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Build on gains recorded in previous elections, Okei-Odumakin advises INEC





Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy, on Thursday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to build on the achievements recorded in the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

Okei-Odumakin made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and Houses of Assembly Elections.

She said: “There were some noticeable improvements particularly on the part of INEC, considering its efficient deployment of materials and personnel for the elections.

“I will advise the commission to build on the gains witnessed in the conduct of those elections to ensure  perfect conduct on Saturday.

“Nigerians do not wish to witness setbacks.’’

Okei-Odumakin, an election observer, appealed to the political class to join hands to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.

She said that some members of the political class frustrated efforts of INEC and other stakeholders during Feb. 23 elections.

“ It is also quite unfortunate that the election witnessed misconduct by some security agents, who abdicated their responsibilities for political thugs.

“We wish this will not happen on Saturday,’’ Okei-Odumakin said.

The rights activist said that was the need to properly define the role of security agencies in elections.

She added that INEC would require more powers to enable it to deal with some of its challenges, especially those due to external influences.

Okei-Odumakin called for introduction of an advanced electronic option to improve voting and curb corruption in the electoral space.

NNN reports that 91 registered political parties will be contesting in the Governorship and Houses of Assembly Elections in 1, 558 constituencies in 774 local government areas of the federation.


Lagos to build more general hospitals — Hamzat



The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, says the state will build more general hospitals in order to boost health care delivery.

Hamzat made this known on Tuesday while discussing Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu/Dr Obafemi Hamzat’s administration in the last one year on an online show, tagged: ”Covinspiration”.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the show was moderated by Dayo Israel, a UN Special Representative and British Council Global Change-maker.

“We have gotten experts and they have done the design and Mercy Hospital has been mapped out, as we are building another Mercy Hospital.

“Also, we are building a general hospital in Ojo because we discovered there is none around that axis and we are also expanding the general hospital in Gbagada.

“We are building a spinal cord hospital in the Gbagada General Hospital,” he said

The deputy governor added that the government was also building Infectious Disease Hospital at Yaba – a permanent isolation centre and Institute of Research.

Speaking on power, Hamzat said the administration was working on ensuring that people were adequately metered across the state.

He said that the government was procuring meter in order to stop the challenges of estimated billings and to enable the power distribution companies to take more electricity from the power generation companies.

He said that the challenge with power sector was money, saying that power distribution companies are rejecting power because of money.

“We are discussing with the two Discos, the Eko and Ikeja Discos.

“People are not ready to pay if you send them estimated bill but by helping with the procurement of metres, it will go a long way to light up Lagos.

“We want to work with the Discos on procurement of metres.

“The capacity to get 2000 megawatts is there but the challenge is funding,” he said.

Hamzat, however, noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 had slowed down the process but he assured that work was ongoing.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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Gov. Uzodimma inaugurates investigative panel on collapsed 8 story building in Owerri 



Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo on Tuesday, inaugurated a panel of inquiry into the recent collapsed eight story building in the  state to determine major cause of the incident.

Uzodinma inaugurated the panel at the executive chamber, Government House on Tuesday in  Owerri.

He said during the ceremony that the panel should among other things, determine if the contractors of the building followed due process before the collapse.

Uzodimma also urged the panel to recommend appropriate sanction against owners of building that fell short of standard.

He also urged it to recommend possible ways of avoiding future incidence of building collapse in the state.

The Chairman of the panel, Mr Jude Obidiegwu thanked the governor for finding them worthy of the assignment and  promised that the committee will not disappoint the government on the assignment.

An eight story building under construction located at Yaradua Drive in Owerri collapsed in May.

The incident claimed four lives, while several others sustained various degrees of injuries.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Chinese workers, engineers building Belt and Road projects amid COVID-19




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Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions such as a shortage of hands and delayed supplies, the Chinese workers and engineers are still working at construction sites of the Belt and Road projects in Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.


