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Groups, friends celebrate renowned author, Prof Anezi Okoro at 90



The Albino Foundation and the Coal City Literary Foundation on Thursday celebrated a renowned author and medical guru, Prof Anezionwu Okoro as he clocks 90 years.

Prof Anezi, as he is fondly called, has also written over 200 poems.

His recent publication is the translation of 10 Lamb’s tales of Shakespeare to Igbo language entitled, `Akuko Ufodu Shakespeare Koro’ in collaboration with another author, Mrs Nwobiara Chukwura.

Okoro, a native of Arondizuogu in Imo, is the first dermatologist in West Africa and the second in Africa.

Speaking at the event, Mr Jake Epelle, the National President and Founder of Albino Foundation said that the dermatologist was the brain behind the foundation.

According to Epelle, the Albino Foundation will not have been known without Prof Anezi who fought the cause of albinos since the 50s.

“His intervention in the lives of albinos has enabled us to have clearer skin,” he said.

He said that the author had lived his life purposefully and selflessly without being recognised nationally and thanked God for keeping him alive till 90.

In her remarks, the President of the Coal City Literary Foundation, (CCLF), Dr Adaobi Nwoye described the renowned author as a `formidable pillar of the foundation’.

Nwoye said that as the Chairman of CCLF Board, the professor had been in the forefront of its growth by encouraging and mentoring the young ones to imbibe the culture of reading and writing.

Mr Victor Atuonwu, former Chief of Staff to former Gov. Sullivan Chime and Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State expressed dismay that in spite of numerous contributions to national development, Okoro had not been recognised by any government.

“Prof Anezi Okoro was a member of NNPC board, yet he does not own an oil block; he was a board member, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and he came out unscathed during a scandal.

“Prof Okoro was instrumental to the site of the Federal Capital in Abuja, yet no street was named after him nor received any national honour,’’ he said.

Atuonwu described Okoro as the `only Nigerian that is not corrupt’ and urged the federal government and the South East Governors in particular to recognise and honour him in his lifetime and not posthumously.

Also speaking, the author’s wife, Dr Ese Anezi-Okoro said her husband was a loving and caring husband and father for over 50 years.

Ese who is a gynaecologist, disclosed that her husband refused several political appointments because of his commitment to the development of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH).

She thanked the groups and friends for celebrating the professor saying that she would always cherish their kind gestures.

Responding, the nonagenarian thanked the groups for always celebrating and remembering him which he said was rewarding.

“I am even happier to be celebrated by the younger generation and friends. It is a great honour and I thank God for keeping alive to see this day,’’ Okoro said.

Highlight of the occasion was the cutting of cake by the nonagenarian.


Edited by Maureen Atuonwu





China focuses on poorest groups in decisive battle against poverty




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China aims to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020. Find out how local governments in some of the poorest regions in the country have helped villagers out of poverty. #BeatingPoverty


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COVID-19: Catholic bishops appeal to bilateral and multilateral groups on economic recovery



Catholic bishops in Africa under the aegis of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have  raised concerns on the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and appealed to bilateral and multilateral groups on fashioning out sustainable economic recovery measures .

This is contained in a statement signed by the president SECAM, Cardinal Philippe Quedraogo, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria .

SECAM is the continental body of all the Catholic bishops from the English, French and Portuguese speaking regions of Africa.

The bishops, in the statement, said that Africa was currently low on resources in the fight against the pandemic.

They said that the lack of safety kits for those working in the informal sector had caused them to suspend their activities due to the lockdown.

The catholic bishops in the statement, pleaded for the massive cancellation of debts of African countries to enable them revive their economies.

“Undoubtedly, initiatives have already been taken in the management of the impact of the pandemic but substantial aid needs to be given to some countries to support the establishment of quality health systems.

“Also, to promote the emergence of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) aimed at easing unemployment problem; and to support food security.

“Africa is a major supplier of raw materials to industrialized countries.

“Therefore, we call upon large companies which exploit these raw materials to make significant contributions to the host countries to enable them provide basic social services to citizens in need.

