LG retires appeal to Ondo govt

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LG retires appeal to Ondo govt

Akeredolu, labour, reelection

I want to appeal to the government of Ondo State to please look into our situation and  pay  our   remaining  50 per cent  pension  allowance  for  retired  local  government  staff  and  primary  school  teachers  for  the  month  of November 2018; it has been left unpaid since then. This category of workers is the  most  neglected […]

LG retires appeal to Ondo govt
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Security expert, traditional ruler become community police patron in Oyo

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Security expert, traditional ruler become community police patron in Oyo

As part of efforts to strengthen police-community relationship in Oyo State, some citizens who have contributed to the security efforts in the community have been made patrons of the Police Community Relations Committee, Oyo State police Command, to further give them a chance to contribute their quota towards ridding the society of crime. Those given […]

Security expert, traditional ruler become community police patron in Oyo
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Educationist calls for holistic implementation of sustainable development strategies

Educationist calls for holistic implementation of sustainable development strategies

Former Vice Chancellor, Tai Solarin University of Education, Kayode Oyesiku said Nigeria’s march into the future was hinged on a holistic implementation of sustainable development strategies.

Delivering a paper, entitled, Sustainable Development and Nigeria’s March to the Future, at the 2nd Babcock University Public Affairs Forum, the Professor of Development Studies said one of the strategies is the wholesome implementation of agricultural policies that would aid mechanised agriculture.

Oyesiku also said government needs to build infrastructures, rehabilitate health institutions and revive vocational and technical education to aid sustainable development in the country.

He said, though the sustainable development goals’ implementation was still sketchy, there was need to entrench some of these goals that would guide Nigeria’s development into the psyche of people.

“If we then understand those goals and what they stand for, we would then also support the policy makers, the government, the people in the state assemblies and so on, to ensure that they ingrate these ideas into various policies,” he noted.

Oyesiku, who said there was a positive attitude of Nigerians towards ensuring that the achievement of the SDGs, noted that President Muhammed Buhari stated at the last UN general meeting that not only had Nigeria endorsed the sustainable development goals but that government had also started its implementation.

Oyesiku noted that, though the economic growth recovery programme that started four years wasn’t much of a success, he was hopeful that much would be achieved now that government has brought up the sustainable development goals as the rolling development strategy for the country.

“They have started doing that and they have brought some egg heads together to give them a road map in achieving this. Let us give them about two years and see how it goes. I am an unrepentant optimist who believes that it would work out fine” he said.

He also disclosed that Nigeria would be among countries that would meet in New York for about two weeks in July this year to bring up the review of the achievement so far, of the SDGs and identify the challenges that they have so that they can get best practices across the world in respect of how to resolve some thorny issues

Oyesiku said the federal government would be presenting some areas of concerns before the UN Review committee for discussion.

 

 

The strange war with WHO’s battle against COVID-19

The strange war with WHO’s battle against COVID-19

Currently, the greatest virus outbreak concern is to avoid any possible emergence of secondary virus clusters.

Recently, this critical task has been complicated by misguided media coverage and attacks against WHO, China and people of Chinese descent rather than the virus.

Infodemic versus epidemic

Last Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged global leaders to stop stigma and hate amid the virus outbreak. His comments in Munich followed reports that people of Asian descent have faced discrimination amid virus fears. “We will all learn lessons from this outbreak,” he added, “but now is not the time for reclamations or politicization.”

At the end of January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing virus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). As WHO made clear, the PHEIC was not motivated by China, but the possible effects of the virus, if it would spread to countries with weaker healthcare systems.

At WHO, the concern was compounded when terms, such as “virus outbreak,” “epidemic” and “pandemic,” got blurred even in reputable international media. Tabloid hysteria contributed to ugly instances of xenophobia, even racism against people of Chinese and Asian descent, while leading to bullying in schools, colleges, even universities.

The misinformation on global scale compelled the WHO to declare the COVID-19 an “infodemic” on February 2. Since international media seemed to be shunning its responsibility to correct myths and rumours, WHO had to allocate some of its scarce resources to do the job.

