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‘Ebi n pawa!’ Nigerians chant in Ibadan protest

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…Decry hunger, insecurity

…As PDP accuse Tinubu, APC of being overwhelmed, lacking capacity to govern

By Our Correspondents

Nigerians angered by the state of the economy took to the streets in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to voice their hardships to the government.

Recall that the hardships had been on the rise following incessant foreign exchange issues and the removal of fuel subsidy.

These issues have culminated largely in the rise of the cost of goods and services in the country thereby occasioning hardship.

According to a recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) food inflation rate in January 2024 rose to 35.41 percent while Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 29.90 percent in January from 28.92 percent in December 2023.

The protesters speaking to our correspondent in Ibadan explained that the protest was aimed at highlighting the harsh realities of inflation, high cost of living, insecurity and other socio-economic challenges faced by Nigerians.

The protesters, mostly youths, wielded placards with messages criticising the government, particularly President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s economic policies, which they believe have not alleviated their suffering and hardships.

Chanting songs of dissent and brandishing placards with messages like “Tinubu Must Address Insecurity” and “Hunger is Killing Us,” the demonstrators demanded immediate action from the authorities to address the nation’s crises.

While demonstrating their discontent, the protesters garnered the attention of the State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Adewale Osifeso, who assured the public of adequate security measures to safeguard lives and property.

A woman, Mrs. Risikatu Bakare who joined the train of protesters at Bodija market said that she resolved to come to market with her four hungry children to pack woods, so they can have a means to eat.

“We have been hungry since yesterday, no food. My four children and I have been helpless. I told them to follow me here so that we can pack the scrap of wood to find relief from hunger. Beg Tinubu for us. This is too much,” she lamented.

Another protester who preferred anonymity said that the situation concerns all Nigerians

He added that it is their right to express displeasure so that normalcy can be restored.

“Every Nigerian should stand for their right and must collectively fight this high cost of living. We cannot afford three square meals.

“Sections 39 and 40 of the country’s constitution empower every Nigerian to organise peaceful assembly and to speak about the economic hardship. This protest is a continuous action, so expect protest from any angle. It is not about me alone but about Nigerians.

“We must collectively fight for this and make sure that things are brought back to normalcy,” he added.

Osifeso in his words said, “Oyo state Police Command under the leadership of CP Adebola Hamzat has been proactive enough to ensure that adequate deployment in terms of operational intelligence and of course tactical resources are being deployed to protect both the protesters and the people.

“We understand that people have the right for this kind of protests but it’s our duty as well to ensure that the protest is not hijacked by mischievous elements who might want to make criminal proceeds from this kind of situation.

“From Mokola axis, which is the starting point of this movement, police have covered them by foot, following them step by step, we are now at Bodija market and we’re following them to the secretariat and back to Mokola.

“The command would like to let the good people of the state, especially the residents of the state know that we have their interest at heart and we would do all that it takes to ensure that relative peace and tranquillity in Oyo state remains as it is in the state.

“Our words of caution is simple as I said earlier, our people have the right to peaceful protest, but our duty is to ensure that it’s not hijacked by unscrupulous elements and if caution is not taken, though that’s why we are here to provide the intelligence and physical support to ensure that there is no any spark, we understand that anything could ignite unnecessary actions here and we as human beings are also with them to ensure that the protesters are not lead to issue that would cause chaos.

“If this protest is not fully followed by all the security agents, there will be lots of issues and that is why we are here to protect not only the protesters but the life and property of the citizens of this state,” Osifeso said

The protest concluded peacefully, with the demonstrators dispersing from the State Secretariat in Agodi under the watchful eye of armed security personnel.

The combined security team of the Nigerian Army, Department of State Services (DSS), as well as Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were on ground to complement the police.

…Economic hardship: PDP accuse Tinubu, APC of being overwhelmed, lacking capacity to govern

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government of being overwhelmed and lacking the capacity to govern Nigeria in the face of challenges.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement in Abuja, on Monday, said that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his ruling APC government must take responsibility for plunging Nigerians into excruciating suffering as a result of their policy choices.