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Belgium’s iconic Atomium building reopens to public




Belgium’s iconic Atomium building in the capital reopened its doors to the public on Monday, after months-long closure since March 14 when Belgium imposed a nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The reopening was attended by Belgium’s Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes, among others. Following the performance of the national anthem, mask-wearing Princess Astrid cut the ribbon to mark the reopening of the landmark site.

Built on the occasion of the 1958 Universal Exhibition and representing the conventional iron crystal mesh magnified 165 billion times, the Atomium is on the verge of bankruptcy, with an estimated loss of 3 million euros (3.3 million United States dollars) due to containment, local media reported.

Wilmes said the Atomium’s reopening marked the return of some degree of freedom, saying that, even if masks and social distance were necessary, this “should not keep us from enjoying the culture,” Brussels Times reported in an online story.

For the reopening, a thermal camera has been installed to check visitors’ temperature and the use of face masks and sanitizing gel will be mandatory before entering, said the report.

Tickets can only be purchased online, and a safety distance of 1.5 meters between visitors is required.

The number of visitors allowed inside at once will be capped to 150 and a maximum of six people will be allowed inside the lift at a time, instead of the usual 16, said the report.

The COVID-19 pandemic has notably eased in the past several weeks in Belgium, allowing the country to gradually reopen its economy.

Nineteen more COVID-19 patients had died in Belgium in a 24-hour period, taking the country’s death toll to 9,486 since the start of the pandemic, according to figures released on Monday by the public health institute Sciensano.

In the 24-hour span, 136 new cases of COVID-19 infection were reported, raising the total to 58,517.


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Stimulus package for Australian builders to create jobs following coronavirus slowdown: PM




Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a multi-billion dollar building stimulus package to create jobs in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Morrison on Monday confirmed that the government is working on a package to revive the residential building sector.

He said that the package will likely include grants for homeowners to subsidize renovations and acknowledged that safeguards would have to be put in place to ensure that it supported local tradespeople rather than major contractors.

“We are looking at a bit of drop off in that current home building that’s going on. And that’s not good for tradies and not good for jobs,” Morrison told Nine Entertainment radio.

“We want to make sure that whatever we do in this space… jobs get created locally.”

The package is expected to target 380,000 tradespeople who have been affected by the slowdown in the housing sector as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Forecasts have found that residential construction could fall by 50 percent as a result of a collapse in overseas migration to Australia.

Morrison on Monday also confirmed that he has been in talks with leaders from the entertainment industry about a potential stimulus package.

“One of the challenges is going to be that the entertainment sector will find it difficult to get capital moving again because they’ve had to draw down on it so significantly and getting started again will be hard,” he said.


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Boko Haram: Gov. Zulum pledges to rebuild houses destroyed in Gajiganna attack



Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has promised to rebuilt the houses destroyed by insurgents in Gaganna community of Magumeri Local Government Area of the state.

He made the pledge on Friday in Gajiganna, while consoling the people on the recent attack on the village where 17 people were killed and 23 others injured.

Zulum who also made some cash donation to the affected families during the visit, assured them of government’s sustained effort to address the security challenge.

He called for sustained prayers and maximum support to security agencies to contain the insurgency in the state.

Some residents of the village who spoke, lauded the governor for his concern and promised to support the various government’s efforts to bring lasting peace to the area and the state in general.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor was accompanied by Rep. Usman Zanna (Magumeri/Gubio/Kaga Federal Constituency) during the visit.

Special prayers were offered for peace in the area and the repose of the souls of those killed in the attack.

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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NEMA donates building materials to OAUTH, Ile-Ife



The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Friday donated building materials worth millions of naira to the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile-Ife in Osun, to rebuild buildings affected by natural disaster.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some of the items donated include: ceiling boards, bag of cements, roofing sheets, zinc and nails, among others.

Donating the items in Ile-Ife, AVM Muhammadu Muhammed, NEMA Director-General, said the building materials were meant for repair and rebuild of some of the collapsed buildings affected by natural disasters in the hospital.

