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Drama as kwara APC deputy governorship candidate reads ó tó gé from scripture




By Femi Ogunshola

Ilorin, Feb. 17, 2019 (NNN) A mild drama occurred on Sunday when the All Progressives Congress (APC) Deputy Governorship candidate, Mr Kayode Alabi visited Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Gaa Akanbi to seek spiritual guidance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) reports that Alabi, who mounted the pulpit to read the Yoruba version of the Bible, asked the congregation to open to Deuteronomy 3:26 and Number 16:17, both of which contained “ó tó gé”.

Ó tó gé is the slogan of the APC in the state which literally means enough is enough.

One of the congregants read the verses of the scripture amidst thunderous applause from the church members.

The state government had, in 2018, written a letter to the Kwara State Signage Advertising Agency (KSSAA) to put a stop to the slogan because according to the state government it contained hate speech.

The APC however responded by saying that it was a mere campaign slogan containing no hate speech, stressing that it was meant to drum up support for the party in the state.

Alabi, while making reference to the scripture, said “ó tó gé” and left the pulpit without adding a word.

NNN however saw a leaflet being circulated in town by the APC which had a Quran version of ó tó gé, written in Qur’an 31 verse 7.

NNN also reports that the slogan was borne out of the myriad of problems confronting the state such as moribund industries, lack of pipe borne water and deplorable public schools, among others.

Alabi also visited different churches in Ilorin to solicit prayers ahead of the rescheduled elections.

On the side-lines of the visit to Churches, Alabi told NNN that people of the state were more resolute to put a stop to the reign of dynasty and vote the government of the people as symbolised by the APC.

NNN reports that some of the churches visited include; First ECWA, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) and Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church.

At the RCCG Mount of Joy Parish, Region 4, Headquarters, Sabo Oke, Pastor Akintunde Abdullahi called on the church members to support the APC candidate.

Abdullahi said: “This is our own, we must support him. I am not a politician but I love politics and I know we belong to different political parties, but he is our own.

“If I don’t support my pastor who else will I support: If any of you is interested in politics I will support you, the era of shying away from politics is over,’’ the pastor said.

For his part, Pastor Ilesanmi Samuel of CAC Worldwide decried the situation where politicians often sought God’s support when seeking elective positions but quickly forgot the vows they made after emerging victorious.

The cleric said that God was looking for trusted politicians who would change the face of politics in Kwara and Nigeria, noting that he had always had bitter experiences with politicians.

“Let it be known that God is raising you for the purpose of changing the face of Kwara politics because the people are suffering,’’ Samuel said.

Rev. Babatubde Owojaiye, of the First ECWA Church, called on the APC to remain faithful and honest to the people.

Party stalwarts on the entourage of the APC deputy governorship candidate included Mr Olabode Towoju, Alhaji Muhydeen Sanni, Barr Hassan Garuba, Mrs Yetunde Oriolowo and Prof. Babatunde Opabola, among others.

NNN recalls that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had, in the early hours of Feb. 16, postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.

INEC also shifted the governorship and state assembly elections earlier scheduled for March 2 to March 9. (NNN)

Edited by Wandoo Sombo /Hajia Sani


Artiste hosts maiden virtual drama festival to sensitise on virtues of African culture



Anthony Oluwabiyi, Chief Executive Officer, Theatre Centrik, on Wednesday urged Nigerians to imbibe strong African  moral values that are capable of making the  continent great.

Oluwabiyi made the call during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

He said  that the promotion of African culture and theatrical performances would spur hidden talents to display their creativity.

He told NAN that he would be presenting a virtual drama festival that wouod educate Nigerians, as part of his efforts to enlighten citizens on the essence of embracing African cultural values.

According to him, the maiden virtual drama festival would  hold  on June 17 in commemoration of the 2020 edition of Green African Arts Festival (GAAF2020).

He said that the festival tagged:  “Dance from Dusk to Dawn” would  bring to the public the fantasy of stage performance and the beauty of African Theatre.

” The play will  centre on the theme of love; the intrigue and passion of love, the purpose and value of love and the true essence of love.

” It intends to re-enact in us the power of love as a veritable tool for self-discovery and fulfilment in Africa Arts  and Culture.

”  it will expise the strong hope that love brings and the unity it creates in the family, community, nation and the world at large.

Theatre Centrik has the vision to nurture and utilise poetry lines along with dance and drums to entertain, educate and create awareness through stage performances on virtual screens,”he said.

Oluwabiyi said it was of paramount importance to still promote African culture even while the COVID-19 ravaged the would as culture had huge role to play in successfully combating the virus.

