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Cede LAUTECH to one state, Alaafin counsels Oyo, Osun govts

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The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, has suggested that Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, be ceded to either Oyo or Osun as solution to the lingering crisis between the two owner states.

The foremost Yoruba traditional ruler gave the advice on Tuesday when he received members of the new  executive of Oyo State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Oyo town.The Nigeria News Agency reports that Oyo State NUJ Chairman, Ademola Babalola, led members of the new executive on a courtesy visit to the Alaafin in his palace.

Oba Adeyemi said that the lingering crisis would continue unabated unless the two states reached a compromise on a lasting solution to the problem.

“On LAUTECH, is it possible for two men to marry one woman at the same time without problem? No. The two states will have to sit down together and adopt the necessary solution.

“These are two states with different educational policies and political affiliation. The best way to resolve this crisis is to cede the institution to one of the states,” he said.

Oba Adeyemi attributed the impasse between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to a disconnect between the duo, urging them to honour every agreement reached.

“The problem of the Federal Government and ASUU has to do with disconnect between the duo. It is good that the two parties always honour whatever agreement reached to avoid unnecessary crisis,” he said.

The monarch noted that for democracy to thrive in the country, political and traditional leaders at all level must be able to stand criticism.

According to the paramount ruler, most leaders in Nigeria do not like criticism, describing it as very unfortunate for democratic development in the country.

“Our leaders, either political or traditional must be able to take criticism if we really want democracy to thrive in Nigeria. There is no country in the world running the type of constitution we are running in Nigeria.

“When people criticize me, I sit down and think if what they are critisising me for is true or false, and I adjust,” he said.

The monarch lauded the contributions of journalists to national growth and development in spite of the dangers attached to the profession.

Oba Adeyemi said that the media as the fourth estate of the realm had made tremendous impact in moving the country forward.

“I have also benefited and made name through the media. I am aware of what you face in the course of discharging your duty. Many journalists have been castigated and even detained,” Alaafin said.

Earlier, Babalola thanked the monarch for his support towards upholding the image of Yoruba nation, describing him as a monarch of note in the country.

“There is no journalist in Oyo State that has not passed through this palace at one time or the other for story or research. The fatherly role you have been giving to journalists in the last few decades is much appreciated,” he said.

Babalola pointed out that the purpose of the courtesy visit was to inform the monarch of activities lined up to celebrate the 100 days in office of the new Oyo NUJ executives

“We decided to pay royal homage to the Alaafin in appreciation of his support to the union, and to receive royal blessing upon the programmes lined up for the celebration of the 100 days in office of the new NUJ executives.

“We were elected on Dec. 18, 2019, and we will be celebrating our 100 days in office in the next ten days. We thank the Alaafin for providing the kind of leadership Nigeria needs, particularly for the Yoruba Nation,” Babalola said.

The state NUJ chairman said that some traditional rulers in Yoruba land had been relegated to the background, but Alaafin had sustained the place of the Yoruba traditional institution in the country.

Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Wale Ojetimi
(NAN)

Science & Technology

ICT contribution of 14.07% to Nigeria’s GDP unprecedented – Pantami

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, said the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has contributed unprecedented 14.07 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Pantami stated this in a statement signed by Dr Femi Adeluyi, Technical Assistant, Information Technology to the Minister on Sunday in Abuja.

Pantami said he was delighted to hear of the growth of ICT’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020.

According to him, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) releases Nigeria’s GDP report for Q1 2020 on May 25.

The Report observed that the country’s GDP grew by 1.87 per cent year-on-year in real terms in Q1 2020.

”The non-oil sector contributed 90.50 per cent to the nation’s GDP in Q1 2020 as opposed to the 9.50 per cent contributed to total real GDP by the oil sector.

”It is noteworthy that the ICT sector contributed 14.07 per cent to the total real GDP in Q1 2020, higher than its contribution a year earlier, which was 13.32 per cent and in the preceding quarter, in which it accounted for 13.12 per cent.

”This contribution is unprecedented,” he said.

Pantami said that the growing contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP, was a direct result of the focused and committed effort of the Federal Government.

