Why some anti-corruption campaigns make people more likely to pay a bribe

Commuters waiting at a bus stop in Lagos Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nic Cheeseman, University of Birmingham and Caryn Peiffer, University of Bristol

Donors and civil society groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year trying to combat corruption. They do it because corruption has been shown to increase poverty and inequality while undermining trust in the government. Reducing corruption is essential to improve public services and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.

But what if anti-corruption efforts actually make the situation worse?

Our research in Lagos, Nigeria, found that anti-corruption messages often have an unintended effect. Instead of building public resolve to reject corrupt acts, the messages we tested either had no effect or actually made people more likely to offer a bribe.

The reason may be that the messages reinforce popular perceptions that corruption is pervasive and insurmountable. In doing so, they encourage apathy and acceptance rather than inspire activism.

Fighting corruption

Efforts to combat corruption in “developing countries” initially focused on law enforcement by political leaders and bureaucrats. But these strategies met with limited success and so efforts switched to raising public awareness of the dangers of corruption.

This change of approach made sense. One reason that leaders don’t deliver on reforms is that they benefit from the way things are. Encouraging citizens to reject corrupt leaders would give those in power an incentive to act.

The last 20 years therefore saw a vast array of campaigns, from newspaper and radio advertisements to Twitter messages. Short films, theatre productions and signs that proclaim that government institutions are “corruption free zones” were also included.

These messages are seen by large numbers of people, but until recently there had been remarkably little systematic research on whether they actually work.

Researching corruption

To test the impact of anti-corruption messages we developed five short narratives like those promoted by civil society organisations and international donors. One message focused on explaining that corruption is widespread and damaging. Others emphasised the local impact of graft and the way it wasted citizens’ taxes.

To test the effect of more positive messages, one narrative talked about recent successes that political leaders had in curbing corruption. Another detailed the role that religious leaders played in promoting clean government.

We read the messages to 2,400 randomly selected people in Lagos. While corruption has often been identified as a major challenge in Nigeria, the Lagos State government has made some progress towards reducing government waste, ensuring all citizens pay taxes and delivering better services. It was therefore plausible that both positive and negative messages about corruption would resonate with Lagosians. The state is also ethnically diverse, with considerable poverty and inequality, and so reflects the kind of context in which anti-corruption messaging is often deployed.

Each person we interviewed was given one of the narratives. A control group was not given any anti-corruption information. This was to enable us to compare the impact of different messages. We then asked everyone a number of questions about their attitudes towards corruption.

In an advance on previous studies, we also invited 1,200 people to play a game in which they had an opportunity to win real money. In the game, players could take away more money if they were willing to pay a small bribe to the “banker” who determined the pay-outs. The game tested players’ commitment to rejecting corruption in a more demanding way than simply asking them if they believed corruption was wrong.

We were then able to evaluate whether anti-corruption messages were effective by looking at whether those who received them were more likely to demand clean government and less willing to pay a bribe.

More harm than good

In line with prior research, our findings suggest that anti-corruption campaigns may be doing more harm than good. None of the narratives we used had a positive effect overall. Many of them actually made Lagosians more likely to pay a bribe.

Put another way, the good news is that public relations campaigns can change citizens’ minds. But the bad news is that they often do so in unintended and counterproductive ways.

The reason for this seems to be that anti-corruption messages encourage citizens to think more about corruption, emphasising the extent of the problem. This contributes to “corruption fatigue”: the belief that the problem is simply too big for any one person to make a difference generates despondency. It makes individuals more likely to go with the flow than to stand against it.

This interpretation is supported by another finding that the negative effect of anti-corruption messaging was far more powerful among individuals who believed that corruption was pervasive. This reveals that the problematic consequences of anti-corruption messages are not universal. Among less pessimistic people, messages did not have a negative effect. And one message had the desired effect of reducing the probability of paying a bribe. This was the narrative that emphasised the relationship between corruption and citizens’ tax payments.

Our study therefore suggests that if we can target anti-corruption messages more effectively at specific audiences, we may be able to enhance their positive effects while minimising the risks.

What next?

Other studies have come to similar conclusions in Indonesia, Costa Rica and to some extent Papua New Guinea.

We therefore need to take the lessons of these studies seriously. Anti-corruption campaigns that send untargeted messages should be halted until we work out how to target them more effectively. The most logical response is to embrace new ways of working.

This might mean identifying messages that persuade citizens that corruption is fallingand so “nudge” them to believe it is a problem that can be overcome.

Where that’s not possible, it is also worth considering a more radical break with the past. As others working within the Anti-Corruption Evidence Consortium have argued, the most promising approach may be to abandon traditional anti-corruption messaging in favour of working more indirectly. This would involve building public demand for greater political accountability and transparency without always talking directly about corruption.

Such an approach would be less high profile, but is far more likely to be effective.

Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham and Caryn Peiffer, Lecturer in International Public Policy and Governance, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

European football leagues’ popularity and increased internet access make football betting attractive among young people in Nigeria. Catherine Ivill/AFP via Getty Images

A ban on football betting Nigeria is not the answer to the problems it creates

European football leagues’ popularity and increased internet access make football betting attractive among young people in Nigeria. Catherine Ivill/AFP via Getty Images

By Saheed Babajide Owonikoko, Modibbo Adama University of Technology

In Nigeria, football betting has a long history that can be traced to colonial times, when pool betting was popular, especially among older adults. Since then, more younger people have taken up betting on the results of football matches, including European league football.

The country has many betting outlets where people can place a bet manually. They can also open an account online with a betting company, using a debit card, and place bets on the website or app.

A report revealed that about 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 are involved in active sport betting. They spend almost ₦2 billion on sports betting daily. This translates to about ₦730 billion annually. In an economy where the 2020 national budget is almost ₦11 trillion, this is huge.

Two factors are responsible for increasing football betting among youth in Nigeria. One is the increase in poverty and unemployment. Among Nigeria’s estimated population of around 200 million, around 87 million are said to be extremely poor. The youth unemployment rate in 2018 was put at 36.5%.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 29.7% of youths between the ages of 15 and 34 were unemployed at the third quarter of 2018. Betting may appear to be a way to make quick money, either as a betting operator or as a gambler.

The second factor driving and enabling football betting in Nigeria is the growing use of the internet and smart mobile phones. In 2017, 84% of Nigerians had mobile phones. The number of internet users in Nigeria is 122 million based on figures from the Nigerian Communication Commission. This is more than half of Nigeria’s estimated population. The increase in internet users in Nigeria can be attributed to affordability of internet access; with less than ₦100 (less than US$1), internet connectivity is assured. It is easy and convenient for people to place bets online using their phones.

I was interested in the potential consequences of this situation for Nigerian society and particularly for young people. I wanted to know whether the ease of online betting for economically hard-pressed young Nigerians was creating any social problems such as conflict, crime and addictive behaviour.

For my study, I collected data from in-depth interviews with fans of European football clubs, betters, parents and guardians of fans and betters, security personnel, owners and operators of betting outlets as well as football viewing centres in Lagos, Ibadan, Oyo State, south west Nigeria and Yola, Adamawa State, north east Nigeria. In addition, I observed betting activities and collected data from recent online news reports and other published works.

From the various interviews conducted and my observation, I found there was a link between football betting by young Nigerians and a perceived increase in violence and criminal activities. But in my view the answer is not to ban such betting but to address the unemployment and poverty which propel people into it.

Behaviour around betting

My interviews and observations in the field show that there is a concern about teenagers stealing to fund their football betting. I was in a security meeting in Adamawa State where parents complained to the police that they had noticed unprecedented theft of their money by their teenage children/wards to fund football betting. A parent interviewed in Adamawa State explained that:

I noticed that money was getting lost in our house on daily basis. At first I thought it was mere misplacement. Later I started to hear from my neighbours also complaining of loss of money within their homes. We later got to know that our sons were the ones stealing the money to play football betting because we always see them with receipts of bet and we know that they do not have business from where they can get money for betting.

Interactions with these teenage betters show that they spend between ₦1,000 (about $2) and ₦3,000 (about $7) on betting daily. But the jackpot rarely comes. At football viewing centres, customers are routinely warned about fighting. One operator of a viewing centre in Yola told me:

In recent times, we have witnessed outbreaks of violence among our viewers. Some of these fights are over unresolved longstanding issues. Sometimes, it is as a result of anger sustained from major loss in football betting.

Football betting may also sometimes promote ritualism, especially the use of “good luck charms”. I spoke to one gambler who said:

You cannot just go and put a huge amount of money into betting without any form of spiritual enhancement that will guarantee and insure you. If you do that without spiritual enhancement, you will just continually give your
money to bet companies with their managers and staff to feed fat on while you continue to stay broke. Even bet company operators use spiritual power to ensure that their clients do not win…

There have been calls from moralists, especially in religious circles, for the government to criminalise betting, especially football betting. I witnessed two such discussions during an Islamic preaching in Yola, Adamawa State. In fact, one state has been urged to take the first step. I believe this is unlikely to be effective. It would only push betting into the background and make it more difficult for the government to regulate and control it. Government should instead pay more attention to widespread poverty and unemployment.

Saheed Babajide Owonikoko, Researcher, Centre for Peace and Security Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Nigeria declared polio free

The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Nigeria and Cameroon to be free of polio, a crippling disease that usually affects children under five.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are now the only countries with cases of the wild polio virus.

The UN health agency is expected to formally present Nigeria with a certificate and also declare Africa free of the wild polio virus,.

Nigeria’s head of primary health care agency Dr Faisal Shuaib described the achievement as a “proud moment for us and indeed all Nigerians”.

Cameroon’s Health Minister Malachie Manaouda had on Wednesday announced that the country had been certified free of polio.

Health experts in the country welcomed the development but urged caution.

For a country to be declared polio free it must ensure high immunisation coverage and prove there have been no transmissions for at least three consecutive years.

It should also maintain a surveillance and outbreak preparedness system.

Daily death toll rises as Nigeri’s COVID-19 cases surpass 17,000

Ebola tore through the tattered health care systems of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea from 2014 and 2016, killing more than 11,000 people CREDIT: Getty

The daily fatality toll in Nigeria increased on Tuesday as 31 persons were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 complications.

A total of 455 COVID-19 deaths have now been recorded in the country.

According to the update by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for June 16, 2020, the 31 deaths included 25 fatalities which occurred in Lagos between Friday and Monday, but were announced on Tuesday.

In the data released at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, the agency also confirmed 490 new COVID-19 cases in 15 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

While Lagos had 142 new cases and FCT recorded 60 cases, Bayelsa confirmed its highest daily toll with 54 cases, increasing the state’s figures from 32 to 86.

Bayelsa has now moved 11 spots upwards from being the fourth state with the least number of cases; it is now the 22nd state with the most COVID-19 cases in the country.

However, a record total of 274 persons were discharged on Tuesday, increasing the number of recoveries from 5,349 to 5,623.

A total of 17,148 cases have now been confirmed in 35 states and the FCT.

Coronavirus makes Boko Haram more dangerous than ever

Abubakar Shekau
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau. Photo: The Cable

Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest jihadist groups, has long threatened the security of the vast swathes of West and Central Africa. But now the coronavirus pandemic is adding a new dimension of danger. 

Boko Haram – whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden’ – reached the height of its power five years ago, soon after it kidnapped 276 of mainly Christian schoolgirls from their school in the town of Chibok, northeastern Nigeria in 2014.

In 2015, the jihadists controlled an area of Nigeria equivalent to the size of Belgium. The fighters sought to turn themselves from insurgents to rulers and impose their ruthless interpretation of Islam over a so-called ‘caliphate’. 

Since then, national governments helped by their Western partners have beaten the group back, shrunk its territory and forced it into a gruesome guerrilla war.

Just before the pandemic struck, many political actors around the Lake Chad Basin in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad were discussing how to consolidate these gains and ultimately, defeat Boko Haram. 

But now, local governments are scrambling to shore up their healthcare systems and redeploying precious resources away from fighting the jihadists. At the same time, Western nations are turning in on themselves, fretting about post-virus austerity and retrenchment.

The fight against Boko Haram has cost thousands of lives and displaced millions. But now there is a real risk that the group could make up lost ground and make the coronavirus pandemic worse. 

Escape from Boko Haram | ‘If you gave me a gun, I would finish them all’

The terror group horrified the world when it kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. But what happened to those who survived? In Maiduguri, photographer Simon Townsley meets those who escaped. Words by Will BrownRead more

I was born in Borno State and grew up in Yobe State, the group’s epicentre and have family members who still live in the region. I have received three death threats from Boko Haram’s leaders for my work analysing the conflict. But now the joint threat of Boko Haram and Covid-19 terrifies me.

Boko Haram’s attacks are a significant distraction for those trying to stop the virus from spreading.

Take Chad. The nation of around 15 million people confirmed its first case of coronavirus on March 19. The pandemic is bringing some of the most advanced health care systems in the world to their knees and Chad only has ten intensive care beds.

But the jihadists are making things far worse. Four days after Chad confirmed coronavirus had come to the country, Boko Haram launched a huge attack killing nearly 100 local soldiers, in one of the deadliest incidents in the country’s history. 

The damage was so significant that Idriss Déby, Chad’s dictator of thirty years, was forced to leave the capital and his country’s Covid-19 response behind and rush to Lake Chad with his troops to direct a military intervention.

On the same day in March, at least 47 Nigerian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram ambush, as the country recorded a sharp rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The head of Nigeria’s army had been preparing his troops to enforce lockdowns, transfer patients to hospitals and prepare for mass burials. But he was forced to leave the army headquarters and mount an offensive against the group.