He said that Agnes Olayemi and Kingsley Bassey would be the supporting Directors while Halimath Alabi would be  the Dance Director with other renowned actors and dancers .

He noted that the festival would be like the ancient exhibition of theatrical beauty of the Greco-Roman world.

” I believe that the  stage in a drama  itself is like the pulpit where the true message of unity and development can be spread abroad and my works are centered on positive change through theatre.

” I urge every art lover to link up with us on Theatre Centrik Facebook page on June 17, from 12 p.m. to 3p.m., it promises to be enlightening,” he said.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Dada (NAN)



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Maggi launches novel website for African dishes, embellishes Yelo Pèppè drama



The Nestlé brand, MAGGI, has launched a first-of-its-kind website in Central and West Africa (CWAR), offering fresh new twists to well-known African dishes.

It is also serving up a second season of Yelo Pèppè , its popular online nutrition education drama series , on YouTube from June 8, 2020.

At a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, the company said the brand’s latest launches were just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites.

According to it, it is also adding to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.

The MAGGI website,, provides over 40 African recipes on an easy-to-use platform and can help families cook balanced and nutritious meals.

Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central and West Africa, said: “MAGGI innovates once more by providing different variations of beloved African dishes that offer something for every food lover.

“We are proud to be the first region worldwide chosen by MAGGI to launch this unique website,” he added.

Also, Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa, said that the new website was built in collaboration with top African chefs, expert nutritionists and local food influencers.

According to her, it also provides helpful tips in some recipes on how to boost your iron intake and balance dishes.

“As well as highlighting the importance of including nutritious diets in our daily lives with well-known family favourites; people across the globe now have easy access to traditional African recipes we know and love.

“For people who are more concerned about sodium, saturated fat and added sugars,the website features the unique ‘MyMenuIQ’guide that illustrates how nutritionally-balanced each recipe is.

“The higher the score, the more balanced the meal is,” she said.

The websites comes at a very appropriate time when many people are spending more time cooking at home, and they can get some inspiration from the Recipe of The Day or the With A Twist section.

There are recipes for kids, adventurous cooks, those who love a classic dish and time-saving one pot meals, all available in English and French.

Following the success of Yelo Pèppèseason one, which recorded over 20.3 million online views, MAGGI is excited to present the new second season of the popular show to its fans, bringing back its beloved characters from the first season.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that notable celebrities including: Ade Laoye, who is now one of the best-known food bloggers in the region, Anita Erskine, Shirley Manso and Sophy Aiid were part of the cast.

The brand aims to boost the nutrition of families by improving the nutritional profile of its bouillons and other products through reducing salt and increasing micronutrients such as iron, to help tackle iron deficiency.

MAGGI pledges to use more familiar ingredients that people know and can find in their kitchens, ingredients such as smoked fish, shrimp, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Sweden’s special care homes for elderly see dramatic rise in deaths in April: report




Sweden saw a tripling of deaths at special care homes for elderly people in April compared to the same period last year, figures from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care (SRPC) indicated.

Nearly 800 deaths were reported to SRPC from the Stockholm region alone last month, Swedish Television reported on Thursday.

By comparison, in April 2019, 270 deaths were reported to SRPC, a national quality register that contributes to research and development of palliative care in Sweden. The national figure was 2,634 dead in April this year, compared with 1,728 for April of 2019.

Staffan Lundstrom, a researcher responsible for the SRPC, told Swedish Television on Thursday that a growing number of elderly people are being classified as dying and in need of palliative care, with many being examined remotely rather than being seen in person by doctors.

According to Swedish Television, a person deemed to be in a palliative state is not sent to the hospital in Sweden, but instead receives care at the elderly home to optimize the quality of life and mitigate suffering in the final stage of life.

“I think that a significantly lower number of people are being visited and diagnosed ‘live’… In the best of worlds, the doctor would visit every single patient, but I don’t think that has been possible,” Lundstrom told Swedish Television.

During the COVID-19 epidemic in Sweden, the number of reported deaths has increased dramatically, which Lundstrom said “reflects what we’re also seeing in the rest of the world.”

Normally, around 75 percent of those who die at special care homes for the elderly in Sweden are recorded in the SRPC. However, SRPC does not specify whether or not COVID-19 was the cause of death, or whether the elderly person received palliative care before dying.

According to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as of October 2018, there were 88,000 Swedes aged 65 or older living in special care homes, where the residents live in their own apartments but have access to care facilities and personnel.


