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Int’l NGO trains over 10,000 youths in $15m agric project



Cuso, an international development organisation, has trained over 10,000 Nigerian youths in its 15 million Canadian dollar Youth Leadership Entrepreneurship Access and Development (YOULEAD) Project.

YOULEAD is a five year project, implemented by Cuso, in partnership with Cross River State Government and other partners, and funded by the Canadian Government through Global Affairs Canada.

Sonko said that of the 10,000 youths that had been trained, the organisation had assisted 3,500 to be gainfully engaged.

He said that the project, which was being implemented in Cross River, was meant to create a supportive platform for young people to have access to information on value chains, training opportunities and employment information.

He said that while the project was streamlined to Cross River, it accommodated all eligible youths from different parts of the country, residing in Cross River.

“The project value is 15 million Canadian dollars and it is funded by the Canadian government through Global Affairs Canada.

“Our interventions are at different levels, the technical training on entrepreneurship and more than 10,000 youths have been trained and out of that, 3500 have been put on jobs to ensure they started something.

“I am sure you are wondering what happens to the gap.

“We do not have the financing means to put everybody in business and not all the people that you train are actually  meant for entrepreneurship but the good thing is that once they have that orientation, they go ahead to start their own business,” he said.

The country representative disclosed that the project, which was due to wrap up in December, had impacted tremendously on the lives of the youths from surveys carried out so far.

“The programme started some five years back to respond to the key issues we found in our analysis in Cross River, including high level of unemployment.

“That was the bad part, the better part is that Cross River is naturally endowed with vegetation and we thought that was an advantage.

“So we thought that a programme that will look at youth employment within the natural resource sector will be a good way to approach the challenges in the state.”

On getting youths to key into the project in view of supposed youths’ apathy to agriculture, Sonko said it was true that young people did not like agriculture.

He, however, noted that the problem was more of lack of orientation on potential and opportunities that abound in the agriculture value chain.

According to him, agriculture is not limited to farming but encompasses processing, marketing and distribution among others.

“We know clearly that young people are not lazy people, they want to do something.

“When we called for young people to apply to work with us, we received good response.

“The only problem is that they do not know exactly what they want to do. They do not know how to do it, the opportunity is not there and all of that.

“That is why our first training was not straight into business. To change their mindset, we started off by letting them know that they have to start and pull through gradually.

“We also told them they have to be dedicated to know the principles of entrepreneurship.

“Then we put them through in technical training in the area they want to work and attached them to the right people and financing institutions so that they can get some funding.

“This programme will be ending in December. It was meant to end in March but then the donor extended it by six months so that we can responsibly close this project.”

Sonko said the project was meant to focus on the natural resource sector while narrowing to the agricultural sector.

According to him, youths have been trained in the various value chains in poultry, cassava, palm fruit and other agricultural areas.

On the Learning and Sharing Forum, Sonko said it was meant to share lessons from the project, stimulate discussions on sustainable and inclusive youth employment and entrepreneurship.

Ms Sophie Price, the Canadian High Commission First Secretary and Senior Development Officer, Development and Corporation Section, said the Canadian Government was graciously funding the project in view of its expected impact.

She said while the challenge if unemployment among the youth and particularly the women was real, it was not insurmountable.

According to her, with the right environment and necessary support, Nigerian youths will surpass expectations, adding that “Nigerian youths have creativity and ingenuity”.

She called for women mainstreaming, saying “women are disproportionately affected by poverty. There should be inclusiveness for women and children.”

Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), National Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility Programme said it was time youth entrepreneurship was taken seriously.

“The advantages of green economy are enormous and the first thing is the desire to make a change and to live a meaningful life.

“If any youth is ready to live a meaningful life and not wait for white collar job, that gives such a person an open mind to explore opportunities.”

On youths not finding agriculture interesting because it is perceived dirty, the coordinator said, “there is no job that does not have its good and ugly side.

“As it stands agriculture is our future as a country. If you get your hands dirty, you can also get it clean and then smile to the bank.

