Why I’m staying away from partisan politics –Jonathan [Punch]

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said he reduced his political activities since he quit power in 2015 to enable him to concentrate on his foundation.

The former leader gave the explanation on Sunday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, when Governor Douye Diri inaugurated the state executive council of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Jonathan, who said he was actually moving away from being “an effective partisan politician,” however, noted that his absence from political activities was being misunderstood.

He said, “Don’t be discouraged if you do not see me in most party activities in the state. I decided to appear in this event so that I will not be misunderstood.

“I’m shifting away from being an effective partisan politician because of my foundation. People who want to partner me felt that if you are a partisan leader in the country, they will eat with you with a long spoon.

“I felt that after serving as President of this country, I should go to some other areas where my services would be required. Through that process, I would be able to support the nation and the state in one way or the other.”

He called on the new state executive council to run an all-inclusive administration, to promote peace, unity and stability in achieving more successes for the party.

Jonathan averred that the survival of the party was largely dependent on its capacity to effectively manage its affairs.

“You have an enormous responsibility before you. You must work with the governor and not at cross purposes.

“No matter how strong a party is, if the people don’t appreciate you, you would be struggling to have them on your side. I know you will work harmoniously with members and carry everyone along,” he said.

The former President also applauded the exemplary leadership exhibited by Diri within the short period in office.

Diri, on his part, charged the new party leadership to reach out to all those who had left with the view to bringing them back into the fold towards sustaining the party’s dominance in the state.

He said, “As a result of our divine emergence, we should not be vindictive. Let us forgive one another and bring everyone on board because we want to sustain our party’s dominance in the state.

“It seems like a tall order but you have the capacity to do so. We are all brothers and sisters of Ijawland. So let us not split ourselves. When we are united, we will be stronger and bring development closer to our people.”

Also speaking, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, represented by the National Vice-Chairman of the South-South zone, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, congratulated the new state exco and implored them to work as a team.

Also speaking, immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, expressed satisfaction with his successor for recording successes in piloting the affairs of the party so far.

Represented by the Sagbama PDP Caucus Chairman and elder statesman, Chief Francis Doukpola, Dickson thanked the immediate past chairman for his loyalty to the party and the winning streak during his leadership while congratulating the newly inaugurated executive.

In his acceptance speech, the new chairman, Mr Solomon Agwanana,  thanked Jonathan and Diri for their leadership role in strengthening the party.

He promised that his watchword would be repositioning the party and consolidating the gains achieved by past leaders.

 

COVID-19: Home treatment will increase infections, NMA, Nurses warn [Punch]

The Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives on Sunday cautioned the Federal  Government against treating COVID-19 patients at home.

The NMA and the NANNM, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said the implementation of home treatment in Nigeria, where the majority of the infected people lived in crowded houses would create problems for the country.

The NMA specifically said patients, who would be treated  in households with a large number of people might infect others, thus increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, at its press briefing on April 30, had said the Federal Government was considering treating some COVID-19 patients at home.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control  Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at the press briefing, said the country had only about 3,500 bed spaces for COVID-19 management.

“We are now trying to make more bed spaces available, but ultimately we might have to change our strategy and start considering homecare in certain circumstances where patients are able to provide rooms for their own management,” he said.

As of Saturday, there were 4,151 COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, with  3,278 of them still active and 745 discharged. No fewer than 128 people have died of the highly infectious virus.

WHO recomends use of ventilated houses

According to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines  sent to one of our correspondents by the NMA President, Dr Francis  Faduyile,   all laboratory confirmed cases should be isolated and cared for in a health care facility.

The WHO explained that where isolation in a health facility was not possible for all cases, emphasis should be given to patients with severe and critical illnesses as well as mild illnesses such as “uncomplicated upper respiratory tract viral infection symptoms.

The WHO added, “If all mild cases cannot be isolated in health facilities, then those with mild illnesses and no risk factors may need to be isolated in non-traditional facilities, such as repurposed hotels, stadiums or gymnasiums where they can remain until their symptoms resolve and laboratory tests for COVID-19 virus are negative. Alternatively, patients with mild disease and no risk factors can be managed at home.

“For those presenting with mild illness, hospitalisation may not be possible because of the burden on the health care system, or required unless there is concern about rapid deterioration.”

It added in cases where care would be provided at home, a trained health care worker should conduct an assessment to verify whether the residential setting would suitable for providing care and whether the patient and the family were capable of adhering to the precautions that would be recommended.

The WHO also recommended that the  patient should be in a well-ventilated room and that face masks or gloves should not be reused.

It added, “To contain respiratory secretions, a medical mask should be provided for the patient and worn as much as possible, and changed daily. Individuals who cannot tolerate a medical mask should use rigorous respiratory hygiene; that is, the mouth and nose should be covered with a disposable paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Materials used to cover the mouth and nose should be discarded.”

The WHO also said the movement of the patient and shared spaces in the house should be minimised. “Ensure that shared spaces (e.g. kitchen, bathroom) are well ventilated (keep windows open) and use a mask when providing oral or respiratory care and when handling stool, urine, and other waste,” it advised care givers.

Dedicated linen and eating utensils recommended for home patients

It said dedicated linen and eating utensils should be used for the patient, adding that the items should be cleaned with soap and water after use and may be re-used instead of being discarded.

Our overcrowded  homes will breed more infections — NMA president

Faduyile, in an interview with The PUNCH, said although  the WHO guidelines were of global standard, he had a problem with how they would be implemented in Nigeria.

He stated, “We can’t just conform with anything from the WHO because many of those people infected are people living in rented apartments or houses that have a large numbers of people within the household. I doubt how beneficial it is for those persons to guard against infecting others in that area. I guess we will still have problem with the implementation of such a regulation in Nigeria.”