“Since a race is currently engaged in developed countries to find a remedy for COVID-19, business communities and pharmaceutical companies should not exploit the situation to make profit but join in efforts to care for the vulnerable,”  the statement said.

SECAM also called on the African Union to sensitize member countries on contributing to the creation of a Solidarity Fund, which could be used to improve the health of the populations.

“We urge African leaders to ensure that the limited available resources be used to assist those who really need help, especially, the poorest of the poor.

“Resources should not end in the pockets of the politically connected through corrupt practices.

“The church institutions directly involved in this fight should also remain steadfast and work with other non-religious institutions in the promotion of good heath for all people of Africa and Madagascar.”

It  reiterated in the statement that no country had been  spared from the ills of the pandemic, including developed countries where the health systems and facilities are known to be efficient.

In addition, the group said that the rate of spread was such that one could expect an explosion of cases of contamination in places where social distancing measures are difficult to adhere to.

“We have seen that in an effort to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19, most governments have adopted drastic measures such as the closure of borders and lockdowns

“In Africa, the measures have been more or less followed, but its application has been difficult for most people who struggle every day for survival by carrying out activities in the informal sector.

“Judging from its devastating effects, it can be said without doubt that the consequences of the pandemic are tragic.

“On the economic level, recession is evident due to the shutdown of activities, especially, in key production sectors, the tourism sector, air transport and the hotel industry.

“The social explosion is to be feared in many countries, and in particular, Africa that is already burdened with debt and where unemployment continues to impoverish the populations,” read the statement.

According to the bishops, for those in the grip of anguish, it is easy to believe that the pandemic is a punishment from God.

They said that even a sift through the scriptures revealed that God is the creator of the world and is not only in full control of creation, but also cannot turn against his own creation.

“Being created in the image and likeness of God implies that there is an imprint of God in each person and COVID-19 cannot separate anyone from the love of God.

“In these days of the pandemic, the Holy Spirit is working through frontline workers who are risking their lives to save others, including priests who are trying to help and support everyone.

“The tool we urgently need is prayer for God to deepen our faith and trust in him.

“Faith and prayer are equally part of Africa’s spiritual heritage, which can assist us to find meaning in life and they are similarly pillars for building “a civilization of love”.

“We appreciate the efforts that have been made by the respective governments to contain the brutal spread of the virus on the continent.

“We also thank all the health professionals and religious nuns who have shown extraordinary dedication to alleviating the suffering of the sick,” they said.

The bishops also called on Africans to reactivate the value of solidarity that had been shapong  societies to better face the impact of the pandemic and to be able to turn their  economies around.


Edited By: Peter Dada (NAN)

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Ebonyi to shut down some of its social media groups from June 2 — Official



The Ebonyi Government says it will shut down most of its related social media – whatsApp – groups from June 2.

The disclosure  is contained in a statement signed by Mr Uchenna Orji, Ebonyi Commissioner for Information and Orientation, in Abakaliki on Sunday.

He said that the state government-related WhatsApp groups were directed to be streamlined for ease of information dissemination and management.

“All those who opened WhatsApp accounts for propagating government programmes, particularly those that have top government functionaries, are to attend an important meeting.

“The meeting is on June 1, by 11am  at the Secretary to the State Government’s (SSG) conference hall,” he said.

News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Gov. David Umahi had consistently condemned the usage of the social media by some individuals and groups to castigate people and cause disaffection among the public.

The governor recently warned government officials to stop responding to criticisms in his defence on the social  media especially on state’s former SSG, Prof. Bernard Odoh, whom he said was ‘still a brother and friend’.

“Those who use the social media to bring others down will remain down while those they intend to bring down will rise above them,” he  had admonished.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Indian official says 30 groups try to develop COVID-19 vaccine




As many as 30 different groups in India are trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, out of which 20 are making fast progress, said Principal Scientific Adviser to Centre Government K. Vijayraghavan on Thursday.

Addressing media persons, the key official who is also the co-chair of the COVID-19 task force on scientific development, however, said none of these groups is in the clinical trial stage for vaccines yet.