It is clear that both attacks drew attention away from efforts to fight the virus and forced governments to fight on two fronts with stretched resources.

There is no doubt that Boko Haram recognises the opportunity that Covid-19 offers them. Boko Haram’s breakaway group, Islamic State West Africa Province, recently boasted that the pandemic is an opportunity to step up efforts and expand activities. 

In an editorial in Isil central’s bi-weekly Arabic language magazine, it celebrated recent attacks in the Lake Chad region. It said the virus and subsequent economic downturn would divert government attention, weaken capacity and increase fragility, giving its fighters more inroads.

The jihadists have a long history of targeting health and aid workers which will certainly imperil coronavirus testing and treatment efforts in remote areas.

The group has attacked polio immunisation campaigners, executed workers from Action Against Hunger and the International Committee of the Red Cross. If a vaccine were developed, Boko Haram would almost undoubtedly slow distribution in the areas they operate in.

The preachings may also damage the local people’s compliance with health measures and feed into widespread misconceptions about Covid-19.

The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has released recordings claiming non-Muslims and their Muslim puppets are using Covid-19 to attack Islam by stopping Muslims from practising their faith. He has encouraged people to keep taking part in group prayers and other religious activities.

In the most recent death threat I received from them last month, the 24-minute audio also mocked the government’s Covid-19 efforts.  

So far there have only been just over 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and fewer than 700 reported deaths in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad put together.

However, we must not be complacent. There have been reports of hundreds of unexplained deaths across northern Nigeria and testimonies from health care workers point towards a major outbreak of the virus. 

West Africa has many of the same characteristics that made Afghanistan a hotbed for extremist violence. If there is anywhere Isil can replicate its territorial achievements in Iraq and Syria, it is there.

While Western governments have their own struggles with the pandemic, they must recognise that the virus will only exacerbate the security situation in West Africa. They must keep up their support for the fight against extremist violence in the region.

The UK should proceed with the proposed deployment of an additional 250 British troops to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is another crucial part of the fight against jihadi groups that are becoming more and more connected. The US should also reconsider its reported move to withdraw its forces from West Africa.  

Meanwhile, in my part of the world, families and governments alike face an unholy alliance between brutal militias claiming to fight for God and a deadly new enemy in the form of the coronavirus.

  • Bulama Bukarti is Africa Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

“Ighalo is better than Ronaldo and Messi combined”: six tweets that shows what Ighalo means to Nigerians

Odion Ighalo may not be a global superstar but Manchester United’s newest signing has been able, with just a move, turned every Nigerian into a United fan any time he’s on the pitch playing.

The 30-year-old already has Premier League experience, appearing 99 times for Watford between 2014 and 2017, but the reaction back home to Ighalo’s signing shows the worldwide global appeal an ailing Manchester United still possesses.

“It was crazy because all over the news for the last few days of my signing, it is about my deal to Man United,” Ighalo told the club’s website.

“Even the street I grew up on, they are doing parties, celebrating Ighalo signing for United. “They sent me the video, I was just laughing and happy because many of them are supporting Man United and some of them are supporting some other teams in the Premier League.

The booze seem not to be calmed as every time there is a news about the Eagle’s star, Nigerians know just how to make a great deal – and on his birthday, you need to read the trends.

We gathered five tweets that shows what the fans thinks about the man at United,

Even Ugandans are not letting the share pass them.

A little bit of humour

To Nigerians, Ighalo is better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi combined, yes, you read.

Believe it or not, to Nigerians, Ighalo is Africa’s greatest striker.

It’s time for adults to accept that Nigerian teenagers have a digital life

Nigerian teenagers need knowledgeable digital mentors and coaches.

Chikezie Uzuegbunam, University of Cape Town

All over the world, the reach of digital technology is growing at an extraordinary rate, even in developing countries. Young people are growing up in an environment ruled by digital devices, the internet and social media.

Research evidence indicates that using the internet and other technologies such as video games and computers has become a daily routine for many children and adolescents from high-income to low-income countries. The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that children are accessing the internet at increasingly younger ages, and that smartphones are young people’s gadget of choice. Phones guarantee easy online access and are more private.

In the global South, there is a deficiency in research focusing on the impact of technology on young people’s everyday life. The research gap needs to be filled to inform policies, education and programmes. Technology can either support young people’s education and socialisation or pose some risks to their well-being.

Nigeria is one of the African countries in which the internet and digital media penetration has been increasing in leaps. The country accounts for close to 30% of internet penetration in Africa. According to a global digital report, there were 85 million internet users in Nigeria as at January 2020. Although an estimated 60% of the population is made up of young people, there is little known about how they use digital technology every day.

My three-year study of rural and urban teenagers in Nigeria aimed to investigate how they access, understand, work and play with the digital technologies that are available to them. The study also paid attention to the contextual factors and digital gatekeepers in the children’s lives, including parents, guardians and teachers.

The fieldwork was conducted from 2017 with schoolchildren aged 13 to 18 in mostly public schools in the South East and North Central parts of the country. A total of 175 schoolchildren took part in focus group interviews and 430 participated in a survey.

I took a child-centred approach, relying on the children’s voices and views alone. In Africa, young people make up the majority of the population, yet their views are rarely heard and taken seriously by adults. The consequence is that they continue to be viewed as vulnerable and disruptive. They grow up in social systems that do not value what they have to contribute to their own well-being.

Children’s access to digital technology

My study found that a growing number of Nigerian teens have access to digital technologies, particularly mobile phones and the mobile internet. Two-thirds (63.7%) of mostly 14 to 18 year olds in peri-urban and urban centres owned mobile phones of their own. Others had access to a shared smartphone or a simple feature phone through their siblings and friends. About 57% of the respondents had their phones bought for them by parents and guardians; others by relatives such as older siblings. Still, 23% bought phones with personal savings. Almost 60% had internet-enabled phones.

A significant number of the respondents (30.9%) reported relying on their personal money for airtime and internet data bundles. Two-thirds (66%) used mobile phones for between one and five hours a day whenever they could.

The young people’s expertise with the use of mobile phones and the internet is somewhere in between the “dabblers” and the “proficients” – borrowing from a study by UNICEF of young people in Kenya.

The use of and access to other digital devices such as computers, laptops and tablets was very low. The teens rely instead on mobile phones for connecting with their friends and peers, meeting new people, doing school assignments, and finding information. Technology also helps them to relieve boredom and stress.

Impediments to effective digital participation

Despite the presence and potential impact of technology in their lives, the children’s digital practices are hampered by a lack of proper support from their homes and in school. The adults in their lives control their use of technology very strictly, and both the teens and these adults lack the skills and literacy needed to navigate potential risks. From my analysis, this increases the risk of access to pornography, meeting strangers online and offline, and identity crisis, as reported by the children.

The children reported having to deal with authoritarian parents and teachers who say that technology is bad for them.

I found some teenagers develop “technophobia” as a result of constant negativity around technology. They lack knowledgeable digital mentors and coaches. They are not taught what they need to know to be safe and how to take advantage of digital opportunities necessary for their development.

They also complained about the high cost of devices, data and airtime, limited power supply, and lack of government intervention to provide digital infrastructure and opportunity.

What needs to change and why

Effective teaching of digital skills and issues surrounding the digital life must be prioritised. Government, families and schools must come to terms with the fact that digital technologies have come to stay. People who need to educate the children must be taught and trained as well.

There is evidence that schools in Nigeria lack the curriculum necessary to expose children to digital skills, information literacy and opportunity. Until such measures are in place, other concerns such as protecting children’s online rights, safety, privacy and well-being will remain un-addressed.

To navigate the complications of digital life, adults and young people must collaborate because young people’s opinions matter and many are proving to be “experts” in their own digital lives.

Chikezie Uzuegbunam, Postdoctoral researcher , University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Buhari to address the nation on Democracy Day

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday, 10th June, 2020 address the nation.

A statement issued by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity said the address is in commemoration of Democracy Day.

“To commemorate Nigeria’s Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari will broadcast to the nation on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 7am,” it read.

“Television and radio stations as well as other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast.”

In 2018, Buhari had approved June 12 as Democracy Day to honour MKO Abiola, presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election.

Before 2019, Democracy Day had been observed on May 29.

Idi-Araba abattoir canal, in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Abattoirs in Nigeria pose a threat to health

Idi-Araba abattoir canal, in Lagos, Nigeria.
Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dr. Dada Olanrewaju Timothy, Olabisi Onabanjo University

Studies in Nigeria, Ghana and other developing countries have established that poor waste management is responsible for the environmental and health hazards associated with abattoirs.

The hazards have indirectly threatened or endangered the health of residents and the environment in general. This is because animal waste such as blood, bones, intestinal content, tissues, hides and skin are scattered in huge piles around the abattoirs.

In my research on the environmental and health hazards of abattoirs in Ibadan, I identified a number of reasons for this state of affairs. These included improper planning of abattoirs, illegal abattoirs, untrained slaughterhouse workers as well as butchers that are ignorant of sanitary principles.

Residents’ continued susceptibility to the ill effects of these abattoirs are connected to poverty. The poor are less able to protect themselves from environmental hazards or respond to the health risks they face.

These issues have become more prominent and less attended to in Nigeria because of lack of institutional and regulatory frameworks.

Major findings

Issues related to abattoirs pose challenges in many developing countries due to corrupt practices by government officials and unethical slaughterhouse workers.

Research has shown that it’s not uncommon for abattoirs to dispose waste directly into streams and rivers. There’s no disposal management or treatment system. And, the meat is also washed in the same water. This is true in Ghana as well as Nigeria, among others.

On entering most abattoirs in Nigeria, one immediately sees the glaring evidence of a failed and a broken system. This includes dilapidated slaughtering and processing facilities, inadequate clean water supplies, no refrigerators and lack of facilities for the collection and storage of waste. Proper sewage or waste disposal systems are also lacking.

My research focused on environmental hazards and health risk of residents who are neighbours to abattoirs in Ibadan, Oyo State. Data for the research was collected across the four seasons from 570 participants in neighbourhoods located within 300, 600 and 900 meters of the selected abattoirs.

I identified a number of areas which pose threats to the environment.

For example, waste generated in abattoirs is usually directed into rivers or the run-off gutters of adjoining buildings. This attracts flies and a stench that affects adjoining residences.

The waste water emanating from abattoirs pollutes surface and underground water as well as the air. The pungent stench forces neighbouring residents to shut their windows and doors, thus disallowing cross ventilation in homes.

The piled-up waste also causes air pollution, which subsequently produces methane gas that intensifies the greenhouse effect on global warming.

The waste is also responsible for environmental change, stigmatisation of residences and depreciation in the value of adjacent properties. The animal waste and waste water contribute to adverse health outcome.

As a result, abattoirs-related environmental and health hazards have become prevalent.

Residents expressed dissatisfaction with the location and the way abattoirs are managed. But they didn’t wholly attribute their ill-health to the poorly managed waste and untreated waste water from the abattoirs.

Instead they thought that their ill-health was likely coming from several other sources.

But, during the individual and focus-group interviews, I noted that the perceived illnesses were contingent on the duration of their exposure to abattoir effluence, but not solely on their proximity to the abattoir.

Challenges

Finding solutions to these issues is becoming increasingly difficult as abattoirs in residential areas proliferate.

Political decision making supersedes rational thinking in the siting of abattoirs in Nigeria. This is because leaders often only think of political gains when deciding where to site an abattoir, rather than a thorough assessment of its likely impact on the environment.

Another problem is that existing legislation in Nigeria emphasises the hygiene of slaughtered products. But it doesn’t consider the operation, handling, and maintenance of the slaughterhouses themselves.

What needs to be done

To continue establishing abattoir haphazardly without environmental and health considerations only invites diseases – and potentially pandemics such as COVID-19.

Evidence-based responses need to be developed that would aid policymakers in implementing programmes designed to mitigate environmental and health hazards from abattoirs.

Firstly, mitigating these hazards will require the tightening of regulations and strict enforcement of environment-friendly sanitation practices. Top of the list would be methods of storage, disposal and transportation of animal waste.

Next, existing and future abattoirs must be appropriately classified. The categories should include: types of establishment, classes of solid waste, operational capacity and possibilities of generating hazards.

Lastly, Nigeria needs to introduce a modernised legislative framework. This can be used to guide the proper planning, design, construction, licensing and operation of abattoirs. Such a framework must meet international requirements and operate within statutory provisions to protect the environmental, public health and well-being of residents.

The framework must also specify what developments can, or can’t, happen within the vicinity of abattoirs.

Dr. Dada Olanrewaju Timothy, Lecturer, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria, Olabisi Onabanjo University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

22 years after his death, Nigeria still recovering funds looted by Abacha

Prior to the fourth republic, Nigeria was ruled by 11 leaders — eight military heads of states and three civilians. Of the eight military heads of state, three have died. But of all these, Sani Abacha, the late head of state, has featured more notoriously in the media. 

Today marks exactly 22 years after Abacha, who presided over the country between November 17, 1993, and June 8, 1998, died. While his death was met with a series of jubilations across the streets, the cause of his demise still remains a mystery. Although the rumour that he died of poisoning by prostitutes went wild, Abacha’s aides countered the claim saying the former ruler died of natural causes.

ABACHA’S EMERGENCE

Abacha, a native of Kano state, was commissioned into the military in 1963 after he received training in Kaduna and England. He rose through the ranks from second lieutenant to general in 1993. During the period, Abacha was involved in several coups until ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida appointed him as chief of staff in 1985, and subsequently minister of defence in 1990. In 1993, Abacha forced interim President Ernest Shonekan to resign and declared military rule across the country, having established the provisional ruling council (PRC).