Plan to treat COVID-19 patients at home worries nurses

On its part, the NANNM expressed displeasure over plans by the Federal Government to treat coronavirus patients at home.

The President of the NANNM,  Abdulrafiu Adeniji, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “There is an adage that necessity is the mother of invention. Personally, I just see that it won’t have been the best but government doesn’t have any other way out. What the government is now saying is that the bed spaces in the hospitals are occupied.

“This is why we have been crying that Nigerians should learn lessons. With the little relaxation of the lockdown, people have been using the opportunity (to move about freely) and it’s a chance for the virus to spread among the people. Now, my prayer is that, even treating at home, the situation will not become so overwhelming that they would not be able to (handle it).

“Also, we have to be wary of some people that are not Africans who have predicted that corpses will litter the streets in Africa. Already, we don’t have enough respirators, test kits or personal protective equipment. Nothing is enough.”

No critical case will be treated at home, says LASG

But the Lagos State Government has said no critical case of  coronavirus will be treated at home.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, in a chat with one of our correspondents on Sunday, noted that only 44 per cent of the state’s isolation centre capacity had been used.

He said, “As of Friday, there were 1,683 cases: 713 were on admission, 448 discharged and 33 deaths. The average duration of admission is 11 days.

“On severity of admissions, we have 59 per cent mild cases, 38 per cent moderate cases, two per cent severe cases and one per cent critical case.

“On the capacity of isolation centres, there has only been 44 per cent utilisation: Lagos Mainland (56 per cent); Lagos University Teaching Hospital (95 per cent) Onikan (68 per cent)

Landmark in Eti-Osa LGA (34 per cent); Lekki (44 per cent); Agidingbi, Ikeja (39 per cent) and Gbagada (0 per cent). So, there are 330 bed spaces still available out of the 600 bed spaces.”

Omotosho explained that the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, would consult with the Federal Government if the state needed to resort to community care.

He insisted that the state had not got to that level.

“That has its own protocols. An expert would ask certain questions to know the severity of the case. No critical case will be treated at home. Most of the cases we have are mild. If you have a mild case, after say 12 to 13 days of treatment, it should clear off. The health commissioner even said none of our patients needed a ventilator and that is because people report early. Those who died did not report early,” he added.

Meanwhile, another traditional title holder in Kano, the Dan Iyan of Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Bayero, is dead.

Until his death, Bayero was the District Head of Dawakin Kudu in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area of the state.

The Secretary of Sallaman Kano at the Emir’s Palace, Alhaji Muhammadu Muhammad confirmed the death of the deceased to The PUNCH in Kano on Sunday.

He said the monarch, who died in the early hours of Sunday, was the first District Head of Ajingi Local Government Area.

Bauchi 150 deaths caused by hypertension, childbirth, others, not COVID-19  –  Gov

The Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, has said massive deaths in Azare town, the headquarters of the  Katagum Local Government Area of the state within the last two weeks,  were not  caused by COVID-19.

He, however, said that from records available, within the last one month, no fewer than 150 people had died from hypertension and other diseases.

Sunday PUNCH had reported that Azare, the headquarters of the Katagum LGA, was said to have recorded massive deaths within the past 14 days.

While a former member of the House of Representatives for the Azare  Constituency, Ibrahim  Baba, in a letter  to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), claimed that over 100 people died of coronavirus in one week, another politician, Musa Azare, put the number, in his letter to the state governor, at 301.

However, the Bauchi State Government debunked the claims saying  only one person had so far died of COVID-19 in the state.

But speaking at a press conference on the development which had caused panic in the state,  Mohammed said that the state government was on top of the matter.

He said: “We have also reviewed the rumour about Azare, that it has become a morgue, it is not true.

“We have even got the statistics of the deaths for the last 30 days, about 150 died in Azare and an average and eight deaths per day. Most of them we have the causes of their deaths arising from hypertension, childbirth and other diseases.”

14 Abuja doctors, nurses go into isolation as three patients test positive

At least 10 doctors and nurses working at the Gwarinpa General Hospital, Abuja, have been asked to go into self-isolation after a patient who was being prepped for surgery tested positive for Covid-19, The PUNCH reports.

Another four doctors in Wuse District Hospital have also gone into isolation following exposure to two Covid-19 patients in the hospital, the Association of Resident Doctors of the Federal Capital Territory has said.

It was learnt that the patient at the Gwarinpa hospital had been admitted at the hospital for intestinal obstruction and was to be wheeled into the theatre last Thursday.

During his admission at the hospital, about 10 doctors and nurses on duty had contact with the patient directly or indirectly

However, before the surgery could begin, he started coughing profusely thereby causing a scare among health workers.

A health worker, who spoke to The PUNCH on the strict condition of anonymity, said, “A patient visited our hospital sometime last week and he was examined by a doctor. He was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction and was placed on admission pending a surgical operation. He was given drugs and fluid.

“He was supposed to do the surgery on Thursday but he started coughing profusely so we began to have suspicions. He was questioned about his health status and then he revealed later that his brother had just tested positive for COVID-19.

“He was isolated at the ward and a Covid-19 test was administered on him. The next day, his test came back positive. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has evacuated him while the hospital has been decontaminated.”

The official told The PUNCH that the hospital management asked about 10 doctors and nurses to go into self-isolation.

“The management has asked us to go into self-isolation. We will be tested later in the week,” she said.

Meanwhile doctors employed by the Federal Capital Territory last year are being owed salaries between three to seven months, the Association of Resident Doctors, FCT, has said.

The doctors also complained about suspicious deductions from the salaries of old doctors after they were registered on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

This is contained in a communiqué issued after a virtual council meeting on May 7, 2020 and signed by Dr Mustapha Ibrahim, the General Secretary of ARDFCTA.

