

Allen and Kuti recorded about 40 albums as Africa ’70, before parting ways after a mythic, 26-year collaboration, with Allen citing Kuti’s disorganisation and debts to him as the reason for his departure. Such was the hole that Allen left in his band, Kuti required several drummers to replace him.

Of his singular style, Allen said: “I try to make my drums sing and turn them into an orchestra. I don’t bash my drums. Instead of bashing, I caress. If you caress your wife, you’ll get good things from your wife; if you beat her, up I’m sure she’ll be your enemy.”

Artists including Major Lazer, Gilles Peterson and Flea have paid tribute to Allen on Twitter.

Born in Lagos in 1940, Allen taught himself to play drums at the age of 18, drawing inspiration from the US jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, as well as contemporary African music. He has attributed his versatility to the need to make a living as a jobbing musician in Lagos in the early 60s. “Latin American, African horns, jazz, highlife … you had to be able to play it all because in the club they asked for it,” he said.

In 1969, touring the US for the first time with Kuti, a meeting with west coast jazz drummer Frank Butler inspired him to practise every morning on pillows, making his sticks bounce off them while he was rolling. “It adds flexibility,” he said. “Very effective. Effortless – that’s what I tried to catch from [Butler].” As part of Kuti’s band, he would sometimes drum for six hours without a break.

The British musician and producer Brian Eno has called Allen “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”.

In 1984, Allen moved to London, and by the turn of the millennium had settled in Paris. In the 2000s, he added dub and electronica to his solo output – sometimes to the ire of Afrobeat purists – and became an in-demand collaborator for a younger generation of musicians, among them Jarvis Cocker, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sébastien Tellier.

On Blur’s 2000 song Music Is My Radar, Damon Albarn sang: “Tony Allen really got me dancing.” The pair would begin regular collaborations soon after. Allen sometimes participated in Albarn’s Africa Express residencies on the continent. He was the drummer in the supergroup, the Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released albums in 2007 and 2018. In 2008, Allen, Albarn and Flea formed the supergroup Rocket Juice and the Moon.

Allen was dismissive, however, of a wave of Afrobeat-inspired indie bands such as Vampire Weekend that emerged at the end of the 2000s. “They write the basslines and the horns … but what about the drums? The drummer comes and doesn’t know what to play, because that is the bit with the discipline. He will play what he knows, which doesn’t fit the music.”

His most recent album was Rejoice, a collaboration with Hugh Masekela. The pair met in Nigeria in the 70s, when Allen was playing with Kuti.

This year he planned to work on what he described as a “travel album”, playing with young musicians in Nigeria, London, Paris and the US, “because I want to take care of youngsters – they have messages and I want to bring them on my beat,” he told the Guardian.

Allen, who described himself as a “simple, gentle guy”, lived in the Paris suburb Courbevoie.

The university, on April 1, held its first statutory management meeting through the Webinar platform. It also test-run the Learning Management System (LMS) with two programmes – Computer Science and Economics – on April 13.

The university senate met online on April 16, and the induction of academics into the Google Classroom facility took place on April 18.

With the success of the test-run, full academic activities in all operational programmes began on April 20, based on the senate-approved timetable for second semester of the 2019/2020 session.

The university is currently using the LMS and Google Classroom, and exploring other facilities as afforded by Digital Learning outfits, such as, Galaxy Backbone, TCSION, LP 365, Telegram Link, among others.

The number of health workers infected by coronavirus has risen to 113, the government said on Thursday. The figure was 40 last week.

The government said most of the health workers including doctors are from private hospitals and clinics.

It said some of the health workers treat coronavirus patients in private hospitals and clinics without taking the necessary precautions and without the necessary training, thereby putting themselves and their families at risk of contracting the virus.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said: “As for the over 300 doctors (infected by Covid-19) that’s a fable. It is not true. There are not so many people in the health sector who are infected. Latest figures we have is that there are about 113 and these 113 are not all public health workers.

“A good number of them are from private hospitals and if you hear us speaking here frequently against trying to treat coronavirus in private clinics we are actually referring to people who do so without having the necessary precautions, without having the necessary training. Because they risk infecting themselves and they go home and give this infection to their family. That is not the right thing.

“The healthcare workers who have no training, have no business actually handling coronavirus. As for those who do not have the necessary equipment, we have said that we have provided equipment personal protective equipment (PPE) for those who are out there.

“There are one or two places where we have heard that there is tightness in supplies and we have tried to send them over there. But let me remind you again that there is a global shortage of PPEs.

“There is a global shortage. Many countries are struggling and hustling to PPEs, even for the gowns, for face masks and I reminded you of an argument between two world powers over 200 face masks if some of you read about it that were supposed to be delivered to one but ceased by the other.

“It tells you that these things are really scary and we are doing everything we can to make sure our frontline workers have requirements and that we also have a stockpile that we can send quickly.


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