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Say no to election violence – kid musician tells Nigerians

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Violence
By Moses Omorogieva
Lagos, Feb. 17, 2019 (NNN) 12 year-old kid musician Oziomachukwu Chukwujama, popularly known as Ozzy Bosco, has appealed to Nigerians, particularly adult electorates to remain calm and avoid violent acts during the elections.
Ozzybosco who made the appeal in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) on Sunday, noted that he may be a child, but he had the interest of the country at heart.
“Say no to election violence. Although I’m a child, my nation is right in my heart. Say No to Election Violence!!,” he stressed.
OzzyBosco a songwriter, recording artiste, stage performer and model was born on 7th Jan. 2007, to Mr and Mrs Chukwujama in Lagos.
He is hailed as the most successful child performer in Africa, after winning the Nigerian Kids Got Talent in 2011.
He had worked steadily to make a name for himself and to become the biggest performer in Africa.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the early hours of Saturday shifted the Presidential and National Assembly election to Feb. 23 and the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly election to March 9 citing logistic challenges. (NNN)
MIO/LAB
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Edited by Lydia Beshel

Metro

N-Power: No plan to absorb beneficiaries into Civil Service, says FG

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Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, says the Federal Government has no plan at the moment to absorb beneficiaries of the N-Power Programme into the Federal Civil Service

Farouq, in a statement by the Deputy Director in the Ministry, Mrs Rhoda Ilaya, on Saturday, said that Nigerians should be wary of fake news about absorption of N-Power beneficiaries Batch A into the Federal Civil Service.

“The attention of the Ministry has been drawn to the fake news trending on social media that President Muhammadu Buhari will on June 12 broadcast to the nation the absorption of N-POWER Volunteers Batch A, into the Federal Civil Service.

“The Ministry is hereby calling on the public to disregard the message and consider it as fake news.

Any information on N-Power or the National Social Investment Programme will be issued through the appropriate channels,” the minister said.


Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Sport

Impossible to play under United States Open’s COVID-19 protocols, Djokovic says

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World number one Novak Djokovic has said participating in the United States Open would be an impossible task due to the “extreme” COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

The United States Open, scheduled to begin on Aug. 31, will be the first Grand Slam to be played after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season in March.

The French Open was postponed to September while the Wimbledon championships was cancelled.

The suspension of the tennis season was last extended until the end of July but Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, is not sure the tournament will go ahead.

“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the United States Open due in late August, but it’s not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic said.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.

“Also, we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

Djokovic suggested economic factors were behind the push to play the tournament.

“They want the tournament to go ahead at any cost for economic reasons, which I understand,” he said. “But the question is, how many players are willing to accept those terms.”

World number two Rafa Nadal had also said he would not travel to the United States in the present circumstances.

Nadal has also questioned whether tennis can restart with the pandemic still gripping large parts of the world and unless every player is able to compete.

“For me (it) is very difficult to separate the status that the world is living from my real perspective on the world of tennis, no?” Nadal said this week.

“We need to be responsible, we need to be sure that the situation is safe enough, and then of course try to come back to our tour when the things are clear.”

The United States leads the world in total cases, numbering over 1.9 million, while it has also recorded more than 109,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus.
OLAL

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi (NAN)
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Entertainment

‘Selma’ snubbed at 2015 Oscars after cast protested police violence, actor Oyelowo says

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The civil rights movie “Selma” was made free for rental on Friday, a day after actor David Oyelowo said Oscar voters had deliberately snubbed the film in 2015.

Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, said members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences objected when “Selma” cast members protested the death of a black American.

“I remember at the premiere of ‘Selma’ us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest,” said Oyelowo, referring to the death in New York of Eric Garner after being held in a police chokehold.

Garner died in July 2014; “Selma” premiered in December 2014.

Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that?

“Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that,’” he added.

Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay were overlooked in Oscar nominations in 2015, helping to spur the #OscarsSoWhite campaign demanding greater diversity in Hollywood.

“Selma” got just two nods and a win for best original song.

The actor, who is British, was speaking in a virtual round table hosted by Screen Daily on Thursday about racism in the United States that was prompted by the death in May, of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while pinned by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite,” added Oyelowo.

“They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”

DuVernay re-tweeted the Screen Daily account, adding the comment “True story.”

The Academy replied on Twitter, “Ava & David, we hear you. Unacceptable. We’re committed to progress.”

Movie studio Paramount Pictures declined to comment on Oyelowo’s remarks.

On Friday it announced that “Selma” would be free for rental for the remainder of June, saying that had been planned earlier this week.

“We hope this small gesture will encourage people throughout the country to examine our nation’s history and reflect on the ways that racial injustice has infected our society,” Paramount said in a statement.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)
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Foreign

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

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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.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Ethiopian expert says Africa can learn from Chinese pandemic management system

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China is an able and willing partner of Africa and countries in the African continent can learn from the Chinese development and pandemic management system, an Ethiopian expert said on Saturday.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, noted that the African continent currently accounts for a small fraction of the infections globally.

However, Costantinos told Xinhua that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, stressed that China is probably the only nation that can address the challenges faced by the global South in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption.

According to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent had surpassed 171,206, as the death toll from the pandemic surged to 4,766.

