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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

COVID-19 #HON. ISHOLA IBRAHIM OBANLA FREE ONLINE TRAINING / LECTURE FOR SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS





To say Education is important is an understatement. It is an array of light in darkness as well as a lifelong process that ends with death.

I urge you to join FREE ONLINE TRAINING / LECTURE for Senior Secondary School Students! I am thrilled at the prospects of global discussion about creating a platform for our prospective youths most especially from S.S. 1 to S.S. 3, in making them to tap from wealth of Knowledge that will shape their future from first half stage of life constructively.

As part of our Civic Social Responsibility and for effective representation, we have assured the great residents of Oko-oba Community,and Orile Agege at large that no stone will be left untouched. Let's get started! In this module, we will focus on the Social science subjects and how rhetorical canons will help us structure our careers as youths.

By the end of this Training / Lecture classes, students would have some tools for evaluating our Society, Equality, Self Dependent, dreams to reality, makes the life more safer and peaceful place, and Economic growth of the Nation. To deny this right is evil. Uneducated youth is the worst thing for Humanity. Please, be part of this noble course.

#OKO#OBA#EDU.

COVID-19: Nigeria Gradually Shuts Down


By Tunji Suleiman

As the world grapples with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SAR-CoV-2) or Covid-19 pandemic, Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy is shutting down.

It is trite that the leading horse guides the one behind in a race. The extant misfortunes of USA, Italy, and other nations under serious affliction of the killer virus due to lapses by their first responders versus China’s exemplary management and containment of the pandemic of uncertain origin which broke out on its soil should be pointers to the rest of the world. But folks continue to make U-turns on logic and common sense, harping on freedoms to move and to gather for religious worship and, invariably, to contract and/or spread the virus whilst ignoring the rights of compliant others to not be infected and to live. Alas!

Leaders have a duty to act decisively and adopt measures, akin to the Stand of Mordecai, appropriate for times like this. For as the lad learns to die, so must the parent practice for his burial. Nigeria appears to have belatedly started to do the needful. But is it too late?

Perceptions and posers emerge from recent posturing and actions of government as Federal and state authorities abandon mild admonitions for hardline measures to stem spread of the pestilence in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, March 29, 2020, on national TV, declared curfews in Abuja and Lagos, the nation’s capital and commercial nerve-center respectively, that have been worst hit by Coronavirus. The curfew also affects Ogun State, which, for its proximity, is susceptible to viral overflow from Lagos.

Earlier on Thursday, he had announced from his Twitter handle FGN’s grant of N15 billion (about USD39 million) to tackle the virus in the oil rich African nation. N10 billion is to be handed to Lagos to boost its capacity to control and contain Covid-19 in the state whilst N5 billion is special intervention to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip and people its facilities and laboratories across the country. FGN's preparedness before the index case in Nigeria and subsequently has essentially leveraged on the capacity of Lagos as exemplified by its management of Ebola in 2014. 

Prior to yesterday’s presidential address that was long in coming, the last two weeks had recorded divergent government actions and elicited varied reactions from citizens across the country.

Fiery South South governor, Nyesom Wike, announced an unprecedented shut down of Rivers State on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, locking movement in and out of Nigeria’s oil and gas capital. According to him, as aviation is federally-controlled, he can not stop flights to and from PHC airport; but no intending passenger will traverse the state to board flights and no disembarked passenger can enter the Garden City till further notice, suggesting to those intent on it growing maturation of Nigeria’s federalism.

The government of Nigeria’s commercial nerve center and finance hub was responding in different ways to control the virus spread and had been treating confirmed cases before the presidential hammer fell. Civil servants below Grade Levels 12 had been directed to stay at home since last Monday.
On Thursday, Lagos State government broadcasted a questionnaire to Lagosians via mobile networks to gauge public perception of adequacy and accessibility of health and emergency services, and to assess popular will and readiness to stay at home. “I don’t think it is necessary”, said Mrs. Nkechi Smithson, a school teacher in Igbo Efon; asking rhetorically in pidgin, “Na today Lagos State wake up?” Mrs. Aduni Omoronike, an oil marketer in Apapa was on her part testy. “They needed not bother”, she said irritably, submitting that no serous person who can afford it relies on government for healthcare” which according to her is non-existent or sub-par. Mr. Toyin Akomolede, Lekki-based engineer and consultant, thought the government was in order and that people should comply and stay at home in their own interests. Obalende tailor, Yakubu Abdullahi, charged the government to distribute food, medicines, water and light to the masses. “That is how to stop people from going out except they want to kill us. We hustle daily to survive, so they should help us, especially with food”, he pleaded. He should not be blamed: the road to the gullet is the path to life and/or death, goes a saying.

