Friday, 19 January 2018
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News & Stories (1619)

South Africa's Transport Minister, Ben Martins, said 42 people, on the average, were killed per day on the country's roads since the beginning of December.

 "It very sad and heartbreaking that on an average 42 people per day were killed on the country's roads since the beginning of December.It cannot be considered normal inspite of all efforts by government, private sector and civil society to enforce the rules of the road and raise awareness about road safety, yet we continue to witness the loss of lives on our roads at this scale,'' Martins said.
He said most of the accidents happened as a result of the recklessness of the drivers many of whom drive under the influence of alcohol. ``We cannot sit back and watch our people being killed in this manner. Any motorists who break traffic laws will be arrested. According to the minister, the high number of fatalities on the country’s roads emphasise the need for a national dialogue.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that from the figures released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), more than 1,068 people had been killed in various accidents since the beginning of December.
RTMC said it was disappointed with the rise in road fatalities. Meanwhile, in the Western Cape traffic authorities said more than 170 people were arrested for drunk driving in December alone. According to Kenny Africa, traffic officer in the province, road accidents have claimed the lives of 145 people since the beginning of December.
 He said that drunk driving remained a problem in the country. ``This is worrying because we want drunk drivers to be off our roads. Our traffic officers are out in full force ensuring that drunken drivers are off our roads,” Africa said.
 He warned motorists not to get behind the wheel of a car if they have had too many drink. NAN reports that between Dec. 1 2010 and Jan. 10, 2011, a total of 1, 771 people died in road accidents in the country. 




Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 20:55 Written by

Kogi State governor, Capt. Idris Wada has been involved in a ghastly auto crash. His aide-de-camp, ADC, was said to have died on the spot. Kogi State information commissioner told our reporter that the governor was rescued unconscious from the 4x4 jeep, and has been flown by helicopter to the National Hospital, Maitama, Abuja, from where he would be flown abroad for urgent medical attention, should the need arise. More details later.



Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 20:30 Written by

An economist, Dr Henry Boyo, on Thursday advised the Federal Government to pursue people-oriented policies in 2013 to reduce cost of living of Nigerians.

Boyo, the Chief Executive of Technol Systems Ltd., told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that many of the economic policies of government in 2012 were ``not too people friendly. The monetary profile of any country depends on its monetary policy model. In 2012, inflation ate up substantial part of people’s earnings in Nigeria," he said.
The expert said that the purchasing power of Nigerians depreciated substantially in 2012, adding that many companies did not expand their investments.
Boyo also said that the real sector did not create more jobs, while banks placed high interest rates on loans.
He said that the net effect of government economic policies in 2012 was that they diminished the rate of industrialization. “The more we earned, the more the inflation rate ate it up, while interest rates have added to government’s debt," he said. He called on the government to tighten its spending in 2013, especially on fuel subsidy and debt servicing.
Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 14:06 Written by

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the fire at his hilltop residence in Abeokuta as a ``minor’’ incident. "It was a minor fire that affected my PA’s (Personal Assistant's) office. It may have been some electrical problem. I am in high spirit. We thank God,’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone.

He said that men of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and the Ogun State Fire Service had put out the fire. Obasanjo said: ``I hope that we can all see that it was not the whole building that was burnt by fire. It is just the office of my secretary and we thank God for everything. Ile Obasanjo to jo e wa lo bu si,’’ meaning - The fire incident will only add beauty to Obasanjo's house. 
NAN reports that some officials of the state have since come to sympathise with the former president.

They include the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ikemefuna Okoye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the State Governor, Alhaji Shuaibu Salisu, State Security Service officials, politicians and other top government functionaries.


Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 13:52 Written by

Gunmen on Thursday shot dead a Maiduguri-based merchant, Alhaji Abubakar Girigiri, 58, at his warehouse in the Bolori area of Maiduguri.