In his coup speech, the former military head of state described the interim government as an administration full of “heavy uncertainties”, adding that his regime came “in a bid to find solutions to the various political, economic and social problems which have engulfed our beloved country”.

“Many have expressed fears about the apparent return of the military. Many have talked about the concern of the international community. However, under the present circumstances, the survival of our beloved country is far above any other consideration. Nigeria is the only country we have. We must, therefore, solve our problems ourselves. We must lay a very solid foundation for the growth of democracy. We should avoid any ad hoc or temporary solutions. The problems must be addressed firmly, objectively, decisively and with all sincerity of purpose,” his speech read.

DICTATORSHIP AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Notable among the series of human rights abuses under the Abacha regime was the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists opposed to the exploitation of Nigeria’s resources. His regime also detained Moshood Abiola, touted winner of the 1993 presidential election; former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, brother of former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. This was despite several pleas and condemnation by the international community.

In 2016, Thabo Mbeki, former South African vice-president, revealed how Nelson Mandela, former president of the country, begged Abacha to halt the execution of the “Ogoni Nine”. He said Mandela also pleaded with Abacha for the release of Obasanjo and Yar’adua.

“The first major test which faced our late President Mandela in this regard was at the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in New Zealand,” Mbeki wrote in a statement.

“Here President Mandela came under great pressure publicly to condemn the Nigerian Abacha military government, especially for its continued detention of M.K.O. Abiola who had won the 1993 Presidential elections, and agree to the imposition of some sanctions against Nigeria.

“President Mandela resisted all this until news came through that on the very first day of the CHOGM, the Nigerian Government had executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his Ogoni colleagues. He then immediately joined others strongly to condemn the Abacha Government and approved the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth.”

CORRUPTION AND TREASURY LOOT 

In an article published in Newsweek, a US based publication, in May, President Muhammadu Buhari said close to $1 billion was stolen from Nigeria “under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s”. Although Buhari did not mention the name of Abacha, it was clear that he was referring to the late dictator.

According to an analysis by TheCable, over $3.624 billion of the Abacha loot has been recovered between 1998 and 2020. These recoveries were made by four administrations from four countries.

In 1998, Abubakar Abdulsalami, former military head of state, recovered $750 million from the Abacha family.

In 2000, Obasanjo recovered $64 million looted funds from Switzerland, $1.2 billion from the Abacha family in 2002; $88 million from Switzerland in 2003, and another $160 million from Jersey, British Island in 2003 — all linked to Abacha.

In 2005, Obasanjo recovered another tranche of $461 million of the Abacha loot deposited in Switzerland. By the following year, 2006, $44 million was recovered from the same country.

In 2014, during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria recovered $227 million of the Abacha loot from Liechtenstein, a country in Europe. The administration also recovered $322 million from Switzerland, but the fund was repatriated during Buhari’s first term in 2018.

In 2020, during Buhari’s second term, Nigeria repatriated $311 million Abacha loot from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The litigation process for the return of the most recent assets entitled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the asset return agreement on February 3, 2020 by the governments of Nigeria, US and the Bailiwick of Jersey, commenced in 2018.

After Nigeria recovered the loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, who coordinated the repatriation of the funds, said the money would be used in expediting the construction of Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano road, and the Second Niger Bridge.

In his Newsweek article, Buhari also said the recovered funds would be spent on infrastructure.

Long after the dictator’s death 22 years ago, Nigeria is still recovering the proceeds of his corruption — and more have been said to be waiting in the wings.

Barakat Bello

Another girl ‘raped, killed’ in Ibadan — days after gruoesom killing of

Barakat Bello
Barakat Bello

Barakat Bello, an 18-year-old girl, has reportedly been raped and murdered at her father’s home in Ibadan, Oyo state.

It was gathered that the incident happened on Monday but the deceased’s body was found around their residence in Akinyele area of Ibadan on Tuesday.

Her family members were said to have discovered that she had been raped after her body was examined. Barakat has been buried in accordance with Islamic rites.

Until her demise, she was said to be a year-one student of the Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training, Ibadan.

Efforts by the TheCable Lifestyle to get comments from Fadeyi Olugbenga, spokesman for Oyo state police command, on the incident could not materialise as of the time this report was filed.

Calls placed to his telephone number were not responded to.

Barakat’s death comes less than seven days after the “gruesome” murder of Vera Omozuwa, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), who was raped while reading inside a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Benin.

It also comes amid the ongoing outrage over the killing of Tina, a 16-year-old girl, by a police officer in Lagos.

Several Nigerians have taken to social media, particularly Twitter, to demand for the arrest of those who carried out the evil act using the hashtag #JusticeForBarakat.

Churches, Mosques limited to 20 worshippers, schools remain closed: guidelines of eased lockdowng

President Muhammadu Buhari had locked down Abuja, Lagos and Ogun for five weeks following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

On May 4, the federal government eased the lockdown and put some measures in place such as imposing a curfew from 8pm to 6am, use of face masks and social distancing, among others.

So far, Nigeria has recorded 10,162 cases of COVID-19. While 3,007 have recovered from the disease, 287 people have died.

Speaking at the daily press conference of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the task force, said the curfew has further been relaxed to between 10pm and 4am.

Below are other guidelines reeled out by Aliyu:

  • There would be full opening for the financial sector with banks now allowed to operate with more working hours five days a week.
  • The mass gathering of more than 20 people outside of a work place or places of worship remain prohibited.
  • There would be controlled access to markets and locations of places of economic activities but local authorities will continue to provide guidance on opening times.
  • Restrictive opening of places of worship will be based on state governments protocols and strict guidelines on physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions and just to clarify this would apply to the regular church and mosque services only.
  • Mandatory supervised isolation of person of persons arriving the country will continue to be for 14 days until a new policy comes into play.
  • There would be no further evacuation of Nigerians until a new policy currently developed with the private sector comes into place.
  • Ban of gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace;

Nigeria recorded more than 7,500 COVID-19 cases after lockdown was eased

When President Muhammadu Buhari announced that a nationwide curfew would replace lockdown in more states beyond Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT), there were concerns that the country would experience an upward surge in its COVID-19 case rate.

And so it came to be. With the eased lockdown came tightly-packed queues in banks, complete disregard for physical distancing in places of worship, markets, commercial vehicles, among others. And with the open flouting of guidelines issued on social distancing, ban on large gatherings, and compulsory use of face masks, while many may have expected an increase, not many people would have expected a rise beyond 150 percent.

However, in four weeks since the phased lockdown relaxation began on May 4, 2020, Nigeria recorded 7,604 cases.

The five-week lockdown, which took effect at midnight on March 29, was part of efforts to ensure efficient contact tracing and limit spread of the coronavirus, especially with what was considered a high rate of infections at the time.

Between February 27, 2020, when the index case was confirmed and May 3, 2020, out of 18,536 samples tested, a total of 2,558 cases were confirmed in 35 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) At the time, 87 deaths were recorded, while 400 patients had been discharged.

FROM 2,558 TO 10,162 IN FOUR WEEKS

On May 4, the total lockdown declared in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT was relaxed for an initial two weeks and the federal government announced the nationwide curfew. Kano was, however, placed on a total lockdown as a result of the unusual increase in COVID-19 cases.

By May 18 when the initial two-week relaxation ended, Nigeria moved from less than 3,000 cases to 6,175 confirmed cases, out of which 1,644 persons had recovered and 191 deaths occurred. This was an almost 250 percent increase from the previous figure before the lockdown was lifted.

The lockdown relaxation was extended by another two weeks till June 1 and the cases have increased significantly as well.

In that time, Kogi joined the list of affected states with two index COVID-19 cases announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on May 27, 2020.

As of May 31, samples tested have more than tripled the previous figure to over 60,000, just as the toll of confirmed cases have also increased to 10,162 cases.

On a positive note, the recovery rate has almost doubled as well, moving from 1,644 to 3,007 patients in the two-week period. In that time, 96 deaths have been recorded, increasing the number of fatalities from 191 to 287.

Lagos, which currently has the highest cases, also moved from 1,107 to 4,943 confirmed COVID-19 cases within the four-week eased lockdown period.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), had said while the agency’s sights are set on increased testing capacity, Nigerians should expect a corresponding increase in the positive cases as well.

A set of guidelines for the next phase is expected to be announced by the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 during this week.

SOURCE: TheCable

Nigerian men arrested for raping 12-year-old girl

The country has an extremely low conviction rate for rape and sexual abuse

Police in the north-western state of Jigawa were alerted to the alleged crime when they received a complaint about a man in his 50s luring the girl to a hidden place so he could have sex with her.

During a police interview the girl said that 11 other men had also raped her.

She is now in hospital and police have told the BBC there is medical evidence of rape.

The incident follows the killings in the last week of two young women that have sparked widespread anger.

In one case, the family of 22-year-old student Uwavera Omozuwa say she was raped inside a church and bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher in the city of Benin.

In the other, a 16-year-old was shot dead by a policeman in Lagos.

Amnesty International has said that although rape is a crime in Nigeria, the rising number of attacks is due to the failure of law enforcement.

The country has an extremely low conviction rate for rape and sexual abuse.

Nigeria records over 3,000 COVID-19 cases in two weeks as cases exceeds 8,000

Nigeria’s COVID-19 toll exceeded 8,000 on Monday, with more than 3,000 cases recorded within two weeks.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 229 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 8,068 cases across 34 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

The agency made the announcement via its Twitter handle at 11:34 pm on Monday.

The number of recoveries also increased from 2,263 to 2,311, while fatalities rose from 226 to 233.

Lagos confirmed the highest figure for Monday with 90 new cases.

The number of cases over the last few weeks have increased significantly. As of May 11, 2020, a total of 4,641 were confirmed positive out of 28,418 samples tested, but by May 18, the figure increased to 6,175 confirmed cases out of 36,899 samples tested.

As of May 24, a total of 7,839 COVID-19 cases were recorded out of 45,683 samples tested.

However, while less than 100 fatalities were recorded in the past two weeks, the number of recoveries increased significantly.

As of May 11, a total of 902 patients had been discharged, while 152 deaths had occurred, but by May 18, recoveries had increased to 1,644, with 191 deaths recorded.

The numbers are expected to rise as the NCDC increases testing capacity, but according to Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, nine out of ten patients will recover from COVID-19.

Nigeria was once an indisputable leader in Africa: what happened?

Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Sheriff Folarin, Covenant University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assuming a leadership role

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

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

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

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


shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Disappointments

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

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

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

What next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheriff Folarin, Professor of International Relations, Covenant University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why Nigeria’s efforts to support poor people fail, and what can be done about it

People receiving food handouts in Lagos, Nigeria. AAP

Peter Elias, University of Lagos

Urbanisation remains a big challenge for city managers in low- and middle-income countries. This includes Nigeria, where the proportion of the urban population increased from 17.5% in 1969 to 51.2% in 2019. An estimated 18% of the urban population live in poverty.

A 2018 UN report has projected that 55% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. It says half of the 130 million people living in cities lack access to adequate housing, water, sanitation, durable dwellings, adequate space, and secure tenure.

This makes it imperative for governments to apply social assistance programme for the poor and vulnerable . These can include income or material support such as retirement pensions or health care schemes, as well as feeding programmes for school age children and food handouts.

According to the World Bank, per capita spending on social assistance programmes is lower in low- and middle-income countries (less than $1,000) than in high-income countries ($4,000-$5,000). It reports that Nigeria’s total spending on social assistance programmes is 0.28% of GDP and covers only 7% of the population. This is low compared with South Africa (3.31%), Benin (2.95%), Rwanda (1.5%) and Ghana (0.58%).

There is ample evidence that social assistance programmes are failing to improve housing, access to health care and basic services. They are also failing to integrate the informal economy and improve local economic development in Nigeria.

Poor and vulnerable people live below the poverty line of $1.90. They bear the brunt of disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

My research shows that a host of factors – such as social and economic exclusion – stand in the way of safe and liveable cities.

In a separate paper, I identified the need for proactive measures to create stronger institutions and policies in Africa. This will lead to wealth creation and reduce poverty, social injustices and inequality.

I also found out that this requires a bottom-up participatory approach. This makes for better understanding of issues at the local level. It also ensures that location-specific methods of assistance are designed and that local resources are harnessed.

The Nigerian government introduced a lockdown strategy to contain the spread of the virus. At the same time it initiated various palliative measures. But these have not reached their intended beneficiaries, and have been plagued with difficulties.

Shortcomings

The first problem is that the government has adopted a top-down distribution system which has been poorly coordinated and highly exclusive.

In addition, the requirements for accessing the relief packages were unclear, fraught with secrecy or too restrictive. In the case of unconditional cash transfer, grain distribution and credit loan scheme for households and businesses, selection methods were also vague.

The poor and vulnerable could not fulfil some of the bank related requirements for accessing the credit facility by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Social assistance programmes in Nigeria include national cash transfers. This is aimed at financial support for the poor and vulnerable whose incomes or livelihoods are at risk due to natural, human or economic crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown.

Others include youth employment and community social development projects, like the home-grown school feeding programmes to address poverty and hunger.

Some of these programmes are being reactivated to address the consequences of COVID-19 lockdown on the poor and vulnerable.

Improvements

The Nigerian government could take a number of steps to improve the situation.