Markets in Ajah, Igbara and Itedo, Lekki, Balogun on Lagos Island, and Mile 12, Mushin and Orile on the Mainland have all been closed since Thursday. Whilst most complied, some traders were resisting the lock-up orders. Wares were not displayed but market people were seen loitering to sell on the stealth whilst watching out for Local Government and LCDA officials out to enforce closures.

Meanwhile, a massive isolation facility is being erected at Onikan Stadium, near Lagos House on the Marina. It is ad hoc and intended to beef up capacity of  already existing permanent others. On Saturday, the State Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, announced that the state had taken delivery of 200 special sprayers, vehicles that would be used to disinfect the state. Earlier last week on Tuesday, he had urged that all travel plans to and from Lagos be shelved for now.

As of yesterday, Sunday, March 30, 2020; confirmed cases in the former federal capital and epicenter of the deadly Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria stood at 59 with 3 reportedly treated and discharged.

Vehicular traffic on ever-busy Epe Expressway, 3rd Mainland Bridge and Ikorodu Road at peak hours was uncharacteristically light and free-flowing last week. Driving along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was hassle-free on Thursday save for construction-related delays and diversions as motorists and travelers have substantially abandoned the roads, intra- and inter-state, for dear life.

In Ibadan, shops along Challenge, Ring Road, Dugbe, Bodija and Mokola had closed by order of the state government since Thursday and the government was readying to shut down official business on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Politician and aide to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Femi Josiah, who spoke on the sidelines of a government Coronavirus sensitization roadshow on Saturday, said that there were three confirmed cases in the state. “Accordingly, the Governor has imposed ‪a 7am-7pm‬ curfew and ordered lockdown of businesses except for food and essential perishable items sellers”, he informed, adding that the concern is over Lagos and Abuja that are the worst affected. He charged the Federal Government to do more for Nigerians, adding that the state would not wait idly and watch the virus spread in the state. The situation, he revealed, would be assessed ‪in two weeks‬ for next steps. Governor Seyi Makinde has today announced the result of his own positive test to the infection.

Kunle Muhammed who resides in Alesinloye in the sprawling former capital of Nigeria’s defunct Western Region has shut down the office of his engineering, procurement and contracting firm in Oluyole and ordered all staff to stay at home. “I have also locked my gate. Nobody is going in or out of my house till further notice”, he said. Reminded that it is not as easy for folks who live on daily income and can not afford to stock up on food and basics to stay at home, he said, “Rich or poor, no one needs infection or untimely death. I wish those who must go out for any reason good luck.”

In Ilorin, Kwara State in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, on Thursday announced containment measures that include restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 persons. All non-food and/or drugs businesses have been closed. Taxis, okada (commercial motorcycles) and keke (tricycles) have also been stopped from operating. Only private cars are allowed to move freely.

Muyideen Gold, a businessman in the city of Afonja and Alimi, blames the situation on the Buhari-led Federal government. “If they had acted promptly to stop inbound foreign travel immediately after that unfortunate Italian brought the virus into Nigeria, we won’t be where we are today”, he argued. Asked for his thoughts on what might have caused the delay he complained about, he responded with one word, “Indecision.”

Mojeed Ofamajo (not real name) commended Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazak for his recent commissioning of an ultra-modern quarantine center in Sobi Specialist Hospital, Ilorin and urged him to replicate same in Offa, Kwara’s second largest town. He said that Kwarans love Abdulrazaq and want him to dismantle the feudal structures of the parasitic former leadership that elevated treasury looting and misrule to statecraft in the North Central state. “But he should test himself, publish the results and promptly seek medical care.” When asked why he doubts the governor’s health status, he said, “We saw recent pictures of him with Abba Kyari and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, at the burial of Bello’s mother and everyone has heard that Kyari has Coronavirus. We need him alive to deliver on the mandate we gave him but he needs to assure Kwarans that he is not infected or infecting others.”

Still in the North Central, Benue has recorded its first case of Coronavirus. Samuel Ortom, the state governor, disclosed that 8 persons that had contact with the index case had been traced and quarantined whilst more are being tracked. He has  shutdown markets, social gatherings and churches across the state and advised citizens to stock up on food and stay at home.