An eye witness told newsmen in Maiduguri that the gunmen came to the warehouse on foot, pretending to be customers before shooting him. The witness said "a group of four teenagers arrived the warehouse on foot and met Girigiri attending to his business. After a short while, two of them brought out guns from their trousers and shot him at close range,'' the witness, who identified himself as Malam Modu Lawal, said.
Lawal added that the businessman died on the spot. We tried to rush him to the hospital for help but he died before we could do anything.'' 
The Police Public Relations Officer in Borno, Mr Gideon Jibrin, confirmed the story but said the police were yet to get full details of the incident. Jibrin also confirmed the killing of seven persons in Jere Local Government Area of the state by gunmen. He said: ``the police is trying to get the full details of the report, so we can unravel the mystery behind the killings.’’
The Joint Task Force (JTF) on Operation Restore Order also confirmed the killing of three security men in the early hours of Thursday at the Ruwan Zafi area of Maiduguri.
The JTF Spokesman, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, in a statement in Maiduguri, stated that the task force was already after the suspected killers. "This is to confirm that three security men were killed in the early hours of the day by suspected members of the Boko Haram group. Efforts are on to apprehend the killers,'' Musa said.
Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 13:24 Written by

The Nigerian Army said it had killed five suspected Boko Haram members and destroyed a bomb making factory in Rigasa area of Kaduna.

The spokesman of the 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Col Sani Kukasheka said in a statement in Kaduna that the early morning raid was carried out in conjunction with other security agencies.
He said two other suspects were injured during the operation. Kukasheka said various arms and explosive devices were recovered during the operation in a house located off Makarfi Road in Rigasa.
He listed the items recovered to include five Mark four Riffles, three Pump Action Riffles, 20 Rolls of Detonating Cords, 21 Nine Volt Batteries, two Remote Switches, one Testing Metre, five Assorted Daggers and Jack knives as well as other Improvised Explosive Device (IED) materials.  
"On approaching the factory, some suspected terrorists opened fire and also threw already primed IED at the troops. The exchange of fire that ensued resulted in the death of five terrorists, while two that sustained various degrees of injuries are being treated. In line with our resolve to deter terrorists, the building housing the factory was demolished.''
The spokesman attributed the success of the operation to the support of ``well meaning citizens'' who volunteered information to security agencies. He commended their courage and assured that security agencies in the state would remain committed to the fight against terrorism. Kukasheka said such raids were meant to secure the lives and property of law abiding citizens and restore peace to the state. He reiterated the need for all residents to support security agencies with vital information on suspicious activities of people around them.




Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 13:06 Written by

Nigeria’s anti-drug agency has arrested a Columbian drug kingpin and uncovered three production factories for a prohibited drug in Africa’s most populous nation, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, said it apprehended Gonzelo Osorio, a Columbian, who is in Nigeria to establish methamphetamine factories on a weekly contract of $38,000.

The three factories were uncovered in Lagos, southwest Nigeria and in the country’s south eastern state of Anambra.

The NDLEA Chairman, Mr. Ahmadu Giade described the development as sad and worrisome.

“This is sad and worrisome. It is a clarion call on stakeholders to pay priority attention on this dangerous twist in our nation’s drug trade,” Giade said.

NDLEA said narcotic investigators have arrested a total of seven suspects in connection with the crime.

The suspects are Gonzelo Osorio, Gabriel Onyebuchi Obi, Anthony Ebi, Olisa Cyprian Onyebuchukwu, Mickey Ezeokoli, Solomon Ogbonna and Chidi Alexandra Efeagwazi.

The agency said twelve vehicles belonging to suspected members of the cartel have also been confiscated as well as four houses traced to the syndicate.

NDLEA said the undercover operation that led to the crackdown on the criminal gang commenced in November 2011 when Osorio was contracted by a Nigerian drug syndicate to establish three methamphetamine production laboratories in different parts of the country.

The first clandestine laboratory the Columbian established was situated at Majek area of Ibeju Lekki Local Government in Lagos State, while another one was located in Nanka village in Nnewi area of Anambra State in Eastern Nigeria.

The criminal gang were in the process of establishing the third laboratory when they were apprehended, NDLEA said.