The doctors said they would have embarked on a strike on May 1, 2020 but decided to put it on hold.

The document read in part, “The council noted with dismay the haphazard nature in which the April, 2020 salaries was paid by the IPPIS with no prior sensitisation or explanation despite the April 30 deadline for all matters connected therewith be resolved.

“Most newly employed members were still omitted in the payment of April, 2020 salaries bringing the total months owed them to between three-seven months. There is an established community transmission of COVID 19 in the FCT with four of our members already exposed following the confirmation of two cases at Wuse District Hospital.

“Despite Management’s assertion of provision of adequate PPE across all the general hospitals, it was noted by council that some of this PPE are still been hoarded by some units as members do not readily access these apparels when attending to suspected cases.

“Exposed members are subjected to a lot of psychological trauma during this period of self-isolation.”

The acting General Manager, General Manager, Hospital Services, FCT, Frank Alu, neither responded to phone calls nor a text message as of press time.

 

Certificate scandal: FIIRO demotes former director-general [Punch]

The Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, has demoted a former acting director-general of the agency, Chima Igwe.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Igwe had been asked to revert to principal research officer, the position he held before claiming to have bagged a doctorate from the Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, over 18 years ago.

Our correspondent learnt that the decision followed the governing board’s ratification of the recommendations of the disciplinary committee, which sat over Igwe’s case.

The Ministry of Science and Technology was said to have also been informed of the development.

However, it was learnt that Igwe had refused to comply with the directive, as the demotion made him a junior official in the institute.

Igwe, a first class graduate of Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, had finished with a pass during his master’s at the University of Lagos, Akoka.

He subsequently proceeded to the Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, where he claimed to have bagged a doctorate in 2001.

However, he could only produce an attestation document for the PhD. The document was signed by his supervisor, Prof. Mansour Moudachirou.

On the basis of that document, he was promoted from principal research officer to chief research officer, deputy director and director.

The attestation document became a subject of controversy in 2019 when the tenure of the former DG, Prof. Gloria Elemo, ended and Igwe was made the acting DG.

An official petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, seeking a probe of Igwe’s PhD.

While the ICPC delayed in releasing its report, our correspondent investigated and reported that Igwe had not completed the doctoral programme.

The ICPC released a report clearing Igwe of wrongdoing, but later backtracked and reopened investigation.

After direct communication with the Benin university, the ICPC spokeswoman, Rasheedat Okoduwa, confirmed The PUNCH’s investigation that the official did not have a PhD yet.

There were protests by workers, who said the image of the institute had been damaged and demanded Igwe’s dismissal and prosecution.

Based on the ICPC’s report, the 58-year-old was suspended by the FIIRO governing board and a disciplinary procedure was instituted against him.

Our correspondent reported that in February 2020, the embattled Igwe returned to Benin Republic to defend his thesis before a panel, which included his ally and a FIIRO officer, Dr Ahmed Aroke.

A senior FIIRO official, who did not want to be identified, said the Benin institution confirmed that Aroke was indeed present during the defence.

“Aroke was queried for travelling to Benin without permission. I was told that the board will sanction him for the action,” he added.

The source also informed PUNCH Metro that Igwe’s fate had been sealed.

The source said, “The committee looked at the issues exhaustively. During the investigation, Igwe brought a new attestation document that the school gave him. The committee contacted the Benin university and confirmed that he attended the public defence.

“We discovered that the Benin Ministry of Education issues certificates and not the universities. So, he does not have a certificate yet. However, the attestation indicated the effective date of the degree. It was signed in February 2020, meaning that he finished in February 2020. The implication is that all the achievements he claimed were on wrong grounds.

“So, he is going back to where he belongs. If he graduated in 2020, then it means those who graduated before him are his seniors. That means the principal research officer, which he was before graduating, is where he should revert to. That is the position of the board.”

Our correspondent learnt that the board’s decision had been communicated to Igwe and the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

The ministry was said to have sent an acknowledgement copy last Wednesday.

PUNCH Metro, however, gathered that there was a plot by top ministry officials to force Igwe on the board and the institute.

A source said the permanent secretary in the ministry had asked that the acting director-general, Dr Agnes Asagbra, be addressed as ‘Overseeing DG.’

It was gathered that Igwe, since his suspension, had refused to revert to his old rank.

“But the truth is that the former position of director, which he left, is now being headed by the most senior person in that department. When he returns, he will find people who are more senior than him, because he only graduated this year. Even the board’s decision to return him to principal research officer is magnanimous,” another top source said.

The FIIRO Board Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo, confirmed that the disciplinary committee had concluded investigation and a report had been submitted to the ministry.

He, however, refused to disclose the content of the report.

“We will ask the public relations department of FIIRO to communicate with you at the right time. Thank you,” he said.

When contacted, the FIIRO Public Relations Officer, Chris Olumuyiwa, said he would call back our correspondent.

He had yet to do so as of press time.

 

How EFCC arrested me over N1,600 – Benue shawarma dealer [Punch]

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Star Shawarma, a pastry outfit in Makurdi, Benue State, Ms Mnena Ato, has narrated how she was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over a N1,600 transaction.

Ato said she was arrested alongside her accountant and sales boy, adding that after they were released, the anti-graft agency asked them to report to its Makurdi office today (Monday).

Narrating what led to the invasion of her office and their subsequent arrest, Ato said an officer of the EFCC had visited her shop to purchase an item worth N1,500.

She explained that the officer decided to pay for the item through bank transfer and instead of N1,500, she ended up transferring N1,600 to the company’s account, adding that the company did not get an alert for the transaction but it allowed the buyer to leave because it believed in the customer’s explanation.