Firstly, it should apply the principle of accessibility as well as diversity. Interventions should be made accessible to the poor irrespective of age, class, ethnicity, gender or education, or residence or disability.

Secondly, the principle of social participation and human rights should be applied. This requires collaboration and partnership with pro-poor organisations and grassroot networks such as civil society or non-governmental organisations, religious groups, trade associations, and community development associations.

Thirdly, planning and implementation should be done in an open and transparent way. This could include using technology and social media for tracking and monitoring of beneficiaries and outcomes.

Fourthly, every available channel and language of communication must be used.

Lastly, there needs to be a bottom-up approach through the identification and use of local groups, resources and champions to create investment opportunities, increase incomes and build resilience of the poor and vulnerable.

Effective social assistance programmes will produce multiplier effects. They will help poor people escape poverty by enhancing their socio-economic status. They can also boost purchasing power, build resilience and catalyse local and regional economic development.

Peter Elias, Development Geographer, Team Lead, Lagos Urban Studies Group (LUSG) & Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Lagos

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Over 2,000 Coronavirus patients recover in Nigeria

The number of COVID-19 recoveries in Nigeria exceeded 2,000 on Friday.

This is just as 245 new cases were confirmed in 21 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

In an announcement on its Twitter handle at 11:35pm on Friday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also confirmed 10 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 221 – the highest in the West African region.

However, 100 more COVID-19 patients were discharged and a total of 2,007 patients have now been discharged.

A total of 7,261 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed in 34 states and the FCT.

The current figures show a marked upsurge in the number of new cases, as well as deaths and recoveries, between April and May 2020.

As of April 22, 2020, Nigeria had confirmed 873 COVID-19 cases in 25 states and the FCT, out of which 28 deaths and 197 recoveries were recorded.

However, according to Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the NCDC, the agency is working on increasing its testing capacity, and as a result, the country will record more COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Kogi and Cross River are yet to record any positive case of COVID-19

Nigeria is making the coolest facemasks, and you will love it all

Need some inspiration on just how to pair your mask with your clothes?

Because, yeah, we might be in the middle of pandemic, but surely that’s not enough excuse for you to be caught slipping.

Well, if you do (and you definitely do, even if you think you don’t), @DoubleEph on Twitter has got you sorted.

SOURCE: Bella Naija/@DoubleEph

Churches, mosques to remain closed as Nigeria delays second phase of easing lockdown

Nigeria’s government has said it is still risky to further relax restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The head of the country’s task force on the pandemic, Boss Mustapha, told a daily media briefing that the country is not yet ready for the full re-opening of the economy.

He said any further relaxation of the restrictions would only portend “grave danger” to citizens and that the “tough” decision has been made is in the interest of the “majority” of citizens.

The first phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown in the capital, Abuja, as well as the commercial hub Lagos and Ogun state ended on Monday and the second phase was scheduled to begin after assessment.

Officials say the initial loosening of restrictions will be maintained for another two weeks.

This means airports, land borders, schools, parks and places of worship will remain closed. Large gatherings and interstate travels remain banned. A nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 local time still remains in force.

The total lockdown imposed on Kano state two weeks ago following reports of unexplained deaths also remains in place.

But government offices, banks and markets will continue to operate for limited hours.

The country has confirmed 6,175 coronavirus cases and 191 deaths.

Covid-19 outbreak in Nigeria is just one of Africa’s alarming hot spots

An empty street market last month in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. The government eased the lockdown in Lagos on May 4 but extended it in Kano, the country’s second-largest city.Credit…Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, some people say they now get four or five death notices on their phones each day: A colleague has died. A friend’s aunt. A former classmate.

The gravediggers of the city, one of the biggest in West Africa, say they are working overtime. And so many doctors and nurses have been infected with the coronavirus that few hospitals are now accepting patients.

Officially, Kano has reported 753 cases and 33 deaths attributed to the virus. But in reality, the metropolis is experiencing a major, unchecked outbreak, according to doctors and public health experts. It could be one of the continent’s worst.

The coronavirus has been slower to take hold in Africa than on other continents, according to the numbers released daily by the World Health Organization.

But blazing hot spots are beginning to emerge. Kano is only one of several places in Africa where a relatively low official case count bears no resemblance to what health workers and residents say they are seeing on the ground.

In Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, officials say that burials have tripled. In Tanzania, after cases suddenly rose and the United States Embassy issued a health alert, the Tanzanian government abruptly stopped releasing its data.

Kano’s state government, until recently, claimed a spate of unusual deaths was caused not by the coronavirus, but by hypertension, diabetes, meningitis or acute malaria. There is little social distancing, and few people are being tested.

“The leadership is in denial,” said Usman Yusuf, a hematology-oncology professor and the former head of Nigeria’s national health insurance agency. “It’s almost like saying there is no Covid in New York.”

He said he thought a significant portion of the population was probably infected in Kano, a city with an estimated five million people (though there has been no census since 2006).

Though they have now acknowledged they have a problem with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the authorities in Kano spent precious weeks denying it, despite the surge in what AbdullahiUmar Ganduje, the state governor, called “mysterious deaths.”

“So far, there’s been nothing to suggest that they are linked with Covid-19,” Mr. Ganduje posted on Twitter on April 27, when, according to doctors in Kano’s hospitals, the city was already firmly in the grip of a serious coronavirus outbreak.

A mobile testing laboratory in Kano this month. Test results in Kano can take two weeks to come through. Credit…Sipa, via Associated Press

There was nothing mysterious about what doctors said they were seeing at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, the city’s main public hospital. Starting well before Kano’s first case was reported on April 11, the hospital saw a steady stream of older patients with fevers, coughs, difficulty breathing and low oxygen saturation levels, many of them with underlying health conditions.

Doctors at the hospital called the government’s response team. Sometimes it took 24 hours to get a call back. Sometimes, the team refused to test or isolate patients, saying they did not qualify because they had not traveled recently.

About 60 to 70 percent of the elderly patients who went to the hospital and later died had arrived with full symptoms of Covid-19, said a doctor in the medical department, who, along with another doctor, spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution.

One doctor said the department’s death registers for April showed far more patients had died than normal. Most patients were sent home, he said, and the hospital’s staff members often would hear later that they had died.

With no personal protective equipment except surgical masks, the doctors said they knew the risks they were running in treating these patients. They said that they begged the hospital management for N-95 masks, face shields, gloves and aprons, but that none came. They asked for an isolation center at the hospital, scared that patients with other ailments would be infected. They wanted the facilities fumigated. Nothing happened.

And then it was too late. The doctors began to get sick.

“All of us were exposed,” said the other doctor. “Ultimately, what we feared has happened.”

Twenty of the 91 doctors in the hospital’s medical department tested positive, the doctors said. Overall in Kano, 42 doctors and 28 nurses have tested positive, and one doctor has died, according to Dr. Sanusi Bala, chairman of the Kano branch of the Nigerian Medical Association. Laboratory technicians in what was then Kano’s only testing laboratory got sick too, and it closed for several days. The city’s health system, already extremely limited, was crippled.

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Nigeria, a country of about 200 million people, says it can in theory do 2,500 tests a day, and Kano up to 500. But it has been conducting far fewer tests, typically 1,000 to 1,200 daily. Test results in Kano can take two weeks. Doctors awaiting their test results cannot go to work. People in quarantine cannot leave.

A coronavirus isolation center in Kano, funded by private donations, on April 7, before the virus surged in the city.
A coronavirus isolation center in Kano, funded by private donations, on April 7, before the virus surged in the city.Credit…Aminu Abubakar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“If I say thousands of people are dying from Covid, I don’t think I exaggerated the figure,” said the doctor who begged for P.P.E. “So many people are dying without being tested, without even going to the hospital.”

While the government loosened lockdowns on May 4 in the capital, Abuja, and biggest city, Lagos, it extended the one in Kano. But few people observe it. The many funerals are well attended, residents said.

Many in the city think the coronavirus is a hoax, perhaps because public messaging about it is mostly in English, which most Kano residents do not speak, health experts said.

Others believe that a Covid-19 diagnosis is a death sentence, the experts said, and do not want their neighbors to think they are infected. So they avoid being tested, and try to behave as if all is normal.

They go to burials, and shake fellow mourners’ hands because it would be socially unacceptable not to. They shop, barefaced, in crowded markets. They hold soccer tournaments — a recent one was called the “Coronavirus Cup.”

While the situation in Kano is grim, the picture varies greatly from one country in Africa to another.

From the numbers gathered by the World Health Organization and other groups, Djibouti, in East Africa, looks as if it has the highest infection rate per capita on the continent, at 1 in 746 people. But public health officials interviewed there attribute that to aggressive testing and contact tracing. Anyone who tests positive is hospitalized, even if no symptoms are apparent.

Tanzania has reported 509 cases, but it stopped releasing data two weeks ago, and the United States Embassy there said on Wednesday that the risk of contracting Covid-19 was “extremely high.” A government spokesman told the BBC that testing had been suspended while the authorities investigated the many testing kits, but denied that Tanzania was doing too little to stop the virus’s spread.

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In Somalia, more than 1,200 people have tested positive and, officially, 53 have died. But doctors, officials and humanitarian workers think these numbers are way off. Thousands of people with the virus are staying home and not getting tested, they say.

Praying at the burial of a man suspected of having died of the coronavirus last month in Somalia.
Praying at the burial of a man suspected of having died of the coronavirus last month in Somalia.Credit…Feisal Omar/Reuters

The office of the Somali prime minister, which is overseeing the response to the outbreak, has dismissed the notion of a hidden toll, saying Mogadishu has already reached its peak.

Dr. Mohamed Abdi Hassan, who is leading the medical response to Covid-19 at the prime minister’s office, said that “there might be cases here and there that abruptly died and then were buried,” but that the number of instances in which people had died of the coronavirus without being tested had been exaggerated. “We have as much as possible captured the real picture.”

In Nigeria, some say that with the outbreak in Kano so widespread, the city may already be home to a giant, unintentional experiment in herd immunity.

“The disease is taking its natural course,” said Dr. Faruk Sarkinfada, a medical microbiologist who works in Kano.

Eighty percent of tests conducted in the city are coming back positive, a presidential task force sent to Kano in late April told the BBC’s Hausa-language service.

But since no one trusts the official reports, Kano’s citizens have come up with their own ways of gauging the toll of the virus.

Nazir Adam Salih, a writer and engineer, conducted an impromptu survey of more than 100 acquaintances. Almost all said they had fever, cough and loss of smell. Almost none had gotten tested or treated.

Doctors phone relatives of the dead to conduct “verbal autopsies.”

By late April, the Kano state government finally admitted there was a Covid-19 problem and asked the federal government for help. Dr. Sarkinfada, the medical microbiologist, said that the federal government focused its efforts on increasing Kano’s testing capacity, and that test results were now coming in sooner.

“The Kano situation has seen us through deception, denial, defiance, denunciation, disagreement and finally acceptance and action to control the disaster,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who leads a Nigerian government committee on Covid-19.

A crowded area of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last month. Tanzania has reported 509 Covid-19 cases but stopped releasing data two weeks ago.
A crowded area of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last month. Tanzania has reported 509 Covid-19 cases but stopped releasing data two weeks ago.Credit…Ericky Boniphace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Kano’s location, population and connectivity to the rest of the region mean the consequences of an uncontrolled outbreak could be severe.

Already there are reports of hundreds more people dying “mysterious deaths” in Nigeria’s northern states of Jigawa, Yobe, Sokoto and Katsina, including three emirs, or traditional Muslim rulers, and a former health minister.

“If Kano falls, the whole of northern Nigeria falls. The whole of Nigeria falls,” Dr. Yusuf said. “It spreads into the whole of West Africa and the whole of Africa.”

Abdi Latif Dahir contributed reporting from Nairobi, Kenya, and Simon Marks from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ruth Maclean is the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, based in Senegal. She joined The Times in 2019 after three and a half years covering West Africa for The Guardian. @ruthmaclean

BREAKING: Federal Government extends ‘gradual ease of lockdown’ by two weeks

Federal government has extended the the eased lockdown directive issued by President Muhammadu Buhari till June 1.

Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, made the announcement during the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

Mustapha said the president took the decision based on the recommendations of the PTF, and the guidelines issued for relaxing the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) will be maintained for the next two weeks, after which there will be another review.

He listed six steps approved by Buhari as follows:

“The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020).

“Intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases;

“Elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;

“Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks;

“​Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises. This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions; and

“Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states.”

Face-mask fashion makes fighting virus ‘more fun’

Making the wearing of face masks compulsory to contain the spread of coronavirus has provided a challenge to fashionistas.

Nigerian designer Sefiya Diejomaoh, pictured above sporting a diamante-studded covering, did not want to stop being stylish, she told the Reuters news agency in the country’s commercial hub, Lagos.

“When you come out in a stylish mask or with an accessory such as this, it doesn’t seem as though we’re fighting a war. It seems more fun,” she is quoted as saying.

“People going around in surgical masks is depressing,” she said. “I have to maintain status quo and who I am despite the situation.”

“Everyone is on it right now including designers. It is a necessary fashion statement right now,” said Angel Obasi (above) who runs the Instagram account Styleconnaisseur.

Student Uche Helen, wears a face mask to match her head-band.

A Reuters photographer also spotted another woman in Lagos who went for the matching headgear and face mask combination:

Nigeria has more than 5,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 176 deaths from the illness.

Nigeria impounds British plane for ‘flouting ban’

Nigeria has impounded a British aircraft that is alleged to have flouted a ban aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said the plane, operated by FlairJet, was allowed to fly humanitarian aid but had contravened a ban that has been imposed on almost all passenger flights.

