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President Buhari returns to Abuja

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Abuja, March 12, 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday returned to Abuja after he participated in the Saturday’s Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly election in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the presidential aircraft conveying the president, his wife Aisha Buhari and some of his aides landed the at presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 12.30p.m.

The president was received at the airport by his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammed Bello and other presidential aides as well as government officials.

While in Daura, the president exercise his civic responsibility on March 9 at the polling unit 003, Kofar Baru III (A and B) Daura, Katsina State, where he voted for a governorship candidate and member of the state house of assembly that would represent his constituency, Daura.

At the end of the exercise on Saturday, President Buhari successfully delivered thepolling unit to the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for the state, Aminu Masari, with 370 votes.

On March 10, President Buhari received representatives of community and development associations from Daura Emirate at his private residence in Daura, who came to congratulate him on his re-election.

The president’s old schoolmates and Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina State were also among those that visited the president at his residence in Daura to congratulate him on his re-election for a second term.

Masari, who was accompanied by prominent citizens of the state including some members of his cabinet, also formally informed President Buhari of his victory at the March 9 governorship election in the state.

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S. African president promises to address staff shortages in COVID-19 epicenter

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President Cyril Ramaphosa promised on Friday to urgently address the staff shortages in the Western Cape, the country’s epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic.

The province will get what it needs to cope with the rapid rise in infections, the president said while touring the Cape Town International Conference Center (CTICC), which is being turned into a 850-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients.

The president was on an inspection visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape where confirmed COVID-19 cases have been rising at a faster pace.

The Western Cape accounts for more than 66 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and more than 76 percent of related deaths.

As of Thursday, the province recorded 27,006 confirmed cases and 651 related deaths, while the cumulative numbers of cases and deaths in the country respectively stood at 40,792 and 848.

During the visit, Ramaphosa was briefed by the Western Cape government on the provincial health system’s level of preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and on the province’s hotspot strategy and implementation plan.

“We are fighting a life and death war and staffing challenges must be solved,” Ramaphosa said after being told that staff shortages are the biggest challenge facing the Western Cape.

He refuted the notion that the staff shortages were worsened by lack of money.

“Money is not a problem and I will not accept a lack of staff as an excuse. We must pull out all stops to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.

Every effort must be made to identify and headhunt the necessary staff, he said.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans is ready to bring in defence personnel who will be able to come to this province immediately to come and lend a hand,” Ramaphosa said.

All potential pools of talent and skills must be tapped, he said.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who accompanied the president on the visit, promised to help the Western Cape resolve the testing backlog with a shipment of testing kits that are clearing customs.

The province faces a backlog of 27,000 tests at the National Health Laboratory Service.

This means that someone who is seriously ill in hospital, or a health-worker, or someone who is at high risk of dying from COVID-19, may have to wait between seven to 12 days for a result.

As a result, the Western Cape government has decided to only test those who are at highest risk and most vulnerable of dying from COVID-19 infection in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

(XINHUA)

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Tokyo 2020 vice president unsure whether Games can be held in 2021

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A top official from the Tokyo Olympic Games‘ organizing committee said here on Friday that he is unsure whether the postponed 2020 Olympic Games can be held next summer.

Toshiaki Endo, one of the vice presidents of Tokyo 2020, was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying “Selecting athletes by around next March will be a major challenge. The organizing committee will need to make some kind of a decision considering the situation at that time.”

70-year-old Endo, also a former Olympic minister, added at a meeting of his Liberal Democratic Party, “There are still many estimates, and it is unclear what the new coronavirus situation will be next summer. It is still too early to discuss whether to hold (the games) or not.”

Edo was appointed in 2015 to oversee the Olympics preparations on behalf of the Japanese government.

His comments were the first in public by an executive member of the organizing committee about when a decision regarding the fate of the Games might be made, Kyodo said.

John Coates, chairman of the International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission, told The Australian newspaper two weeks ago that October will be a critical period for assessing if the Olympics can take place.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters that Coates had denied such reports, but he admitted that many things will not become clear until autumn.

The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled from July 23 to August 8 next year and the Paralympic Games will be held between August 24 and September 5.

(XINHUA)

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Tanzanian president pledges full support for teachers amid COVID-19

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Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday pledged full support for teachers and assured them that the government will continue paying their wages amid COVID-19.

Even if COVID-19 lasts for 10 years, I assure all teachers that the government will continue paying your monthly wages,” Magufuli said when he officially opened a one-day general meeting of the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) in the capital Dodoma.

In a live televised address by state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, the president said the government’s monthly wage bill stood at about 600 billion Tanzanians shillings (about 259 million United States dollars) and half of it was being used for paying about 267,000 teachers.

“I will never let down my fellow teachers. I have experienced challenges facing teachers across the country,” Magufuli, a former chemistry teacher, told the meeting that brought together 1,138 teachers from different regions.

President Magufuli also hinted that arrangements were afoot to reopen primary and secondary schools which were shut down on March 17 following the outbreak of the viral disease in the east African nation on March 16.

Leah Ulaya, the TTU President, thanked the head of state for supporting the teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, pledging to work hard with integrity in efforts aimed at improving the standard of education in the country.

(XINHUA)

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Ukrainian president floats visa liberalization for tourists

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has floated the idea of liberalizing the visa regime for tourists, including Chinese citizens, visiting the country, the president’s press service said Thursday.