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Financial conditions worsen dramatically for newly-unemployed Americans amid COVID-19 outbreak: Fed report




Financial conditions worsened dramatically for people who experienced job loss or reduced hours in March as COVID-19 swept across the United States, according to a report released Thursday by the Federal Reserve Board.

In April, fewer adults reported that they were at least doing okay financially six months earlier, said the latest Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

A smaller supplemental survey showed that 43 percent of adults were “doing okay” financially, and 29 percent were “living comfortably,” down from 75 percent and 36 percent, respectively, in the fall of 2019.

“The survey data show that early in the public health crisis, a larger fraction of Americans were facing financial hardship than in the fall of 2019,” said Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle W. Bowman.

The declines in self-reported financial well-being were concentrated on those who lost a job or had their work hours cut, the report showed.

Among adults not experiencing a job loss or reduction in hours, 76 percent were at least okay financially in April.

Among those who experienced a job loss or hours reduction, however, 51 percent indicated that they were doing at least okay financially in April, whereas 48 percent were “finding it difficult to get by” or “just getting by.”

Some 19 percent of all adults reported either losing a job or experiencing a reduction in work hours in March, the report showed, while noting that some people took on new or additional employment in the month.

Nine in 10 people who were furloughed or lost a job said that their employer indicated that they would return to their job at some point, according to the report.

However, in general, people were not told specifically when to expect to return to work.

The report also showed that consistent with the employment declines in March, many people have experienced income declines. Twenty-three percent of all adults, and 70 percent of those who lost a job or had their hours reduced, said their income in March was lower than in February.

The survey was released one day after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the COVID-19 crisis raises “long-term concerns,” and warned that a prolonged recession and weak recovery could lead to an extended period of low productivity growth and stagnant incomes.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported a staggering 20.5-million job loss in April, which erased a decade of job gains since the global financial crisis and pushed the unemployment rate to a record 14.7 percent.

Powell said the COVID-19-induced job crisis has disproportionately weighed on lower-income households and families.

Teasing data from the survey, he said among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than 40,000 dollars a year lost a job in March.

“This reversal of economic fortune has caused a level of pain that is hard to capture in words, as lives are upended amid great uncertainty about the future,” Powell said, adding that he expects unemployment to peak next month.


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TV stars make UK lockdown dramas with help of family, technology



While most drama productions around the world have stopped shooting during the coronavirus pandemic, a team in Britain headed by Oscar nominee Jeff Pope filmed a series of four short stories for television that are already being aired.

“Isolation Stories” are currently running on free-to-air commercial broadcaster ITV and deal with different aspects of life under lockdown.

“Dramas can be normally … a year, year-and-a-half, two years from first idea to screen. So we had to find a way of short-circuiting that,” Pope told Reuters in an online interview.

In this case the process took just a month. ITV was keen to get stories of ordinary people dealing with isolation on the air while the public was still under lockdown.

“(ITV) commissioned very quickly … And everybody just really went for it.”

To make the 15-minute dramas, cameras and other equipment were delivered to actors’ homes, and their family members shot the scenes with the help of a production team connected to the ‘set’ using Zoom.

“It was funny. After a few minutes, it felt very like a normal film set … we had a director, we had a director of photography. We also had a first assistant director,” said Pope.

The episodes feature actors including Sheridan Smith, whose fiance did the filming; Robert Glenister, whose actor son is in the episode and who was filmed by his wife; Eddie Marsan, whose wife did the shooting; and actors Darren Boyd and Angela Griffin.

Boyd had no one with him at home in London and so set the equipment up himself to make his episode ‘Mike and Rochelle’.

He plays an actor self-isolating while on tour and who is struggling to cope. He seeks help from his friend Rochelle (Griffin), a part-time therapist.

Boyd used several smart phones that he set up using tripods and piles of books.

“By day two … you find a routine and you … lean into each other as much as, if not more, than ever. And if anything, it was more of a collaborative and a team effort than ever.”

The series was produced by writer and producer Pope and the factual drama team at ITV Studios.

“What’s amazing is I think the quality of what we’ve been able to achieve,” Pope said. “There aren’t really too many rough edges.

“It’s one of the most heartening experiences of my career for sure, the way everybody came together in such a short space of time and worked so hard to make these little stories.”

‘Isolation Stories’ started airing on ITV this week. ‘Isolation Stories: Behind the Scenes’ will be screened on May 7.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Ramadan period drama with Jewish characters stirs debate in Middle East



A period drama about the trials of a Jewish midwife airing on Saudi-controlled MBC for Ramadan has drawn both criticism as an attempt to promote Arab “normalisation” with Israel and praise for a rare exploration of the Gulf’s social history.