He said the Federal Government strategic policy direction included inclusion of Digital Economy in the mandate of the Ministry, unveiling and implementation of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy as well as National Broadband Plan, among others.

The minister noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had  shown how critical the ICT sector was to the growth of the country’s digital economy and by extension, the general economy.

He called on all sectors to take advantage of the government’s new focus on the digital economy to enable and improve their processes through the use of ICT.

“This would enhance the output of all the sectors of the economy and boost Nigeria’s GDP,” he said.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu (NAN)

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General news

Delta has witnessed unprecedented development under Okowa – Lawmakers

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Some members of the Delta House of Assembly have commended Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa for delivering good governance to the people of the state.
They also assured the people of the state of more dividends of democracy in years ahead.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Asaba, the lawmakers said that the five years of Okowa as governor of the state had witnessed unprecedented development.
They attributed such development to the governor’s desire for good governance and excellence.
The Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Christopher Ochor, said that the nickname of the governor as the ‘Road Master’ was not just for the fun of it.
He noted that it was in recognition of the strides recorded by his administration in road infrastructure, even in riverine communities.
Ochor called for more support of citizens for the Okowa-led administration.
Also, Mr Festus Okoh, Majority Whip of the Assembly, representing Ika South constituency, said that there was no local government area in the state without, at least, one development project executed by the present administration.
”Despite the economic recession and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor never stopped initiating programmes, geared toward enhancing the quality of lives in the state.
The lawmaker expressed optimism that greater development would be provided by the governor in the years ahead.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Anthony Elekeokuri, described the five years of the Okowa-led administrationt as commendable.
Elekeokuri, representing Ika North East constituency, noted that the primary function of any government was to ensure the welfare and security of the people.
He said that the governor had done well in the two areas, and more importantly, in the area of poverty alleviation.
The lawmaker urged the people of the state to remain resolute in their confidence and prayers for the governor and his administration.
Elekeokuri, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to open up the economy for more meaningful development to thrive.

Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Foreign

Mercedes-Benz relaunches production at Argentinian factory

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Mercedes-Benz has relaunched production in Argentina after a two-month standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the German carmaker said.

The factory in Virrey del Pino in Buenos Aires province has its employees working only one shift.

They are being subjected to safety measures, such as a shuttle taking them to work, regular temperature checks, compulsory face masks and social distancing.

The South American country has started relaxing restrictions imposed on March 20 that shut most economic sectors down.

Argentina has confirmed more than 12,600 novel coronavirus infections and over 470 deaths.

Mercedes-Benz has been present in Argentina since the early 1950s.

The 2,500 employees in Virrey del Pino manufacture the Sprinter Van, light trucks and chassis for buses.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs amid “unprecedented” COVID-19 crisis

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The British engineering company Rolls-Royce on Wednesday unveiled a major reorganization plan to adapt to the shrinking demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including a global cut of at least 9,000 jobs.

The significant cuts — nearly a fifth of its global workforce of 52,000 — is expected to contribute around 700 million British pounds (about 858 million U.S. dollars) of savings to the company.

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Rolls-Royce and the whole of the aviation industry is “unprecedented”, and the activity in the commercial aerospace market will take “several years” to return to the levels before the crisis, said the company.

The job losses came as British labor market was severely hit by the novel coronavirus crisis, with the number of people claiming jobless benefit soared by 69.1 percent monthly in April.

In addition to the headcount reduction, the jet engine manufacturer also plans to cut expenditure across plant and property, capital and other indirect cost areas, to generate total annualized savings of more than 1.3 billion pounds (about 1.6 billion dollars).

“Governments across the world are doing what they can to assist businesses in the short-term, but we must respond to market conditions for the medium-term until the world of aviation is flying again at scale, and governments cannot replace sustainable customer demand that is simply not there,” said Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce is a major global aerospace power and propulsion systems provider, with China being one of its key strategic market, crucial supply chain hub and manufacturing base. In 2019, around 10 percent of its annual revenue was generated by its Civil Aerospace and Power Systems businesses in the Chinese market, according to Rolls-Royce China.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Spotlight: Europe moves further to normalcy, unprecedented recovery fund proposal unveiled

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Europe continued its path to normalcy as an array of countries on the continent further eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions Monday amid a slowdown in new infections.