Ato stated, “So, when the accountant did not receive the alert for the payment of N1,500, he decided to draw the attention of the sales boy to it and directed him to contact the EFCC officer to inform her of the development.

“The rule of the company is that if any customer purchases an item from a salesperson and the salesperson fails to collect money and there is shortfall in revenue, such shall be deducted from the salary of the salesperson.

“It is on this that my worker continued calling the officer to remind her of the payment.

“This transaction took place on April 9, 2020, but when we finally got the statement from the bank, there was no shortfall in revenue and the person, who sold the item to the EFCC officer, got his full salary at the end of the month and I directed the salesperson to call the officer and apologise to her.

“Less than 20 minutes after my employee had carried out my instructions, operatives from the EFCC office came and occupied my company premises, insisting on picking me, the accountant and the salesman.

“All my pleas fell on their deaf ears and at the end of the day, I was picked up alongside my accountant and the salesman. We slept in their detention facility and we were released on administrative bail on Saturday.

“I don’t want to dwell more on the matter because we are trying to resolve it. My manager and the accountant have been directed to report today (Monday) and it is after that, I will be able to speak further.”

However, the zonal head of the EFCC in Benue State, Dr Johnson Babalola, said Ato was invited when an officer of the agency went to the shop to show evidence of the online payment she made for the item she purchased, but she was almost beaten up.

Babalola stated, “They intended to beat her up when she went to the shop to show evidence of the payment she made, but she managed to get through to the office.

“The officer was seriously harassed and that was why we invited Ato and her employees to come and she came and explained what happened; and after that, she was asked to go.”

 

Outrage over Wike’s demolition of multi-million naira hotels  [Nation]

Condemnation on Sunday greeted the demolition of two hotels by the Rivers State government in Port Harcourt for allegedly flouting the lockdown rules.

Activisist, lawyers and opinion leaders in the state faulted the action, which Governor Nyesom Wike personally supervised as “unfair.”

Wike had vowed to pull down hotels found to be rendering services and buildings whose shops opened for business during the lockdown.

The Prodest Hotel Alode in Eleme and Edemeteh Hotel in Onne were reported to have contravened the order. They were pulled down.

The government also declared wanted Princewill Osaroejiji, owner of Etemeteh Hotel and placed N5million bounty on his head, available for whoever could supply information on his whereabouts.

Osaroejijin is the youth leader of  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  in Eleme Local government area.

Prominent lawyers like Ebun-Olu  Adegboruwa (SAN), and Jite Ogunye, condemned Wike, saying his ‘action was alien to law.

Ogunye, said in a Facebook post: “Beheading is no cure for headache. Recklessness is no courage and brashness is no strength. It is a weak case and a weak haste to unlawfully demolish a property for violating a COVID-19 regulation.

“It is an act of Executive lawlessness to be the accuser, prosecutor, judge and punishment executioner.”

Also on his Facebook page Adegboruwa, in a comment titled: The Emerging Dictatorship in Rivers State, called on Rivers people to “stand up to every form of lawlessness and arbitrariness and defend their rights under the Constitution.”

He added: “The governor of Rivers State  is a lawyer, which should be an added advantage to birth good governance. The governor also has a reliable partner as a judicial officer, so that both in the office and at home, law is following the governor and it is written all over him.

“But the story of Rivers State in recent times has become a major worry for all lovers of the rule of law and democracy.

“The Rivers State governor has no legal right in law to confiscate the property of citizens by Executive fiat. Surely, two wrongs cannot make a right.”

Also, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, condemned the demotion as “wicked”.

Igbuzor wrote on his Facebook page: Demolish hotels because they did not obey lockdown guidelines. This is wicked.”

Some Rivers State-based lawyers and rights activists like Somina Johnbull, Obiaruko Ndukwe, Higher King, Dumnamene Fyneface, Prince Wiro, and Green Isaac, also berated the governor’s action.

Johnbull said: “It should be stated that there is no power under the Land Use Act to summarily demolish buildings even if the right of occupancy had been revoked. The Land Use Act is the Principal legislation on this subject matter even in Rivers State.

Wike’s opponent in the 2015 governor election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Dakuku Peterside, said the governor had through his latest action shown that he had become a” full-blown dictator.”

Peterside, the immediate past director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said Wike’s action   was “wicked, insensitive, irresponsible and unlawful.”

Explaining the action, the governor’s Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, said  the demolition was  in line with the state government Executive Order 6, which bans  the operation of hotels across the 23 local government areas of the state during the lockdown.

He quoted Wike as saying: “Government has no alternative but to apply the executive order, which I signed before the lockdown  of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt.  I called all the traditional rulers and council chairmen and told them to ensure that no hotel operates in the state.

“We are not saying it will be forever.  This is for now, so that we know where we are. To reduce the cases and check the spread.

“Whether you are PDP or not, all we are saying is that nobody is above the law. If we can do this to a PDP person, then you know we are not discriminatory.  Everyone must obey. Whether you are in PDP, SDP or no party,  you must obey the law. If any other person does the same thing,  the same rule will apply.

“We said no hotel should operate within this period. Unfortunately, the PDP Youth Leader in Eleme joined others to flout the Executive Order.  Therefore,  the executive order will be applied.

”Look at the rate of infections,  most of these people are found in hotels. Look at the man that died,  he was at Mingi Hotel in Rumumasi. Due to that contact,  we have had other seven cases.

“Some people may not like our strategies, but our objective is to achieve results. People talk about hunger. But it is only a living person that can discuss hunger.

“What we are doing is to tell the people that the state government is serious. This being led by me, people should know that the government is determined to ensure that we defeat Coronavirus.”

 

Madagascar’s COVID-19 cure drugs sent to Nigeria [Nation]

             NAFDAC, others to carry out analysis before testing

             Governors seek volunteer health workers to battle virus

The Republic of Madagascar has offered its herbal drug – COVID Organics (COV) – to Nigeria and other African countries.