“Waiting for white collar jobs will get you frustrated and when it comes, if it comes at all, they cannot pay you what you are worth.

“Farming for instance has even gone beyond getting hands dirty. You can go into mechanised farming, partnerships, processing, sale and marketing and all that. The opportunities abound.”

While commending the Federal Government for its interventions in youth empowerment, she called for a national plan on youth entrepreneurship with emphasis on environmental management.

She urged government to do more in the area of power, road and all the needed infrastructure to boost agriculture and encourage entrepreneurship.

Edited by Grace Yussuf

General news

Tribute: Oni lauds Olumilua’s integrity, transparency 



A former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Segun Oni, has described the late Governor of Ondo State, Bamidele Olumilua, as a leader with outstanding wisdom, integrity, transparency and intellectual capacity.

Oni said that Olumilua’s progressive footprints would remain indelible in the annals of history.


Oni’s tributes were contained in a letter of condolence sent to the family of the late governor, on Saturday and made available to newsmen in Ado Ekiti.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Olumilua, who governed the old Ondo State from 1992  to 1993, died on Friday at the age of 80.

Oni said that Olumilua’s belief in contentment and selfless service reflected in his modest lifestyle even after relinquishing powers.

The former Ekiti governor said that Olumilua was one of the leaders that served the nation without preference for amassing wealth at the expense of the poor.

He said that the late politician wrote  his name in gold as a leader with unquenchable penchant for simplicity and incorruptibility.

The letter read in part: “Our leader, who has gone to rest at the bosom of the Lord was a person of faith, honour and character, who displayed selfless services to God and mankind.

“The holy book established the fact that individuals of this elder statesman’s stature don’t die, but just change position to be with the Lord, as flesh cannot take us to eternal rest.”

Oni  prayed God for the repose of Olumilua’s soul.

”I am pained that we shall miss his clarity of purpose and bluntness on issues, no matter how inflammable.

Former Gov. Olumilua gave honest, transparent and incorruptible services as the Governor of the old Ondo State and as career Ambassador for Nigeria.

“He came, he served well and carved a niche for himself as a detribalised Nigerian leader, who shared the vision of limitless greatness for our nation and its people.” .

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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Firm unveils smoother, quicker painting product



A leading paint manufacturing company in Nigeria says, it has unveiled a premium painting solution ‘Berger Swift Painting’ (BSP) to tackle incidences of prolonged painting and dusty environment.

Mr Anjan Sircar, Berger Paints Nigeria Plc (BPN), Managing Director, said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos, that the product was introduced to tackle incidence of imperfect painting inherent in the country.

Sircar said BSP was introduced to deliver quicker, neater and smoother painting in the most efficient and effective way with the use of mechanised and advanced tools.

He said the new service was borne out of the company’s ingenuity and constant quest for innovative products and services.

Sircar noted that the company had always been on the forefront of trail brazing in products and service delivery.

Berger Swift Painting is a new concept in the Nigerian Painting Industry.

“The concept is expected to revolutionise the Industry in Nigeria. Berger Paints Nigeria Plc is the first paint company to offer this novel service in Nigeria.

The new service will completely change the process of painting in the country.

“It will ultimately make project execution quicker, neater and smoother.

“You don’t have to worry about paint spillage or dusts on the furniture, there is on-site support to help move and cover your furniture to ensure your space remain neat.

Berger Swift Painters are well trained, well kitted and safety conscious.

“They follow all hygiene protocols to ensure safety of lives and properties.

“This is more apt at this period of Covid- 19 Pandemic.
painters will properly sanitise their hands and use appropriate nose masks.

“Apart from havoc posed by fake products in the Nigerian Paint Industry, prolonged duration of painting, dusty environment while painting and poor finishing are other challenges faced by customers.

The introduction of Berger Swift Painting Service will solve all these militating challenges by delivering quicker, neater and smoother painting.

“The new service from BPN’s stable is expected to bring Nigeria at par with the Western World in the area of quality service delivery,” he said.