The Northwest that, alongside the Northeast, is the world’s poverty capital account for nearly 90% of the abject poor in the oil-rich African nation. With little or no internally generated revenue and dwindling federally-shared monthly allocations of oil earnings, unbridled population growth fueled by polygamy and child marriages, coupled with banditry, millions of out-of-school children roaming the streets as Almajiri and widespread illiteracy, predisposing conditions of preventable diseases, plus poor access to sanitation and hygiene and striking medical doctors, the North is vulnerable. A runaway breakout of Coronavirus anywhere in the region would be catastrophic.

The usually lethargic and conservative feudal ruling elite of six Northwestern states that had traditionally resisted progressive change and mostly played lip service to empowerment of the downtrodden northern masses, and so fueling southern accusations of deliberately keeping the masses down to sustain their control and stranglehold on power, thereby dragging the rest of the country back on aggregate national development indices met in Kaduna on March 21, 2020 under closed doors and amidst tight security to announce closure of schools in the region for one month. Aminu Masari, Katsina State Governor and Chairman of the forum rationalized the decision as crucial to prevent the spread of Coronavirus across the geopolitical zone.

Kaduna State has postponed the 2020 edition of its annual Investment Summit that has entered its fourth year with no new date in view. It has also started to fumigate markets. The state’s Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe, announced midweek, an indefinite 24-hour curfew that she described as quarantine, during which only essential services workers in medical, fire and security, and fuel tankers would be allowed to move. Transit through Kaduna city would be allowed, she said, but only through the Western Bypass and everyone arriving the state would be subject to compulsory tests before entry.

Extraordinary and drastic measures to keep a virus at bay, one might add. But Covid-19 is of different timber and caliber in the comity of pathogens and these are no ordinary times for Kaduna, especially as earlier directives by the government for non-essential businesses and shops, event centers and places of worship to close had gone unheeded. On Saturday, March  28, 2020, the Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, announced that he had tested positive for Covid 19.

In nearby Kano, a major trade center and transport hub for travel within the north, to the south and beyond Nigeria; residents are allowed to move within but not in and out of the state. Like elsewhere, markets are closed.

On March 21, 2020, Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, announced the set up in Maiduguri of “a special task force to step up and expand the spectrum of COVID-19 prevention and control activities in the state.” He added that it had become both necessary and urgent to strengthen the state’s health system “in view of the vulnerability of our people to disease outbreaks due to the ongoing crisis, which has caused enormous internal displacements, loss of jobs and devastation”.

The problems of the killing fields of Nigeria’s besieged Northeast assailed by Boko Haram’s decade-long bloodthirsty insurgency with no end in sight particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States can worsen if the deadly specter of Coronavirus is given free rein.

The professor governor appears to be on point with Covid-19 in the circumstances of his scourged state and calls to mind the conjecture of Socrates on philosopher kings. His measures in collaboration with WHO have been impactful, as no case of the vicious virus has been recorded to date in Borno.

With Saturday’s announcement of El-Rufai’s case, the earlier one of Bala Mohammed, the Governor and one other in Bauchi State, and the index case in Benue for a total of 4 confirmed cases, Coronavirus spread in Northern Nigeria has been limited and fortunate in the overall context of the North.

Enugu State has a suspect case of Coronavirus. The suspect is said to have been isolated and the result being expected; according to the NCDC release monitored by BBC Igbo service.

Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, confirmed on Tuesday in Abakaliki that the East was yet to confirm any case of the dreaded Coronavirus. Umahi who doubles as Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum added that his government had put measures in place to contain the virus and protect people. These “include shutting down of schools, night clubs, ban on sporting activities, wedding receptions, burial ceremonies and social gathering of more than 50 persons.”

Prior to the first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Ebonyi government had built two quarantine centres in Abakaliki and in Ishielu Local Government Area on the Enugu-Ebonyi border in response to the Ebola crisis. With state-of-the-art facilities, the Virology Centre in Abakaliki would be vital for Coronavirus  testing.

Churches and religious centers are to continue business as usual, but must provide face masks, running water and soaps and/or hand sanitizers as precautions, and ensure people entering and exiting wash their hands to protect them and the general public.

Sensible measures perhaps, but pundits wonder on adequacy especially with continuing religious gatherings.  Regardless of anyone’s rationalization, religious congregations are sources of crowding, understood to be no-no for effective prevention of infection and containment of spread.

Added to the foreboding prospect of religious gatherings is likely incredulity, disregard and carelessness in the region that might have been pre-validated by a boast credited to no less a personality than Chikezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor that his state would not record any case of the Coronavirus pandemic having been mentioned in the bible. Really?