Stunningly, it took until mid-February for some of the world’s largest technology companies – including Google, Amazon, and YouTube – to get together, when WHO hosted a Silicon Valley meeting to discuss how to tamp down on misinformation about the virus.

In the concurrent weeks, the struggle against COVID-19 has gone hand in hand with a battle against the WHO and its executives.

WHO and its chief were targeted              

Since late January, almost 380,000 people have signed an online petition to the UN for the WHO chief to resign because he allegedly “solely believes” Chinese outbreak data. In contrast to allegations, WHO chief Tedros has initiated a review process to study the causes of the virus, while stressing adherence to WHO guidelines regarding pandemics.

The smear campaign is an ugly déjà vu. In 2017, Tedros, a high-level Ethiopian health executive, succeeded Margaret Chan as the chief WHO. While he was considered highly qualified for the job and an innovative reformer in Ethiopia, his candidacy was attacked at the last eve of the WHO election, when odd stories surfaced about an alleged cover-up of cholera epidemics in Ethiopia. Reportedly, the allegations came from Lawrence Gostin, a US law professor who advised the rival UK candidate (and has recently resurfaced as a critic of China’s virus struggle).

In the UN, the African Union dismissed the allegations as an “unfounded and unverified defamation campaign.” Yet, once again, the old smear campaign stories have been recycled in media.

When attacks against Tedros went nowhere, international spotlight focused on WHO Infections Hazards Director Sylvia Briand when she stated in early February that “we are not in a pandemic.” Then she became a target for criticism.

To avoid political intrigues, WHO’s pandemic declaration requires strong evidence and relies on a tested six-stage classification.

The last pandemic was the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak (swine flu), which is estimated to have killed around 150,000 to 300,000 people around the world. In contrast, COVID019 has so far resulted in 4 deaths outside China, despite weeks of diffusion.

Slow to provide reports

In the early 2000s, China’s efforts to control SARS were criticized as the disease spread internationally before the global outbreak was subdued. A decade later, Chinese response to the Avian influenza (H7N9) was significantly faster, broadly praised and the disease did not spread widely. With COVID-19, as Tedros has stated, China should be credited with identifying the virus in “record time,” sharing its genetic sequence quickly, and flagging potential international spread.

Yet, there is a strange discrepancy in the international coverage of the COVID-19. This coverage has systematically focused on China’s alleged conduct, while ignoring the actual conduct of many other influential WHO member states.

This discrepancy prevails even today, despite the news bomb of February 4, when WHO chief Tedros said that it was not China, but countries outside China that had proved slow in sharing complete information about cases.

WHO was particularly concerned about the fact that, even after almost a month of international crisis and global alert, it had received complete case reports for only 38 percentage of the cases.

In other words, a whopping three of five member countries had failed to provide adequate information to WHO in a timely manner. Those reports were vital to the global organisation so that it could assess the true international scope of the outbreak, while broadening and deepening containment efforts.

“I don’t think it’s because they lack capacity,” Tedros stated pointedly about these WHO members. It would be ideal, he added, if WHO would receive the most up-to-date information, not just from China but the rest of the world.

It was only after Tedros’s public statement that some member states began to share data with WHO. Meanwhile, precious time had been lost.

In the past few weeks, countries outside China did not send adequate case reports to WHO in time, while media suffered an infodemic. Instead of battling COVID-19, WHO and its chief were targeted.

Politicisation of the outbreak

Even though these lost opportunities could result in potential secondary COVID-19 outbreaks outside China, international media has not yet asked the tough questions about the belated international cooperation outside China.

Instead of focusing on the need for international cooperation, international coverage has produced a series of headlines against the WHO. On February 5, a day after Tedros had urged countries to provide complete case reports, Financial Times reported that the influential WHO emergency committee member and veteran professor John Mackenzie “hit out at Beijing’s ‘reprehensible’ response,” and “accused China of not reporting coronavirus cases fast enough.”

The charge was not publicly supported by other committee members, nor by WHO executives. Moreover, the FT neglected to mention that the highly qualified Mackenzie also serves in Australian government’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, which plays a role in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific initiative aiming to contain China’s rise, and is the co-chair of a major NGO, whose key partners include Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which compete “against Chinese influence.”