According to Debo, “Our Party restates its position that the APC and the Tinubu administration are responsible for the current biting economic hardship and surging wave of insecurity across the country, as they are completely overwhelmed and lack the capacity and competence to lead a nation like Nigeria.

“By seeking to allocate President Tinubu’s statutory duties to state governors, the APC has unambiguously admitted that it foisted on Nigerians an incompetent president who cannot guarantee security and whose administration has devastated our national economy, resulting in extreme hunger, hopelessness, and desperation, as evident in the protests, agitation, and rising spate of suicides across the country.

“Every Nigerian is lamenting the terrible situation which President Tinubu’s ill-informed and ill-implemented policies have brought upon the nation.

“President Tinubu is directly in charge of security and national economic policies, including administration of petroleum resources as Minister of Petroleum Affairs; other national revenues; and cannot transfer his incompetence and failure to other tiers of government, which have no control over national security, fiscal, and monetary policies, which mismanagement by President Tinubu’s government has crippled our economy.

“Moreover, state governors have no control over the pervading corruption and continuing monumental treasury-looting under President Tinubu, who has failed to take concrete measures to curb the malaise.

“It is an assault on the sensibility of Nigerians that instead of charging the government it formed to live up to its billings, the APC is seeking a sordid and depraved approach to divert public attention from its failures.

“From its diversionary statement, it is clear that the APC is jittery and afraid that it has been exposed following revelations and reports in the public space that its leaders are involved in multiple scams and fraudulent deals through which they continue to syphon funds meant for the wellbeing of the people, resulting in the unbearable hardship being experienced by Nigerians today.

“The complicity of the APC leaders apparently informs why they have remained silent in the face of the incompetence, monumental treasury looting, and corruption in the Tinubu administration.

“Our Party counsels President Tinubu and the APC to face their self-inflicted woes and heed the patriotic call of the PDP governors, who are providing quality leadership with life-enhancing projects and programmes in their various states in line with the people-oriented manifesto and policy thrust of the PDP.

“It is evident today across Nigeria that it is only PDP governors and other PDP-elected public officials that are commissioning legacy and life-enriching projects and programmes with which they are repositioning their states and various constituencies into Oasis of Development.

“Nigerians should therefore continue to hold the APC and President Tinubu solely responsible for the suffering that they face. The PDP will not hesitate to name APC leaders allegedly involved in the continuing treasury plundering as the APC must not be allowed to ‘grab, snatch, and run’ with our national patrimony at the expense of millions of our citizens,” he said.

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Nigeria first to introduce new 5-in-1 vaccine against meningitis – WHO

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Nigeria has become the first country in the world to roll out a new vaccine – Men5CV – recommended by World Health Organisation(WHO), to protect people against meningitis.

The world health body, in a statement on Friday, said that the vaccine would protect people against five strains of meningococcus bacteria, and described Nigeria’s feat as historic.

It said that health workers would begin an immunisation campaign aimed at reaching one million people.

The statement said that the vaccine and emergency vaccination activities are funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which funds the global meningitis vaccine stockpile and supports lower-income countries with routine vaccination against meningitis.

According to the WHO, Nigeria is one of the 26 meningitis hyper-endemic countries of Africa, situated in the area known as the African Meningitis Belt.

It noted  that in 2023, there was a 50 per cent jump in annual meningitis cases reported across Africa.

“In Nigeria, an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) serogroup C outbreak, led to 1,742 suspected meningitis cases, including 101 confirmed cases and 153 deaths in seven of 36 Nigerian state, between October 2023 and March 2024.

The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara.

“To quell the deadly outbreak, a vaccination campaign was undertaken on 25–28 March 2024 to initially reach more than one million people aged 1-29 years,” it said.

The statement noted that meningitis was a serious infection that leads to the inflammation of the membranes (meninges), that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

“There are multiple causes of meningitis, including viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens.

“Symptoms often include headache, fever and stiff neck. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious, and can also result in septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can seriously disable or kill within 24 hours,” the statement added.

It quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, as saying that meningitis was an old and deadly foe, adding that the new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal of eliminating meningitis by 2030,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said that the revolutionary new vaccine offers a powerful shield against the five major strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X – in a single shot.

