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We are prioritising acquisition COVID-19 vaccine ― Osinbajo

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• PTF worried over mental health of coronavirus survivors

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that that one of Nigeria’s main priorities now is getting the COVID-19 vaccine, saying this is a matter of utmost concern to the federal government.

He stated this on Thursday at the opening session of the virtual edition of the Paris Peace Forum which featured presentations by some Heads of State & Government alongside international organizations, on a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement issued by his spokesman, Laolu Akande in Abuja while stating what Nigeria’s priorities are in its COVID-19 response said: “The priorities of Nigeria in the post-COVID-19 era include improved healthcare and the economy. First, we need to keep the virus under control. While our guards are still firmly in place, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a matter of utmost concern.”

Osinbajo added: “On this, we are encouraged by the efforts of WHO and other international agencies working to ensure that vaccine delivery will be equitable across all countries, regardless of the priority of orders and ability to pay.”

Underscoring the importance of prioritizing interventions and investments in the healthcare system, the Vice President said, “we are encouraging private investment to upscale our health sector, with emphasis on improved facilities and affordable universal healthcare.”

While appreciating leaders across the world for their prompt response and cooperation in controlling the spread of the COVID-19, Prof. Osinbajo said, “the sheer scale of disruptions to our lives and livelihoods caused by COVID-19 certainly caught us all by surprise.”

Restating the call for debt relief for developing countries, the Vice President said, “the pandemic underscores the need for adequate financial buffers to cope with the ‘black swan’ events. For many developing countries, the debt burden makes this all but impossible.”

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo noted that: “We call for debt relief for these countries, and the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) at least until the end of 2021 as well as commercial debt relief where needed.”

The statement recalled that the Vice President had in previous international fora earlier in the year made a case for debt relief for developing countries, noting that “the Debt Servicing Support Initiative of the G20 is welcome and will no doubt bring some relief to relevant African countries.
“However, it remains inadequate because it does not address the problem of commercial debt service obligations.”

He assured that Nigeria stands with all countries of the world, in the effort to eradicate the virus, and leverage experiences for a healthier and more prosperous world.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 Pandemic has expressed concern over the rate of testing in the country, noting that it is too low to defeat the outbreak in the country with a population like Nigeria.

The chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, stated this during its weekly media briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
Comparing Nigeria to other African countries, he said: “​Let me use this opportunity to urge all Nigerians to come out for regular testing. Our testing rate is very unencouraging.

“Mauritius has the highest tests per million (218,535) while Nigeria stands at 3,605 per million. This is grossly too low to be at a comfortable stage of defeating the pandemic considering the size of our population.”

He said the PTF is still monitoring situations around the world and will continue to raise the flag so that Nigerians pay adequate attention to the rising number of cases, especially in high burden countries.

Mustapha noted that this will particularly help in planning to or not to, embark on trips, saying: “The candid advice of the PTF still remains that non-essential trips should be totally avoided.”

He pointed out that global cases crossed the 52 million mark with USA, India and Brazil accounting for 48% of all global cumulative burden.

According to him, the USA has been recording over 100,000 cases daily in recent times and the rate of fatalities is increasing in the UK and other European countries.
While noting that five countries (USA, Brazil, India, Mexico and UK) account for 53% (685,176) of global deaths, he added that on the African continent, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia reported the highest cases in the last 24 hours while South Africa now accounts for 38% of total cases on the continent, up from 50% as at September.

Mustapha also announced that Nigeria now ranks 6th in Africa, adding: “And we don’t have to let our guards down for a second wave. The number of cases has been fluctuating lately and that is an indication that we are not out of the woods yet. The cases in Lagos where multiple infections were recorded in two schools are typical examples of the danger of reopening institutions without the required measures.”

The PTF urged Nigerians to take responsibility to keep the nation safe by adhering to all COVID-19 preventive measures, saying: “It is our collective responsibility. We must all rally round each other to stop this pandemic from destroying our lives and economy.

“The PTF believes strongly that now is the time to raise the tempo of not just our national response but also our preparedness for a new wave of the pandemic or any other epidemic for that matter.

“For example, it has been strongly observed that places of worship, gatherings and other events have dumped the use of face masks and adherence to other NPIs.”

The SGF expressed concern over the mental health of COVID-19 survivors in the country and is intensifying response under the treatment and post-treatment regimes.

He stated: “The PTF is still very much concerned about the mental health of survivors of the COVID 19 virus. In this regard, the PTF is following reports from researches around the world regarding the state of psychiatric health of survivors and has intensified plans for in-country response under the treatment and post-treatment regimes.”
Mustapha regretted the death of former Ghanaian President, Jerry Rawlings and Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erakat, who both succumbed to complications from coronavirus.