“Gonzelo-Osorio left the country in December 2011 and returned on 30 May 2012 with a false identity as a citizen of Paraguay with the name Baez Benitez Milan on his travel documents. He is regarded as the best methamphetamine production expert in the country and was hired on $38,000 dollars weekly by the drug cartel,” Giade said.

While the operation was on-going, another suspect was apprehended in Lagos for using his residence for production of methamphetamine, NDLEA said.

“Methamphetamine production endangers public health. More worrisome is the security implication due to the huge profit involved,” Giade said.

The first clandestine laboratory was discovered in June 2011 in Lagos. The second laboratory also discovered in Lagos early this year revealed the engagement of foreigners by local drug cells as three Bolivian expatriates who were running the laboratory were arrested and are currently undergoing trial. In all five production factories have been uncovered by the NDLEA.

The chemicals and the gasses emitted during production are highly injurious. Even residents living close to a production area are also at risk, NDLEA said.


Posted On Friday, 28 December 2012 01:34 Written by

Sickle cell, a genetic blood disorder, decreases the functions of the cells of the human body and subjects the patients to various complications.

Medical experts have aggressively viewed the disorder as a challenge to medical practice because it shortens life.
For instance in the U.S, prior to the discovery of more effective management of the disorder, the average life expectancy of persons with this condition was estimated at 42 years in males and 48 years in females.
Of course, life expectancy in the developing nations including Nigeria will be lower for such patience if the U.S, with its awareness on the dangers of the sickness, coupled with advanced technology, could only record this feat.
Even with the prevailing better management of the disease, medical report indicates that patients can only live into their 50s or more.

With this grim drag on human existence and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) report in 2006 that Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of people with sickle cell, health experts have raised concerns on the provision of efficient management of the disease.
The analysis of the report indicates that the annual figure for Africa in 2006 was 200,000 while Nigeria accounted for 150,000 children with the disorder.
Also, medical findings show that 30 per cent of Nigerians are carriers and the prevalence rate was put at 20 per 1,000 births. This is alarming and the stakeholders in the health sector are resolute to address the challenge.
So in 1998, a drug, Niprisan, was developed at the Nigerian National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) under the U.S. patent.
In August 2002, the American company Xechem International, acquired the exclusive world-wide rights to Niprisan and later renamed it Nicosan/Hemoxin which was launched in 2006 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

However, the production of Nicosan was stopped and in further response to the challenge of providing effective management for the disease, three institutions recently signed an agreement on production of sickle cell drug in Nigeria.

They are NIPRD, Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM Bank) and the Federal Ministry of Health.
They are to rebrand and retain the name Nicosan for effective management of the disease.

According to medical experts, Nicosan, as a phytomedicine, appears to be safe and effective in reducing crises associated with severe pains over a six-month follow-up period.
The drug, produced with extracts from four botanical plants in Nigeria, does not cure sickle cell but reduces the frequency of crises.

With this somewhat relieving potency, it is worrisome that the necessary fund to sponsor the production has not been forthcoming.
According to Mr Robert Orya, the Managing Director of NEXIM, the bank has yet to release the seeded fund for the production of the drug.
"Within the first week of signing the agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health, we were bombarded with law suits and there are lots of outstanding legal issues.’’

"The suits stemmed from disagreements between foreign pharmaceutical companies and their Nigerian counterparts.
"NEXIM has always been committed because even for social reasons, a lot of Nigerians are suffering from sickle cell.
"We have a situation where parents come into the bank with their sick children and it evokes emotions even more than money,’’ he explained.
He explained further that the bank had syndicated more than N700 million in loans with some banks for the production of the drug in the country, adding that a loan recovery committee had also been set up.

Orya assured the public that as soon as a pending case in court was cleared, the production of the drug would begin.
Dr Mohammed Pate, the Minister of State for Health, said the production of the drug in Nigeria would be a relief to carriers.
"NIPRD has done well in terms of coming up with this and is being complemented by NEXIM Bank as well as other stakeholders to finance the production,’’ he said.
Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, the Director-General of NIPRD, said the commercial production of Niprisan would have begun but for the legal action. 
He said that the cost of the pilot production of Niprisan was N250 million for one year for 300, 000 patients.

