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Gates warns of smallpox attacks in bid for pandemic prevention funds

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Bill Gates has warned that governments must prepare for future pandemics and smallpox terror attacks by investing billions in research and development.

Gates gave the warning during a Policy Exchange interview with the chair of Britain’s Health Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt.

The Microsoft founder also called for the formation of a new billion-dollar World Health Organisation Pandemic Task Force.

While the research may be expensive, he said that it could also lead to other innovations, such as eradicating flu and the common cold.

He said that countries like U.S. and UK must spend “tens of billions” to fund the research.

“I’m hoping in five years, I can write a book called, ”WE ARE ready for the next pandemic”.

“But it’ll take tens of billions in Research and Development (R&D), U.S. and UK will be part of that.

[Ikoyi building: We are denied access to mortuary– Families]

“It’ll take probably about a billion a year for a pandemic Task Force at the WHO level, which is doing the surveillance and actually doing what I call ‘germ games’ where you practise.”

Gates suggested that the “germ-games” could include preparing for acts of bioterrorism such as smallpox attacks on airports.

“For example, what if a bioterrorist brought smallpox to 10 airports? You know, how would the world respond to that?

“There’s naturally-caused epidemics and bioterrorism-caused epidemics, that could even be way worse than what we experienced today.”

Despite the dire warning, the world’s fourth richest man also struck an optimistic note during the interview.

He anticipated the incredibly beneficial medical innovations that will come from increased funding for pandemic prevention.

“The nice thing is a lot of the R&D we need to do to be ready for the next pandemic are things like making vaccines cheap, having big factories, eradicating the flu and getting rid of the common cold.

“Also making vaccines just a little patch you put on your arm, things that will be incredibly beneficial even in the years when we don’t have pandemics,” he said.

Gates added that he will continue to talk about pandemic preparedness as part of his work as a philanthropist.

“So along with the climate message and the ongoing fight against diseases of the poor, pandemic preparedness is something I’ll be talking about a lot.

“And I think it’ll find fertile ground because, you know, we lost trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

“And citizens expect their governments not to let that happen again,” he said.

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Soun, Alao-Akala’s deaths: UNILORIN V-C leads NYSC Board members on condolence visit

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The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, has described the death of the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, Ajagungbade III, as a huge loss not only to the people of Ogbomoso, but also to the entire mankind.

According to the University of Ilorin’s bulletin issued on Monday, Abdulkareem, made the statement when he led a four-man team of the Board on a condolence visit to the Soun’s Palace.

The Vice-Chancellor, who is also a member of the Board of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), also condoled with the people of Ogbomoso on the death of Chief Christopher Alao-Akala, a former governor of Oyo State.

He described the late Oba Oyewumi as a well-recognised industrialist and a renowned traditional ruler.

He said that Oyewumi’s tentacles were spread beyond political, religious and tribal affiliations before and during his 48 years of reign in Ogbomoso land.

While eulogising the late traditional ruler, Abdulkareem said with the progressive development in the town, reported, seen and testified to, the Ajagungbade III lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation by all.

He condoled with the entire people of Oyo State, especially the indigenes of Ogbomoso, over the demise of the traditional ruler, as well as the recent loss of their illustrious daughter and sons.

He also described as sad the demise of Prof. Taibat Danmole; the eldest daughter of the late Soun, who was also a former staff member of the University of Ilorin, Chief Christopher Alao-Akala and Prof. Alex Gboyega of the Political Science Department, University of Ibadan.

Abdulkareem prayed for the peaceful repose of the departed, and the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss for the families, and the entire Ogbomoso people.

In his response, Prince Oyekunle Oyewumi, the surviving eldest Prince, and a member of the National Board of NYSC, who spoke on behalf of the royal family, commended the team for commiserating with the royal family.

He added that the entire people of Ogbomoso and the royal house had taken solace in the fact that the Crown lived well.

Similarly, the team also paid another condolence visit to the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Chief Sunday Dare, who is also a prominent son of Ogbomoso, and whose Ministry oversees the NYSC.

While welcoming the team, the Minister, who is also the `Agbaakin’ ( a traditional chief’ of Ogbomoso land, thanked them for their thoughtfulness by identifying with Ogbomoso land during the dark time of mourning, saying it is best known to God.

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UK orders probe into Islamophobia claims by conservative lawmaker

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an investigation into conservative lawmaker, Nusrat Ghani claims that she was sacked as a junior minister in 2020 over concerns that she was a Muslim.

A Downing Street spokesperson announced on Monday in a brief statement to reporters that “the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP.’’

In an interview published by the Sunday Times, Ghani said that she was dismissed as a junior transport minister in February 2020.

She said following her dismissal a senior Conservative lawmaker told her that her Muslim faith made colleagues “uncomfortable” and that her career would be “destroyed” if she tried to complain.

In a subsequent statement on Sunday, she said that she had directly informed Johnson about the matter but that the prime minister wrote to her that he could not get involved and suggested that she use the internal Conservative party’s complaint process.

Reacting to the launch of a probe, Ghani wrote on Twitter that she welcomed the decision and asked that all that was said in Downing Street, and by her senior Conservative colleague be included in the terms of reference of the inquiry.

“As I said to the Prime Minister last night, all I want is for this to be taken seriously and for him to investigate,’’ she added.

The Islamophobia claims came as Johnson was facing calls to resign over a string of parties that were allegedly held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Senator drags estranged wife of Fani-Kayode to court over alleged defamation

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A former senator, Mrs Grace Bent has dragged Precious Chikwendu, estranged wife of former Aviation Minister, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode to the Federal High Court, Abuja over alleged defamation of character.

When the matter was called on Monday, however, Chikwendu was absent in court and there was no legal representation on her behalf.

Mr Joseph Offor who announced his appearance for the prosecution said that he was holding the brief of Mr Victor Okoye who was away in Lagos.

Offor told the court that he had little information about the case and so could not explain why Chikwendu and her legal team were absent in court.

The trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu subsequently adjourned the matter until March 10 for arraignment.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Chikwendu, an ex-beauty queen had, through her social media handle, accused Bent of using the police to intimate her with regards to the feud between her and her former husband.

Bent, however, in a statement, described the allegation as “very weighty” adding that she was consulting with her legal team and would not hesitate to seek appropriate legal redress.

Bent, who is a close friend and longtime political associate of Fani-Kayode, has debunked the allegations, describing it as a “very weighty” one that carries “assassination tendencies and intendment.”

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