Over 1.89 million confirmed coronavirus cases and some 167,200 deaths have been reported so far in the European Region’s 54 countries, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Also in the day, France and Germany jointly proposed an unprecedented 500-billion-euro (546 billion U.S. dollars) recovery fund to help the virus-battered European economies and regions.

BIGGEST STEP IN ITALY

Italy, one of the worst affected European countries, took its biggest step yet toward reopening its economy after nearly ten weeks of national lockdown.

Starting Monday, shops, restaurants, bars, barbershops, beauty salons, museums, and beachfront operators are allowed to reopen as long as they respect rules for social distancing and disinfecting facilities. Italians are also allowed to move within the region they live in.

Italy was the first country to apply a nationwide lockdown starting March 10. More than two months later, data on new infections, the mortality rate, and the number of patients in intensive care units have been trending in the right direction.

The country reported 99 coronavirus deaths on Monday, the first time with daily casualties lower than 100 since March 10. Recoveries, meanwhile, rose by 2,150 from a day earlier, bringing the total to 127,326. The country now has a total of 225,886 cases, with 32,007 deaths.

In Spain, another hardest-hit country in Europe, health authorities also confirmed Monday further reductions in the number of new cases and deaths. In the 24-hour period until midnight Sunday, 59 people lost their lives to coronavirus — the second time in two days that the death toll for a 24-hour period has been below 100. New infections on the day were 285, down from 421 reported 24 hours earlier.

The falling figures came as the country continued its progress in easing lockdown restrictions. On Monday, four islands moving into the third stage of the Spanish government’s four-phase plan to gradually take the country to a “new normality.”

The islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa in the Canary Islands group off the west coast of Africa, and Formentera in the Balearic Islands have all progressed into what is known as “Phase 2” in the easing of restrictions.

MORE RELAXATIONS ELSEWHERE

Portugal started on Monday the second phase of lifting coronavirus restrictions, with the opening of several services and businesses. However, hygiene rules, social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations remain in force.

Cafes, restaurants (also with outdoor terraces), museums and shops up to 400 square meters can now reopen after weeks of confinement.

Some 6,430 patients have recovered in Portugal, an increase of 1,794 cases in the last 24 hours. “Right now, 22 percent of the confirmed cases are considered recovered. It is the biggest increase in the number of recoveries,” said Portuguese Secretary of State for Health Antonio Lacerda Sales.

In Greece, with the implementation of the third phase of easing virus restrictions, shopping malls, outlets, and businesses offering dietary and body care services opened on Monday.

Archeological sites, zoos, and botanical gardens also reopened under strict protection rules. Meanwhile, travel between different regions was also allowed, as well as travel to and from the Greek islands of Crete and Evia.

Belgium on Monday entered Phase-2 de-confinement, with schools reopening to some grades under strict organizational conditions.

Museums, Libraries and infrastructures of cultural interest such as historical buildings also reopened their doors, with physical distancing and wearing mask measures. The contact services, such as beauty salons and hairdressers, were allowed to restart under certain conditions, including making appointments, wearing masks and respecting distances between customers.

UNPRECEDENTED RECOVERY FUND

To support the virus-ravaged economy, France and Germany on Monday jointly proposed that the European Commission borrow money on capital markets in the European Union’s (EU) name and create a 500-billion-euro recovery fund.

Describing the proposal as “a major step forward,” French President Emmanuel Macron told a joint video press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that it was the first time France and Germany agreed to let the EU raise debt jointly.

The proposal is seen as unprecedented since it overcomes objections from Germany and several other rich EU countries to the concept of collective borrowing.

“The recovery fund will be endowed with 500 billion euros in EU budget spending for the most affected sectors and regions based on EU budget programs and in line with European priorities,” said the two countries in a joint statement.

“It will strengthen the resilience, convergence and competitiveness of European economies, and increase investment, in particular in ecological and digital transitions and in research and innovation,” it said.

