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.
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.
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.”
The Kogi Governorship Election Tribunal has dismissed the case filed by Musa Wada, the PDP candidate against the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.
The three man panel of judges, led by Justice Ibrahim Kaigama gave its delayed ruling in Abuja on Saturday.
In a split judgement, the tribunal dismissed the petition of Musa Wada for lack of merit.
In addition, the tribunal asked him to pay N500,000 as costs to Bello, APC and INEC for his frivolous claims.
Musa Wada scored 189,704 votes to emerge the first runner-up of the November 16 election.
He challenged the victory of Yahaya Bello, who polled 406,222 votes.
Bello got the affirmation of two judges, while the minority judge, Ohimai Ovbiagele asked for fresh poll in 7 LGAs.
She said Wada was able to prove massive irregularities in the areas.
Meanwhile, the PDP candidate has vowed to challenge the judgment at the court of Appeal to seek for justice and reclaim what he termed as “stolen mandate”.
Before today’s ruling, the tribunal had also dismissed two other petitions against Bello.
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
NIGERIA’s massive revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic was topped discussions at yesterday’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Hajia Zainab Ahmed warned that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), might shrink this year to -8.94 per cent unless there is economic stimulus.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting, Mrs Ahmed, said with 40 per cent of Nigeria’s population classified as poor, the looming economic crisis would worsen their misery.
According to her, the global economy would also be dealing with the sharpest reversal since the Great Depression, as a result of the health crisis.
She added that the projected oil and gas revenue for the country, in the first quarter of 2020 suffered a 31% shortfall, representing about N125.52 billion.
“It is not news any more that these are very difficult and challenging times. We are facing a very significant economic downturn; a time that we have not seen in the history of our country.
“On the economy, COVID-19 has resulted in the collapse in oil prices. This will impact negatively, and the impact has already started showing on the federation’s revenues and on the foreign exchange earnings.
“Net oil and gas revenue and influx to the federation account in the first quarter of 2020 amounted to N940.91billion. This represented a shortfall of N125. 52billion or 31% of the prorated amount that is supposed to have been realized by the end of that first quarter.
“The economic growth in Nigeria, that is the GDP, could in the worst case scenario, contract by as much as –8.94% in 2020.
“But, in the best case, which is the case we are working on, it could be a contraction of –4.4%, if there is no fiscal stimulus. But with the fiscal stimulus plan that we are working on, this contraction can be mitigated and we might end up with a negative –0.59%”, she said.
“The Federal Government is committed to supporting the financial viability of states, including the suspension of payments in respect of commitments, debts that have been secured with ISPOs by the states at the federal levels.
“So, we have already implemented suspension of deductions of a number of loans that have been taken by the states from April and also in May.
“The Economic Sustainability Committee is responsible for providing overall strategic vision, policy direction and general oversight of the implementation amongst others”, she said.
Mrs. Ahmed assorted that the World Bank view is that the impact of the COVID-19 on Nigeria will lead to severe amplified human and economic cost, which will move the country into a recession.
“The World Bank planned a proposed package for immediate fiscal relief for the federal government. This will also involve policy-based policy budget support for the FG, focusing on measures to maintain macro financial stability and create fiscal space for proposed stimulus.
“The World Bank package has also got a proposal of $1.5billion for the states and this package will be dedicated to the states. And it will be a programme for results which the states are already used to implementing.
“So, the immediate fiscal relief for the states, as stated in the presentation, will include the acceleration of an existing programme to enable disbursement by end of September.
“So, the proposed $1.5billion plan will by end of September it would have been disbursed to the states. We are looking at an average of between N150billion to N200billion based on the plan to the 36 states. These are states that have already made some particular commitments and achievements so that they will be able to get immediate disbursements of parts of these funds”, she said.
Giving details of the balances in the various national accounts, the Minister disclosed “in the Excess Crude Account, as at 21 of May, 2020, we reported a balance $72.04 million.
“We also reported to Council that in the Stabilization Account, as at today, we have a balance of N39.337 billion. In the Natural Resource Development Fund Account, as at today, we have a balance N125.19 billion”.
Jigawa State Governor Badaru Abubakar told reporters that council received an update on Polio Eradication and support to Community Transmission of COVID-19(CTA) presented by the Minister of Health.
He said: “updates indicated that Nigeria is moving towards polio eradication and on course to be certified as Wild Polio Free by the World Health Organistion(WHO) African Region next month.
“It also indicated that no wild polio cases was reported in Nigeria for 44 months.
“The NPHCDA adopted the Polio structure which is the Incident Management System to tackle the COVID-19 at the PHCs and community levels in all the states and FCT.
