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Kwibuka25: AfDB marks the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

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With poems, videos and a riveting testimony from a former Prosecutor General of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the Rwandan Embassy and the Rwandan community in Côte d’Ivoire, observed the 25thcommemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda under the theme “Remember-Unite-Renew”.

The event, held Thursday, April 11, was attended by the Ambassador of Rwanda in Côte d’Ivoire, Stanislas Kamanzi, and the Rwandan community; a delegation of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire led by Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, Minister of Animal and Fishery Resources; members of the diplomatic corps and Bank employees. The ceremony also included the lighting of candles to commemorate the occasion.

Ousman Jammeh shared that, through his work with the ICTR, he had the opportunity to see first-hand the courage and resilience of genocide survivors in their difficult testimonies. He also drew attention to the crucial role that the media played in enticing hate and division and called for Africans to closely learn from this tragedy.

The commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda is an opportunity to remember and honour the one million lives lost within three months in 1994. In Rwanda and across the world, the commemoration is a moment of reflection on the past and a time to recommit to the pledge of “Never Again”.

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Oley Dibba-Wadda, the Bank’s Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development, speaking on behalf of President Akinwumi A. Adesina, stated that the 1994 genocide remains “a deep scar on humanity’s conscience.” She expressed her solidarity with the people of Rwanda during this period of commemoration and saluted the bravery and sacrifice of helpers who risked their lives to save others.

Dibba-Wadda also commended the resilience and determination of the Rwandan people, especially Rwandan youth, whose dynamism and sense of purpose are already shaping country’s future for the better. She concluded by reaffirming the African Development Bank’s commitment to continue its strong partnership with Rwanda on its journey of transformation.

In his remarks, Minister Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, representing the Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, stated that the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda reminds Africa and the world of the dramatic consequences of policies based on hatred, communitarianism and any other form of divisionism. He underlined the importance of educating African youth to equip them with the tools to systematically reject genocide ideology and protect unity.

Addressing the participants, Pacifique Kayihura, President of the Rwandan Diaspora in Côte d’Ivoire, highlighted that the progress made in Rwandan over the last 25 years in the areas of unity, justice, reconciliation and development, demonstrate that no country is doomed to failure and that our strength lies in unity. He further urged the participants not to be indifferent to impunity and the suffering of others.

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In closing, Ambassador Stanislas Kamanzi thanked the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the African Development Bank for the solidarity shown during this period of commemoration. He reiterated that over the past 25 years while we mourn the loss of our loved ones “we do not let despair bring us down. Rwanda has instead embarked on a challenge of rebirth…for an inclusive, equitable, dignified and prosperous society.”

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Nigeria: COVID-19 threatens to hit three fragile northeastern states hardest

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The arrival of COVID-19 in Nigeria sparked a cascade of crises, but the pandemic poses its greatest threat in the impoverished, fragile northeast of Africa’s largest country, according to a new assessment by the UNDP .

There, Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states comprise “one of the most pronounced, multi-faceted, and complex humanitarian and development crises known to the international community today,” UNDP’s 2018 Nigeria Human Development report found—more than two years before the zoonotic pathogen we now know as a novel coronavirus brought economies, livelihoods, and lives to a sudden, painful halt.

As all of Nigeria reels from a 55 percent drop in the price of its leading export, oil, experts say the country’s northeast stands to suffer most as a result of the pandemic—particularly its 1.8 million internally displaced people, living in overcrowded camps and already struggling to survive. The health care system in all three states is fractured, with 35 percent of health facilities damaged by conflict and routine vaccination campaigns and other essential health services already disrupted.

UNDP’s rapid COVID-19 socioeconomic assessment, which will inform policies and programs to help the country recover, envisages three possible scenarios in the northeast:

Violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram could step up recruitment by exploiting vulnerable people or take advantage of security vacuums as the government pivots to contain the outbreak or as outbreaks occur within the military or police.

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– A complete lockdown without protection for vulnerable populations in a conflict setting—where social bonds are weak—could trigger further unrest, which would make containing the virus even more difficult.

– Lockdown could also threaten peacebuilding work by humanitarian and security actors, who play a vital role in rebuilding social bonds, reintegrating ex-combatants, and restoring livelihoods.

Possible responses include halting the rotation of security personnel, setting up testing, quarantine, and isolation centers within military barracks and camps, and raising awareness of key hygiene practices and COVID-19 symptoms. Keeping supply chains intact and expanding the land area of extremely crowded IDP camps in the Northeast will be essential, the assessment finds.

UNDP and other agencies respond

Across the country, Nigeria—with more than 200 million people—has extremely limited health care resources, with only 330 intensive care facilities, five COVID-19 testing and treatment centers, and just 100 beds in a designated isolation facility in the capital, Lagos—with graver shortfalls in the northeast.

To help meet emerging needs, UNDP and other agencies have shipped in ventilators and other essential medical supplies. An initial shipment included 50 A30 ventilators and personal protective equipment procured with funds from the COVID-19 Basket Fund, launched in April.

UNDP is helping to create emergency employment opportunities—restoring trade flows and supporting the smooth functioning of markets shoring up food security in the hardest-hit communities—and supported the creation of public service announcements with celebrities aimed at tackling gender-based and domestic violence, which spike globally during crises.

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It’s also helped launch a National COVID-19 Response Plan around 10 pillars that include scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact-tracing, infection prevention and control; case management of COVID-19 patients; risk communication and community engagement; emergency preparedness, security, and logistics for mass care; and resource mobilization.