Time will tell. But for now, there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in the South-East.

In the nation’s capital, the FGN had announced, last week, travel restrictions to 13 Covid-19 high-incidence countries including China, South Korea, Iran, USA, Italy and most of Europe. It has also closed land borders and international airports for four weeks. According to Buhari, this is to enable government to “put up the appropriate policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases at home, without risking a compounding of the situation with more imported cases.”

The situation in Abuja is one of palpable fear since news of infection of the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, broke; with reports of several other political leaders and high-profile government officials recently returning from trips abroad and testing positive to the deadly infection. Suleiman Achimugu, former MD of PPMC who tested positive and was subsequently admitted into isolation has gone down as Nigeria’s first fatality to the contagion.

These developments have fueled speculations that many more of Nigeria’s elite might be infected and infecting others but hiding their status to avoid stigmatization. If this is true, then NCDC data might be indicative but not representative of total infection in the nation, analysts say.

In his response, Alao Omotosho, lawyer with a government asset management agency in Abuja said, “My own issue is the index case in Lagos, who was reported to have been isolated and treated and that was later said to have tested negative. What medicine did they administer to cure him and why is the information hidden?”

Uche Olisa did not agree government delayed to close borders and airports due to indecision. He put it to selfishness to see family and friends of government people safely back home before acting in the larger national interest. It would be recalled that the president’s daughter Zarah Buhari and Mohammed Abubakar, son of the opposition candidate in the last presidential election, flew into the country after news of the index case was broken in Lagos. They subsequently went into isolation. The later was reported to have tested positive to the deadly virus.

Meanwhile bank MDs, heads of conglomerates and other wealthy Nigerians have been donating billions of naira to the Anti-Coronavirus war. Hakeem Rasaq, an analyst with an ethical fund thinks the scramble by rich people to donate money is self-serving and not about the masses. “They are coughing out what they stole from Nigerians because the abroad they run to for medical attention is no longer safe and they don’t want to die. Quote me, by the time this plague goes away, those of us that will survive will hear how government money and these donations would have been looted.”

Reacting in similar manner, Caleb Bulus said Coronavirus is God’s punishment for Nigerian leaders and that is why they are catching it and won’t be saved by their loot. “The chicken has come home to roost. The healthcare they didn’t fix will fix them now”, he said.

There have been reports of Friday gatherings in the past two weeks with police securing mosques against crowding . This resulted in the government arresting Aminu Usman and Umar Shangel, two imams who flouted state directives to  lead worshippers in congressional prayers penultimate Friday in Kaduna. Muslim leaders and clerics, including the Sultan of Sokoto and President of Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs,  Sa’ad Abubakar, had admonished Muslim faithfuls to obey government orders  and heed advice of medical experts on combating Coronavirus. Yet some Muslims attended Jumah mosques in Jos and Katsina penultimate Friday and last week with many protesting their dispersal by law enforcement.

Some Christians also crowded themselves in churches in spite of advice from health authorities and government order against gatherings of more than 50. David Oyedepo, Bishop of Canaanland in Otta, Ogun State was reported to have held Sunday service upper week. In a video that went viral on social media, the multibillionaire pastor was seen challenging government restrictions on crowding, insisting that worshipers must congregate to fellowship. Another pastor whose name can not be ascertained for now, in another video, denied local incidence of the global virulence, declaring  “There’s no Coronavirus in Nigeria!.” This had led to cries that ‘men of God’ are misleading their adherents and perhaps deliberately or inadvertently setting them up for near-certain infection in what commentators have widely condemned and tagged bids to keep previously ballooning but now dwindling revenue from religious business flowing in from faithfuls.

The Christian Association of Nigeria had directed churches across the country to observe special prayers on March 22 and 29, 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the main, most religious leaders are complying with measures by the authorities and leveraging on television and other channels to propagate preachments and sermons for their sheep to follow at home last weekend. They are also resorting to Fintec to continue collecting tithes and offerings.

Asked for his take on government efforts so far to combat the virus, Issa Ruhullahi, IT expert and entrepreneur, said governments may soon be overwhelmed as the infection spreads. The real threat, in his opinion, is the over-abundance of religious zealots who in their lack of imagination think the solution to every problem lies in prayers for divine intervention. “Religion is a menace that has caused or exacerbated major calamities of man from time immemorial. Most ordinary Nigerians are sensible, but those fanatics spread the virus among themselves when they gather in worship centers only to later go and share to innocent others. They are the ones government must watch and deal with decisively.”