“States governments, governors are urged to facilitate the establishment of structures to coordinate efforts to stop community transmission of COVID-19.
“The report of NEC’s Adhoc committee to Review Status of Ownership of Structure of Electricity Power Distribution Company(DISCOs) headed by the Kaduna State Governor was received.
“The report was delivered, adopted and now being implemented but due to the lockdown not all members have signed the report.
“We also discussed COVID-19; Council set a NEC Committee to work with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to work out modalities for the reopening of the national economy.
“The committee comprises governors of Ekiti, Lagos, Anambra, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and FCT Minister as members and chaired by the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa.
Asked if the states can pay salaries as at when due is the Federal Government has suspended deductions from bailout fund, he said, “I think most of the states are paying salaries already. But we have not seen the worst yet, I may not be able to answer this question correctly until we see what comes up in the next part, that is when we expect the worst-case scenario on the fallen oil prices.
“And at that time we will do the calculation and all the scenarios will come up and that will determine whether we will be able to pay salaries or not”, he said.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sack of Prof. Charles Uwakwe as the Registrar and Chief Executive of the National Examinations Council, NECO.
A letter dated May 11 and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said Buhari approved the sack.
Also sacked by the president were four members of the Management for various offences bordering on financial impropriety.
In the letter, Uwakwe was accused of violating the Public Procurement Act (2007) and pursuant to PSR 030402 and Part 1 schedule 4 (i) of NECO Establishment Act.
He had been suspended since May 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Education, the parent ministry of the agency over alleged financial mismanagement and abuse of office.
It was alleged that Uwakwe and some top officials of the council allegedly awarded contracts in the council to the tune of N25 billion without following due process.
NECO, in a release on Wednesday by its Head of Information and Public Relations Division, Mr. Azeez Sani, confirmed that the suspended registrar had been relieved of his appointment by the President, while four members of the management had also been dismissed.
“After due consideration of the investigative panel on the allegation of unsatisfactory conduct levelled against you and some management staff of the council, Mr. President in exercise of his powers, has approved your removal as the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of National Examinations Council with effect from the date of your suspension from duty.”
The former Registrar was also directed to hand over all the government property in his custody to the acting Registrar, Mr. Abubakar Gana, The Nation reports.
A popular US Pastor who disobeyed President Donald Trump’s order on religious gatherings and held a Mother’s Day Church service has tested positive for coronavirus.
Redwood Valley Assembly of God Church pastor Jack McMilin in California tested positive for coronavirus and was taken to the hospital after developing pneumonia resulting from coronavirus.
The pastor’s wife, Sharon disclosed McMilin’s diagnosis on Facebook.
Her post read: “I was going to post something in place of pastor sermon today but I’ve been on phone with so many people and health department that I didn’t get it done
“Just remember God is a big and mighty God, and he’s got us covered, remember Pastor Jack in the hospital with pneumonia from the COVID-19 virus. Thank you for all the prayers!”
On May 10, McMilin held a Mother’s Day service at Redwood Valley Assembly of God church.
He also shared a Facebook post of a woman holding a placard that reads: “Why can we go to Walmart but not Church!?”
McMilin had captioned the photo: “We need to start asking this more often and with greater volume.”
By Bukola Adebayo, CNN
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)British media regulator Ofcom has imposed sanctions against a channel founded by Nigerian megachurch preacher Chris Oyakhilome for airing "unsubstantiated claims" linking 5G to the coronavirus pandemic.
A popular Cameroonian pastor, Frankline Ndifor, who laid hand on Coronavirus patients to recover from the virus has died of the pandemic.
Fear has now gripped large number of his followers following his death.
He had prayed for hundreds of his supporters to get cured of the coronavirus.
Cameroon police used force to gain access to his residence in the economic capital city Douala, as some of his supporters blocked entrances, praying for his resurrection, Voice of America reports.
Hundreds of followers sang Sunday morning at Ndifor’s Douala residence that the man popularly referred to as the prophet is not dead, but he is rather on a spiritual retreat with God and will return soon. Their singing and prayers were broadcast by several local radio stations.
Ndifor died and was buried in front of his residence Saturday by workers of Cameroon’s COVID-19 response team in Douala.
Doctor Gaelle Nnanga said by messaging application from Douala that Ndifor died less than a week after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
He said that some members of Ndifor’s Kingship International Ministries Church called him to come to the pastor’s aid when they found out Ndifor was in agony, and that when the medical team he leads arrived, Ndifor was having severe respiratory difficulties. He says the pastor died less than 10 minutes after they treated him.