Muhammed, represented by Mr Olusegun Afolayan, NEMA Zonal Head of Operations, said donation of the building materials to the hospital was necessitated when the attention of the agency was drawn to some of the buildings within the hospital that needed urgent repairs.

He said: “NEMA came on assessment tour to check the level of damage and the repairs needed to be carried out across some departments in the hospital, before the delivery of these building materials.

“Our attention was drawn to some of the buildings within the teaching hospital in March 31, and we came on an assessment tour in April to see things for ourselves.

“During the assessment tour, we visited the staff quarters, hospital wards, operation theatres, laboratories, consultant offices, among other departments affected by the disaster.

“And, that is why NEMA is donating these building materials to fix the affected building for better healthcare services.”

He commended the Federal Government for donating the items, urging the management of the teaching hospital to make judicious use of it.

In his remarks, Prof. Victor Adetiloye, the Chief Medical Director of OAUTH, thanked NEMA for the donation of the building materials to the hospital.

Adetiloye noted that the materials would be used judiciously for the purpose for which it was given without any diversion.

He said the institution would continue to maintain synergy with NEMA, especially in the areas of managing issues with urgent concern.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Part of Indian parliament building sealed after official tests positive for COVID-19




Two floors of the Indian parliament annexe building were sealed Friday after an official posted at the secretariat of the upper house of parliament, locally called Rajya Sabha, tested positive for COVID-19, local media reports said.

The official of the rank of director attended office on Thursday and was found positive for the infection along with his family members, wife and children.

This is the second case of COVID-19 reported from the parliament’s annexe building. Previously an official of the lower house of parliament, locally called Lok Sabha, secretariat was found positive for COVID-19.

Reports said the floors would be fumigated as a precautionary measure.

Earlier several government offices and buildings were sealed for a day or two after detection of COVID-19 cases there.

India on Friday reported 7,466 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day spike so far, during the last 24 hours, pushing infection tally across the country to 165,799.

Friday marks the 66th straight day of ongoing lockdown across the country announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The lockdown, which was announced on March 25 to break the chain of spreading the infection, has been extended thrice and is scheduled to end on May 31.


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LASG seeks professional bodies’ collaboration to stop building collapse




and Florence Onuegbu

Lagos, May 29, the 2020 The Lagos State Government has appealed to professional bodies in the building industry to help the state stem the tide of building collapse in built-up environments.

Dr Idris Salako, state’s Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, made the appeal while fielding questions from journalists during the annual ministerial press briefing to mark Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s first-year administration.

Salako said the professionals could achieve this by holding its members liable for construction failures.

He noted that the state has strong regulatory agencies and committees on collapse buildings but needed the support of professional associations who could apply sanctions to serve as a deterrent.

He said that the ministry monitored developments and even went to the extent of prosecuting some builders over sharp practices.

The commissioner added that participation of professional associations was important for success against the menace.

“It is difficult for the ministry to look into the professional qualifications and competence of the people engaged for some of the collapsed structures.

“Government may not be able to have that power to deal with them professionally but the Building Control Appeals Committee can help deal with them by relating with the professional bodies involved to look at the competencies of those who are doing it.

“We can only appeal to professional bodies that when we refer these matters to them, they can help us deal with their members professionally.

“That will also help to reduce incidences of building collapse,’’ Salako said.

The commissioner said that an existing law, which made owners of collapsed buildings forfeit the property to the state government, was one of the measures adopted to stem the tide of building collapse.

On new settlements, Salako said that 11 model city master plans have been prepared.

He added that two others, located in Kosofe and Lagos Island model city plans, were in the process of being awarded.

He listed locations of village plans to open up new settlements alongside several reforms in some local governments in the state to ensure ease of doing business, using technology.

“The importance of planning in the built environment cannot be overemphasised as planning is the pathway to improved standard of living, economic prosperity, orderly, liveable and suitable environment.’’

The commissioner said that the ministry would continue to sustain its zero-tolerance policy against illegal constructions.

He urged residents to seek approval from relevant agencies of the state government before building.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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