Describing Flairjet’s action as callous, he said the crew was being questioned and maximum penalties could follow.

The company has not commented on the seizure.

Nigeria’s ban on passenger flights – except for returning nationals – is due to run until 4 June.

Mystery deaths in Nigeria provoke fear of unrecorded coronavirus surge

Nigeria has tested relatively few people compared to other countries in Africa.   CREDIT: AFP

Authorities in Nigeria’s northern Yobe state have reported hundreds of unusual deaths over the last few weeks, prompting fears that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly through Africa’s most populous nation. 

Yobe authorities said that 471 people have died in the last five weeks in the state. 

The Yobe State Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammad Lawan Gana, said that most of those who died were elderly people or had underlying health issues. 

It is not clear whether or not the Yobe deaths are linked to coronavirus because the Nigerian government is struggling to carry out many tests. 

In the last few weeks, there have been a spate of hundreds of unexplained deaths across northern Nigeria. 

Kano state, which is nearby Yobe, has seen at least mysterious 600 deaths. Doctors in Kano say they are being overwhelmed by patients showing clear signs of coronavirus, like temperatures and respiration issues. 

Kano state has seen at least mysterious 600 deaths CREDIT: AFP

Gravediggers in Kano have reportedly said they are also seeing a surge in burials. 

Nigeria with a population of roughly 200 million has tested relatively few people compared to other countries in Africa. 

Ten weeks ago the country reported sub-Saharan Africa’s first coronavirus case. Since then it has recorded 4,971 cases of the virus and 164 deaths. 

South Africa which has a population three times less than Nigeria has carried out more than 350,000 tests on its population, roughly twelve times more than Nigeria has. 

Nigeria has vast oil reserves and elites in Lagos and Abuja live in swanky luxury. But public health and social services have suffered decades of neglect and underfunding. 

In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country in the world with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million people thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day.

Malabu: Everything We Know know about the oil scandal

Former President Jonathan speaks on why he is staying away from Politics

Malabu: Everything We Know know about the oil scandal
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan indicted in the scandalous Malabu oil deal

Former President Goodluck Jonathan says he is staying away from partisan politics because of his non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The former president established the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, which has peace building, national integration and democratic governance as its focus.

Speaking at the inauguration of the state executive council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, on Sunday, Jonathan said through his foundation he will support the country and his state.

“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,” he said.

“I’m shifting away from being an effective partisan politician because of my foundation. People who want to partner me feel 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.”

Jonathan asked the new PDP state executive council inaugurated by Douye Diri, Bayelsa governor, not to work at “cross purposes” with the governor.

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

“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.”

Ban on begging in Nigeria is not fit for purpose

An Islamic school in Nigeria.
Shutterstock

By Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Bishop Grosseteste University

Earlier this year, begging bans were announced in two states – Nasarawa and Kano – in Nigeria. There are some similarities as well as some differences between the two bans, and to a prior one in Kaduna state.

I have been reminded several times that the bans are street begging bans rather than a ban on the practice of Almajiranci – a system of Qur’anic schooling predominant in Northern Nigeria which sees young boys sent off to live with a Malam (teacher) to study the Qur’an. The boys often end up begging on the streets.

Nevertheless, based on my insights into Almajiranci during the course of my research, I would argue that the bans are really aimed at the practitioners of Almajiranci. In the case of Kano, the statement by the government went as far as to make this clear.

The issue has been back in the news in Nigeria again recently following the Northern Nigeria’s Governors forum coming together to insist on a ban in the light of COVID-19. States have started the process of repatriating young almajirai.

Almajiranci-related begging hurts the sensibilities of Nigerians. This is not without reason. The sight of young boys on the streets, shivering in unseasonal temperatures and sleeping in the open, is very hard to take.

In my research I examined the mainstream discourses around Almajiranci. Populist policies such as the recent begging bans fit into mainstream narratives that seek to represent the Almajirai only in a negative light. What I found is that sensationalist story lines that portray Almajirai as beggars and violent misfits can cause the young men – and the system of education – to be viewed antagonistically. The COVID-19 pandemic and the headlines reporting that some almajirai have been infected also fits into this scenario. Almajirai as ‘vectors of disease’.

The point here is: if almajirai are only conceived as beggars and as a nuisance then a ban, to many, takes care of that.

In this clip, I acknowledge why people would advocate for a ban. Almajiranci as it stands can be quite ugly to watch.

A look at the ban

There are lots of similarities in the structure of the bans announced by three different governments, with the focus appearing to be on all beggars on the streets rather than young almajirai per se.

But in the case of the Kano state ban it specifically sought to penalise Almajiranci. According to the Kano state government

when almajirai are caught begging, it is not only the beggar caught but his parents or guardians, and they will be taken to court to face the full wrath of the law.

In the course of my research, I found that young almajirai often beg for sustenance and that as soon as they reach a certain age, would much rather work than beg. There is, therefore, a temporal nature to this begging and it is something which can be stopped given other alternatives.

Many of Nigeria’s urban poor also get by working in the informal economy, often for pittance. It’s sometimes a wonder that the country doesn’t have more beggars. In this light, why find creative ways of increasing the suffering of the already suffering?

The issue with the bans is not only that they are ill thought through, they are also premature and not enforceable. Not in a society that has no welfare system in place to care for its most vulnerable. Or a society which doesn’t have the justice or prison system to accommodate those who will inevitably fall foul of the law. There are many steps to be taken first, before we get to a ban.

Recommendations

The logical steps would be to make sure every almajirai has been accounted for, and taken basic care of, before moving on to a ban in the long term. To use the cover of a pandemic to quickly rush through a ban seems disingenuous.

My argument as a scholar remains that, if you have a system of education in place with an estimated 8 to 10 million boys already in it, the logical thing to do would be to modernise these schools, widen the curriculum, improve living standards, improve the Malam’s pedagogical skills, feed the boys and provide extra vocational training.

Even though it is quite problematic as it stands, the Almajiranci system was once functional. It did not deteriorate to what it is in a day. A ban will not undo decades of decay, so the government needs political will and continuity. It needs to acknowledge the need for a more holistic reform across its education system, to find a way to integrate Almajiranci. Northern Nigeria governors also need to act with one voice on this.

I consider a ban a knee-jerk reaction that would drive the system underground. This might work for some of the governments of the states in northern Nigeria, if all that they want is for the poor to go and be poor elsewhere. A case of out of sight is out of mind.

Using the cover of a pandemic to push through an Almajiranci ban only panders to populism, it does not address the system’s many other drivers and sustainers – social and economic. The country’s groaning public school system is also incapable of absorbing millions of young Almajirai. As the schools stand, they are the preserve of the poor and the choiceless anyway.

Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Lecturer in Inclusive Education, Bishop Grosseteste University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

We have caught the person that leaked Buhari’s draft speech – Femi Adesina

Femi Adesina, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says the person who leaked the draft speech of the president hours to his last nationwide broadcast, has been caught.

Buhari had addressed the nation on Monday, extending the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun by a week.

He also commended health workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 and adopted some of the recommendations of governors about the pandemic.

Among the recommendations he listed for implementation are use of face mask in public, restriction of interstate movement and imposition of dusk to dawn curfew.

A version — full of errors — circulated on social media at least four hours before the president eventually read what was different in some ways from the draft.

In a piece entitled: “Enemies of the state”, Adesina said the individual who leaked the memo had been traced and is now “paying for his evil action”.

“President Muhammadu Buhari was to broadcast to the country by 8 p.m, to give an update on the battle against COVID-19, and what becomes of the lockdown that had lasted four weeks, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States. Kano was also a point of heavy interest, with the strange deaths ravaging the state. Was it COVID-19 or not?” Adesina wrote.

“As the country waited for the President with great expectations, a purported copy of the broadcast began to circulate on social media from about 4 p.m. Whodunnit?

“I took a look at the circulating document, and within one minute, I knew that it was a rogue copy. What immediately gave it away was the paragraphing. It was completely different from the one I had been part of producing, and which had been recorded for broadcast by the President.

“If the person that leaked the unedited draft of the broadcast had access to more sensitive national documents, he would do the same thing. If he cottons on information that could sell Nigeria to the enemy, he would gladly do it. Thou art in the midst of foes, watch and pray.

“Igbo people speak of the proverbial lizard that ruined his own mother’s funeral. That was what the hidden hostile hand did. But he forgot that in these days of technology, almost everything leaves a trail. Before the end of that evening, computer evidences had narrowed down the suspect, and he was already answering for his evil action.”

FG asks some civil servants to resume work on Monday

Folasade Yemi-Esan

The federal government has directed civil servants on grade level 14 and above to resume work on Monday.

In a circular dated April 30 and addressed to the chief of staff to the president, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and all ministers, Folasade Yemi-Esan, head of service, said offices would only be opened on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and close by 2pm.

She said all offices should ensure that staff wash their hands and adhere to other guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19.

“Further to Mr. President‘s broadcast on a phased and gradual easing of the Iockdown measures occasioned by COVID-19, officers on GL. 14 and above and those on essential services are hereby directed to resume work with effect from Monday 4th May, 2020 in the first instance,” the circular read.

“Offices are to open three times a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday and close at 2.00pm on each day. In resuming, the concerned officers are to ensure full compliance with the directives and advice on the COVID-19 pandemic preventive measures including maintenance of social distancing, regular washing and/ or sanitizing of hands and wearing of face masks.

“Officers are advised to limit the number of visitors they receive to the barest minimum and such visitors should also comply with safety and health advice/directives. As you are aware, the Federal Secretariat Complexes have been decontaminated while efforts are ongoing to do some in other public offices.

“To further support the efforts to check the spread of the virus. Permanent secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are to ensure that handwashing and sanitation facilities are placed at entrances and strategic points in their MDAs.

“They are also to ensure that, as much as practicable, entrance to the MDAs is limited to only one. It is equally important that infrared thermometers are provided at the entrance for compulsory temperature checks.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had locked down, Lagos, Ogun and Abuja to check the spread of coronavirus.

In his last national broadcast, Buhari had said the lockdown which lasted for over a month would be eased gradually from Monday.

SOURCE: This story was first published and owned by TheCable

Just in: IMF approves $3.4bn emergency support for Nigeria

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved the $3.4 billion requested by the Nigerian government for emergency support.

IMF came to the decision after the executive board met on Tuesday to discuss Nigeria’s request for emergency support under the rapid financing instrument.

FG declares May 1 public holiday

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government in a statement by signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Georgina Ehuriah.

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In the statement, Aregbesola commended Nigerian workers “for their resilience, patience and understanding, particularly in their support at stemming the spread of COVID-19”.

Aregbesola who further thanked Nigerians and the labour force for their “sacrifices in the present period of trial”, assured that their “commitment and patience will complement the efforts being made by Government and other stakeholders to ensure the speedy control of the virus”.

He said, “With the cooperation of every citizen, as well as strict adherence to the measures being put in place by relevant authorities, the challenges being faced by Nigerians as a result of the disease, would soon be put behind.”

The Minister added that “the economy of the country will rebound and be stronger after the COVID-19 experience, taking cognisance of the various economic stabilisation efforts by the Federal Government”.

Buhari’s draft speech was leaked before broadcast, but by who?

Hours before President Muhammadu Buhari delivered his address to the nation on Monday night, a version — full of errors — was already circulating on social media.

Although the version he eventually read was different in some ways from the draft, presidency officials are livid over the leak, TheCable understands.

In the draft, the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) was to be lifted on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

But in the broadcast, the president moved the date to Monday, May 4.

Significantly, while the president announced a total lockdown for two weeks in Kano state, the draft only said “the total lockdown recently announced by the State Government shall remain enforced… for the full duration”.

It appears the leaked version was copied from a Microsoft Word document with the original text and edits included, leading to the repetition of many words and phrases.

All these had been cleaned up in the final version read by the president.

TheCable understands that the draft was prepared by a member of the presidential task force on COVID-19 and sent to the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).

Boss Mustapha is both the SGF and chairman of the task force.

All fingers are now pointing at the SGF office for the leak, although there is also suspicion that the email of the writer might have been hacked.

A few days ago, a memo to Mustapha by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was also scanned and leaked on social media.

In the letter, the forum made recommendations on the easing of lockdowns nationwide.

Some of the recommendations — including use of face mask in public, restriction of interstate movement and imposition of dusk to dawn curfew — were adopted by the president.

Buhari extends lockdown in Lagos and Ogun state

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) by one week.

In a nationwide broadcast on Monday, the president explained that he consulted widely before taking the decision.

He commended Nigerians for the level of endurance shown throughout the four weeks that the lockdown has lasted, advising them to adhere to the guidelines of the presidential task force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“I will start by commending you all for the resilience and patriotism that you have shown in our collective fight against the biggest health challenge of our generation,” he said.

“As at yesterday, 26th April 2020, some 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded globally with about 900,000 recoveries. Unfortunately, some 200,000 people have passed away as a result of this pandemic.

“The health systems and economies of many nations continue to struggle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Nigeria continues to adapt to these new global realities on a daily basis. Today, I will present the facts as they are and explain our plans for the coming months fully aware that some key variables and assumptions may change in the coming days or weeks.

“Exactly two weeks ago, there were 323 confirmed cases in 20 States and the Federal Capital Territory. 7. As at this morning, Nigeria had recorded 1,273 cases across 32 States and the FCT. Unfortunately, this includes 40 deaths.

“In line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum, I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, 4th May, 2020.

