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EU, UN concerned by increasing attacks against aid workers in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe

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The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) expressed concerns, in a joint press conference last  Friday about the recent upsurge in attacks against aid workers and civilians recorded in recent weeks in the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Amidst a deteriorating security situation, they reiterated their commitment to work better together and strengthen efforts to provide life-saving assistance to those affected by more than ten years of crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, in north-east Nigeria, and to increase support to people rebuilding their lives and communities.

On his first official trip outside Europe, Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, joined by the Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, met with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hon. Sadiya Umar Farouq, and Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, as well as various partners from local CSOs, international NGOs and UN agencies implementing the humanitarian response in north-east Nigeria.

During this two-day visit, Commissioner Lenarčič and Mr Kallon, also met with people displaced and affected by the violence in the Borno State town of Gwoza and visited EU-funded relief projects.

Announcing that the European Union will allocate an additional €26.5 million in humanitarian aid,Commissioner Lenarčič declared: “I saw first-hand today the suffering that conflict has brought to people’s lives and how crucial humanitarian aid is to people’s survival. What matters most is that humanitarian organisations can reach all the people in need, without restrictions, including in areas under the influence of non-state armed groups. It is vital that all States and parties to armed conflicts respect their obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief.

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It is also key to implement in parallel a comprehensive strategy in the region, exploring political tracks while addressing the root causes of conflict.” Recent weeks have been marked by an upsurge in violent attacks from non-state armed groups and an increasing trend of illegal checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes directly targeting civilians, authorities and aid workers, especially in Borno State.

Twelve aid workers were deliberately and brutally murdered by non-state armed groups in 2019, twice the number in 2018. Two aid workers, Grace Taku and Alice Loksha, are still being held hostage by non-state armed groups and the humanitarian community call for their immediate and safe release.

“This highly symbolic visit comes at a critical time and brings together the United Nations, international and Nigerian NGOs, local and national CSOs and the European Union, as one of the most important donors,” highlighted Mr Kallon. “We are extremely worried that civilians and those who are providing them with assistance are the direct target of violent attacks, hindering our ability to save lives and help people rebuild livelihoods and communities.”

“All actors and stakeholders must strengthen their efforts to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis, and do their utmost to guarantee the protection of civilians and aid workers, and safe, unconditional access to the people in need,” added the Humanitarian Coordinator.

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The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria remains one of the largest crises across the globe. In a complex and volatile security environment, the United Nations and NGO partners, in collaboration with local and national authorities in Nigeria, have delivered urgent support and basic services to over 5.6 million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, in Nigeria’s north-east.
In 2020, the humanitarian community estimates that 7.7 million people will need emergency assistance.

Over 1.8 million people, across the three crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are still living in camps or are hosted in other communities, that are themselves becoming extremely vulnerable.

1.2 million people in need remain cut off from humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach areas.

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Makinde flags off construction of 360 housing units, Ajoda new town estate

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Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday, flagged off the construction of 360 Housing Units at the Ajoda New Town Estate, located on the New Ibadan-Ife Expressway.

 

 

The estate, which is estimated to cost about Two Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira (N2.5 billion), according to the governor, will enhance affordable housing to all and sundry in the state.

 

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that the strategic location of the new estate will ensure that the investors make quick returns on their investments.

 

 

In another development, Governor Makinde, also, on Wednesday, handed over the Agbowo Shopping Complex, Ibadan, to investors who have committed to turning around the fortunes of the abandoned complex in 104 weeks.

 

 

The complex, which is located opposite the Main Gate of University of Ibadan, was commissioned in 1984 but abandoned 12 years ago.

 

 

The statement indicated that Makinde, while speaking at the flag-off ceremony held at the Ajoda Housing Estate, New Ife Road, Ibadan, declared the determination of his administration to bridge the gap in the housing sector in Oyo State.

 

 

He said that the New Ajoda Housing Project is jointly sponsored by the Oyo State Government and Remax Realtors Limited, saying that, while the state provided thirteen (13) hectares of land for the scheme, the developer is expected to solely finance the project.

 

 

The governor, who stated that the flagging off of the Ajoda Housing Estate is a fulfilment of one of his campaign promises, said the project will consist of 2-bedroom semi-detached houses; 3-bedroom semi-detached houses and 3-bedroom detached houses.

 

 

This was just as the governor said that the project will be replicated in other parts of the state so that many residents of the state can benefit from such projects.

 

 

He added that investors have begun to repose confidence in the state and are willing to do business in Oyo State because of the way the government is now being run by the present administration.

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He said: “We are here today to flag off a project, which is in fulfilment of one of my campaign promises. Those who have taken time to study our Roadmap for Accelerated Development in Oyo State, 2019-2023, would have come across our promise to facilitate private sector-driven housing delivery through variants of public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives.

 

 

“And so today, we are flagging off the construction of three hundred and sixty (360) housing units here in Egbeda Local Government Area, Ibadan Zone.