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Makinde flags off construction of ultra-modern local govt service commission secretariat

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Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Friday, flagged off the construction of the office complex for the Local Government Service Commission and Local Government Pension Board, noting that those opposed to the project would be silenced when they see the outcome.

 

Governor Makinde, who maintained that the state government has commenced a gradual rehabilitation of the secretariat complex which, he said, had been left to degenerate over the years, added that the process would not abate until the entire structure was given the desired face-lift.

 

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying these while unveiling the 3D design for the office complex.

 

The governor maintained that the idea of the office complex came from the Local Government Service Commission itself, while he also noted that in 11 months when the project would be completed, opposition members criticizing the government would be silenced.

 

He said: “It is my pleasure to be here today to flag off the office complex for the Local Government Service Commission and the Local Government Pension Board.

 

This was not my idea but that of the Permanent Secretary of Local Government Service Commission.

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“We thought we should lay our own foundation and start a campaign of regenerating the secretariat. Oyo State had the opportunity of having the very first modern secretariat then and, several years later, it is still those structures that we keep seeing. They were not even renovating them, they were just painting the exterior, only.

 

“We did not do anything for the 100 days in office of this administration but, much later, we released 15million Naira to each ministry to renovate their offices. And I am glad, indeed, that the Secretariat is wearing a new look, not only from the outside but even from the inside. Renovation work is also going on at the Governor’s Office.

 

“In about 11 months, we will be coming back here to commission the edifice. So, I thank the chairmen and chairpersons of the local government areas and the local council development areas, because everybody came together to buy into the vision. And by that your singular action, we were able to raise a substantial amount that is needed for the construction of this structure.

 

“Where I was coming from, we played a little bit of politics but this is governance. When we initially came up with this idea, some people said we were taking money from the government’s purse. I think they will shut their mouths permanently in another 11 months.

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“I congratulate the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and Local Government Service Commission and Local Government Pension Board. It is your idea and baby and we will support you to see to its completion.”

 

In their separate speeches, the chairman of the Oyo State Local Government Service Commission/Local Government Staff Pension Board, Honourable Aderemi Ayodele, and the secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oyo State Council, Comrade Olusegun Abatan, described the flag off of the office complex as historic.

 

Abatan, who praised Governor Makinde for seeing to the payment of about N5 billion in gratuities to retired workers of Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Parastatals,  said that Makinde’s administration was purposeful.

According to him, the administration has so far paid  N1.98 billion to retirees of primary schools while local government retires have got about N3.2 billion.”

 

While speaking, Ayodele commended Makinde for granting the approval to begin work on the office complex, noting that the governor has restored the glory of the local government service commission and pension board through training and retraining.

 

He said that his commission and its pension board had been tenants in the Water Corporation Building for 40 years without any administration deeming it worthy to construct an office complex.

 

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He further stated that in the last one year, the administration, apart from paying 100 per cent pensions to retirees, has been releasing N274 million monthly for the payment of gratuities of retired Primary School teachers and Local Government staff.

 

He noted that so far, the sum of N3.5 billion has been paid as gratuities to retirees by the administration, noting that the efforts of the Makinde government have culminated in the socio-economic development being witnessed in the state.

 

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COVID-19: SON moves to harmonise locally produced ventilators to meet global standards

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Wednessday disclosed that it has begun harmonising the production of ventilators developed across the country to conform with the international standards toward containing COVID-19 pandemic.

SON’s Director-General, Osita Aboloma, made this disclosure in a statement in Lagos, following the unveiling of locally manufactured ventilators produced by Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro in Ogun.

SON’s DG, who was represented  by its Ogun Office 1 Coordinator, Mr Jerome Umoru, was at the unveiling.

SON urged various inventors to ensure compliance with ISO 5080601/2/12/3020 and Medical Electrical Equipment part 11 for clinical care.

He noted that adherence to the standard will ensure ease during the process of conformity assessment and product certification.

He stressed  that the certification of locally produced ventilators, air purifiers and hand sanitiser machines would put the nation in its pride of place globally.

“We are partnering with the institute in ensuring that various machines produced in the country meet the required standards so as not to end up in the shelves,” Aboloma said.

He also added that the standards body of the unification was also aimed at saving the nation’s foreign exchange spent on importation of ventilators to fights against COVID-19.

Aboloma advised private sector investment in such innovations to enable inventors to go through the next stages of clinical trials and obtain the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) mark.

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He reiterated SON’s support toward sustaining local production of essential materials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through quality assurance.

“In our efforts to address the ongoing pandemic, we have diligently assigned officers to inspect the ventilators and alcohol-based hand sanitisers under production.

“We have one common standard for each product. We want to ensure that what we are producing meets the standard and once it does, we will certify it.

“We will also continue to monitor activities so that they do not rest on their oars in producing quality goods.

“I have presented a copy of the Standard to the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, and it is the ‘golden rule,” he said.

SON promised that the moment the institute was able to meet the basic parameter on requirements, certification of the innovations would be fast tracked.

“SON is ready to partner with all technical institutions, especially those involved in the production of life saving equipment and materials at this time.

“This is so that their products will meet minimum requirements of the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS), and undergo certification under the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) scheme,” he said.

The SON director-general revealed that in no distant time, consumers would be empowered through product authentication scheme to determine the quality and conformance of products at the point of purchase.

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He said that those without necessary certifications would be rejected.

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