The change in government strategy nationwide is coming ostensibly in response to pockets of resistance and defiance by people to informative and advisory releases on containment measures, chief of which medical authorities and professionals including the World Health Organisation, Nigerian Center for Disease Control, Federal and state health ministries all agree to be isolation from other people who may be asymptomatic Coronavirus carriers by staying at home, hand-washing frequently, generally practicing good hygiene, social distancing and constant hydration by drinking water.

The Nigerian army is reportedly preparing to deploy for a coronavirus lockdown, according to sources close to the military

“We are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus," Information and Communications Minister, Lai Mohammed, said in Abuja last Thursday.

"Time is running out. We have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent."

As of Saturday March 28, 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has reached a total of 657,000 cases globally, with 30,438 deaths with China, USA and Italy leading the world in infection and fatalities, according to WHO. In Nigeria, total number of recorded cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, March 29, 2020 stood at Ninety-seven (97). Three cases have been discharged and there has been one death so far.

These indeed are challenging times, unprecedented in the history of the African giant that has had  long-running challenges with good governance. Governments at federal and sub-national levels continue to mull total lockdown versus partial movement and trade activities to mitigate economic and lifestyle burdens on the citizenry. As Nigerians are locked at home to different degrees by government orders and cowering from the viral agent of death; the question remains: whither Nigeria?


Tunji Suleiman is a digital media expert, public affairs analyst and member of the NGIJ.

Union Bank Ramps Up Support for the Fight Against COVID-19 in Nigeria


Lagos, NIGERIA: Union Bank today announced additional donations totalling Three
Hundred Million Naira (N300million) as part of its multi-pronged approach to tackle the
spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
As part of the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19, Union Bank has contributed Two
Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N250 million) into the fund set up by the coalition to raise
N120bn (One Hundred and Twenty Billion Naira) to fight the outbreak in Nigeria.
In addition, the Bank also made a further donation of Fifty Million Naira (N50million) to the
Lagos State Covid-19: Emergency Food Response programme which was setup to support
low income families who will be directly impacted by the state-wide restrictions in place to
limit the spread of the disease. Lagos State currently has the highest number of COVID-19
cases in Nigeria.
Commenting on the Bank’s active efforts to tackle COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Chief Executive
Officer of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, said:
“The fight against Covid-19 requires all hands-on deck with close collaboration
between the public and private sector. Union Bank is committed to supporting
Nigeria’s response to ensure the country avoids a pandemic. We will especially be
looking to support ordinary Nigerians who will be disproportionately impacted
economically at this time.”
Last week, as part of its immediate response to the outbreak, the Bank made an initial
donation of N50,000,000 ($130,000) into a $500,000 fund set up by 54gene, an African
genomics research, services and development company working closely with the Nigeria
Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to fight the COVID-19 menace.
###

Monday, March 30, 2020

Covid-19: Union Bank Launches Toll-Free Customer Service Line


Lagos, NIGERIA: As part of proactive efforts to ease banking worries during the ongoing
Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, foremost financial institution, Union Bank, has introduced a
24-hour toll-free Customer Service Line - 0800 700 7000.
The multi-lingual customer service line, which allows customers to call the Bank’s Contact
Centre at no cost, was launched on Monday, March 30th as part of the Bank’s efforts to
ensure it provides seamless banking services as the country responds to the coronavirus
outbreak. Speaking on the new service, Mrs. Lola Cardoso, Executive Director and Head of Retail and
Digital Banking for Union Bank said: “While we navigate the new realities brought on by this global pandemic, our goal as
a trusted partner to our customers is to ensure that they don’t have to worry about
banking during this time. A toll-free number will allow our customers call us free of
charge to resolve any banking issues they may have without worrying about cost.
We believe this kind of support is crucial for our customers during this difficult
period.”
Through Union Bank’s robust digital banking channels - UnionOnline, UnionMobile and the
USSD code *826#, customers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted banking services round
the clock, despite movement restrictions in certain Nigerian states owing to the COVID-19
outbreak.
The introduction of the new toll-free customer service line reaffirms Union Bank’s
commitment to the provision of simpler, smarter banking services to its teeming customers.
###
Note to editors:
About Union Bank Plc.
Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971, Union Bank of
Nigeria Plc. is a household name and one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected
financial institutions. The Bank is a trusted and recognizable brand, with an extensive
network of over 300 branches across Nigeria.