The governor of Cameroon’s coastal region, where Douala is, said in a release he deployed police to force their way to Ndifor’s residence when his followers chased medical staff away, claiming that the pastor was on a spiritual retreat with God, rather than dead, and should not be buried.
Ndifor follower Rigobert Che says the “prophet” last Wednesday prayed for him and several dozen people diagnosed with COVID-19, and some who suspected they were carriers or had symptoms. He says via a messaging application that Ndifor’s death has brought panic to the hundreds of people who have been visiting him for prayers for a divine cure.
“This is a pastor that has been laying hands [on the sick] and claiming that he cures COVID-19,” Che said. “If you, the person that claims that you are curing COVID-19, you are dead, what about the fellow people that were affected by the COVID-19? Now that he is dead, I do not know how the people that he was laying hands on will be healed.”
Medical staff are asking all those who came in contact with the pastor to report to hospitals to be tested for COVID-19, according to VOA.
By Yusuf Alli, Abuja/ The Nation
REPUBLIC of Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay 170,000 Euros for the quantity of its COVID-19 cure drugs sent to the Federal Government, it was learnt at the weekend.
The quantity of the consignment sent to Nigeria through Guinea Bissau could not be ascertained yesterday.
Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja on Saturday, brought the drugs allocated to Nigeria by Madagascar.
President Buhari said Nigeria would take the drug through intensive test to determine its suitability.
A source on Sunday said: “For our consignments in Guinea Bissau, Madagascar has asked Nigeria to pay over €170,000 (N78, 200,000). We have received the invoice because the African country has made us to realise that the drugs are not being given out free.
“We are being asked to pay for the drugs yet to be validated. Since the AU directed the supply of the drugs to African countries, we may have no choice than to pay for it.
“This payment may, however, be one-off because mass importation of the drugs from Madagascar will not be cost effective. By the time we take into account the cost of freight, the amount will be too high.
“This is why we are looking at local options available to us as a nation.
“Some researchers have told us that we have richer herbs to contain COVID-19. In fact, a shop in Wuse 2, Abuja has been discovered to be selling Artemisia Tea with high potency than COV drugs.
“As a nation, we will leave all options open and look inwards. But, we will subject Madagascar herbal drugs to verification or validation.
“The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is also thinking of asking the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to relax the protocols and hasten the validation of local drugs for COVID-19.:
The NAFDAC and NIPRD are awaiting the samples from Madagascar for validation.
A highly-placed source in NIPRD said: “We are yet to get the samples for testing and validation. We are hopeful that this week, we might receive them. Our team is on the alert.”
The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said many researchers and practitioners have responded to its call for expression of interest for the COVID-19 related medicines.
In a statement on NAFDAC website, Adeyeye said:”The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), as at the time of this press release, has only received application from one company for a product the company is presenting (for approval) to the Agency for the treatment of the symptoms of Covid-19, and not for the cure of Covid-19 as a disease.
“Call for expression of interest for the COVID-19 related medicines was made; several researchers and practitioners have responded and are being guided to submit such medicines to NAFDAC for expedited review. The agency continues to encourage all stakeholders to present the products of their research findings and allow these remedies go through internationally recognised process of approval through pre-clinical and where applicable, clinical trials.
“Finally, as the body with the mandate to regulate the conduct of clinical trials in the country, NAFDAC is committed to encouraging and supporting sponsors with appropriate guidance to expedite the development of effective interventions to treat or prevent COVID-19.”
Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has argued that pumping money into the school feeding programme is absurd, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued on Sunday, George said it was laughable that the government sought to distribute palliative in a country with no standard housing coordination.
George said; “Pumping money into school feeding programme while the schools are not open is a little absurd.
“It is a redundant, unworkable palliative. In a nation where there is no standard numbering of houses, how do you get the food to the beneficiaries? This is more than laughable. It is tragic”, he added.
According to him, the pandemic had thrown up serious issues in the economy, leading to hunger in the land with its attending problems.
He, therefore, called for a “serious”, coherent, deliberate, aggregated and aggressive management of the pandemic.
The PDP chieftain urged the country to develop a homegrown solution to the pandemic while embracing proven and attested global examples.
NIGERIA-born Dr. James Oniah and his care home director wife, Mary, have died from coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom 10 days apart.
Seventy-nine year old retired radiologist Oniah died on April 24 only for Mary to succumb to the virus on May 4.
They both died at King George Hospital in Ilford, East London, according to the London Mail.
They are survived by three children.
Their son, Okey, 25, described them as wonderful parents.
He said the family was still coming to terms with their tragic deaths.
Dr. Oniah hailed from Onitsha and had studied at the University of Sussex.