“There are about 30 groups in India, big industry to individual academics, are trying to develop a vaccine. Some companies are in the late pre-clinical stage,” Vijayraghavan said, adding that the entire process will cost 2 to 3 billion U.S. dollars and the access to the vaccine is a big challenge.

According to media reports, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed several Indian firms, including the Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Indian Immunologicals Limited and Bharat Biotech, among the firms involved in developing a vaccine.


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Iran arrests 14 linked to “separatist” groups: TV




Iran has arrested 14 people linked to “Takfiri separatist” groups in the southern port city of Mahshahr in Khuzestan province, state TV reported on Wednesday.

The police forces in coordination with judicial officials carried out four separate operations and arrested the suspects, eight of whom were involved in shootings at security forces while the remaining six were engaged in raising the “flags of the al-Ahwazia terrorist group” across the city, the police chief of Khuzestan province Brigadier General Heydar Abbas-Zadeh was quoted as saying.

Five motorcycles and 12 cellphones were also confiscated from them, he said, adding that the detainees have confessed to the offenses and their cases have been sent to judicial authorities.


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Rights groups urge Taiwan to support more Hong Kongers seeking asylum



Taipei-based non-governmental organisations and Hong Kongers living in Taiwan on Wednesday jointly called on the Taiwan government to revise laws in a bid to support more Hong Kongers seeking asylum as Hong Kong’s national security law is to undermine freedom and rule of law.

At a news conference held in Taipei, Taiwan’s rights groups charged that Hong Kong’s national security law meant the collapse of the concept of “one country, two systems’’ imposed there.

They stressed that Taiwan should be well prepared in response to an emerging refugee crisis.

According to the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan’s existing laws fail to comprehensively assist Hong Kong pro-democracy activists seeking asylum in Taiwan.

The organisation urged the government to revise regulations about helping Hong Kong residents whose safety and liberty are immediately threatened for political reasons.

In addition, so far, Taiwan has not established a refugee act.

Taiwan Citizen Front spokesman Chiang Min-yen called on the Taiwan government to urgently grant asylum to Hong Kong protesters on humanitarian grounds.

“The impacts of Hong Kong’s national security law are devastating there.

Helping Hong Kong is actually helping Taiwan as Chinese imperialism remains expanding,’’ Wu Rwei-ren, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, said.

Wu added that Taiwan should become a supportive base for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists, helping Hong Kong immigrants in Taiwan to form an indispensable part of Hong Kong diaspora.

Taiwan has had its own government since 1949. Beijing considers the self-governing democracy part of its territory.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Irresponsible armed groups clash leaves 10 dead in N. Afghanistan




At least 10 persons were killed as two irresponsible armed groups clashed in the northern Takhar province on Sunday, a security official said Monday but declined to be named.

The clash took place Sunday morning when two irresponsible armed groups clashed in Kalafgan district of the province, resulting in the death of 10 men and injury of four others from both sides, a police official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The clash ended after police forces arrived at the site.

Countless armed groups exist in the conflict-battered Afghanistan which often create law and order problems.

Similar clash between two irresponsible armed groups in the restive Baghlan province on Sunday claimed six lives.


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COVID-19: Vulnerable groups, low income earners get palliatives in Kaduna



The Kaduna State government has commenced the second phase of palliative distribution to low income earners and the vulnerable members of the society, in compliance with Gov. Nasir El- Rufai’s directive.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Malam Balarabe Lawal, made available to newsmen on Friday.
He said that the relief materials were aimed at ameliorating the effect of the lockdown imposed on the state to check the spread of coronavirus.
“In this phase of distribution, 14 local government areas will be covered, with 32,000 households, representing 32 clusters.
“Trailers conveying food items like rice, beans, semovita, maize flour, garri (cassava flakes), spagetti, noodles and vegetable oil have already arrived most of the local governments.
“This exercise will leverage on the successes recorded in the earlier distribution of the palliatives to the beneficiaries.
“In addition, lessons learnt in the first exercise have been incorporated in the second phase so as to accommodate more of the target groups and minimise human discretion in the exercise,’’ he said.
Balarabe, also the state Chairman of COVID-19 Relief Distribution Committee, said that the aim was to make the distribution as transparent as possible and to reach more low income earners and the vulnerable.
He said that the package was much bigger than the earlier exercise, with variety of food items, to enable the beneficiaries have balanced diet.
Balarabe said that the list of the beneficiaries was generated by the committees of the 32 clusters across the 14 local government areas and the Social Investment Programme (SIP) register of the Federal Government.
“The various lists were transparently generated by the cluster committees, which comprises two women, two clerics, a representative of the traditional institution, one councilor and one charitable organization,” he said.