He said: “This afternoon, we received the report of the demise of the former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings. We commiserate with the President, Government and people of our sister country and pray for the repose of his soul.
“Similarly, on the 10th of November, 2020, COVID took another high-profile victim in the person of Saeb Erakat, PLO Chief Negotiator. We also commiserate with the Palestinian Authority on this great loss. This will no doubt have a tremendous impact on the peace process in the Middle-East.”

He thanked PTF’s development partners, the CACOVID and the media for their support to the task force.

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Crime

Protests Erupt in Jos Over Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls by Lebanese

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Tension was high yesterday at the Abattoir community, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State as residents, mostly women and young girls protested the alleged sexual molestation of about 14 young girls in the area by a Lebanese.

The alleged molestation, the protesters claim, has been ongoing for years without anything being done but when the man was eventually arrested and handed over to the Police, he was said to have been released from the Police station hence the protest.

It was gathered that the Lebanese was arrested and handed over to the Police on Thursday after the parents of two of the minors in the community reported that their children were sexually molested.

Apart from the two girls, 12 more girls also confessed that they were also at different times molested by the suspect whom they said did unprintable things to them.

The protesters called for justice to be served and appealed to Government, NGOs, and Civic Society Organizations to intervene so that the issue is not swept under the carpet like previous ones.

One of the protesters, Abigail Haruna said, “This thing has been going on for almost 20 years. I grew up in Abattoir here and I have been hearing about it. This time around, about 14 girls between the ages of 10 to 11 are involved. A Lebanese man in Abattoir here used to sexually molest the girls, one that is 11 is pregnant. This should not be allowed to fester.”

Another protester, Esther Emmanuel added, “Since when I was little, I heard about this man that he uses little girls to do blue film but we never took any action but thank God this case came up yesterday (Thursday). Parents of the girls went to the Police station to report.

“It is really annoying that this thing has been happening but we never did anything about it. None of these girls are up to 15 years. Two of the girls are pregnant, one has HIV, this is annoying. The problem is that when it happens, you will not hear anything again, the issue will just die off like that.

“The parents are left with their children, they will be asked to go and take care of their children and will even be blamed for refusing to talk to their children. If we go to their country, will they allow that? We want justice to be served. The man was arrested but now what we hear is that he has been released.”

But the State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Gabriel Uba when contacted said “The Police is aware of the situation and investigation is ongoing to ascertain the true state of the matter.

“Nobody is happy to hear such a devilish act, investigation is ongoing. Nobody released the man, if they don’t get vital information, they will do things out of ignorance. The matter has been transferred to the State CID, the man has not been released.”

(Vanguard)

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Crime

We can’t raise N160m, parents of abducted Greenfield university students, staff cry out

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Photo source: Channels Television

Parents of the remaining 16 kidnapped students and three staff of Greenfield University, Kaduna on Friday gathered to pray for the safe release of their children.

This was even as they appealed to the Federal Government to urgently assist them in rescuing their children from the bandits.

According to them, the bandits are demanding N160 million cumulative ransom for them to release the remaining 16 students.

“We are worried about their safety. The innocent students had spent 24 days in the kidnappers’ den.

To this end, speaking on behalf of the parents, the Chairman of the parents’ forum, Marcus Zarmai, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his office to secure the release of the students before something sinister happens to them.

According to him, the kidnappers are demanding a sum of N10 million on each of the 16 students, making N160 million.

“Even after, we the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom for the release of our children and they failed to release them.

Zarmai said, having exhausted all the money they have to pay as ransom, “We, the parents are appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children.”

Recall, the man behind the abducted students had three weeks ago threatened to kill the 16 students if the ransom is not paid.

However, Sheikh Ahmed Gummi had come out to say they have reached out to the bandits and they have agreed not to kill the remaining students.

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Former Defence Chief Joshua Dogonyaro is Dead

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General Dogonyaro died in Jos on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Dogonyaro, a retired lieutenant general, died at the age of 80 on Wednesday.

The first son of the deceased, Joseph Dogonyaro, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview in Pankshin, on Thursday.

“Daddy has been sick for some time until yesterday when he had a stroke and we rushed him to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention.

“Unfortunately, early this morning (Thursday), around 3.00 a.m. precisely, he breathed his last.

“His death comes as a rude shock to us as a family. We are going to miss his love and warmth as a grandfather, father, brother, uncle and supporter,” he said.

Joseph said the family was trying to cope with the shock of the general’s demise and would discuss the funeral arrangements soon.

He described his father as “a General who was so faithful and loyal to the nation, Nigeria.”

“He was a general who had no bias mind as a detribalised Nigerian. He served this nation faithful and identified with all Nigerians and Africa as a continent.

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