The tone of international coverage, even in the reputable media, still hasn’t changed. On February 13, Wall Street Journal released a new front-page story, “WHO Criticized for Virus Response,” that broadened the WHO criticism. It relied in part on critical quotes by both Mackenzie and Lawrence Gostin, the China critic who had tried to undermine Tedros’s candidacy at WHO. Free media has a right to critical views, but not to the lack of relevant context. Like other interviewees, both were portrayed as independent, disinterested, neutral observers. Furthermore, all interviewees represented experts from the U.S. or its allies. Not a single major Chinese health expert was interviewed.

Recently, the pattern has been typical to even reputable international dailies. Such purposeful selectivity fosters an impression that legitimate expertise is limited mainly to the critics of WHO.

Throughout the ongoing virus outbreak, Dr Tedros has admirably sought to foster an international battle against COVID-19, while garnering funds against future epidemics. “The virus is a common enemy,” he says. “Let’s not play politics here.”

As the COVID-19 cases could exceed 100,000 in a week or two and global resources should be focused on avoiding secondary outbreak clusters outside China, it is the virus that international cooperation and coverage should attack – not the WHO.

Dan Steinbock    

Dr. Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see https://www.differencegroup.net

This is a short version of a commentary that was published by The World Financial Review and The Manila Times on February 17, 2020.

 

Tearful Michael Jordan Commemorates Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

 

A tearful Michael Jordan on Monday commemorated his “little brother” Kobe Bryant at a star-filled memorial in Los Angeles for the basketball great and his daughter Gianna who died with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look in this arena, across the globe, a piece of you died,” the NBA legend said, tears streaming down his face.

“I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories and knowing that I had a little brother,” Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest player in history, added.

“I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace little brother.”

The public memorial — dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” — was being held at Staples Center, the arena where Bryant wowed fans for 17 years, known as “the house that Kobe built.”

The 2/24 date carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant’s jersey number — “24” — and Gianna’s “2” jersey number.

Another basketball great, Shaquille O’Neal, who won three NBA titles with Bryant, also spoke at the ceremony while several music stars, including Beyonce and Alicia Keys, performed.

“I’m here because I love Kobe,” said the 70-time Grammy-nominated Beyonce as she launched into one of Bryant’s favourite songs “XO,” dressed in a golden suit — the colour of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s team for two decades.

 ‘He was my everything’ 

Bryant’s widow Vanessa paid a tearful tribute to her late husband and daughter, saying she could not fathom life without them.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” Bryant said in her first public remarks since the January 26 crash. “He had to bring them home together.”

She spoke of her heartbreak at not being able to watch Gianna, who was 13, grow up and missing important moments of her life.

“I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day,” she said through tears, receiving a standing ovation for the tribute.

“I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy.”

A visibly shaken Jimmy Kimmel — the comedian officiated at the ceremony — said he saw Kobe and Gianna’s faces and jersey numbers everywhere in Los Angeles and beyond.

“All we can do is to be grateful for the time we had with them,” the late night talk show host said.

Among other celebrities attending the memorial were filmmaker Spike Lee — who was close friends with Bryant and directed a documentary on his life — and rapper Snoop Dogg, an avid Lakers fan.

Many of the fans lucky enough to nab one of the much sought-after 20,000 tickets for the memorial wore the gold and purple colours of the Lakers as they headed for the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony being held amid tight security.

“Kobe meant everything for this city, for this team and for me,” said Karen Sanchez, 41, as she waited with friends to enter the arena. “I watched him play from the beginning.”

Marcos Rojas, 23, another ticketholder, said Bryant’s January 26 death near Los Angeles had been devastating to fans like him who worshipped the player.

“For me, it was like losing a friend,” said Rojas who wore a Lakers jersey with Kobe’s number.

“I always watched him playing with my friends,” he told AFP. “I always picked Kobe to play in my video games. I couldn’t leave home the day of his passing.”

Those attending the memorial were given a 24-page program with pictures of Bryant and his family as well as a pin and a black T-shirt featuring images of Kobe and his daughter on the back.