Edited By: Chidi Opara and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Lower-income, minority groups in NYC worst hit by COVID-19, testing results show




New York City’s deep-rooted wealth and racial disparities are highlighted by the pattern of the COVID-19 spread, as people in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color are suffering the most, according to city and state data.

As shown in preliminary results of antibody tests of 8,000 people in New York City, the Bronx Borough, where a majority of residents are African Americans and Latino Americans, has the highest COVID-19 positive rate of 34 percent, compared with a citywide average of 19.9 percent, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at Wednesday’s briefing.

Ranking by zip codes, the top 10 highest-infected neighborhoods are located in the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, home to most of the city’s minority groups.

The highest rate was recorded in Morrisania, the Bronx, where 43 percent of residents tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. All the other nine neighborhoods had a positive rate of over 33 percent.

Moreover, the coronavirus‘s spread is continuing in those communities, and “that’s where the new cases are coming from,” said Cuomo.

To combat the disparities, Cuomo said the state will partner with the state’s largest healthcare provider Northwell Health to double church-based testing sites to 44 locations in those hardest-hit neighborhoods.

The state will also expand the testing capacity in 40 locations of New York City Public Housing facilities, where social distancing is hard to be maintained due to limited room space.

One more region of the state, the Capitol Region, stepped into phase one of reopening on Wednesday, leaving downstate regions — New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson, the only regions that are not qualified for reopening yet.

Meanwhile, statewide religious gatherings with up to 10 people will be allowed as of Thursday, said Cuomo, who added that participants should wear masks and practice social distancing.

It came one day after the governor announced that Memorial Day ceremonies with the same scale will be permitted to happen next week in the state.

“I understand their desire to get to religious ceremonies as soon as possible,” said Cuomo. “But we need to find out how to do it and do it safely and do it smartly.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that the city would offer free COVID-19 tests at nursing homes starting next week, due to the large number of infections there.

Some 250 people have been sent to work at nursing homes to fill the vacancies left by hundreds of staff members who have got infected with COVID-19. The remaining staffing requests would be fulfilled by the end of next week, said the mayor.

De Blasio said the city has procured enough personal protective equipment to get through May, including N95 masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, and surgical gowns.

“All of those items are now in sufficient supply to get us through the month of May to protect our first responders and our healthcare heroes,” he said in a confident tone.

Though summer’s almost here, the city’s beaches will remain closed for a while because “we are unlike any place else,” said the mayor.

“We are the epicenter of this crisis nationally, the most populous city in the United States of America … To get to our beaches, a vast majority of people are going to take subways and buses, that creates crowding there and then crowding on the beaches. There’s such an obvious set of reasons why we couldn’t open our beaches,” he explained.

Governor Cuomo has said that state beaches are allowed to open on Memorial Day weekend starting May 22, but decisions are left for local governments.

As to this year’s celebration of Independence Day on July 4, the mayor said it would be different, but still involve the firework show as a tradition.

Every year, the celebrations attract tens of thousands of New Yorkers who would crowd on the riverside on the night to see the spectacular fireworks shot from a fleet of ships.

“Whatever we do is going to be about safety first. It may be bigger, it may be smaller, but we’ll have a lot more to say when we get closer,” said de Blasio. “Do not assume it will look like what we’ve done in the past.”

By Wednesday night, the state of New York has reported over 354,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 28,000 deaths, remaining as the hardest-hit state in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.


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