Macron said the 500 billion euros “will be devoted to sectors that are not only technological. It is a strong economic response that will help fight unemployment in the most vulnerable regions.”

“It will not consist of loans. It’s a budgetary expenditure, which would be attributed to the most affected sectors and regions. We are convinced that this measure is justified,” said Merkel.

The European Commission is to present the details of the economic recovery program in Brussels on May 27. Paris and Berlin still have to convince other member states — The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, in particular — to follow them.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Roundup: France, Germany announce unprecedented 500-bln-euro EU recovery fund

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France and Germany on Monday jointly proposed that the European Commission borrow money on capital markets in the European Union’s (EU) name and create a 500-billion-euro (546 billion U.S. dollars) recovery fund to help the coronavirus-battered European economies and regions.

Describing the proposal as “a major step forward,” French President Emmanuel Macron told a joint video press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that it was the first time France and Germany agreed to let the EU raise debt jointly.

The proposal is seen as unprecedented since it overcomes objections from Germany and several other rich EU countries to the concept of collective borrowing.

Merkel said the unusual nature of the COVID-19 crisis made the two countries choose an unusual way. “The goal is for Europe to emerge from this crisis stronger, more cohesive and in solidarity,” she said.

“The recovery fund will be endowed with 500 billion euros in EU budget spending for the most affected sectors and regions based on EU budget programs and in line with European priorities,” said the two countries in a joint statement.

“It will strengthen the resilience, convergence and competitiveness of European economies, and increase investment, in particular in ecological and digital transitions and in research and innovation,” it said.

Macron said the 500 billion euros “will be devoted to sectors that are not only technological. It is a strong economic response that will help fight unemployment in the most vulnerable regions,” he said.

“It will not consist of loans, it’s a budgetary expenditure, which would be attributed to the most affected sectors and regions. We are convinced that this measure is justified,” Merkel said.

“We must act in a European way so that we get out of the crisis well and strengthened,” she said. “When Germany and France take the initiative, then this encourages the opinion-making process in the EU.”

The European Commission is to present the details of the economic recovery program in Brussels on May 27. Paris and Berlin still have to convince other member states — The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, in particular — to follow them.

But “the fact that the Franco-German couple has agreed on the main lines of a recovery plan financed by a common debt of European states, issued by the Union and spent through the European budget, is in itself a revolution,” commented the French daily Le Monde.

“Berlin, which was upwind at the end of March against anything that, in one way or another, amounts to pooling the debt of Europeans, is today in agreement to embark on this path,” added the daily.

Paris and Berlin also agreed to raise research and development capacities in the field of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, set up joint strategic stocks of pharmaceutical and medical products, and increase the production capacities of these products in the EU.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the proposal.

“It acknowledges the scope and the size of the economic challenge that Europe faces, and rightly puts the emphasis on the need to work on a solution with the European budget at its core,” she said in a statement.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Spotlight: Ousted health official to warn Congress of “unprecedented illness and fatalities” if U.S. fails to act more

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Rick Bright, a U.S. health official recently ousted from a post key to developing vaccines, will warn Congress of “unprecedented illness and fatalities” in the nation if it fails to ramp up preparation against the coronavirus, according to his written testimony to a congressional panel.

“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” Bright will tell in a testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee.

“Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history,” according to the testimony.

Bright is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the panel after he filed a whistleblower complaint last week alleging he was removed in April as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for opposing the broad use of a drug frequently touted by the White House as a coronavirus treatment.

“When I resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks, I was removed from BARDA,” according to the testimony.

The official, who is working at the National Institutes of Health with a narrower role, will additionally say that he sought to warn his superiors about potential shortages of critical medical supplies as far back as January, but that his “urgency was dismissed” and that he “faced hostility and marginalization” from Health and Human Services officials, after conveying his concerns about shortages to a senior White House official.

“As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook,” Bright will testify.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that he doesn’t know who Bright is, “but to me he’s a disgruntled employee and if people are that unhappy they shouldn’t work.”

The president added, “I hadn’t heard great things about him.”

In response, Bright told CBS News that he is not disgruntled.

“I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me,” he said.