“Umm Haroun”, a fictional series about a multi-religious community in an unspecified Gulf Arab state in the 1930s to 1950s, began airing on Friday as part of MBC’s lineup for the Muslim holy month, when viewership typically spikes.

It comes at a time when several Gulf states have broken with the recent past and made overtures to Israel, with which they have found common ground in confronting Iran.

Some, including Saudi Arabia, have also backed a U.S.-Middle East peace plan to move on from a conflict they say holds back the Arab world. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states that have peace deals with Israel.

An official from the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, Basim Naeem, condemned the series before it aired and told Reuters that portraying Jewish people in a sympathetic light was “cultural aggression and brain washing”.

Hamas, like other Palestinian groups, is vehemently opposed to the peace plan laid out by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

A group of regional organisations against normalising ties with Israel circulated a poster on social media urging viewers to boycott “the wicked drama”, which was produced by Kuwait and United Arab Emirates-based companies.

The show’s writers, Bahraini brothers Muhammad and Ali Abdel Halim Shams, told Reuters that it had no political message.

“People have spoken and judged before seeing it,” said Muhammad. “The message focuses on the ways of Muslims centred on showing love, good intention and peace to non-Muslims.”

MBC, the Arab world’s largest private broadcaster, said that according to its data the show is the top-rated Gulf drama in Saudi Arabia for Ramadan and among the top five dramas across genres.

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said Umm Haroun’s main message was a human one – a nurse who heals people “irrespective of any consideration”.

“It also focuses on tolerance, moderation and openness, showcasing that the Middle East was once a region where acceptance of one another was the norm versus the twisted interpretation and stereotyping of the region by hardliners and extremists, over the last decades.”

Saudi authorities took a controlling stake in MBC Group in 2018 as they seized assets from those detained in an anti-corruption drive launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

MBC, which plans to move its headquarters from Dubai to Riyadh, has courted controversy before. Past shows dealt with sensitive issues like domestic violence and Islamist militancy.

The writers said the main character, Umm Haroun, after whom the show is named, was loosely inspired by real-life Jewish midwife Umm Jan, who arrived in Bahrain from Iraq in the 1930s.

A disclaimer during the first episode said the characters and events were imaginary.

Some people in Bahrain, which still has a small Jewish community, took to social media to share pictures of and a 1977 TV interview with Umm Jan, who is widely regarded as a symbol of public service in Bahrain.

In Kuwait, Twitter user Abdulaziz al-Seif said the show should not be seen as pro-Israeli.

“We should also differentiate between the Jewish religion and Zionism … This show has nothing to do with normalising ties with Israel,” he said in a video post after the show aired its first episode.

Veteran Kuwaiti actress Hayat Al-Fahad, who plays the midwife, told local daily Al Anbaa that young generations should know about “a people that were and still are in our world”.

She recently stirred debate by publicly calling for the expulsion of migrant workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Palestinian Nadia Ali, 48, told Reuters she was no longer a fan of the actress for “getting the Jewish twisted tale into every Arab house.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Ejiofor) (NAN)

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London’s air quality “dramatically improved” amid coronavirus lockdown: mayor




London’s air quality has “dramatically improved” due to the drop in traffic amid the coronavirus lockdown, with harmful emissions at some of the British capital’s busiest roads falling by almost 50 percent, Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, has said.

The latest figures published by the Mayor of London came as countries around the world, including Britain, have reported a decrease in pollution as they virtually come to a standstill to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figures showed that anti-pollution measures introduced from 2017 had already led to a 35 percent drop of NO2 in central London. The NO2 levels declined by 44 percent inside central London’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ).

In the last four weeks of lockdown there have been further big reductions, with NO2 falling by a further 27 percent across London, and by almost half at some of the worst pollution hotspots.

The mayor welcomed the decline in toxic air, but said that once the lockdown is over, it is essential that the efforts to improve London’s toxic air continue.

“This cleaner air should not just be temporary,” he said. “So once the current emergency has passed and we start to recover, our challenge will be to eradicate air pollution permanently and ensure the gains we’ve made through policies such as ULEZ continue.”

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Sweden reports over 2,000 COVID-19 deaths as cases dramatically increase




A total of 16,755 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Sweden, with 751 new cases registered between Wednesday and Thursday. The death toll is now 2,021.

The dramatic rise in confirmed cases over the past day can partly be explained by the fact that testing has been extended among medical staff, said deputy state epidemiologist Anders Wallensten at the Public Health Agency’s daily press briefing.