“As I said earlier, this is a PPP initiative. We are working with Remax Realtors Limited. To make this project a reality, the Oyo State Government through the Oyo State Housing Corporation is providing thirteen (13) hectares of land for the scheme, while the developer will solely finance the entire project.

 

 

“The project will cost N2.5 Billion, and upon completion, the developers will recoup their finances when the houses are sold. We have seen the wisdom of getting contractors or developers to commit to projects by using their own monies to carry them out.

 

 

“Some people may wonder why we are starting off in the Ibadan Zone? Well, the need for an affordable housing scheme in Oyo State is clearly evident. Statistics show that the population of the capital city has been growing at over 2 per cent since 2018 with a peak of over 2.5 per cent in 2020. So, half of the population of Oyo State live in Ibadan Zone.

 

 

“But that the project is starting in Ibadan Zone does not mean that it will end here. Our plan is to replicate these housing units in other parts of Oyo State in the shortest possible time.”

 

 

He also charged members of the public who are interested in buying landed properties in Oyo State to patronize Oyo State Housing Corporation, adding that his administration will continue to operate an open-door policy.

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Similarly, while speaking at the flag-off of the renovation and remodelling of Agbowo Shopping Complex, Governor Makinde stated that the state will work in collaboration with Messrs Whitestone Global Ltd to convert the moribund facility into a premium commercial real estate and a 4-star hotel.

 

 

He said the collaboration will be in the form of a long lease concession for 50 years, with a capital injection of N4.9Billion, saying: “Our administration understands that the only business that the government should have in business is to create a conducive environment and the needed support for private enterprises to thrive. And this is what we are doing.

 

 

“You will readily agree that the injection of N4.9 Billion into the Oyo State economy is an economic stimulus in the short term which will translate to broader benefits in the long run.

 

 

“The process of selecting the concessionaires was also transparent. As everyone knows, the days of getting contracts from the government solely because a person knows the governor is in the past. I make bold to say that the PPP mechanism of the state has been re-engineered for effectiveness.”

 

The governor assured that shop owners in the complex would have the right of first refusal when the complex is finally remodeled.

 

 

He also promised to put up a revolving fund scheme to assist those who may not have the money to pay for the shops by the time the project is completed.

 

In his remarks at the two events, the chairman of the Oyo State Housing Corporation, Barr. Bayo Lawal, said the experience of the corporation in the past has not been palatable, stating, however, that the pains are gradually being addressed by Governor Makinde.

 

He also appealed to those desirous of owning lands in the state to approach the corporation for reliable landed property.

 

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Also speaking, the Managing Director, Remax realtors Limited, Adefunke Adesoji, said it was an honour to work with the Oyo State governor on the project, which was conceived as a public-private partnership.

 

 

In their separate remarks, the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Barrister Abiodun Abdulraheem and his counterpart in the Ministry of Justice, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, enjoined investors and residents of the state to key into the projects, which they described as a landmark initiative.

 

 

Also speaking at the handing over of Agbowo Shopping Complex, the Managing Director of Whitestone Global Ltd., Mr. Woleola Oluwole, said: “Today is indeed a great day and another landmark in the trending capacity of Oyo State. This is not surprising because we have a governor that is an honour to follow; we have a governor who is a father to watch. Here we are today marking another trend for others to follow.

 

 

“In this place today, as it is, in the next few months, we will know, indeed, that the God of heaven has smiled upon us and the rest of Oyo State.

 

 

“This facility, when completed, will have a time level car park that will double as a drive-in Cinema in the evening; a 10-floor first class hotel; 600 capacity 3D Cinema in the evening, an underground gaming arcade; what I call the 22nd-Century E-shopping Mall. All of these will be inside 25,000 square metres.”

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Nigerian physician, Funsho named one of TIME’s most influential people in the world

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TIME named Nigerian physician, Dr. Tunji Funsho to the 2020 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Dr. Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Rotary member to receive this honor for the organization’s work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.

“I’m honored to be recognized by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year,” said Dr. Funsho. “Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”

As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho has worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunization, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.

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Dr. Funsho works closely with Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI): the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. As a member of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio, he has coordinated immunization and advocacy campaigns with the Minister of State for Health and the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication. He has also worked closely with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria.

In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus. Nigeria’s progress, led by Rotary, its GPEI partners and local and national governments, was the result of decades of sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of health workers, and innovative strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached due to insecurity in the country’s northern states.

On 25 August, the African region was certified wild polio-free. This historic announcement means that five of the WHO’s six regions, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population, are now free of the wild poliovirus. The virus is now endemic in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Rotary’s nearly 32,000 members in Africa have played a critical role in helping the region achieve its wild polio-free status by holding events to raise funds and awareness for polio, and working with world governments and national and local leaders to secure funding and support for polio eradication.

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Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques

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The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.

Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.

With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.

Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.

“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.

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“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.

The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.

At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.

However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.

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