The drug is for prevention and cure of Coronavirus.

Nigeria’s consignment has been sent to Equatorial Guinea from where it will be airlifted to Abuja.

For ease of transportation, African countries were divided into zones leading to the freighting of Nigeria’s consignments to Equatorial Guinea.

Nigeria’s COVID-19 positive tally moved to 4,399 last night with 248 new cases announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Lagos recorded 81 cases, followed by Jigawa State 35 and Borno 26 cases to top the chart. Kano recorded 26 cases, followed by Bauchi with 20 cases.

There is pressure on the Federal Government by different medical and scientific organizations to allow the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to subject the drug to further analysis.

Some others are pushing for clinical trial of Covid Organics before being used in the country.

The Federal Government was yet to take a position as of weekend because the AU has mandated its Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to review the scientific data gathered so far on the safety and efficacy of the COVID Organics.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week insisted that the efficacy of the drug was unproven.

 

Also, as part of steps to contain COVID-19, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has started negotiating with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM)  on how to source volunteer doctors and health workers.

The health workers will help to assist ravaged states in the North-West and North-East especially, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states.

The Chairman of NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is coordinating the talks with the two professional associations with juicy welfare package.

According to a source, who spoke in confidence, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has been notified of the offer from Madagascar and arrangements were being made to bring Nigeria’s allocation to Abuja.

The source said: “The consignments of the drug are being distributed to different countries in Africa based on zonal grouping. We have been told that Nigeria’s consignment is in Equatorial Guinea from where it will be airlifted to Abuja.

“When the herbal drink is brought into the country, we will know the next step. But some medical and scientific organisations are pressurising that the drug be subjected to clinical trial.

“Some countries like Tanzania, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea have subscribed to the drugs. Also, while South Africa has offered to conduct a scientific analysis of the drug, Senegal said it will subject it to clinical trial.

“I can assure you that the Federal Government will take the best decision on the drug in the overall interest of Nigerians.

“Before any food or drug can be administered in this country, there are certain protocols that must be followed. The government will not circumvent these protocols. We want solution; we want the best for Nigerians.”

On April 28, the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha said the nation was ready to give Madagascar’s herbal drink a trial.He said: “I want to assure you that whatever is happening in the world, we are mindful of it and we are keeping a tab.

“I was reading of the experiences in Madagascar– of why everybody is drinking some solutions that have been prepared. This morning I was sharing with my wife, and I told her that probably I would request that Mr. President allow us import a plane load for a trial.

“We are all navigating an unchartered cause. Nobody has ever been on this road. So, every attempt to find solution that would bring succour to our people, be rest assured that this task force is very responsible and we would do everything to ensure that we get what will benefit our people, what will help them in the processes that we find ourselves today.”

On the talks with the NMA and NANNM, Dr. Fayemi said: “We have started negotiations on how to secure the services of volunteer health workers to help contain COVID-19 challenges in the North-West and in the North-East.

“The reality is that many states in these zones have problem of manpower, we need more volunteer health workers to assist them. We know we can draw these volunteers from the private healthcare sector without hurting the Public Health Sector.

“We are ready to offer the volunteers good welfare package, including robust incentives and adequate security. Our ultimate goal is to avert trouble in the affected states; this is why we are pooling resources together.”

 

Foreign investors free to repatriate funds, says CBN [Nation]

Foreign investors wishing to repatriate their funds from Nigeria can safely do so, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has assured.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele at the weekend said they could get their money out of the country “notwithstanding the drop in the revenue from crude oil.”

Emefiele noted that the apex bank had “put in place policies to ensure an orderly exit for those that might be interested in doing so.”

But he urged the investors to be patient “as such repatriations are processed, owing to the CBN’s policy of orderly exit of investments.”

The Governor said the foreign exchange available would be devoted to strategic importation or service obligations that are priority.

Recalling a similar situation that occurred in 2015 over declining revenue, Emefiele said the  CBN was able to settle all commitments in an orderly manner.

Speaking on the plans of the Bank to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19, he said the CBN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, was committed to galvanizing the manufacturing sector to reset the economy.

He said the CBN had met with the banks, manufacturers in the health sector and the larger manufacturing group.

Emefiele described the challenge posed by the pandemic as necessitating that “as leaders, the fiscal and monetary authorities must work together to moderate the health and economic impact of COVID-19.”

Emefiele said COVID-19 presented Nigeria with an opportunity “to reset the economy and as such there was need for the country to prepare itself to get the manufacturing sector to work, while the banking sector supports the economy.”

With the drop in revenue from crude oil sale, the CBN Governor said Nigeria had no choice “but to diversify its economic base.”

He said “the time has come for Nigerians to produce what can be produced in the country and consume what is produced in the country.”

 

COVID-19: 160 Nigerians in US arrive Abuja [Sun]

  • Ayade begs Buhari to lift ban on domestic flights

A total of 160 Nigerians evacuated by the Nigerian Missions in the United States, yesterday, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Kimiebi Ebienfa of the Crises Monitoring and Public Communications Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the returnees comprised  92 males, 60 females and eight infants.

The Ethiopian Airline, Boeing 787, with flight number ET8509, which departed New Jersey on May 9, at 7:15pm arrived Abuja yesterday, at 11:15am.

Earlier in a statement dated May 9, the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York said on arrival, all returnees would be transported by the Federal Government from the airport to the designated quarantine centres for 14 days.

“During this period, all returnees will be tested for COVID-19 and will also be re-tested at the end of the quarantine period. Only those that test negative will be allowed to retrieve their passports from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), while positive cases will be transferred to designated Isolation Centres for treatment,” the Consulate General  said.