AFP

N30.2b Fraud: EFCC Re-arraigns Jang, Yusuf On Amended Charges

Jang Replies EFCC, Denies Ownership Of Kaduna Property
(File) Former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, February 24, 2020, re-arraigned the former Plateau State governor, Senator, Jonah David Jang, and a former cashier in the Office Secretary to the State Government (OSSG), Yusuf Pam, before Justice C. L. Dabup of Plateau State High Court, Jos, on amended 17-count charge.

This is according to a statement by Tony Orilade, a spokesperson to the EFCC.

The duo of Jang and Pam are being prosecuted by the EFCC for alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of Plateau State funds to the tune of N30,236,024,219.88 (Thirty Billion, Two Hundred and Thirty-six Million, Twenty-four Thousand, Two Hundred and Nineteen Naira, Eighty-eight kobo).

Before today’s resumption of trial, the matter had been before Justice Longji, who before proceeding on retirement on December 31, 2019, had struck out the no-case submission of the defendants, particularly on the funds for Small and Medium Enterprises, given to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, and that of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), which were allegedly diverted by the defendants.

READ ALSO: Kano State Government Vows To Continue N3.4bn Probe Involving Emir Sanusi

One of the charges reads: “That you Senator Jonah David Jang, whilst being the governor of Plateau State and Yusuf Gyang Pam, whilst being a cashier at the Office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, between January and May, 2015 in Jos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, dishonestly misappropriated certain property, to wit an aggregate sum of N4, 357, 195, 000 (Four Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty-seven Million, One Hundred and Ninety-five Thousand Naira), belonging to Plateau State Government and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 309 of the Penal Code Law of Northern Nigeria, applicable to Plateau State”.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and following their plea, prosecution counsel, O. A. Atolabi, requested for a trial date.

However, the defence counsels for both defendants E.G Phajok, (SAN), and S.G Ode, applied for oral bail application and asked the court to toe the line of the bail earlier granted to the defendants by Justice Longji.

Justice Dabup granted the defendants bail on the previous terms they enjoyed from Justice Longji, and asked the remaining three sureties to file their affidavits to show that they are still willing to continue to be their sureties.

The process, the judge said must be done within three days. He adjourned the matter till May 26, 27, and 28, 2020, for trial.

Wike Expresses Hope That FG Will Refund Monies Used To Execute Federal Projects

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has stated that he is hopeful that the Federal Government will refund State resources used to execute Federal Projects in the state.

Governor Wike said that his optimism stems from the fact that the Federal Executive Council has sent a verification team to the state in respect of Federal Projects .

He spoke on Monday during a Courtesy Visit by the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at the Government House Port Harcourt.

He said: “I thank the Federal Government for at least coming to verify our claims. We submitted our claims, while some other states have been paid. But we are hopeful.

“We have been submitting several documents on the issue of projects that were executed by the Rivers State Government for the Federal Government. We believe that by this verification visit, we will get paid.”

READ ALSO: FG To Refund Monies Spent On Federal Projects By Rivers Government

He said most of the Federal Projects in question were executed by Dr Peter Odili and the immediate past administration in the state.

He said if the state gets the said funds, they will be channeled towards other developmental projects in the State.

Governor Wike said that the country must move together in unity because certain issues transcend politics.

Earlier, Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba informed that the team was in the State in respect of the Federal Projects verification exercise approved by the Federal Executive Council.

He said that the team would assess and verify projects that the Rivers State Government completed on behalf of the Federal Government and report back to the Federal Executive Council.

He noted that the Federal Executive Council raised the committee following official demands by the Rivers State Government on Federal Projects executed by the state.

The Minister said that the verification team would work with the Rivers State Government to verify the claims.

PEBEC, ICPC Collaborate To Prosecute Corrupt Public Officials

 

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has partnered with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate and prosecute public officials and civil servants accused of corrupt practices.

This was disclosed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who presided over the meeting of PEBEC at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Prof Osinbajo said the direct connection between the agencies will help in achieving the Federal Government’s reform agenda, especially regarding all government MDAs regulating business environment responsibilities.