He said the company which commenced operation in Nigeria on the 9th January 1959 has grown to be a leader in the voating and allied Industry in Nigeria.

According to him, it has over the years built a reputation as the first in setting standards in the paint industry in Nigeria.

“It has pioneered a wide range of specialty products that are much sought after in this dynamic and ever-changing market,” he said

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)


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Interview: George Floyd death reveals United States’ double standards on human rights, says former Yugoslavian FM




The death of George Floyd and the United States‘ response to ensuing protests demonstrated double standards in the country’s policies on certain rights it has been insisting on around the world, according to Zivadin Jovanovic, former foreign minister of Yugoslavia.

Jovanovic told Xinhua that the United States‘ respect for human rights is reserved only for those countries on which it wishes to impose domination.

“The rights are acceptable for them only in their objective to dominate globally,” Jovanovic said.

He noted that such policies are rooted “in the theory of their exceptionality and the strategy of hegemonic and global domination.”

The senior Yugoslavian diplomat believes that double standards are the source of many problems in global relations, while obtaining peace, stability and prosperity requires all countries to abandon such practices.

As for the United States itself, Jovanovic said racial discrimination is deeply rooted in the history of the country’s socio-economic and political practice, and that segregation is still visible in the distribution of wealth and availability of health protection.

“The present problem should be treated in much broader contexts and only a systematic approach could deliver the sustainable solution and social stability,” he said.

Moreover, Jovanovic said that the United States’ double standards are also reflected in its disrespect of international conventions and agreements, such as those related to the International Criminal Court, arms control, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the World Health Organization.

“They accused some countries of interfering in their electoral process, without any proof, but the United States is particularly interfering in the electoral process all over the world by bribing political parties and blackmailing politicians,” he pointed out.


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Malaysian PM appoints Petronas president to head Malaysia Airlines




Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday appointed Malaysia‘s state-owned oil firm Petronas president Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin to head the country’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines.

Muhyiddin said in a statement that the move is part of an effort to strengthen several government-linked companies (GLCs) in the face of challenging economic times.

According to Petronas, Wan Zulkiflee was appointed as President & Group CEO of PETRONAS in April 2015 after starting his career at the state oil giant in 1983.

Muhyiddin expressed appreciation for Wan Zulkiflee’s contribution during his 37-year tenure in Petronas.

“Petronas is the only government company which has a good international credit evaluation and still listed in the Fortune Global 500,” he said, adding that he believes Malaysia Airlines will be restructured and be expanded further as a resilient, sustainable and well-managed national carrier.

Meanwhile, Petronas’ executive vice president and group chief financial officer Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz will be the new Petronas group president and chief executive officer, said Muhyiddin.

Both appointment will take effect on July 1.


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Interview: UK epidemiologist says global collaboration vital to tackle unprecedented COVID-19 crisis




Global collaboration is “really important” to tackle the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis which is affecting all countries, Dr Connor Bamford, a virologist, told Xinhua.

Dr Bamford is a research fellow in virology and antiviral immunity at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast. He has spent his career researching how human immune response can fend off different infections, and how viruses get past human immune systems.

“Collaboration is really important and this crisis is unique in the fact that it’s a pandemic — a global epidemic of a single pathogen — but this thing is affecting all countries,” said Dr Bamford.

In particular, collaborating in stopping travel, sharing PPE (personal protective equipment) and sharing experiences of the virus, are fundamental to successfully control COVID-19 on a global scale, according to Dr Bamford.

“Seeing how interconnected our global society and economy are, essentially everybody is getting damaged by this and I think we have to work together and more importantly we can learn from other countries,” said Dr Bamford.




According to Dr Bamford, China has been “really collaborative in this effort”.

“Very early in the outbreak, China shared a lot of information about this virus and allowed countries in Europe, the UK and the US to prepare themselves,” said Dr Bamford.

He believes that China is a key model — along with the rest of East Asia and Southeast Asia — to follow for countries like Britain in getting past this relief of lockdown phase.