The continental disease control and prevention agency, which noted that the virus has so far spread into 54 African countries, also disclosed that more than 75,083 people who had been infected with COVID-19 had recovered across the continent so far.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

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

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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.

WORK WITH CHINA

WORK WITH CHINA

WORK WITH CHINA

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.

SEARCH FOR VACCINE

SEARCH FOR VACCINE

SEARCH FOR VACCINE

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.

RISK OF SECOND WAVE

RISK OF SECOND WAVE

RISK OF SECOND WAVE

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.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Interview: Death of George Floyd reveals Washington’s double standards, says Indonesian analyst

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The death of George Floyd reveals the double standards of Washington, Indonesian political analyst Irwansyah said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Irwansyah, a lecturer in political science at the University of Indonesia, said that an unarmed black man being suffocated to death by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota late last month was not a rare occurrence in the United States, a country diverse in races and ethnic groups.

“This brings people to view such incidents (as) caused by systemic racism which underpins the recurring police brutality incidents,” said Irwansyah, adding that racism lies deep in the country’s social, economic and political system and has been acknowledged many times by the government, civil society activists and academics throughout the nation’s history, he said.

The danger and power of white nationalism and supremacy in United States politics, he said, is seemingly concerning and obvious to people around the world.

Other kinds of racism and sectarianism also emerge continuously to shape the life of United States citizens, he noted.

“This indicates the racism problem is not only seriously threatening the daily life of regular people, but also seriously vital to support the power system in the United States,” he said.

Floyd’s death has caused a wave of protests across the country. Thousands of people took to the streets amid clashes with police and the National Guard.

Irwansyah noted the protests in the United States are not only caused by racism, but also other factors such as economic inequality and the failed COVID-19 response.

“Especially since the economic financial crisis in 2008, the problem of economic inequality has become more severe. A sense of injustice among people from different social categories including races, inter-generations, and classes have been growing and widening,” he said.

Furthermore, the failure of the United States government to properly tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a strong drive for people to mobilize and stage protests, he added.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

France says its army killed al Qaeda North Africa chief, Droukdel

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France said on Friday its military forces had killed al Qaeda’s North Africa chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, a key Islamist fighter that its forces had been hunting for more than seven years, during an operation in Mali.

“On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the Emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.

The announcement of the death of Droukdel comes almost six months after former colonial power France and regional states combined their military forces under one command structure to focus on fighting Islamic State-linked militants in the border regions of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants.

He took part in an Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.

Droukdel was believed to be hiding in the mountains of northern Algeria. Al Qaeda North Africa was the dominant jihadist force in the region, staging several high-profile deadly attacks until 2013, when it fractured as many militants flocked to the more extremist Islamic State as it seized territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

It remained active in North Africa’s largely desert and often scarcely governed Sahel region.

In Mali, it focussed its activities to the north in Libya and Tunisia. As Islamic State waned, it has sought to lure new talent from among IS veterans.

Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners… will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.

Critics in the region have increasingly scorned Paris for failing to restore stability.

Anti-French sentiment has grown as militants have strengthened their foothold, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence.

Parly said earlier this week that about 100 special forces from other European countries would be deployed to the region to support French and regional troops.

ERO/

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)/

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Economy

NERC says 62.3% electricity consumers still on estimated billing

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), on Saturday said 62.3 per cent of electricity consumers in the country were still on estimated billing as at December 2019.

NERC made this known in its Fourth Quarter 2019 Report which was obtained from its website by News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

The commission said: “Inadequate metering remains a serious challenge in the industry, with only 3,918,322 (37.77 per cent) of the total customer population of 10,374,597

metered.

With 62.37 per cent of the end-use customers on estimated billing, huge collection losses due to customer apathy have posed a serious challenge to the viability and sustainability of the industry.”

It said  in comparison to the third quarter of 2019, the  numbers of registered and metered customers increased by 699,850 (7.23 per cent) and 22,825 (0.59 per cent) respectively.

NERC said the increase in the number of registered customers was attributable to the on-going enumeration exercise by DisCos while the increase in metered customers was due to the roll-out of meters under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) schemes.

It said: “The commission notes with concern that the additional 22,825 end-use customers’ meters installed during the fourth quarter fell significantly from the 83,768 meters installed during the third quarter.

“This poses risk to the Commission’s goal of closing the metering gap in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) by Dec. 31, 2021.

 “Although some MAPs have not fully commenced meter deployments, the low metering recorded during the quarter was partly due to the increase of 35 per cent in import duty on meter components.

NERC said it was  already working with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning toward addressing those issues in order to fast-track meters roll-out.

It said during the period under review, only Abuja, Eko, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt DisCos metered additional customers.

According to NERC,  the metering status of the DisCos as at December 2019 is: Benin DisCo, 53.71 per cent;  Abuja,  52.39 per cent; Eko,  46.67 per cent; Ikeja, 40.38 per cent and Jos,  31.71 per cent.

Others are: Port Harcourt, 38.34 per cent; Ibadan, 32.21 per cent; Kaduna,  22.2 per cent; Kano, 18.36 per cent; Enugu , 41.26 per cent and Yola, 18.75 per cent.

The commission said it would continue to monitor the DisCos to ensure total compliance with the MAP regulations.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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