“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”


Correction: An earlier version of this publication erroneously stated that President Buahari has, during his speech eased the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun state. The error has been corrected and we apologise for it.

Kano’s spike in deaths ‘not linked to coronavirus’

Officials in Nigeria’s northern Kano state say the recent sharp rise in deaths was not connected to Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.

Officials say they are still investigating the cause of the deaths, but added that so far preliminary results show it’s not Covid-19.

The Nigerian health minister said the situation “is being monitored closely”.

Over the last week, there have been media reports of a higher than usual number of burials at grave sites in the state – with the figures being said to be in the hundreds.

But, in a statement, the state health ministry said investigations showed most of the deaths were caused by complications arising from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis and acute malaria.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has also sent a team to help with the investigations. Authorities are urging the public not to panic.

The country has to date confirmed conformed 1,273 coronavirus cases and 40 deaths.

Three states – the capital, Abuja, the commercial hub of Lagos and Ogun in the south-west – are currently in the fourth week of a lockdown, extended from an initial two weeks.

Inter-state travel has also been banned for two weeks to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

Nigeria exceeds 1,000 COVID-19 cases

Nigeria on Friday recorded 114 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total recorded in the country to 1095.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in a tweet Friday night said the new cases were recorded in nine states. These are Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ogun, Gombe, Zamfara, Edo, Oyo, Kaduna and Sokoto states.

As of the time of reporting, 27 states and the FCT have recorded at least a case of the disease.

For the second consecutive day, no case was recorded in Kano. Although no official reason was given for this, PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday reported how the Kano testing centre suspended its operations due to scarcity of materials and because some of its staff tested positive to the virus. Although the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, later said the testing materials had been made available, a Kano health ministry official told PREMIUM TIMES the testing would be suspended for at least 48 hours.

On Thursday, Zamfara State recorded its first cases of the virus since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria in February.

Also, Lagos State reported its highest daily figure, 80, since the index case was detected in the state.

A breakdown of the latest update shows that 80 of the new cases were reported in Lagos, 21 in Gombe, 5 in FCT, 2 in Zamfara and Edo, and one in Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Sokoto states.

NCDC said as of 11:50 p.m. on April 24, there were 1095 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. Of these, 208 infected people have recovered and have been discharged while the death toll rose to 32 from 31 reported on Thursday.

A breakdown of all the cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 657 cases, followed by FCT – 138, Kano – 73, Ogun – 35, Gombe – 30, Katsina – 21, Osun – 20, Edo – 19, Oyo – 18 cases, Borno – 12, Kwara-11, Akwa Ibom – 11 cases, Kaduna – 10, Bauchi has recorded eight cases, Delta – six, , Ekiti – four, Ondo and Rivers three apiece.

Jigawa, Enugu, Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Abia have two cases each while Benue, Anambra, Adamawa and Plateau state have a case apiece.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Community transmission

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Friday said that the high number of cases was as a result of ongoing community transmission and active case search.

He said most of the affected age group is from 31-40 years, while the highest COVID-19 fatality is in patients who are 50years and above.

He also said that the government has deployed COVID-19 starter packs to all tertiary health institutions and federal medical centers, to complement what had earlier been sent to states.

The starter packs, he said, consist of medical consumables to ensure the protection of frontline workers.

Health workers

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) expressed dismay that some of its members have contracted the virus in the process of discharging their duty.

Health workers are prone to contracting infectious disease when discharging their duties as they are the first line responders for disease control.

The association in a statement released on Friday said that over 40 doctors and other health workers have tested positive, with three doctors and one nurse dead from the virus.

It lamented that the health workers contracted the disease within the society and at private health facilities as some of the patients refused to disclose important medical and travel information that would have increased the suspicion and facilitate the early diagnosis of COVID-19 infections.

NMA therefore appealed to the government to expedite action on distribution of PPEs to public and private hospitals without delay.

“We remind our members all over the federation to consider everyone presenting at the hospital for any ailments as potential COVID-19 patient until proven otherwise,” the NMA said.

Why some Nigerians are gloating about Covid-19

Many Nigerians gloat that Covid-19 is mainly targeting the country’s elite, particularly politicians, despite warnings that the life-threatening respiratory illness could hit the poor as well.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has recorded more than 600 cases since the end of February – most of them people who had been abroad, and those they had interacted with after their return to Africa’s most-populous state, which has a population of about 200 million.

So far, Nigeria’s list of people who got or have died from Covid-19 includes President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, politicians, heads of government agencies, former ambassadors and their aides or relatives.

These are the kind of people who normally jet off to the UK, Germany, or the US at the slightest headache because Nigeria’s state hospitals are poorly funded, run-down, and lack adequate equipment.

The 2020 government budget allocates only about 4.5% of spending for health, less than the 15% target the African Union had set for governments in 2001.

Doctors frequently embark on strikes over salaries not paid for months.

Mocking politicians

Many of them seize any opportunity to work abroad – nearly 2,000 of the doctors in the UK’s state-run National Health Service qualified in Nigeria, according to a report presented to the UK’s parliament last year.

Nigerians spent more than $1bn ($800m) on treatment in overseas hospitals in 2013.

President Buhari promised to end “medical tourism” when he took power in 2015, but he himself spent more than four months in London in 2017 getting treatment for an undisclosed illness and subsequently returning to the UK capital for additional care.

But with borders closed and each country haunted by its own Covid-19 nightmare, Nigeria’s big men and women are now forced to use their country’s hospitals, prompting a stream of taunts and jokes.

“This is your punishment for not investing in your country’s health system,” some say.

“I thought our hospitals were not good enough for you,” others say.

Some Nigerians also hoped that the “selectiveness” of the virus might be God’s way of bringing about changes in their government.

They latched on to rumours that Mr Buhari, 72, had been infected by his chief of staff, and was gravely ill on a ventilator.

The less malicious folk shrouded their great hope in a prayer: “Let God’s will be done.”

‘God pulled a fast one’

Indignant at the expressions of ill will towards his boss, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said: “Why do some people conjure nothing but evil? In 2017, while President Buhari had his medical challenge, they were on an orgy of negative wishes, misinformation, and disinformation.

“But God pulled a fast one on them. He brought the president back, as right as rain. Haven’t they learned their lessons?”

The rumours finally ended after Mr Buhari – looking well – was videoed in a meeting with senior health officials.

A day later, on 29 March, Mr Buhari appeared on TV and ordered a 14-day lockdown of Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state, and the capital city Abuja, giving their 30 million residents just 24 hours to prepare to stay at home.

Mr Buhari subsequently extended the lockdown by two weeks, deepening fears about how the poor will survive in their overcrowded neighbourhoods, without water, electricity, and little food.

But all the gloating could come to a swift end.

Covid-19 could spread more rapidly beyond the elites, who could pass it on to their retinue of “servants” – drivers, cooks, nannies and security guards, among others – who in turn could infect their families and neighbours in slums found in every major city.

‘Not for the rich alone’

Social-distancing and self-isolation in a typical Nigerian slum is impossible.

About 30 families often cram into a building, sharing the same bathroom and toilet. The potential disaster is unimaginable.

As Ogun governor Dapo Abiodun said at the 30 March launch of a Covid-19 isolation centre in his state: “Contrary to the erroneous belief, this virus is not for the rich or elite alone. Everyone is at risk.”

So while the lockdown causes much inconvenience and hardship for all Nigerians, especially the poor, it helps to maintain the vast gulf that exists in society, thus preventing those at the top from transmitting the virus to those at the bottom.

Nigeria’s gross inequality has often been criticised, and rightly so, but the spread of Covid-19 is definitely one area where the nation cannot afford to have equality.

Coronavirus: Nigeria’s mega churches adjust to empty auditoriums

By Nduka Orjinmo

The auditoriums of Nigeria’s mega churches are empty and their gates are shut as they are forced to observe a government ban on large gatherings to halt the spread of coronavirus.

But it took not only threats, but force and arrests for the message to get across.

In some cases those in charge of making the churches bolt their doors turned to the scriptures.

“May I use the words of [Prophet] Mordechai: ‘For such as time as this we do what is appropriate,'” said the leader of an enforcing team in the capital, Abuja, as he arrested a pastor in front of his congregation.

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Dressed all in black, had he had a collar he would have passed for a preacher with his baritone voice and gesticulations.

The pastor he led out of the church, donned in a burgundy-coloured suit, shiny black shoes and with hair that glowed in the sun, looked like many of those who now lead huge congregations in the West African nation.

These preachers have changed the face of Christianity in Nigeria – with their evangelical sermons, prophecies and promises of miracles.

Conspiracy theories

One of the most famous of these is TB Joshua, who last month claimed to be divinely inspired, predicting that the coronavirus pandemic would be over by 27 March, several days before a lockdown was imposed on the states of Lagos, Ogun and the capital, Abuja.

TB Joshua is one of Nigeria’s most flamboyant and controversial pastors

“By the end of this month, whether we like it or not, no matter the medicine they might have produced to cure whatever, it will go the way it came,” he said to applause from his congregation.

When 27 March passed the TV evangelist found himself mocked for his “false prophesy”.

But he defended himself – once again to cheers from worshippers – by saying: “What I meant was that the virus would be halted where it began, and in Wuhan it has stopped.”

Other pastors have been accused of flying in the face of the authorities and spreading fake news, impeding efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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The biggest controversy has been caused by Christ Embassy pastor Chris Oyakhilome, who in a video post that went viral, linked the virus to 5G networks and alleged that it was part of a plot to create a “new world order”.

Such views have been widely condemned by scientists, who say the idea of a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is “complete rubbish” and biologically impossible.

Online prayer services

For some Christians, especially those who belong to the dwindling pews of the Anglican and Catholic churches, more needs to be done to weaken the influence of the mega pastors who exploit vulnerable people.

Church advertising online services
Image captionMany worshippers say they miss going to church, especially over the Easter period

“Those that sell us the miracle waters, the holy oils and all that, this is the time to prove it,” said Blessing Ugonna, a woman I met in Lagos.

But many of the mega churches, which run multi-million dollar business empires, have adapted to the changes brought about by the virus.

They are streaming prayer services online, and some families are trying to create an atmosphere at home by dressing up in their Sunday outfits with the head of the household even collecting “offerings” – or money – from the rest of the family to give to their church.

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The churches are also making donations to the government and financially stricken worshippers in a move that is likely to see them retain popularity.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye – the head of Redeemed Christian Church of God that has a branch in almost every street in mainly Christian cities and towns in southern Nigeria – has donated 200,000 hand gloves, 8,000 hand sanitisers, 8,000 surgical face masks to the Lagos state government..

And the Mountain of Holy Ghost Intervention Church – whose self-styled prophet Chukwuemeka Odumeje once caused a stir on social media for wrestling a congregant he claimed to be possessed by a demon – has earned some praise on Twitter for giving food to people who risk hunger during the two-week lockdown.

Twitter post by @chinochinwa: The devil you know is quite better than the Angel you don't know.... It doesn't matter how people see this man, Odumeje   Odumeje shared not less than 500 cartons of Indomie,3000 tubbers of yam, rice and other food items not only for his church members but anywhere you come.
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Empty streets on Holy week

Nevertheless, many Christians still yearn to go to church – and last Sunday was particularly difficult for them as it was Palm Sunday.

A man enacting Jesus Christ receives a beating as he carries a cross during a procession to mark Good Friday in Lagos, on April 14, 2017.
Image captionHoly week processions, like this one pictured in 2017, have been banned

Usually, the streets of Lagos are packed on the day, with processions being held as the faithful wave palm leaves and re-enact Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem days before his crucifixion.

The streets were empty this year – just as they are likely to be over the Easter weekend.

But I did bump into a group of four – three women and a man – returning from a small service held in someone’s home.

Women who went to a service at home
Image captionThese three women attended a service at a private residence in Lagos

When I asked them why they had ignored advice to pray alone in their own homes, one of them replied: “Even the Bible said that where two or three are gathered, He is there in their midst. The Bible did not say one person.”

‘Prayer warriors’

I then went to the headquarters of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, known for its intense prayer sessions, in Ogun state.

The security guards told me there was no service.

“Not even an online service?” I asked.

“Not even online,” one of them, dressed in a lemon-coloured vest, replied.

“So how are people keeping the faith?” I inquired.


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He dug into his bag and put a booklet into my hands.

“That’s what they are reading while the lockdown lasts,” he said, before walking away and shutting the gate with more force than was required.

The 60-page booklet was called Thirty Days Prayer Retreat – with recitations from the books of the Bible.

It will not be surprising if the “prayer warriors”, as the church calls some of its worshippers, complete it during the 14-day lockdown, rather than in a month.

Nigeria’s lack of transparency in fighting Coronavirus will backfire

By Mike Ikenwa

During a public health crisis, a government’s credibility is a vital asset. To slow the spread of a virus, the government must convincingly inform and instruct the public. And to do this, it must inspire trust.  Trust by following the science, acting out of the interests of the population, and enforcing measures that will help to keep the public safe. Trust depends on transparency. If governments appear to be concealing the truth or withholding information, their credibility can quickly crumble.

Nigeria’s transparency in fighting coronavirus has been in question since the first outbreak of the disease on 28th February 2020.

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been consistent in publishing the number of new cases recorded on daily basis, as well as the number of deaths and recovery but in the beginning, it was beyond this. The agency started by detailing new cases with the origin of the individual that contracted the virus, their movement and latest information on them but as more cases are  recorded, they dropped this information.

A sample of their first announcement of the first case reads: The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy to Lagos, Nigeria on the 25th of February 2020. He was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.