All five strains cause meningitis and blood poisoning.

According to him, this provides broader protection than the current vaccine used in much of Africa, which is only effective against the A strain.

He said that the new vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce meningitis cases and advance progress in defeating meningitis.

“This is especially important for countries like Nigeria where multiple serogroups are prevalent.

“The new vaccine uses the same technology as the meningitis A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac®), which wiped out meningococcal A epidemics in Nigeria,” the WHO boss said.

The statement quoted Prof. Muhammad Pate, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, as saying that Northern Nigeria, particularly the states of Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe, were badly hit by the deadly outbreak of meningitis.

“This vaccine provides health workers with a new tool to both stop this outbreak and also put the country on a path to elimination,” Pate said.

According to him, Nigeria has done a lot of work preparing health workers and the health system for the rollout of the new vaccine.

“We got an invaluable support from our populations in spite of the fasting period, and from our community leaders, especially the Emir of Gumel in Jigawa, who personally launched the vaccination campaign in the state.

“We’ll be monitoring progress closely and hopefully expand the immunisation in the coming months and years to accelerate progress,” he said.

The minister said that the new multivalent conjugate vaccine took 13 years of efforts and was based on a partnership between PATH and the Serum Institute of India.

“Financing from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was critical to its development,” he said.

Pate said that in July 2023, WHO prequalified the new Men5CV vaccine (which has brand name MenFive®), and in October 2023 issued an official recommendation to countries to introduce the new vaccine.

According to him, Gavi allocated resources for the Men5CV rollout in December 2023, which is currently available for outbreak response through the emergency stockpile managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG),  on Vaccine Provision.

He added that the roll-out, through mass preventive campaigns, was expected to start in 2025 across countries of the Meningitis Belt.

Mr Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister for Development and Africa, was also quoted as saying that the rollout of one million vaccines in northern Nigeria would help save lives, prevent long-term illness and boost the goal of defeating meningitis globally by 2030.

“This is exactly the kind of scientific innovation, supported by the UK, which I hope is replicated in years to come, to help us drive further breakthroughs, including wiping out other diseases,” Mitchell said.

He said that WHO has been supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), in responding to the meningitis outbreak in the country.

According to him, the areas of support include disease surveillance, active case finding, sample testing and case management.

“WHO and partners have also played a vital role in supporting Nigeria to prepare for the rollout of the new vaccine and training health workers,” he said.

Dr Nanthalile Mugala, PATH’s Chief of Africa Region, was also quoted as saying that meningococcal meningitis had tormented countries across Africa, year after year.

“The introduction of MenFive® in Nigeria heralds a transformative era in the fight against meningococcal meningitis in Africa.

“Building on the legacy of previous vaccination efforts, this milestone reflects over a decade of unwavering, innovative partnerships.

“The promise of MenFive® lies not just in its immediate impact but in the countless lives it stands to protect in the years to come, moving us closer to a future free from the threat of this disease,” Mugala said.

According to her, in 2019, WHO and partners launched the global roadmap to defeating meningitis by 2030.

“The roadmap sets a comprehensive vision towards a world free of meningitis, and has three goals including the elimination of bacterial meningitis epidemics.

Another goal is the reduction of cases of vaccine-preventable bacterial meningitis by 50 per cent and deaths by 70 per cent, as well as the reduction of disability and improvement of quality of life after meningitis, due to any cause.

Ms Aurélia Nguyen, Chief Programme Officer at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was also quoted as saying that with outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive® were critical in helping the fight back.

She said that Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpile as well as vaccine rollout in lower-income countries.

“This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) programme which, with the required donor funding for our next five years of work, will see pentavalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines rolled out in high-risk countries.

“Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa, now we have a tool to respond to other serogroups that still cause large outbreaks resulting in long-term disability and deaths,” Nguyen said.

According to her, following Nigeria’s meningitis vaccine campaign, a major milestone on the road to defeat meningitis is the international summit on meningitis taking place in Paris in April 2024, where leaders will  celebrate progress, identify challenges and assess next steps.