Okoyen said returnees would be responsible for planning their own travel arrangements from Abuja to their respective destinations within Nigeria after the compulsory quarantine period.

As Nigeria grapples with the impact of the COVID-19 on the economy, Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to lift ban on domestic flights.

The governor, who spoke when he inspected the ongoing asphalting of the dualised Odukpani – Calabar highway, said the continuous closure of Nigeria’s domestic airspace was impacting negatively on aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors and was also having negative spiral effect on small businesses and service providers, thus worsening the economic situation of that category of Nigerians. Ayade  warned  that the adverse effects of another four weeks closure of the airspace could be catastrophic.

“The suspension of domestic flights has affected most hotels leading to their closure. It is so bad that most hotels including 5-star hotels are shutting down because they cannot sustain the cost of diesel for their generating sets and as that happens they start laying off workers. So you have a lot of workers, young people who used to work in hotels and tourism industry out of jobs. And the big question is, how long can this continue?. The caterers who supply food to the hotels are all out of business. All the suppliers are out of business. So as we continue to lock the domestic airports for another four weeks, what we are going to have in terms of economic loss, what we are going to have in terms of social delinquency, the associated moral and social tension that will come with it will be just too huge for the country to bear?” he said.

Ayade said rather than ban domestic flights, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC ) should devise strict guidelines to enable the airline sector to continue to operate without exposing passengers and crew to COVID-19.

He appealed to the president “not to lock down the healthy, but rather lock down the sick and allow the healthy to work.”

Publish details of suppliers, sites, budget for home feeding programme, SERAP tells FG [Sun]

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the Federal Government, demanding that  authorities urgently publish details of the suppliers and contractors, the procurement rules, including bidding processes, the total budget, and all designated voucher distribution and collection sites for the implementation of the school feeding programme at home.

SERAP is also seeking “information on the number of states to be covered during the COVID-19 crisis, the projected spending per state, details of the mechanisms and logistics that have been put in place to carry out the programme, as well as the role expected to be played by the World Food Programme.”

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms. Sadia Umar-Farouk, had recently announced that the government would start feeding school children in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis, starting from Ogun and Lagos states, and Abuja.

In the FoI request dated May 9, and sent to Ms. Sadia Umar-Farouk, SERAP demanded that the Federal Government  invite the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the implementation of the school feeding programme.

The FoI request signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “Publishing the details requested is in the public interest. This would help to address public scepticism regarding the ability of the government to satisfactorily implement the programme, promote openness, and allow Nigerians to track its implementation and to hold suppliers and contractors to account. SERAP notes that the UN Convention against corruption to which Nigeria is a state party requires the government to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability and probity in programmes that it oversees.”

Why we partner on  ThisDay Doom Isolation centre – Sahara Group

Executive Director, Sahara Group, Temitope Shonubi, has said the desire to make a difference respond to COVID-19 pandemic in terms of physical, mental, and socio-economic well-being of Africans, was the reason it partnered with the media, oil and gas, power sector, financial institutions, and the government  covert ThisDay Dome in Abuja to an isolation centre.

Shonubi said this while taking journalists on a tour of the multipurpose centre built for events which has now been converted to a 300-bed COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre.

He explained that Sahara’s Downstream entity, Asharami Synergy,  in collaboration with other members of the Depot and Petroleum marketers Association in Nigeria (DAPMAN) provided support towards the completion and equipping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Hospital in Abuja.

Located at the ThisDAY Dome in Abuja, Shonubi said  the centre was delivered by a coalition of partners including Sahara Foundation, ThisDay , CCECC, Arise News, The Presidency, Egbin Power, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Federal Capital Territory Authority, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Federal Ministry of Health, African Finance Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria through CACOVID. Wood Factory, the Regents School, the three fashion brands of Ebewele Brown, Traffic Clo and Syari Clothiers, Kenol, Mama Cass, 54 Gene and Central Park.

The Executive Director, Sahara Group, added that the Centre which would  be overseen by the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) under the supervision of NCDC has a capacity of a minimum of 300 beds with additional six, plus two Intensive Care Unit beds, ventilators, dialysis machines, protective equipment and mobile facilities for testing.

Touching on the continent’s effort to flatten the curve of the pandemic, Shonubi noted that an intra-Africa led collaboration and interventions by the private sector can help the continent bolster ongoing efforts geared towards containing the spread of COVID-19 as well as promote sustainable development across the continent.

APTCON alleges plot to sideline transport operators in stimulus plan

The Association of Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON) has raised the alarm over alleged plot to frustrate road transport operators out of the proposed stimulus plan being contemplated by the Federal Government.

Spokesman of the association, Mr. Audu Gaddo, described as evil and conspiratorial a situation where senior government officials appear to be deliberately pursuing the interest of only one arm of the transport sector as the country groans under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing a web conference last Monday, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, had made known government’s intention to throw a lifeline to the airline industry, while having in plans for the road transport sector

“Like you know, a lot of planes are parked and this is causing almost N21 billion loss on monthly basis. We are looking at how to provide some form of bailout support to ensure that the industry doesn’t die,” Agba said.

But  Gaddo said the minister’s utterance showed a poor understanding of the economy and portends great danger for the country.

“We have noted with total displeasure government’s dangerous plans to surreptitiously bail out the aviation sector without any consideration for the road transport sector that contributes more to the GDP and employs a greater number of Nigerians.

“The thought is devious to say the least. Our sector is the one experiencing the worst distress with losses estimated at over N50 billion monthly. Indeed, our members are gearing up for some of the worst job losses Nigeria’s economy will ever know. With APTCON members remaining law-abiding as the nation-wide lockdown lasts, revenue projections have fallen to zero, while some unstructured operators are daily bribing their way through government barricades to sabotage the COVID-19 protocols. It is unacceptable that the government is sidelining road transporters while contemplating pouring more money into a sector that only a few years ago received over N150 billion in government support, and squandered same with most of the airlines now in AMCON’s receivership.”