In a meeting with representatives from the tourism industry on Thursday, Zelensky noted that visas could be canceled for tourists from China, Australia, New Zealand, and Arab countries.

Zelensky called on representatives to join efforts to attract international tourists to visit Ukraine.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of borders, opportunities have emerged for the development of domestic tourism, he said, adding that the Ukrainian government intends to increase the country’s attractiveness for tourists.

According to the state statistics service of Ukraine, 15 million foreigners visited Ukraine in 2019. Their spending, up by 200 million United States dollars year-on-year, reached 1.7 billion dollars, the National Bank of Ukraine said.

(XINHUA)

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Turkish president cancels scheduled weekend lockdown

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced to cancel an initially planned weekend lockdown as part of measures taken against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recalling that the Interior Ministry on late Thursday announced that the curfew will be applied in 15 provinces this weekend, Erdogan said “However, the reactions we received from our people pushed us to re-evaluate the decision.”

“It was understood that this decision, whose sole purpose was to prevent the spread of the disease and protect our citizens, would lead to different social and economic consequences. We did not want people, who started to organize their daily life again after a 2.5-month break, to suffer,” he tweeted.

The president urged the citizens to stick to social distancing and hygiene rules.

Turkey’s total novel coronavirus cases increased to 167,410, with 988 new patients in the past 24 hours, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday evening.

Twenty-one more people have died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,630, the minister tweeted.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19. Chinese doctors and medical experts held a video conference with Turkish counterparts to share China‘s experiences in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.

(XINHUA)

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President Geingob proposes liquidation of country’s flag carrier Air Namibia

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Namibian President, Hage Geingob, has proposed the liquidation of the country’s flag carrier, Air Namibia.

Speaking to lawmakers while giving the State of the Nation Address, Geingob said since the airline was not making a profit, the country could not afford to keep rescuing it.

Air Namibia must be liquidated; we have a serious problem with Air Namibia.

“It must be restructured; it is not making any profits and it is just being bailed out.

“We must do something about it,’’ the President said.

Since October 2019, the airline has been forced to cut its operating costs to the bone after the treasury refused a 2-billion-Namibian-dollar ($118 million) bailout.

The airline had warned in November that it might be forced to shut down operations if it did not receive a rescue package.

The situation has been made dire by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which saw the airline freeze operations for about two months as the country was on lockdown.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Namibian president worried about country’s high debt stock

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Namibian President Hage Geingob on Thursday said he is concerned about the country’s projected debt stock for 2020/21, which has surpassed the debt threshold set by the Southern African Development Community.

“It is not acceptable, we did not expect the economic downturn, the drought, and COVID-19,” Geingob said during his State of the Nation Address.

“Now we have to divert funds. That debt is not sustainable. We must do something to bring it down. I admit the debt is not manageable. We must just do something to manage it,” he added.

According to the 2020 budget presented in parliament last week, Namibia’s debt stock for 2020/21 fiscal year is seen rising to 117.5 billion Namibian dollars (7 billion U.S. dollars), or 68.7 percent of its GDP, from the 54.8 percent estimated for the 2019/20 financial year.

The budget also shows that Namibia’s economy is expected to contract by 6.6 percent this year and by 1.1 percent in 2021.

(XINHUA)

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Namibian president proposes liquidation of country’s flag carrier Air Namibia

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Namibian President Hage Geingob on Thursday proposed the liquidation of the country’s flag carrier Air Namibia.

Speaking to lawmakers while giving the State of the Nation Address, Geingob said since the airline was not making a profit, the country could not afford to keep rescuing it.

Air Namibia must be liquidated, we have a serious problem with Air Namibia. It must be restructured. It is not making any profits and it is just being bailed out. We must do something about it,” Geingob said.

In October 2019, the airline has been forced to cut its operating costs to the bone after the treasury refused a 2-billion-Namibian-dollar (118 million U.S. dollars) bailout, and warned in November that it might be forced to shut down operations if it did not receive a rescue package.

The situation has been made dire by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which saw the airline freeze operations for about two months as the country was on lockdown.

(XINHUA)

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2nd LD Writethru: Burundi court upholds Ndayishimiye’s victory in presidential election

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Burundi’s Constitutional Court on Thursday upheld the May 20 presidential poll results which showed Evariste Ndayishimiye of the ruling party as the winner.

Charles Ndagijimana, president of the Constitutional Court, dismissed the election irregularities reported by Burundi Catholic bishops and Agathon Rwasa, presidential candidate of the opposition National Council for Liberty party.

Ndagijimana said the reports were unfounded, adding that no reported irregularity can taint the results of the elections.

Ndayishimiye of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy won 68.72 percent of votes and Rwasa got 24.19 percent in the results announced by the country’s electoral commission on May 25.

Rwasa, who filed the case in the court on May 27, said he would appeal to the regional East African Community Court if the domestic court rejects his appeal.

The Burundian National Independent Human Rights Commission earlier said the elections were held in a “good and fair” manner.

The Constitutional Court ruling now paves way for Ndayishimiye to succeed current president Pierre Nkurunziza who has been in power since 2005.

Under the country’s new constitution promulgated in June 2018, the presidential term was extended from five to seven years and the president is allowed to serve two consecutive terms.

Ndayishimiye, born in 1968, was minister of home affairs and public security.

(XINHUA)

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