Between the legal battle and the actual production of Niprisan, therefore, what are sickle cell patients saying?
Mrs Deborah Rotimi, a patient, said: ``I am like any other child; this has always been my belief even as I will be 30 years by January 2013.
"Although I am a sickle cell carrier; the last health crisis I had was in 2005 and it was not an experience to remember.
I live every day of my life on drugs and I pray that one day government will start the production of the sickle cell drug to help the situation.’’
Mrs Veronica Osi, who has a son with sickle cell disorder, said if government could produce the drug at an affordable price; it would go a long way to help the carriers.
"My 18-year-old son has been with sickle cell disease from birth, we spend everything we have to make sure that he lives because we love him.
"Anytime he has crisis, I become ill more than him, seeing him going through blood transfusion and so many things is a terrible experience.
"We depend on God and the assurance by the doctors that the government would soon begin the production of a drug for its management. We hope that the drug will come and he will not die,’’ she said.
Dispute or no dispute, stakeholders hold the belief that government should take decisive measures at accelerating processes that will ensure the production of the drug as well as its availability and affordability to all sickle cell patients.



Posted On Thursday, 27 December 2012 13:41 Written by

Jacob Balarabe sat pondering over an issue that has burged him for a long time, he tried hard to voice his opinion on the matter for a long time before he told his colleague about it.

‘’I cannot believe that we have come to this level, that you have to have a masters degree in order to secure a job as a driver’’.
‘’Of course things are that bad and you cannot blame the capitalists because he who pays the piper dictates the tune. I never imagined that in my life I will go and queue up for a job as a driver and the worst is that the job is not even guaranteed to say the least,’’ he said.
Said he, ‘’Do you know that this spells doom for this country?’’
‘’Man, what can we do, when the desirable is not available the available becomes desirable my friend or would you rather remain unemployed?.
The recruitment and employment for masters degree and PhD holders to become professional drivers in Dangote Group was one move by business magnate Alhaji Aliko Dangote that had brought ripples across the country..
Sharing the sentiments of Balarabe is Mr Tony Tamuno  who opine that the situation does  not only tell of the extent of hopelessness and degeneration of the sense of worth in the society but also goes to show that our policy makers are either devoid of what next to do or they totally  lack focus.
‘’The assault was not just to those that have faced unimaginable discomforts and drudgery in order to obtain these qualifications but even greater is the assault on the government that has made this kind of situation possible.
‘’For how can one explain a situation that a person would go to a university to study Microbiology, Law, Engineering, Architecture, Accounting, Physics, etc only to end up jobless for years after graduation
Why undergo the rigours of a Masters degree to end up as an Okada rider or a barber? Why pursue a PhD and end up a tailor or a labourer at a construction site carrying cement or laying brick? Tamuno asked.
He added that it is unacceptable fo  government  to sit and fold its arms and watch the prevailing situation while  the best brains  in other economies are engaged as think tanks to fashion out policies that pave way for technological advancement .
‘’Countries have gone past MDGs and are now moving towards sustainable development, how do we achieve this fit? By leaving our best brains redundant or become labourers at construction sites so that they and their families would not die of hunger?’’
Mrs Susanna  Hassan, a teacher, said ‘’ agreed, some Nigerians do some odd jobs in European countries but this situation is because they do not have work permits that would make it possible for them to have dignified and well paying jobs and of course this economies reserve the best jobs for their own nationals.
‘’When in the year 2012  Masters degree  and  PhD holders in Nigeria  are being relegated to be a truck drivers , what will happen to our graduates in ten and twenty years time, street sweepers?
‘’The country is trying to battle with examination malpractice as its battling with many other socio-economic issues because most people want to go to the university since without a degree jobs that are available can only be for this class of people.
‘’Now I fore see greater crisis and even more corruption in the education sector because people will soon be willing to pay anything to get a PhD just to become janitors’’ Hassan said.
Mr Repheal Kamsiyochi, is a social critic, baring his mind on the issue said, ‘’though I know Alhaji Dangote means well for the country by engaging these group of people so that reckless driving can be curtailed but SSCE or OND holders  given  the  same training with strict disciplinary codes and instructions can still achieve the same result  .
According to the critic,’’ what happens to the unskilled and uneducated in our society when all their jobs would have been taken over by these category of people?
‘’I agree that a number of people have advanced the argument that the global financial meltdown is having its toll on all nations of which Nigeria is a major player.
 ‘’Unusual things are happening like people taking pay cuts instead of losing their jobs, taking up menial jobs in order to pay bills, some lost their jobs  but the truth is that it has never been the tradition in such societies.