‘Chida Hotel not harbouring evacuees’

The management of Chida International Hotel Abuja, one of the hotels designated to  accommodate  evacuated Nigerians from abroad in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, has denied being involved the project.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, in a statement had listed Chida International, Bolingo, Apo Apartments, Royalty, Belvior and Barcelona Hotels, as designated accommodations for quarantine purposes.

However, the management of Chida Hotel, said it was not part of the arrangement due to the non-availability of space in its facility.

“It is pertinent to state that at present, Chida International, Abuja is not part of the arrangement to accommodate evacuated Nigerians from abroad, though we were contacted by the ministry but could not proceed with the plan because of non-availability of space. At present, we have in-house guests that we had hoped would have checked out due to the easing of the lockdown, but majority who are longstanding clients have indicated their desire to continue to lodge due to our in-house health protocol, therefore, we could not proceed with the plan to host those returning to the country,” the hotel said.

 

COVID-19: NMA flays Nigeria’s low testing rate [Sun]

  • Says it’s depressing •CLO charges FG, states to intensify campaign in rural areas

With no fewer than 23,835 persons so far tested for coronavirus, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has described the figure and Nigeria’s effort at testing for the virus as depressing.

In a statement titled “Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario,” Francis Faduyile, NMA president, decried the country’s testing capacity, and called for improvement.

Faduyile said the low testing rate was as a result of test kits shortages and difficulty in collecting samples.

As of Sunday morning, Nigeria had tested 23,835 persons — a figure considered very low, compared to Egypt’s 90,000, Ghana’s 155,201 and South Africa’s 324,079.

“This depressing development saddens NMA because it will wipe away efforts made so far by the government, PTF and Nigerians in public reaction against COVID-19 pandemic,” Faduyile said.

He said the association had carried out a review of the country’s response against coronavirus and developed a number of likely solutions to the pandemic.

A total of 4,151 confirmed cases have been recorded in Nigeria, out of which 745 patients have been discharged.

The NMA leader said, despite the announced increased capacity of 50,000 samples per day in 21 laboratories across the country, the problems of poor coordination and planning have contributed largely to the challenge of testing.

“The association places the responsibility on the PTF and NCDC to find the fastest workable solutions to fix this challenge, including incorporating the approved private sector laboratories that already have established specimen pickup and transport modalities,” Faduyile said.

The disease, which has spread to 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory, had claimed 128 lives as of Saturday evening.

Kogi and Cross River are the two states yet to confirm a single case of the disease, but the association asked the Federal Government to investigate the zero-case claims of the states.

“The NMA vehemently decries the stance of the governments of Kogi and Cross River states to NCDC’s advisory. While it would be welcome news for a ‘no-positive-case’ status in any state or FCT, every state must ensure that it is following the testing guidelines issued by NCDC. That way, no cases are missed, as that would seriously imperil the whole national response to controlling COVID-19 pandemic,” NMA said.

Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has charged government agencies and civil society organisations to brace up towards aggressive and conscientious enlightenment and education of citizens on the dangers of contracting COVID-19.

Chairman of CLO in Anambra State, Mr. Vincent Ezekwueme, in a statement at the weekend, said Nigerians, especially those in rural areas, need to be educated properly on the dangers of clustering in groups and observing the directives on coronavirus protocol.

“I decry the low level of awareness, especially to rural dwellers on the need to observe strictly government, experts and World Health Organisation advice to contain spread and escalation of coronavirus pandemic. Let fortunate Nigerians and government provide adequate palliatives stimulus to cushion despicable effects of coronavirus pandemic to the poor in our midst.

“I appeal to Anambra political gladiators to close ranks and think about the next generation, not next election, by embracing zoning arrangement formulated by former governor Peter Obi administration by collectively ceding the governorship position to Anambra South for interest of justice, equity, good conscience and morality. I was to reiterate CLO’s earlier call for Igbo leaders to close ranks and work towards actualisation of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. It is of prime importance to note that the generation yet unborn will never forgive them and civil society organisations if they fail in that regard.

“I commend Anambra State government and Commissioner of Police, John Abang, for proactive and diligent actions they have taken to control the escalation of unnecessary and avoidable communal crises-torn areas in the state. At this period of hunger, anger and health challenges, Anambra State cannot tolerate another communal crisis hence the inevitable and, inexorable need to embrace peace by the waring communities” Ezekwueme said.

Medical specialists demand increase in testing centres

Members of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) have called on government in the sub-region to urgently accelerate and expand COVID-19 testing, including making available isolation facilities for a more accurate understanding of the pandemic.

In a statement by its president, Dr. Yveline Houenou, and secretary-general, Dr. Albert Akpalu, the doctors said the expansion became necessary to provide reliable evidence for the prioritisation of next actions against the outbreak.

They also counselled that the relaxation of the lockdown measures should be undertaken with extreme caution, and be informed by contact tracing capacity, as rapid community transmission is anticipated.

They backed governments’ order on compulsory use of face masks, the maintenance of physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene practices, saying these measures remain the best bet to slow the spread of the virus, especially community transmission.

But WACP advised that social distancing needed to be accompanied by comprehensive social support measures to ensure that people could comply without adverse effects on their livelihoods

“Therefore, there is need for community engagement and social mobilisation using a network of community health workers, local health centres, community leaders and structures for infection prevention and control as well as risk communication.