Going forward, Dr Bamford said that researchers in Britain should also work closely with their counterparts in China when it comes to finding viable vaccines and therapeutics.

In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet last month, a Chinese team reported that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been found to be safe, well-tolerated, and able to generate an immune response against SARS-CoV-2 in humans in phase 1 clinical trial.

“I think we’ve got a lot to learn from China. China has a lot of scientific expertise, they have some vaccine candidates and they’ve got some therapeutic candidates and we now have people to share and collaborate on those,” he said.




Dr Bamford believes the world is getting closer to an effective drug or vaccine for COVID-19 with each experiment, but the chances of a valid vaccine by the end of the year remain slim,

“I think we’ll have an idea of the vaccines that are most likely to work, and the ones that are least likely to work — and hopefully we’ll have an idea of how safe they are and then hopefully we’ll be getting them into a large number of patients,” said Dr Bamford.

“I’m confident that at some point we will see a vaccine and this will have an impact, but if I’m more realistic — I don’t think it will be this year.”

As part of the global efforts to find solutions to the pandemic, a team at the University of Oxford is also carrying out clinical trial on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Leading scientist of the team are optimistic that they can complete the multi-phased trial at an unprecedented pace.

“We have to make sure that these vaccines are safe and effective and we’re able to give them to essentially billions of people. This does take a really long period of time, but of course we’re trying to do things as fast as possible but, of course, you don’t want to do anything too fast as you really have to make sure they do work and things are safe,” said Dr Bamford.

In addition to vaccines, researcher around the world are also looking for effective drugs to treat the infection.

Since April, Dr Bamford and his team in Belfast have been working on a new drug to target the coronavirus. Although in its early stages of development, the drug is intended to be given to patients at hospital who are sick from COVID-19.




Development of vaccines or drugs comes as many countries around the world are starting to ease restrictions on movement.

“We’ve now conquered that first wave…There’s a couple of countries who have been in this similar position before us and I think that there is a real risk that we could go back to what we saw in the preceding months. We’re not in the early stages, we’re somewhere in the middle and it’s a bit uncertain,” said Dr Bamford.

Nonetheless, Dr Bamford is optimistic that the second wave will not be as severe as the first wave in Britain.

“The first wave, we predicted it would be completely catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of people dying. That was only if lockdown wasn’t brought in. I think we’ve shown that we know how to stop this virus and that is through lockdown, social distancing and increased hygiene and as importantly, this test, trace and isolate procedure,” said Dr Bamford.

“I think, when we bring all those together then we should be able to reduce some aspects of lockdown and social distancing but also suppress any virus that is there ongoing, but, of course, this is a long battle. We’re doing this to hold off the virus until we have a new therapy or a new vaccine that is safe and effective,” he said.

“Hopefully we can eradicate it or bring a vaccine that we can give to everybody in the population. But then the really important thing going forward is protecting the world from another pandemic like what we’re seeing with SARS-CoV-2,” he said.


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New ultrathin nanosheets set to transform dirtiest water into lifesaving resource: Aussie-led study




Australian-led researchers on Saturday said they have developed a new ultrathin porous membrane that completely separates potentially harmful ions such as lead and mercury from water, pointing to crucial clean drinking supplies for people globally through purification and desalination processes.

The researchers, led by Monash University and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, developed the molecular sieve membrane using 2D nanosheets and “demonstrated their near perfection as building materials for membranes in ion separation from water”, according to a university statement.

The nanosheets “can help remove harmful carcinogens from the atmosphere by creating highly porous membranes to facilitate the separation processes of gases and organic solvents, such as paint.”

“In this world-first study, we were able to … create a membrane that is permeable to water while achieving maximum porosity with nearly 100 percent rejection of ions. This study shows promise for the future application of this membrane to other filtration processes, such as gas separation,” research study leader Xiwang Zhang said. The latest findings were published in academic journal Science Advances.