FG urged to stop harassment of Sahara Reporters publisher, Sowore



Lagos The Federal Government has been asked to immediately desist from political harassment and intimidation of Sahara Reporters publisher, Mr Omoyele Sowore. Sowore was kept in detention amidst a rash of court orders none of which guaranteed his freedom in the recent past.  There are concerns in the human rights circle that in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Sowore's life may be at risk.

In statement issued at the weekend, the foremost Nigerian advocacy group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) said the organization is worried about the fate of Sowore in the light of the growing lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 spread. HEDA said the group is also touched by the recent outcry from Sowore over alleged plans to endanger his life.

The statement signed by HEDA's Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said the Coronavirus outbreak present fresh grounds why political detainees should be set free, as recently proposed by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and not unscrupulous attempt by certain officials of government, civilians or military, to detain any person for political reasons.

"The Federal Government can better guarantee protection for Sowore and other citizens by issuing a stern and clear warning to officials of government to refrain from any form of political or unwarranted arrest of citizens under the current situation."
The journalist who was held since August 6 last year raised the alarm early this week that his life was in danger with a recent attempt by some unidentified government officials attempting to use the judiciary to legitimise political persecution of the activist.

HEDA said it was deeply concerned about the plight of Mr Sowore especially at a time when the whole world is at the peril of a global lockdown.

Sowore in  a mid-week release said there were plans  by the authorities to pick him up from his location to a military barracks where he alleged he would be tortured and infected with CONVID-19.

Sowore said he had written through his  lawyers to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, apprising him of the plot by the Nigerian Army seeking to detain him for revealing "classified information on SaharaReporters." The medium had reported that the Chief of Staff, (CSO) to the President, Mr Aba Kyari tested positive to the coronavirus sparking fury in the Presidency which later confirmed the report.

Sowore had said "their  latest bogey is to make it sound like I am part of the network of terrorists in the country, under the same guise they fraudulently obtained a detention order from Justice Taiwo Taiwo on August 8, 2019 claiming I went to Dubai to collect money to overthrow the bumbling regime, when they discovered I had never been to Dubai, they quickly dropped the terrorism claims, and instead filed some other ridiculously malicious charges that they haven't been able to prosecute till date."

Sowore said upon disclosure of Abba Kyari's COVID-19 status, officials urged  "the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai to get his army to go to court in order to get another detention order to detain me in a military facility where I could be tortured and infected with COVID-19 under the bogus assertion that I am revealing classified information on SaharaReporters."

'At this period of CONVID-19 pandemic, this is a difficult moment for Nigerians who are free. For those in detention, their ordeal will multiply. Sowore and  Bakare were arrested in August 6, 2019. They fall into the category of those that would have been vulnerable if in detention. We are worried about precautions taken by the government to protect Sowore and other citizens to protect them from repressive actions of government officials. What are the provisions to prevent exposure of detainees and prisoners to CONVID-19". Suraju said.

Suraju also argued that at present, Sowore's wife and children who live in New York, the centre of the CONVID-19 pandemic, need the attention of their loved one.

HEDA Urges Governor Ayade, EFCC to Probe Cross Rivers State Forestry Commission, Others for Illicit Trading in Forest Resources




LAGOS, Monday 30 March 2020: The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has called on the Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State, Professor Ben Ayade and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the corrupt practices on-going in Cross Rivers State forestry sector, particularly the illegal logging activities allegedly involving Chairman of the State's Forestry Commission, Chief Tony Undiandeye as well as the Chairman of the Task Team, Mr Bete Obi, which led to the resignation of Chairman of the State's Anti-Deforestation Task Force (ATF).

In a statement issued in Lagos, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA's Chairman said: "We had expected that the appointment of Mr Odey Oyama, Chairman of the ATF in November 2019 would help to protect the Cross Rivers communities from the dangerous inhuman activities of illegal loggers. However, the resignation of Mr Oyama shortly after appointment was as shocking as the serious allegations contained in his resignation letter."

According to the statement, the ATF Chairman resigned on March 27, 2020, alleging the "consistent interferences in the operations of the ATF by other agencies of Government; without any attempt at joint consultations or synergy. In particular also, the total lack of security cover over all the field staff and operatives that had been deployed by ATF into strategic positions all over the State."

In the resignation letter, directed to the State's Governor, the ATF Chairman cited various instances of corrupt practices, including that: "whenever consignments of timber are impounded, the Chairman of Forestry Commission and the Special Adviser (SA) of Afforestation appear at the scene for the purpose of issuing counter instructions for the release of the consignments. Curiously, their action is being carried out without any documentary evidence or authorization from the Governor, who initiated the operations of the ATF."