“There is a need to plan now how to ensure that the drugs and vaccines that are being developed are accessible to all in our region. Other concerns are the availability of diagnostic centres and reagents for testing for the confirmation of suspected cases, the protection of healthcare workers and development of a common framework for the guidance of further response to the pandemic in the sub region.

“We must build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic, and resulting good will, to strengthen the public health capacity and infrastructure in Western African countries. We need to secure the establishment, at strategic locations, of critical care centres for the clinical care of severely ill persons with HIDs, including COVID-19, and Ebola and Lassa fevers.

“There is need to build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic for development of surveillance and research infrastructure and capacity, which are in dire need for effective public health response to outbreaks in the sub-region. Just as was done during the outbreak of Ebola, the WACP has directed country chapters to form task forces/groups for the purpose of actively interfacing with national and sub-national governments to make their services available,” the WACP said.

WACP is an association of medical specialists in the disciplines of community health, family medicine, internal medicine, laboratory medicine made up of its major specialties of anatomical pathology, chemical pathology, haematology and medical microbiology, paediatrics and psychiatry. The college commended the national governments in the sub-region for the steps that they have taken so far in each country to mitigate the pandemic.

FMC confirms death of policeman as 2 staff, other test positive

The Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Ogun State, has confirmed the death of a policeman who tested positive for coronavirus in the facility.

This was contained in a statement issued by the head of public relations and information, Segun Orisajo, in Abeokuta, yesterday.

Orisajo, however, dispelled the report that a medical doctor in the facility had contracted the deadly virus.

“The centre hereby confirms the case of three other patients, whose test results just returned positive.

“Two of them are members of staff of this centre, that is, a nurse and an administrative staff, which brings the total number to five.

“So far, no doctor in the centre has tested positive for coronavirus, contrary to some media reports.

“The deceased, a policeman, presented himself to the general outpatients department of the hospital about three days ago and later died same day.

“The result of his test returned this morning (Sunday) positive.

“His body is being prepared for release to his family for burial in strict compliance with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines,” he said.

Orisajo added that all the members of staff who came in contact with the deceased were currently in self-isolation.

47 health workers infected in Kano

At least 47 medical workers have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in Kano State, Dr. Tijjani Husaain, coordinator, Kano State Task Force on COVID-19, confirmed at a news conference yesterday.

Hussain said the health workers were confirmed to had caught the virus in the past weeks, noting that no new case of the virus infection were recorded among health personnel in the past few days.

He said the feat was achieved sequel to the state’s government’s prompt actions to protect health workers and guard against a recurrence. Hussain noted that Kano State had recorded 576 confirmed cases of the disease, with 29 new cases and 32 discharged.

“Out of the total number of confirmed cases in Kano State, we recorded 21 deaths. On Saturday, we also recorded 84 new suspected cases of the COVID-19, bringing the total number of the suspected cases to 1,820 in the state,” he said.

He disclosed that the task force, on Saturday, received 47 emergency calls, which were investigated, adding that they have so far received 1,313 calls.

“Between Saturday and Sunday, 29 of the 84 samples collected were confirmed positive to the virus. So far, we have collected 2,072 samples in the state.”

Hussain added that, as part of the state government’s efforts to stem the pandemic, over 1,000 frontline health workers were undergoing special training in the state.

He urged the people to adhere to the safety protocols, social distancing, use of face mask and the lockdown order.

 

COVID 19: Patients on rampage in Abuja isolation centre [Sun]

  • Europe reopens amidst fears of virus’ second wave

Some patients at the Treatment Centre in Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, yesterday, went on a rampage, asking that they be discharged despite the fact that they were yet to satisfy the necessary medical requirements.

This is even as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) announced the discharge of 39 persons from its treatment centres, having repeatedly tested negative to the disease after days of treatment. It recorded seven new cases and three deaths on Saturday, bringing FCT’s total number of confirmed cases to 343.

A source told newsmen that the protesting patients usually become carefree after the results of their first round of tests turn out negative, only for their confirmatory tests to turn out positive again.

The source said: “There is tension in our facility here this (Sunday) morning. Some boys from…were protesting that they wanted to leave. Some of them said they have stayed too long here, that is over two weeks, and that they are now well.

“Their anger was triggered because some other persons tested negative twice and have been discharged. The problem is that some of them live recklessly here and they get reinfected and test positive again after testing negative in their first confirmation test, while some of them have never tested negative even after more than two tests. Now, doctors cannot come and attend to us because of what these guys are putting up here. Even food, we have not gotten so we can’t take our drugs.

“The health workers and staff are really trying, but some of the boys are unruly. Even if they have a valid point they are going about it the wrong way because these health workers are taking good care of them and working hard to decongest this place.

“The only fault I see here is, when they conduct tests, they don’t communicate the results to us. The only thing you would see is that they just come and add to your medicines. The officials also need to change tactics and strategies, like revealing the results to us promptly and communicating to us very well because of the illiterate guys among us.”

Millions of Europeans were preparing for a return to partial normality yesterday, a day before officials relaxed some of world’s harshest coronavirus lockdown measures.

But the risk of a deadly second wave was underscored by the resurgence of the virus in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, where all bars and clubs were shut after dozens of confirmed cases emerged.

China, yesterday, reported the first infection in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first started last year.

With millions out of work, and economies flatlining, including in the United States, where 20 million lost their jobs in April, governments are desperate to reopen, but most are choosing a gradual approach.

European officials have been emboldened by declining death rates, France’s toll of 80 yesterday was its lowest since early April and Spain’s daily fatalities have dropped below 200. Belgium, Germany and Greece are among other European nations set to ease their lockdowns today.

The Middle East’s most-affected country, Iran, has also relaxed its lockdown measures and bazzars and shopping centres in the capital Tehrab were bustling again after being nearly deserted for weeks, much to the annoyance of some.

 

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