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Omicron: NGF condemns stigmatisation of Nigeria

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has rejected visitation ban placed on Nigeria by Canada and UK over Omicron variant, describing it as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory.

The forum stated this in a statement in Abuja by its Chairman, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti

The governors drew the attention of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the arbitrary stigmatisation that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation based on omicron spread.

“Only three cases of the Omicron variant of the Corona virus were detected in Nigeria less than a week ago, precisely on Dec. 1.

“Canada and the United Kingdom have hastily included Nigeria among the Omicron present countries which must stay away from their shores, an action viewed by the NGF as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory.

“Omicron still remains relatively unknown globally as it is not yet clear whether it is more transmissible from person to person compared to other variants including Delta,” it stated.

According to NGF, it is very discouraging to note that there are several countries that have reported cases of Omicron similar to or higher than Nigeria’s, that have not been banned from entry to the UK and/Canada.

“Confirmed Omicron cases as at Dec. 3, across some countries are: Nigeria (three ); Australia (seven); Brazil (three); Germany (nine) Israel(four); Italy (nine) and Netherlands(16).

“There is also no evidence that harsh, blanket travel bans will protect the countries that impose them,” it stated.

The forum said it was ironical that the ban came at a time when the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, advised that “rational proportional risk reduction measures” be taken by countries.

The NGF listed the measures given by Ghebreyesus to include screening passengers prior to departure and/or upon arrival in a country, or enforcing a quarantine period.

“The NGF therefore urges the WHO to intervene in this matter by setting uniform standards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the globe.

“As we know, vaccine hesitancy is quite high and for many reasons including disruptive announcements like this which could exacerbate distrust of the vaccine and heighten hesitancy.

“World leaders and stakeholders in the West need to remember that with the COVID-19 pandemic, until everyone is free, no one is free.

“Variants will continue to appear and spread across the globe as long as global herd immunity has not been achieved.,” he said.

The governors called on countries to be guided by science and fairness in setting the criteria for updating their red list.

The NGF also encouraged both public and private stakeholders to continue to support vaccination efforts and address hesitancy.

The forum encouraged Nigerians not to be discouraged and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“As a platform for the 36 democratically elected governors of the country, the NGF believes it reserves the right to speak for its people.

“Besides, the NGF was proactive and ahead in the Polio eradication program in Nigeria, in the country’s response to the Ebola virus, and lately in the response against the corona virus pandemic.

“Finally, health is one of the core mandate areas of the NGF and has remained an item on its meeting agenda in the past several months.”

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No president will say there won’t be banditry next year — Lai Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that no president will say banditry will next year.

Lai Mohammed said this while responding to a question on whether the current security challenges would end before President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office in 2023.

Responding to the question at a press conference on Wednesday December 15, Lai Mohammed said;

“Nobody, I’m not sure any president will say by next year there will be no banditry. It is just like saying by next year, there will be no thief.

“But what is important is that they should judge us by our achievement. We’ve not thrown our hands in the air. There was a time they asked us to hire mercenaries, but our soldiers are doing their best in these circumstances.”

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Buhari jets out Turkey for summit

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday leave Abuja for Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey.

According to the organisers, the theme of the Summit is ‘‘Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity’’ and the agenda includes reviewing the cooperation between African countries and Turkey since the last Summit in 2014.

This was disclosed in a statement by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, on Thursday morning.

The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent State visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.

The Turkish leader had during the visit to Nigeria, affirmed his commitment to immediately expand the volume of trade between the two countries to 5 billion dollars and the Nigerian delegation will seize the opportunity of the gathering in Istanbul to enhance cooperation with other partners for more trade and investment opportunities in the country.

It is expected that the Summit would provide guidelines and direction for cooperation with African countries for the next five years.

President Buhari will be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha Buhari; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd); FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd); and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

The President is expected back in Abuja on Sunday, December 19.

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2023 presidency: I’m not going to turn it down – Tinubu

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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said he will not turn down the calls of those asking him to contest for president in 2023.

Tinubu stated this after a meeting with leaders of the Northern Alliance Committee in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the former Governor of Lagos said he would, however, make consultations before officially announcing a decision on the matter.

“I’m not going to turn them down but I will still effectively and widely consult, particularly brainstorm with my friends and find a date to come out openly to tell Nigerians.

“But the president is still in office. I don’t want to distract him from all the challenges that he might face today.

“So, don’t muddle the political water. Consult, make our programme known to the people later,” Tinubu said.

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