Referencing an ATF Report of March 2020, the resigned ATF Chairman cited an instance where three trucks carrying an estimated 1,928 pieces of timber resources illegally logged at Biajua community in Boki local government was apprehended by the ATF at Nde community of Ikom local government. However, he said, Mr Bete Obi, Chairman of the Task Team set up by the Commissioner for Climate Change, misled a military team to interfere in the activities of the ATF at that location with the intention to intimidate officials of the ATF; the ATF Chairman had to notify the Brigade Commander who then ordered the entire military team to vacate the location, he said.

Mr Oyama added in the letter with evidences, how Chief Undiandeye, Chairman of the Forestry Commission, issued a letter with fake attachments to the Area Commander "for the release (to accused persons) of a large consignment of illegal timber products and three trucks which were kept under the custody of the Police Area Command at Okuni."

Mr Oyama also raised the issue about lack of appropriate security architecture for the operations of ATF which has made it possible for the undue interference by unauthorized persons and security agencies. He decried the absence of security cover for all field staff and operatives which has led to cases of brutal attacks and physical injuries on volunteers and special agents of ATF who were deployed into strategic monitoring positions in the state.

Mr Suraju therefore called on the EFCC and Governor Ayade to shine the spotlight on the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Mr Oyama and the serious allegations that have been raised forthwith, urging the investigation of the situation and prosecution of offenders as well as to ensure adequate recovery of the State resources lost to the illegal activities.

HEDA also urged Governor Ayade to harmonize the respective agencies and commissions saddled with the responsibility to protect the biodiversity and forest resources of the state with a view to ensuring adequate care for and protection of the forest resources and communities. HEDA further urged the Cross Rivers State government to increasingly sensitize all relevant stakeholders on the importance of forest preservation, and implications of illegal logging and illicit trading in forest resources to the State.



For further information, please contact:

Mayowa Ijasusi
Communications Officer
Email: m.ijasusi@hedang.org

COVID-19: How Banks, private sector operators provide funding, capacity building



The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is real in Nigeria with nearly 100 confirmed cases recorded so far in the country. But government, banks and private sector leaders are taking steps to curb the spread of the virus and reduce impact of the pandemic on the people.

The Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector will be raising funds needed to fight the scourge. Many banks and real sector operators have also risen to the challenge by making cash donations, providing e-learning centers, making loans available to healthcare providers and feeding low-income earners within the populace.

Fighting and defeating Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria requires more than government efforts alone.

Private sectors, especially banks and real sector operators support is paramount.

That explains why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week inaugurated the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19 meant to receive funds from banks and real sector operators to be fight the pandemic.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who broke the news in Lagos, also announced members of the Funding Committee who are expected to, through their organizations,  contribute to the designated account opened at the CBN.



The fund from the coalition is expected to be raised within the next two weeks and deployed to procuring equipment and materials needed to combat the menace of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Guaranty Trust Bank and Access Bank have donated to the project N1 billion each. GTBank has aside the donation, officially presented a 100-bed space Intensive Care Centre for Covid-19 patients at Onikan in Lagos for Nigerians that may be infected by the disease. Access Bank has also promised to set up 1,000 bed spaces too.



First Bank of Nigeria Limited has also responded to the CBN call for contribution. The bank has donated N1 billion to the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 project. Beyond the bed spaces, FirstBank has focused on education and contributed to the empowering children and the youth.

The commercial banks generally are asking their customers to use alternate e-payment channels to ensure their safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country.

The lenders are also taking measures to ensure their staff members, customers and stakeholders are protected against the pandemic gradually spreading in the country.

To ensure the continuity of businesses and economic activities with minimal effect from the pandemic, banks have ensured that everyone visiting any of its branches takes a temperature test, makes use of hand sanitisers and maintains social distance.

Many lenders also reduced the number of staff on duty and encouraged customers to use digital channels, like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and mobile payments.

Other real sector operators like Honeywell Flour Mills have also moved to provide their support.

On the need for accountability with secured funds, Emefiele disclosed that at the end of the project,  a reputable form of Accountants will be used  to render full account of how the funds were utilized as well as account for the materials donated.

There is need for telecom operators to support the COVID-19 project and the e-learning plan by donating data to make learning easy and seamless for the benefiting children. Also, real sector operators and manufacturers need to also support by donating their products to help the most vulnerable in the society at this trying time.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tinubu is an outstanding leader, says Arogundade



Prince Wale Arogundade, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Mushin Local Government has congratulated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his 68th birthday.