One in three people globally still did not have access to safe drinking water and about 2.2 billion people around the world did not have safely managed drinking water services as of June 2019, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

The membrane innovation “could enhance the desalination process and transform the dirtiest water into something potable for millions of people across the world,” according to Monash university.

“The membrane performed steadily for more than 750 hours using limited energy. It could also be manufactured on a global scale, pending further testing.”


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Interview: South Sudan envoy commends China’s COVID-19 medical supplies assistance




A South Sudanese diplomat on Saturday commended China‘s assistance to his country’s anti-virus fight and urged China to boost its positive role in South Sudan.

Speaking to Xinhua, James Morgan, South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, said China’s COVID-19 medical supplies to his country is part of a longstanding positive pattern in helping the world‘s youngest country.

South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011.

China has sent a lot of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to South Sudan, crucially needed in COVID-19 preventive measures.”

China has also pledged to continue supporting the continent especially in the area of COVID-19. This help is received with appreciation in South Sudan and across the African continent,” Morgan told Xinhua.

South Sudan has reported 1,317 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with six recoveries and 14 deaths, as of Saturday, according to a report by the Africa CDC.

Morgan further said Chinese support to South Sudan extends to peacekeeping operations and the development of infrastructure in the east African country.

“The Chinese peacekeeping force in South Sudan now has been converted into a developmental force which is helping with development of our infrastructure including road construction,” Morgan told Xinhua.

Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan have been engaged in protecting refugee camps, repairing broken infrastructure and facilitating local peace initiatives.


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FAO intensifies desert locust control measures in Kenya’s county




The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said Saturday it has intensified the desert locust control measures in Turkana County in northwest Kenya.

FAO said it has issued six surveillance vehicles, three pickups mounted with sprayers, one helicopter, two spray airplanes as well as one fixed-wing aircraft for the Kenya-Uganda border surveillance.

FAO is taking a regional approach to desert locusts control response, and it is important for Turkana to intensify control measures to ensure that the desert locust do not mature and continue to compound the threat to Kenya’s and East Africa‘s food security,” said Tobias Takavarasha, FAO Representative to Kenya ad interim.

Takavarasha, who was peaking during the flagging off at Lodwar airstrip, said the donation is in response to the reported sightings of mature copulating swarms last month, which have resulted in the current 200 hopper bands sites in both pasture and farmlands as well as urban centers.

“Turkana is now the epicenter of Desert Locust control measures, with the highest number of hopper band sites reported. The number of counties infested with desert locusts now has reduced from 28 to four counties. That is Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo,” he said.

FAO said it has also collaborated with some partners to support counties to mobilize the movement of ground teams to perform both surveillance and control measures in the most affected counties.

According to the UN, about 3.1 million people in arid and semi-arid areas of the country are food insecure, and increased breeding of desert locusts, coupled with the current flooding as well as COVID-19 pandemic, poses a wider risk of food and pasture shortage.

According to FAO, about 25.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, which is 28 percent of the case-load of Africa.

Of these, more than 11 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are located in areas currently affected by the desert locust infestations, said FAO.

It said despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the current floods, desert locust surveillance and control measures continue in earnest.


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Two women killed in violent attacks in Carinthia, Austria




Two women were killed in violent attacks in Austria’s southernmost state Carinthia on Saturday morning and a major police operation has been carried out to hunt the suspect, reported local media.

In Drobollach am Faaker See (Villach municipality), a 56-year-old woman was shot on the open road at around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, according to a report by the Austrian Press Agency (APA).

Shortly before, according to the police, a 62-year-old woman was killed in Wernberg, but not with a firearm, said APA. Investigators assume that the two women were killed by one and the same perpetrator.

At noon, the police searched across the country for the perpetrator who was traveling in a white vehicle. Checkpoints were set up near the border crossings, the vehicles were guided through the checkpoints on the motorways, and the police helicopter was also in use.

There was no information about the motive for the two bloody deeds. Local media suspected that the alleged perpetrator could flee to Italy via the nearby border.


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