“It is also an opportunity for country leaders and key partners to commit, politically and financially, to accelerate progress towards eliminating meningitis as a public health problem by 2030,” she said.

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Georgieva to serve second term as IMF Managing Director

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The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has selected Kristalina Georgieva to serve as IMF Managing Director for a second five-year term starting on Oct. 1, 2024.

In a statement issued by the IMF Press Centre on Saturday, it said that the board’s decision was taken by consensus.

The statement said in line with the selection process it had established on March 13, 2024, the board held several discussions, including with Georgieva, the sole candidate nominated for the position, before making its decision.

It said in a follow-up of the meeting held, the Coordinators of the Executive Board, Mr Afonso Bevilaqua, and Mr Abdullah BinZarah, made the following statement:

“In taking this decision, the Board commended Ms Georgieva’s strong and agile leadership during her term, navigating a series of major global shocks.

“ Ms Georgieva led the IMF’s unprecedented response to these shocks, including the approval of more than 360 billion dollars in new financing since the start of the pandemic for 97 countries.

“Also, debt service relief to the fund’s poorest, most vulnerable members, and a historic Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation equivalent to 650 billion dollars”.

The coordinators said under Georgieva’s leadership, the fund introduced innovative new financing facilities, including the Resilience and Sustainability Facility and the Food Shock Window.

“It replenished the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, with the capacity to mobilise concessional loans to its poorest members, and co-created the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable.

“ It also secured a 50 per cent quota increase to bolster the fund’s permanent resources and agreed to add a third Sub-Saharan African chair to the IMF Board.

“Looking ahead, the board welcomes Ms. Georgieva’s ongoing emphasis on issues of macroeconomic and financial stability, while also ensuring that the fund continues to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of its entire membership.

‘It recognises her focus on strengthening the fund’s support to its members through effective policy advice, capacity development, and financing.

“The board looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Managing Director.”

In her response issued in a statement, Georgiana said she was deeply grateful for the trust and support of the fund’s Executive Board, representing the fund’s 190 members.

She added that she was honored to continue to lead the IMF as Managing Director for a second five-year term.

“In recent years, the IMF has helped our member countries to navigate successive shocks, including the pandemic, war and conflicts, and a cost-of-living crisis.

“ We also stepped up our work on climate change, fragility and conflict, and the digital transition, in line with their increased significance for macroeconomic and financial stability, growth and employment”.

Georgieva said the IMF’s financial support, policy advice, and capacity development work delivered by its exceptional staff had contributed to countries’ capacity to deal with high uncertainty and abrupt shifts in economic conditions.

“ We are and will remain a transmission line of good policies for our members.

“We will also continue to strive to be more effective, incisive, and a welcoming place for countries to come together to tackle global challenges.

“I look forward to continue serving our membership, together with the highly professional and committed staff of the IMF,” she said.

Georgieva, a national of Bulgaria, has been the IMF’s Managing Director since 2019. Previously she served as Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank from January 2017.

From February 1, 2019, to April 8, 2019, she was the Interim President of the World Bank Group.

She previously served at the European Commission as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and as Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources.

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Fleeing Binance Executive, Anjarwalla found as Nigerian govt commences extradition

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Nigerian government says Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped custody in Nigeria, has been found in Kenya.

A source in the presidency, who preferred anonymity, confirmed the development as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

“We know where he is. He is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria”, the source said.

The EFCC chairman, Ola Olukuyede, last month, in a statement, stressed that the commission is collaborating with INTERPOL, the US, UK, Northern Ireland and Kenyan authorities to extradite Anjarwalla, who has been on the run.

The commission had instituted five-count charges bordering on tax evasion, currency speculation and money laundering against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, the firm’s executives.

EFCC arraigned Binance and the two executives on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Recall that Anjarwalla escaped from custody on March 22 and has been at large since then.

Meanwhile, the government confirmed that EFCC had fully taken over the case of Binance from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

For months, the Nigerian government sustained its crackdown on Binance over its role in manipulating the country’s Foreign exchange market.

During the 293rd meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, in February, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, had said that more than $26 billion had been funnelled through Binance without a trace.

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