“There is a lot of talk about high-level corruption and some public officials stealing money, etc; but I think for average Nigerians, the point of contact is really this sort of approvals for ID cards, for passports, customs, officials, police, and so on.”

READ ALSO: Court Fixes March 27 For Judgement In $54,000 Forfeiture Case

 

 

He stressed that complaints from Nigerians regarding activities and practices in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) bordering on suspected corruption and deliberate stalling of reform efforts submitted on the REPORTGOV.NG portal of PEBEC will be investigated by the ICPC.

“I think that if this collaboration is robust enough, we will be able to kill two birds with one stone; first is improving our Ease of Doing Business, second is our anti-corruption ranking internationally because some of the rankings is a perception index. So, people are simply asked, what is your perception about corruption in Nigeria?

“So, if we work on these issues, we can really do a lot in terms of improving the image of the country, not just in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, but also in terms of the perception of corruption”.

The meeting had in attendance, top government officials including the Ministers of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; the Ag. Head of Service, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan.

Others include Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd); Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede; and other senior government officials.

JUST IN: EFCC quizzes Kano minority leader over N1.5bn misappropriation

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JUST IN: EFCC quizzes Kano minority leader over N1.5bn misappropriation

EFCC

The Kano Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has quizzed on Monday, the current Minority Leader and former speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Isiyaku Ali Danja for alleged abuse of office and misappropriation of funds meant for constituency projects, which were over N197.5 billion. The investigation is still ongoing […]

JUST IN: EFCC quizzes Kano minority leader over N1.5bn misappropriation
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EFCC asks court to relist Babangida Aliyu, others for money laundering trial

EFCC asks court to relist Babangida Aliyu, others for money laundering trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on  Monday, February 24, 2020, sought the order of Justice Abdullahi Mikhail of Niger State High Court, to relist the former governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu and two others  for trial for money laundering and breach of trust.

According to a statement issued on Monday by the Acting Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, Aliyu had faced prosecution by the EFCC, along with his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko, and the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Niger State Chapter, Barrister Tanko Beji, on amended seven-count charges, bordering on criminal breach of trust, but the case was however, struck out in favour of the defendants.

The EFCC through its prosecution counsel, G.K Latona, filed an application, dated February 11, 2020,  praying the court to grant an order, “relisting Suit No: NSHC/EFCC/2C/2017, Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu & two others, whose charges were struck out on  February 10, 2020.

Also in an affidavit, dated February 11, 2020, the Commission stated that the suit No. NSHC/EFCC/2C/2017 was filed by the Commission before the court in 2017 and handled respectively by Justice Aliyu Mayaki, now the Chief Judge and Justice Mohammed Mohammed, before assigning it to Mikhail.

According to paragraph five of the affidavit, the case was also prosecuted by a counsel from the Commission and handed over in 2018 at the request of the nominal complainant (Niger State Government) to the consortium of law firms of Chief J.S Okutepa, SAN, and Chief Olumuyiwa Akinboro, SAN, for continuation of prosecution.

The affidavit also stated that the consortium of firms represented by one Boniface Bassey appeared before the court and withdrew their representation in the case, the statement said.

The affidavit stated that a hearing notice by the court was served to the Commission on February 10, 2020, but that on February 8, 2020, the Commission was informed about an industrial strike action embarked upon by Niger State public workers and consequently, the court could not sit on February 10, 2020, as earlier envisaged.

Paragraph nine of the affidavit states that: “At about 1100 hours on February 10, 2020, the Commission became aware that the industrial action had been called off by which time it was late for the prosecution counsel to proceed to Minna for court session.

The EFCC further stated in another paragraph of the affidavit that the “complainant are desirous of prosecuting this matter diligently and that the accused persons would not be prejudiced by the granting of this application,” and prayed the court to grant the application.

Counsel to the first and second defendants, Musa Suleiman and Ibrahim Isyaku, SAN, however, objected the application.

Counsel to the second defendant, Ibrahim Isyaku, in his objection told the court that he was yet to file a counter-affidavit, because he has no reason to do so, since there was nothing to contradict.

Justice Abdullahi Mikhail adjourned the matter till March 16, 2020, for continuation of hearing, the statement added.

 

 Innocent Odoh, Abuja