More than 1.38 million people in the United States have been infected by the coronavirus, with over 83,000 deaths, according to the latest count by Johns Hopkins University.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the nation has not had the coronavirus outbreak under total control yet, as states, shut down for months, are reopening or planning to reopen.

“If you think we have it completely under control, no we don’t,” said Fauci, also a key member of the White House coronavirus task force. “If you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places — such as in New York City, which has plateaued and is starting to come down, but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes.”

Besides, he told U.S. lawmakers that it is “entirely conceivable and possible” that a second wave will happen this fall.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Germany registers “unprecedented number” of short-time workers during coronavirus crisis

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A record of 10.1 million employees had been registered for short-time work by April 26 due to the coronavirus crisis, Germany’s Federal Employment Agency (BA) announced on Thursday.

Compared to the last decades, this was an “unprecedented number” that far exceeded the amount of applications during the economic and financial crisis when German employment agencies had only received 3.3 million applications, BA noted.

“The coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to the worst recession in post-war Germany,” said Detlef Scheele, head of BA. “This will also put the labor market under severe pressure.”

According to BA, the unemployment rate in Germany went up by 0.7 percentage points month-on-month to 5.8 percent in April as 2.64 million people had been registered as unemployed, an increase of 415,000 compared to April last year.

A further, significant increase in unemployment in Germany could only be prevented if coronavirus restrictions could be lifted again “in the foreseeable future,” Holger Schaefer, senior economist for employment at the German Economic Institute (IW), told Xinhua on Thursday.

Unemployment in Germany was rising comparatively little, while the number of short-time workers was rising “explosively,” said Schaefer.

The development of the unemployment and short-time work figures in April were showing “the severity of the crisis,” but also that German companies wanted to hold on to their employees and expected to have work for them again soon, said Schaefer.

“The development shows that even in our country we cannot guarantee every job, but we will fight for every job,” said Hubertus Heil, minister of labor and social affairs, adding that short-time work would secure “millions of jobs in Germany.”

(XINHUA)

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Judiciary

Ramadan: Clerics urge Muslims to use period to intercede for Nigeria

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Some clerics in Lagos State on Friday urged the Muslim faithful to use the season of Ramadan for intercession for the nation to overcome its present challenges.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, directed the commencement of Ramadan fast on Friday, following the sighting of the moon.

Speaking with NAN, Imam Yusuf Kalejaiye of Temidire Central Mosque, Ayobo, Lagos, urged Muslims to use the period for intercession for the nation to overcome the present  challenges, especially the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let us take the advantage of the holy month to pray for God’s intervention for Nigeria to overcome its challenges especially the COVID-19 pandemic confronting the world.

“There is nobody in the country who the lockdown is not affecting in one way or the other, but the degree may differs, let us be patience and continue to obey government’s directives.”

Kalejaiye admonished Muslims and other citizens to be tolerant and respect the beliefs  and religion of others in order for peace to prevail.

According to the cleric, love for one another will help the country to surmount its present challenges.

“We must be our brothers’ keepers by loving one another irrespective of our religion, political and tribal differences for the country to move forward.”

He urged Muslims to use the occasion to pray for God’s guidance for leaders to be able to deliver good governance to citizens.

In the same vein, Imam of Isefun Central Mosque, Mr Sheun Sanni, urged Muslims to use the occasion to continue to pray for a united and prosperous Nigeria.

Sanni urged the faithful to show kindness, love and sacrifice during and after Ramadan.

“Let us remember the less privileged in our community during this period by supporting them with food, clothes and other items.”

He admonished citizens to live in peace and embrace one another so as to make Nigeria a wonderful place to live.

He also advised political leaders to use the period of fasting to find solution to the numerous challenges facing the nation.

“Find solution to insecurity, poverty and kidnapping among other challenges confronting the nation.’’

He urged the faithful to emulate the good virtues and teachings of Prophet Mohammad by following His footsteps through love, unity, tolerance, forgiveness and sacrifice.

To the politicians, Sanni encouraged them to eschew politics of bitterness and build harmonious relationships with citizens during the period.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

 

 

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