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The questions on the level of transparency by The Nigerian government in the fight against the pandemic started when it was rumoured that  the country has recorded its first death of coronavirus. The story was first published by The Punch Newspapers but was later deleted and was announced days later by the NCDC which forced the citizens to begin to question how open the agency has been in the fight and if there are more that are being hidden intentionally and why?

Another case was when it was rumoured that The Chief of Staff of the Nigerian president, Abba Kyari, has tested positive for coronavirus, following his recent visit to some of the countries with the worse cases. Later on that evening, the NCDC published an update on the cases recorded with “one case in Abuja” without stating, as has been the case, who the person is, which further fueled the question of transparency and started the rumour of how safe the country’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari is following his closeness to His chief of staff.

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Recently, it was reported that before the death of the second person who died of the disease in Nigeria, he visited Imo state on his return to Nigeria from visits to the UK, Italy and US which are some of the hottest areas of the virus but till date the NCDC is yet to release any statement regarding his movement and is being accused of shielding the case and covering up possible viral cases within Owerri and Mbaise.

Another point of accusation on the agency’s transparency is the donation being made by some individuals and businesses in Nigeria which as at today is over 21 billion Naira. The Federal government still laments on lack of funds to purchase ventilators and testing kits for the virus.

The Federal Ministry of Finance was recently embroid in a show of shame after their twitter handle sent out a tweet to Tesla founder, Elon Musk asking for support in the acquisition of new ventilators and testing kits, leading to a public questioning on what all the donations Nigerians have been making so far is being used for and how it’s being managed?

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An environment of opacity and suspicion has made the Nigerian government into its own worst enemy and aggravated what Nigerian officials seemingly fear: that Nigerians could suspect they are covering up the real scale of infections.

Nigerian government and the NCDC may have nothing to hide at all. Thus far, there is no evidence of an orchestrated cover-up of infections. Nigeria government responded faster and more aggressively than other African countries and even the US and UK, by speeding up contact tracing, shutting schools and universities and even religious activities. The government has halted political fights with the opposition parties and seem to be more focused on getting the country back to normal and putting an end to the spread of the disease.

Moreover, no country can claim a perfect response – the scientific consensus about the virus is still emerging and nobody yet knows how much devastation it will ultimately wreak. Nigeria could have acknowledged that most countries undoubtedly have more infections than confirmed numbers because testing is still limited.

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The UK itself is contending with two dramatically different models: one from Imperial College London researchers, who argue the country is still early in its fight with the virus and another from researchers at Oxford University, which suggests that as much as half the population (over 30 million people) may have already been infected. In the absence of data about the virus, such models are partly reliant on assumption and speculation.

Indeed, its persistent aversion to transparency has led many observers and foreign governments to view most official claims with a degree of suspicion.

Recently, an army general was dismissed from his post leading the fight against Boko Haram when a video surfaced on social media showing the general lamenting on the killing of his men by the terrorists which is, according to him as a result of insufficient arms and ammunition and being obviously overpowered by the insurgents who are well equipped with superior firearms.


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Not only was the government’s response harmful, it was also unnecessary. After the news broke and went viral, the government released a statement on improvement in supplies of arms and adequately equipping the soldiers to clear out the terrorists. But the damage to its reputation had already been done and would last for years.

It’s the same story with coronavirus. The government would do far better by responding transparently to concerns and being open about the measures it is taking. During a pandemic, transparency is not a liberal luxury, but a vital feature of effective governance.

U.S. evacuates citizen who tested positive to coronavirus in Nigeria

Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, provided the information on his Twitter handle on Wednesday.

Mr Abayomi said eight patients out of the 82 confirmed cases in Lagos have been discharged from the isolation facility following their full recovery while an American has been evacuated.

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“One of the confirmed case who is an American citizen has been evacuated to USA,” Mr Abayomi, a professor, who coordinates the Lagos government’s COVID-19 response, said.

The U.S. government had earlier said it was preparing evacuation flights for its citizens in Nigeria due to COVID-19.

In a notice released last Friday by the U.S. Consulate tagged ‘Health Alert’, U.S. citizens were told to prepare to join the arranged flights that would evacuate them from Nigeria, PUNCH newspaper reported.

U.S. citizens in different states of Nigeria were enjoined to find their way to Abuja and Lagos for the evacuation process.

“We will email US citizens immediately once we have flights details, routes, and costs,” the notice read.

Mr Abayomi has now confirmed that the U.S. citizen in the Lagos government facility has been evacuated.

Prof Akin Abayomi

The U.S., like Nigeria and the rest of the world, is currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is, however, worse in the U.S. where over 200,000 people have been infected and over 5,000 dead.

U.S. deaths from the virus are projected to rise to over 100,000 in the next few weeks as various American states battle with insufficient equipment to treat patients.

In Nigeria, 174 people have tested positive for the virus including two deaths.

Lagos is still the state with the highest confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country with 91 cases out of the total 174 cases nationwide, followed by Abuja which has 35 cases.


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Twelve states and Abuja have confirmed cases of coronavirus out of the 36 states in Nigeria. The health authorities have also said more cases will be recorded as contact tracing continues nationwide.

Nigeria to reduce price of petrol

Nigeria’s government is to cut the price of petrol as global crude oil prices plummet.

A litre will cost 125 naira ($0.34, £0.29), down from 145 naira.

“This action is being taken to cushion the economic impact of Covid-19 on our people,” the Reuters news agency quotes Petroleum Minister Timipre Sylva as saying.

Despite being one of Africa’s largest oil producers, Nigeria has to import most of the fuel used in the country.

BREAKING: FG bans travel from China, UK, US over coronavirus

The federal government says it is restricting entry into the country for travellers from 13 countries, including China, the UK and the US.

It said it is a precaution against the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The travel ban will kick in from Saturday.

”You will recall that yesterday Tuesday 17‘h March, 2020 the Presidential Task Force on COVlD-19 set up by Mr. President was inaugurated and held its first briefing, the presidential task force on COVID-19 said in a statement on Wednesday.

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”You will also recall that the PTF at the end of the meeting announced the ban on all forms of travels by public officers and civil servants until further notice.

”This morning, we have found it necessary to brief Nigerians on further measures being taken after an assessment of the global situation. They are as follows:

”i. The Federal Government of Nigeria is restricting entry into the country for travellers from the following thirteen (13) countries; China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland. These are all countries with over 1,000 case domestically;


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”ii. All persons arriving in Nigeria who might have visited these countries, 14 days prior to such arrival, will be subjected to supervised self-isolation and testing for 14 days;

”iii. The Federal Government is temporarily suspending the issuance of all visas on arrival;

”iv. The Federal Government is also counseling all Nigerians to cancel or postpone all non-essential travels to these countries; and

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”v. The Federal Government urges Public Health Authorities of countries with high burden to conduct diligent departure screening of passengers and also endorses this travel advisories to their nationals to postpone travels to Nigeria.

”4. These restrictions will come into effect from Saturday, 21st March, 2020 for four (4) weeks subject to review.”

Over 27 countries in Africa have recorded cases of coronavirus with some nations enforcing travel restrictions to check the spread of the disease in their territories.

The number of recorded cases globally is now over 200,000.

Coronavirus: Atiku asks FG to ban flights from some countries

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has asked the federal government to suspend flights to and from countries with high prevalence of coronavirus.

Atiku had asked the federal government to temporarily suspend flights from affected countries when Nigeria first recorded coronavirus.

The index case is a man who flew into the country from Milan, Italy. One of those who had contact with him has also tested positive, making two confirmed cases in the country.

In a statement on Thursday, Atiku said the economic impact of a widespread outbreak of the disease in Nigeria will be “catastrophic”, while calling on the government to err on the side of caution in order to prevent further spread.


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“Two weeks ago, when Nigeria recorded its index case of the coronavirus, I had cause to urge the Federal Government to restrict flights from nations with a high prevalence of the Coronavirus plague. This is in line with global best practices,” Atiku said.

“This is a patriotic call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to take every reasonable step to protect the citizens of Nigeria, by temporarily suspending flights to and from such countries, until we build up our ability to contain the coronavirus. Our borders should however be open to Nigerian citizens, regardless of their status.

“Despite the commendable efforts of our patriotic health officials, it will be recalled that to date, we are yet to identify and or locate multiple passengers who flew in with the index case from Italy. They could be anywhere. We must, therefore, err on the side of caution. We cannot afford to broaden the possibility of future infections.

“The economic impact of a widespread infestation of the virus in Nigeria will be catastrophic, and will affect our national security, and status as Africa’s leading economy. The ravages of this scourge, which has officially been classified as a global pandemic, must not be allowed to test our already fragile economy.”

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He expressed his willingness to work with the government to ensure the safety of the country and its citizens.

“I urge that every political and any other differences be put aside. On my part, on this issue, I am first a Nigerian, and I am willing and ready to work with anybody, at any time, at whatever cost, to ensure the safety of this country, which is the only country we have to call our home, and her peoples,” he said.

“We must act now. We must put Nigeria and her citizens first. We must ensure that our national policy is deliberately tailored to protect our most excellent national resource, the great Nigerian people.”

SOURCE: The Cable

Africa hit by oil price free fall

The big fall in the price of oil in recent days is hitting the economies of countries in Africa that depend heavily on income from exports of the commodity.

Members of the Opec cartel like Algeria, Angola and Nigeria are especially at risk.

The price of oil went into free fall, after Russia refused to continue its pact with Opec to reduce production, which prompted Saudi Arabia to increase output.

Brent crude oil, the benchmark traded in London, is below $40 (£31) a barrel, about 25% down on last week’s price.

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Algeria says a “rapid decision to balance the market” is needed, while Nigeria believes fellow Opec members might need to reconsider production cuts, because the sharp drop in prices may force the group to change strategy.

Nigeria’s government has admitted state spending will have to be curbed, to account for reduced oil revenues.

The credit ratings agency Fitch, whose assessments guide how much it costs countries to borrow money, says it will reconsider its analysis of the economies of Angola, Nigeria and Gabon.


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Fitch is concerned that Nigeria may spend much of its foreign reserves trying to prop up the value of its naira currency.

Its rival credit ratings group Standard & Poor’s has revised its estimate on the average price of Brent crude oil, down to $40 a barrel this year.

Why a rise in court cases is bad for Nigeria’s democracy

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari at a campaign rally ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Stefan Heunis/AFP via Getty Images

By Ini Dele-Adedeji, University of Bristol

One year after the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, courts are still busy deciding who the winners were in dozens of them.

One of the most recent cases was in Bayelsa State . The candidate of the All Progressives Congress was initially thought to have won the election. But, he was sacked by the Supreme Court 24 hours before his swearing-in ceremony because, the court found, his running mate had presented fake documents and was therefore disqualified. You can’t be a candidate without a qualified running mate.

There is also a case in Imo State. There, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party was sworn into office like others on 29 May 2019. But he was removed by the Supreme Court following a dispute over the electoral result. In its ruling, the court declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress the winner. He’d come fourth at the polls.

Looking at the rate at which courts, rather than the electorate, end up determining actual winners of the polls, is the credibility of the Nigerian elections at stake?

I believe the answer is yes.

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The power to determine who is elected into political office ought to be decided by voters. Judicial recourse is perfectly allowed and is preferable to extra-judicial measures to redress perceived electoral slights. But this should be an exceptional option taken to rectify an electoral impropriety of some sort.

But, it’s not the exception in Nigeria. The Independent National Electoral Commission recently announced that it had so far withdrawn 64 certificates of return –documents issued to election winners – and reissued them to people declared winners by courts of law following the 2019 general elections. The election saw 1,031 candidates contested for presidential, governorship, national assembly and state houses of assembly seats.

The reality is that there’s merit to a large majority of the cases brought before the law courts seeking electoral redress. This is because electoral malpractice has become part of Nigeria’s electoral culture. These malpractices take place before, during and after elections. Some of the most common examples include multiple thumb-printing, falsification of result sheets, fake ballot papers, manipulation of voter registration and the use of violence to disrupt voting.

The history

There is precedence for the Nigerian courts acting as a last resort in cases of electoral result disputes. Arguably the most monumental episode was the case between the late Obafemi Awolowo and late Shehu Shagari following the 1979 presidential election.

Awolowo, a Nigerian nationalist and statesman who played a key role in the country’s independence movement, was a presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria in that year’s poll. Shagari, was a presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria. Shagari won, emerging as Nigeria’s first democratically elected president.

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But Awolowo contested Shagari’s victory on the grounds that it had not satisfied the requirement in the electoral decree of the time that the winner had to secure one quarter of the votes cast in two thirds of all the states of the federation.

The election tribunal dismissed Awolowo’s claim and the case came before the Supreme Court. The judges also ruled in favour of Shagari except for the dissenting judgment of Justice Kayode Eso.

The current situation is different because of the rate at which election results are being annulled. This means that the courts are essentially determining the winners.

It unnecessarily places the courts and judges under the spotlight and the attendant pressure that comes with it, since it shifts the role of the judiciary from being an umpire to an arbiter.

Courts have upturned several electoral victories since after the 2019 polls.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

Weaknesses in the system

Nigeria has a strong Electoral Act. It has been amended a few times over the years and it is not different from the electoral constitutions being used in other democratic climes.

But the law can only go so far. The bigger problem is an absence of strong democratic institutions to support it. The strengthening of democratic institutions, I would argue, would result in an increase in free and fair elections.


