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Omicron: Travel ban on Southern African countries, form of stigmatisation – AU

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Omicron
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, says the travel ban on southern African countries, due to COVID-19 Omicron variant, it a form of stigmatisation against Africa.

Mahamat said this while reacting to the travel ban on the Southern Africa countries at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

Mahamat, who spoke to journalists after the fifth UN-AU Annual Conference, described the travel ban as stigmatisation which could not be justified scientifically or on the grounds of reason logically.

The Chairperson, who addressed journalists in the company of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said both multilateral organisations had condemned the unfair measures.

“They are condemning a country (South Africa) for having been transparent because its experts have worked tirelessly to inform the international community of the emergence of new variants.

“It hasn’t been scientifically proven that these types of measures are able to deal with this type of issue. It’s clearly, as you say, an expression rather of a form of injustice.

“I think that now I’ll take up the terms used by the Secretary-General. It’s immoral to condemn Africa in that way.

“We are a world, a global world and we’re face… and when facing an enemy like the virus, like COVID-19, humankind as a whole must go hand in hand to fight the virus because a man’s life is man’s life,’’ the Chairperson said.

According to him, with vaccines, with treatment, with debt service, with our will to allow African states to recover following the pandemic or during it, we saw the same type of treatment.

Mahamat said we had not seen active dynamic solidarity from the international community as a whole and that is to be regretted, noting that we’ve seen it time and time again.

“As I was saying to the Secretary-General, we need to be collectively outraged as leaders in the African Union and as the United Nations.

“Our message to the world as a whole is that we need to keep a cool head. We need to follow the well-being of humankind as a whole.

“We need to genuinely demonstrate greater solidarity and justice. That’s the very least we can ask for, namely from our leaders, our political and social leaders.’’ he said.

Similarly on Tuesday, Guterres had expressed deep concern over the restrictions imposed on travellers from southern African countries due to Omicron.

The UN chief said people of Africa should not be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in the continent.

He said they should not be penalised for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world on Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” as a result of which countries around the world are now restricting travel from Southern Africa, where the new strain was first detected, and taking other new precautions.

WHO says it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity or implications for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

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Ayade orders recruitment into Cross River civil service

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River has ordered immediate recruitment into the state civil service to fill the vacuum that may occur due to workers’ retirements.

The new Head of Service (HoS), Mr Timothy Akwaji, disclosed this on Wednesday during his maiden meeting with permanent secretaries on Wednesday in Calabar.

Akwaji said the creation of Akwa Ibom from Cross River in 1987 caused a mass exodus of civil servants to the new state, leading to mass recruitment by the state government to fill the attendant vacant positions.

“Most of these workers will be exiting the service, having completed their mandatory 35 years in service and this may create a bureaucratic vacuum if there is no mentoring of those who may be left behind to keep the service running.

“The governor has, therefore, given approval for the recruitment of workers to cushion the effect of the impending mass retirement from the state civil service.” NAN quoted him as saying.

The Head of Service stressed the need for the permanent secretaries to mentor their subordinates, as directors and for other civil servants to look up to them as role models.

He said mentorship in the service has become necessary to enable civil servants discharge their responsibilities effectively.

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Buhari assures Nigerians price of rice, other food Items to crash soons

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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that prices of food items, especially rice will soon come down.

The president, who gave the assurance on Tuesday, during the official unveiling of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Rice Paddy Pyramids in Abuja, urged Nigerians to exercise some patience, saying the growing food production in the country, especially expansion in rice farming would eventually bring down prices of food, making it more affordable for all.

This was just as the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, revealed that following the successes recorded in the implementation of the CBN-led Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the country had been able to significantly reduce rice importation from Thailand by over 99.83 per cent within the past seven years.

But reacting to yesterday’s unveiling, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tuesday mocked the APC and its governments, describing it as another shameless media stunt to again beguile Nigerians ahead of 2023 elections.

According to the leading opposition political party, the unveiling of bogus rice pyramids in Abuja, was nothing but, “pyramids of lies.”

However, Buhari’s assurance to Nigerians on cheaper food items came on a day he personally presented awards to Emefiele and five other state governors for their contributions to the development of agriculture in the country.

The state chief executives included Governors of Ekiti, Mr. Kayode Fayemi; Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; Cross River, Prof. Ben Ayade; Ebonyi, Mr. David Umahi, and Jigawa, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru.

The president said: “Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of APB, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than four metric tons annually.

“I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria.

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Mompha released on N200m bail

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Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court has granted Instagram celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, bail of N200 million.

Mompha was rearrested last week Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and was first re-arraigned in court last Wednesday, January 14.

While granting his bail application today January 18, the court requested he provides two sureties, one of which must own a property valued at N100 million within its jurisdiction.

Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, are standing trial on an amended 22-count charge bordering on cyber fraud and money laundering to the tune of N32.9bn brought against him by the EFCC.

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