“We are absolutely not seeing a decline,” Wallensten warned, stressing that the pandemic is far from over and urging all Swedes to stay at home.

During Thursday’s press conference, Wallensten also addressed an error in a mathematical modeling report presented two days earlier. It was retracted and revised and then published anew on Thursday.

“A variable had been set at the wrong value and it affected the entire analysis. Now, the estimated date for the peak of the infection curve has been set at April 8 and not April 15 as was previously said. Also, in Stockholm 26 percent of residents are likely to have been infected by May 1, which is somewhat lower than the previous estimate,” said Wallensten.

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Drama of COVID-19: Like America, like Nigeria



Besides currently being the global epicentre of the novel coronavirus disease, the United States is also full of drama surrounding the pandemic.

In this piece, we serve you a rundown of dramatic happenings across the country on Wednesday that many may find interesting.

The day began with media reports that the U.S. Department of Treasury had directed that President Donald Trump’s name be printed on stimulus cheques meant for Americans hit by the economic hardship resulting from the pandemic.

Citing unnamed senior officials at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the reports say the cheques will “bear Trump’s name in the memo line, below a line that reads, ‘Economic Impact Payment’.”

Eligible citizens are expected to receive a $1,200 (N451,000) cheque each, as part of the $2.2 trillion (N827 trillion) financial stimulus package unveiled by the government in March to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

Some critics, including Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms Nancy Pelosi, are worried that the move would delay delivery of the cheques to hundreds of thousands of Americans urgently in need of the money to pay their bills.

Coming ahead of the November presidential elections with Trump as a candidate, others have accused the president of trying to use public resources for his personal political gain.

At least, Nigerians now know that it is not only in their country that political public officers slap their names or party identities on relief items purchased with public funds for distribution to the poor.

Next, we take you to the state of Michigan where hundreds of protesters hit the streets of the capital, Lansing, in a massive rally against extension of the state government’s stay-at-home order.

As part of measures to slow the spread of the virus in Michigan, the state governor, Gretchen Whitmer, on March 23 had issued a three-week stay-at-home order that was to expire on Tuesday.

But last week, Whitmer announced extension of the order through April 30 and added more restrictions, including forbidding most residents from visiting other residences unless they are going to care for relatives or drop off their children.

But residents would have none of it, saying they were tired of staying at home, meaning that they prefer the high risk of exposure to the deadly virus to the boredom of being confined to their homes.

Called “Operation Gridlock” by its organisers, the rally brought vehicular traffic to a crawl with protesters even blocking the entrance to a hospital.

Coincidently, residents of Sapele in Delta also poured into major roads in the ancient town on Wednesday in a demonstration against a similar extension by their state government.

But unlike their Michigan counterparts, who were mostly driven by the crave for outdoor leisure, the Sapele protesters were forced out by what has now come to be known as the “hunger virus”.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order requiring residents to wear face masks in public places where social distancing is impossible.

Speaking at his daily news briefing, Cuomo said the order would take effect after a three-day grace period, and then went ahead to outline a gradual reopening of businesses in the state.

The people of Cross River State can relate with this. There is a standing no-mask-no-movement policy in the state where civil servants from grade level 10 have been directed to return to work from Tuesday.

The state governor, Mr Ben Ayade, was recently quoted as saying that locking the state down was no longer necessary since the use of face masks could also effectively prevent the spread of the virus.

If media reports are anything to go by, then Cross River has an edge over New York with Ayade’s directive to the state garment factory not to sell masks but give them out for free.

Finally, we conclude this journey with a couple of controversial comments by Trump during his daily White House COVID-19 briefing, which has become a veritable source of world news headlines.

First, a visibly angry Trump threatened to force the United States Congress to adjourn if the Senate did not confirm his nominees for vacant public offices, including judges.

The president said he was frustrated that the lawmakers were not in Washington to confirm his nominees needed to address challenges from the coronavirus crisis.

He said he would invoke his executive power to compel federal lawmakers to either return to Congress for urgent legislative business or adjourn formally.

Legislators in both chambers of Congress have been conducting pro forma sessions, and are not expected to return to the Capitol Hill until May 4.

Trump dismissed the pro forma sessions as “phony” and “a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis”.

The president also accused New York City of padding its coronavirus death toll, a day after the city revised how it tracks fatalities by adding 3,700 victims said to have died with symptoms of the disease but were not tested.

Unsubstantiated claims that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory also elicited comments from Trump, who hinted at a U.S. investigation of the allegation with his characteristic phrase: “we’ll see”.

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