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In particular the electoral commission and the police force need to be strengthened. The police are usually left out during elections. Instead of being trained and given the wherewithal to assist electoral commission officials in safeguarding voters, electoral officials and ballot centres, the army is usually deployed during elections. This puts the police and army at cross purposes. It also increases the possibility of violence ensuing.

Another problem is the Independent National Electoral Commission. The root of a lot of the election-related cases brought before the courts can be traced to its limited ability to anticipate and address known recurring election-related problems. Examples include it’s inability to secure ballot boxes and tally votes in a timely fashion.

These things could be achieved if the commission was strengthened by the executive and given the statutory, logistical, financial support, and independence it requires.

Voters are often left with a shorter end of the stick.
Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Who benefits?

Politicians – and those close to them – are the only ones to benefit from the current state of affairs. The Nigerian voting public will always come off worse. This is because voters are likely to become apathetic about voting if they feel that their vote doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Low voter turnout is an indictment of the electoral process.

In addition, the argument over whether the courts are partial or impartial is a moot one. The fact remains that appointments to positions in almost every aspect of Nigeria’s public sector are politically influenced. Nigerians are, therefore, right to question the partiality – or otherwise – of the courts.

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The current trend also has the potential to embolden politicians to forego the polls and instead try to “win” elections by influencing the judiciary in underhand ways.

Making a habit of by-passing elections as a means of determining elected officials due to electoral irregularities, and forcing the judiciary to constantly have to annul elections doesn’t bode well for Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.


Ini Dele-Adedeji, Research Associate, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Nigeria: why having fewer political parties isn’t enough

Electoral commission officers count votes after the polls were closed during the 2019 General elections. Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images

By Olayinka Ajala, University of York

During the last general elections Nigeria in 2019, about 28 million of the 84 million registered voters filed out to elect the president, vice president and members of the national assembly.

In addition to security concerns in some areas, allegations of rigging and the generally tense atmosphere in several states, the other major issue that bogged the electoral process was voters’ complaints about the long ballot paper which had to accommodate 73 presidential aspirants. And there were 91 political parties presenting candidates at the national, state and local government elections on the ballot.

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Voters complained about how difficult it was to locate their preferred choice because ballot papers carried the names and logos of all the political parties, some with similar acronyms. Some voters also noted that they spent a long time voting, sometimes resulting in mistakes and eventually invalid votes.

Since the election a year ago, there has been a growing clamour for reform. In response, the Independent National Electoral Commission recently announced the de-registration of 74 out of the 92 registered political parties in the country. The electoral umpire based its decision on the provision of the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended in 2018, which, it says, empowers it to de-register political parties.

This suggests that reducing the number of parties is an important step in streamlining Nigeria’s electoral system. But the actions of the electoral commission might not be enough to solve some deeper systemic issues facing the country’s electoral processes which result in the abuse of the system.

Electoral commission officers and voters discuss while votes are counted.
Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images

The drivers

Since the country returned to democracy in 1999, floating a political party is sometimes viewed as a “business venture”. This is for two main reasons.


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First, the Independent National Electoral Commission provides funding to political parties. Section 228c of the Nigerian constitution allows for the disbursement of annual grants to political parties to assist them in discharging their functions.

For instance, ahead of the 2003 general elections, the electoral commission disbursed N420 million to seven political parties including the People’s Democratic Party at an average of N60 million per party.

Problem is, the money is often difficult to account for. This is in spite of the fact that the electoral commission is expected to audit the account of registered political parties.

Second, nobody can stand in an election in Nigeria unless they’re attached to a political party. What this means is that parties sell nomination forms to any candidate who wants to contest under their banner. This system has led to a situation in which application forms to contest electoral positions are believed to be one of the most expensive in the world. Some parties charge more than N25 million ($69,000) for the purchase of presidential nomination forms. This encourages corruption as would-be politicians try and rustle up the money.

Different schools of thoughts

There isn’t unanimity among Nigerians about the problem. Opinions about the number of political parties are often split along at least three main lines.

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The first group argues that the number of political parties in the country is an indication of the strength of its democracy. The basis of this argument is that more political parties result in more participation.

A second group believes that many parties are formed only for personal aggrandisement and not in the interest of the electorate. They don’t believe they’re electable and are quick to form alliances to support larger parties. This is usually done closer to elections and often after personal benefits in form of cash rewards or promise of political patronage have been promised.

A third group argues that some of the political parties are too small to have any national significance or the resources to reach out to over 200 million Nigerians. This argument has it that they should either merge with other parties or be deregistered. The electoral umpire falls under this category.

The electoral act sets down certain conditions under which parties can be deregistered. It was on the basis of these that the electoral commission deregistered 74 political parties. Its chairman argued that most of them could not garner up to 20,000 votes in the last presidential elections and, thereby, fell short of the electoral Act. The decision has been challenged in court by some of the affected parties.

Lastly, there is the issue of voter apathy. Millions of Nigerians stayed away from the polls in the last election.

A presiding officer counts ballots after voting ended at a polling station in Kano.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

What to do

A survey of Nigerians showed that voters were pleased with the step taken by the electoral commission. But not everybody was happy. Some, including party leaders, kicked back against the action stating that it posed a threat to the country’s democracy.

The bigger question is whether the commission’s decision will solve the abuse of the country’s electoral system. I believe not. This is because the criteria for the registration of political parties remain loose and there are over 100 pending applications. The criteria for the registration of political parties must be clarified and tightened to prevent politicians from continuing to use political parties for their personal gain.


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In addition, the electoral commission needs to address three key issues. First, it must stop the payment of annual grants to political parties. This would allow parties to find sustainable means of funding themselves. One avenue could be through party membership contributions.

Second, the commission must put a cap on the prices of nomination forms for electoral positions.

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Third, there is a need to criminalise the “cash for stepping down” practice, whereby larger parties induce smaller ones with cash incentives and political patronage during the election cycle.

Deregistering political parties will only lead to registration of new parties by the same people if these key issues are not addressed.


Olayinka Ajala, Associate Lecturer and Conflict Analyst, University of York

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Buhari urges calm amid coronavirus panic

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has broken his silence amid public panic prompted by the confirmation of the country’s first case of coronavirus.

The patient is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and flew into the commercial capital of Lagos from Milan last week. Authorities say he is clinically stable and is being treated at a hospital in the city.

It was the first confirmed case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa. Algeria and Egypt have also confirmed cases of the virus.

Globally, almost 90,000 people in 60 countries have been infected. More than 3,000 have died, the vast majority in China’s Hubei province.

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Mr Buhari has urged citizens to “refrain from panic” adding that “undue alarm would cause more harm than good”.

A statement from his office praised the Ministry of Health, the Centre for Disease Control and state governments for their response after the first case was confirmed on Friday.

The health ministry said that it had activated its response programme to ensure any outbreak of the virus is “controlled and contained quickly”.

The ministry said that so far all the people who were in contact with the Italian citizen have been contacted.

Mr Buhari told Nigerians only to trust information provided by the government and the World Health Organization and to follow their advice to prevent transmission.

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will publish daily reports with updates on any coronavirus cases and the response, he said.

The centre tweeted its first report on Sunday night:

Nigeria confirms first case of coronavirus (details)

Nigeria has reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa, as investor alarm over a potential global pandemic deepened stock market losses around the world.

Nigerian officials said the case involved an Italian citizen who entered the country on 24 February on a Turkish Airlines flight from Milan via Istanbul.

The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.

Switzerland became the latest country to announce drastic measures on Friday, saying all events with more than 1,000 participants would be suspended until 15 March. The ban forced the cancellation of next week’s Geneva international motor show – a major fixture on the global car industry calendar.

The Nigerian case is just the third to be confirmed in Africa, something that has puzzled health specialists given the continent’s close ties to China.

According to Nigerian officials, the Italian man stayed in a hotel near the airport on the evening of 24 February, then continued to his place of work in neighbouring Ogun state. He was treated on 26 February at his company’s medical facility before health practitioners there called government biosecurity officers, who transferred him on 27 February to a containment facility in Yaba, Lagos. He was clinically stable with no serious symptoms, authorities said.

This month the World Health Organization warned that porous borders, a continuing flow of travellers and poorly resourced healthcare systems meant the risk of an outbreak across Africa was “very, very high” and raised significant concerns about the ability of “fragile health systems” to cope.

In recent weeks testing regimes and isolation facilities have been reinforced and there has been work on public messaging.

“Nigeria has dramatically improved its ability to manage the outbreak of a major pandemic since the Ebola scare in west Africa in 2014,” Folasade Ogunsola, the professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Lagos, wrote on the Conversation website. “Any of the lessons from keeping the country free of Ebola have informed the steps taken since the news of the coronavirus epidemic first broke.”Advertisement

There is anxiety in many countries, despite reinforced protective measures. In Kenya there has been a backlash against authorities who allowed the first direct flight from China in two weeks. The high court ordered flights from China to be temporarily suspended.

In other developments on Friday:

  • Officials confirmed 20 new cases in France in 24 hours, after President Emmanuel Macron warned on Thursday that the country was on the brink of an epidemic. In Italy the death toll rose to 17.
  • About 1,000 people were in quarantine in Germany’s most populous state, as the number of confirmed cases in Europe’s biggest economy exceeded 50.
  • Lithuania and New Zealand reported their first confirmed cases.
  • The first case was confirmed in Wales, taking the total in the UK to 19.
  • China recorded 44 more deaths and 327 new confirmed cases, as the spread of the virus continued to slow in the country.
  • South Korea announced 571 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 2,337, by far the largest outside China.
  • Californian health officials said they were monitoring 8,400 people for symptoms after their arrival on domestic flights.
  • Australian doctors warned the public health system could be overwhelmed in the event of a pandemic, a day after the government launched its emergency response programme.

8kThe spread of the virus prompted investors to take decisive action on Friday, when global markets plummeted again. The Dow Jones had its biggest one-day fall on Thursday, plunging 1,190 points, or 4.4%, with analysts warning the virus could cause as much damage as the 2008-09 global financial crisisShares followed suit in the Asian trading session on Friday, while Brent crude was poised to dip below $50 a barrel for the first time in four years.

Buhari’s government denies spying on social media users

Nigeria’s ministry of communications has denied reports that it has been spying on mobile phone and social media users.

This comes after a fake statement went viral and caused panic by claiming that all mobile phones are connected to the ministry’s systems and that government officials are monitoring conversations.

A spokesperson for Communication Minister Isa Ali Pantami has urged Nigerians to “disregard the [viral] message and delete” upon receipt.

“The office of the Honourable Minister, initially ignored the message which has been in the public domain for some time, so as not to give undue attention to the originators,” Ms Suleiman wrote.false

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“But its spread, the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians to get clarity and the need to ensure that all Nigerians are properly informed, has necessitated this disclaimer/public awareness”.

1013 killed in Niger Delta in 2019

No fewer than 1013 people were killed in at least 416 conflicts and violent attacks in the Niger Delta in 2019, a report shows.

According to the Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND) in its Niger Delta Annual Conflict Report, the deaths from such violence increased in 2019 to 416 and 1013 respectively as against what was obtainable in 2018. In 2018, there were 351 incidents and 546 deaths.

The report was released on Sunday. The group’s reports track the violence trends at the regional, state and local levels.

“These conflict risk factors included historical tensions and a proliferation of armed groups (militant, criminal, and ethno-sectarian).”

“Organized criminality, cult clashes, political tensions, land disputes and communal clashes were the primary causes of lethal violence during the period. Gang and political violence increased while communal violence decreased during the year,” the report states.

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Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo and Rivers State top most notorious.

“The most reported incidents of violence related to criminality (including piracy, abductions, robberies, and killing for ritualistic purposes) which totalled 260 incidents resulted into 444 fatalities.”

There were also cultists supremacy clashes with 272 fatalities in 78 reported incidents.

“Gang violence was reported in all the states in the region, but it was more prevalent in Rivers, Edo, and Delta. Ethnic tensions were the third highest conflict issue in the region during the year, resulting in 197 fatalities in 77 reported incidents.”


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The report also shows the local governments in six states that were the most violent in the year 2019.

“The most violent local government areas (LGAs) in 2019 were Khana (Rivers), Oredo (Edo), Obio/Akpor (Rivers), Yenagoa (Bayelsa), Odukpani (Cross River), Mbo (Akwa Ibom), Emohua (Rivers) Ethiope East (Delta), Port Harcourt (Rivers), and Oyigbo (Rivers), respectively.”

April 2019 was the most deadly month with a total of 150 reported fatalities.

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“Separately in April, 10 people were reportedly killed during a clash over a land dispute between some communities in Obubra Local Government Area, Cross River state and a neighboring community in Ikwo Local Government Area, Ebonyi state.”

SOURCE: Premium Times

Only 34% of Nigerians use condoms during sex

Only 34% of adult Nigerians surveyed in a national poll use condoms during sex.

A majority of the respondents said they used a condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases

According to the survey carried out by NOIPolls, the results show that only 28% of the general population that uses condoms do so consistently.

This is despite the fact that most of those surveyed said it was easy for them to purchase a condom if needed.

Chike Nwangwu, NOIPolls CEO, told the BBC that religion and a partner’s refusal were the most common reasons given by respondents for not using condoms.

“With regards to perception and attitude on condom, 63% of Nigerians stated that the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear the word condom is sexual pleasure, while 45% disclosed that they instantly think of promiscuity when they see someone with a condom,” he said.

The survey including the following graphics to illustrate some of its findings:

The data was drawn from 1,000 adults in a country of some 200 million people.

The survey was conducted in partnership with Nigeria’s Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the National Agency for the Control of Aids (Naca) to mark International Condom Day on 13 February.