‘’The aberration in the Nigerian context is that it has been the tradition  because successive Nigerian government s  have for a long time left the welfare aspect of governance unattended to.

‘’In Nigeria nearly every citizen is a local government unto himself; he provides water, shelter and even road to his house, etc. These are amenities that government should ordinarily provide for its citizenry. There is no doubt that Dangote has created thousands of jobs directly and indirectly; he has assisted individuals and institutions by way of philanthropy but to accept that PhD holders grabbing his trucks’ steering wheels is such a great thing for our country is the exact antithesis of development. On the contrary, we should be sober about this ugly trend of churning out massive graduates of not just first degree holders, but of second and third degrees with no hope of getting jobs; or creating jobs.’’.

 Also speaking on this issue, Mr Nicolas Duniya a Civil Servant, said though this initiative is laudable, it is generally assumed that government should retrace its steps, look for ways to engage this brains to serve as think tanks in this country to proffer solutions to the prevailing socio-economic challenges. This is what advanced countries do that places them on the path of growth and development.’’ Duniya concluded.
Alhaji Aminu Yusuf,The Director-General of the  Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NIIT), responding on behalf of the Dangote Group during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  said that the drivers will be different from other drivers because they are literate and their training is sound.

According to him, the Dangote Group drivers will be taught theoretical and practical training which includes orientation, simulation and test track driving before being exposed to highway driving.
Yusuf added that the institute was focused on achieving its mandate to provide human capital development in the transport industry.
``It is our inherent duty to provide human capacity for the entire transport industry through training and retraining, orientation skills and development and professional training. ‘’



Posted On Thursday, 27 December 2012 12:39 Written by

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has urged the Federal Government to implement the 2010 African Union declaration on the health sector.

The Executive Director, CISLAC, Malam Auwal Rafsanjani, said that the AU declaration stipulated that 15 per cent of the budget should be allocated to health sector. Rafsanjani said that it was imperative for the government allocate more resources to health sector to ensure the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "We at the level of the civil society organisations have advocated for increased funding for health sector to ensure the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It is recalled that the 2010 Abuja Declaration called for accelerated action towards Universal Access to HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010 and African Health Strategy 2007-2015.
He noted that in terms of implementation, many countries looked up to Nigeria in this direction. "It is rather disappointing that most of the ratified instruments still lie on the shelves of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) awaiting implementation", he said.
Rafsanjani noted that the 2013 budget gave little attention to the health sector, saying that ``this shows that the government is failing to accord the sector needed priority. "Much priority is not given to the areas that Nigerians will appreciate which can help to reduce poverty and improve social amenities," Rafsanjani said. The director noted the bulk of 2013 budget goes to recurrent while less is allocated to the capital expenditure.
"We cannot continue to run the nation’s economy that way, `` he said. According to him, the budget needs re-examination to enable the lawmakers to correct the mistake that could affect its performance before it would be harmonised. "This will ensure that the objectives of the budget are achieved and boost the country's economic growth and development. "CISLAC will continue to engage the legislature to review the budget and highlight some of the likely implications that can arise as a result of flaws. "He said that legislature had a responsibility to oversight the executive and the judiciary, adding that NASS should endeavour to discharged their duties well.



Posted On Thursday, 27 December 2012 12:08 Written by