Arogundade said Tinubu has done much to correct the national direction and to place Nigeria on the pathway to a better future.

The Mushin Local Government Principal Coordinator of The Mandate Movement, stated this in a statement made available to GIST ISLAND.

The statement quoted Arogundade as saying: “Joining the rest of the nation, I extend my best wishes to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his birthday. This special day gives us an opportunity to personally thank you for the contributions you have made to the development of Lagos and Nigeria at large. Throughout your public life you have shown yourself to be a man of hard work, dedication and principle.”

“You have exhibited that rare combination of a simple and modest lifestyle coupled with an ambitious and grand vision for our nation. As a leader, you have done much to build and correct your foot soldiers. As such, you have created a pathway to our better future.”

Arogundade, who urged the Federal Government adhere to Asiwaju thoughts to meet the coming economic challenges with a swift, bold and effective spending plan.

“At 68, it is our prayer that God Almighty grant you the grace for many more years in the service of humanity and Nigeria in excellent health, limitless resourcefulness and with renewed vigour to better all your previous records combined,” he prayed.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

AMERICA INVESTS IN AGRICULTURE AS CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC BACKLASH CONTINUES – TRUE TO TB JOSHUA’S 2020 PROPHECY



On December 28th 2019, Prophet TB Joshua released his prophetic message for 2020 which he termed “a year of humility”.

In his message to USA, the cleric revealed: “America should invest more in agriculture because their economy will be affected. The economy they see today will be affected, so they should invest in agriculture and encourage their farmers.”

The outbreak of coronavirus and its attendant economic repercussions has indeed severely hit America’s economy with unemployment numbers surging to a record high of 3.3 million people and the stock markets dropping more than 20%.

On Friday 27th March 2020, US President Donald Trump signed the largest-ever US financial stimulus package, worth $2tn, as the country grapples with the pandemic.

True to TB Joshua’s prophetic guidance, the coronavirus stimulus bill adds $14 billion to the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp spending authority, and authorises another $9.5 billion for U.S. farmers hurt by the fast-spreading pandemic.

In response to Trump’s announcement, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue assured those in the agricultural sector: “Americans across the nation are stepping up to the challenges facing them during these uncertain times… We will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible.”

“This year, the Lord will humble us with our challenges. Challenges can be affliction,” TB Joshua declared in his 2020 prophetic message, which has been viewed over 600,000 times on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6aJLBVG96c).

The outbreak of coronavirus has certainly ‘humbled’ countries worldwide with several ‘national lockdowns’ instituted in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, bringing severe economic ramifications.

Coronavirus: Kaduna Gov. El-Rufai tests positive


Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for the Covid-19 test,” El-Rufai said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday.
“The result came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive.”

OUR BRANCHES ARE OPEN NATIONWIDE



Following the directives for partial lockdown in several  States across the country, we will be offering skeletal services in some of our branches across the nation.

These branches will be open from 9:00am to 2:00pm, Monday to Friday. We have implemented all necessary health and safety measures across these branches to keep you safe at all our locations.


Our alternative channels are available for you 24/7 during this period.

Thank you for your understanding at this period as we continue to work to put You First.

#FlattenTheCurve

Signed:

Folake Ani-Mumuney
Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications
First Bank of Nigeria Limited

Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID 19: Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade, Iyalaje General of the Source Donates Heavily to curb spread of Corona Virus


Presently in the world, Corona Virus is a pandemic that has ravaged a lot of countries, destroying thousands of lives and threatening the earth with the reality that indeed, ‘The end has come’. But, in a move to curb this menace, several organizations both public and private are rising up against the scourge whose targets are to erase the existence of humanity from planet earth. One of such noble personalities is Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade, the Iyalaje of the Source and Chairman/CEO of Fisolak Group of Companies.
This delectable princess recently displayed her passion towards the health and safety of Nigerians when she gracefully donated supportive materials against the Coronavirus. Items donated include cash, food items, face masks, hand sanitizers and more. The donations were made by her to the proper channels for even distribution. Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade has always remain a blessing to womanhood and a very successful business amazon. However, this kind gesture from her did not come as a surprise to thousands who are privy to her antecedents. She is a multiple award winner and a colossus in international freight forwarding business.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY DISCOVERS CORONAVIRUS VACCINE: FULFILLMENT OF TB JOSHUA’S PROPHECY?



Nigerian Prophet TB Joshua was ‘trending’ on Twitter throughout Friday 27th March 2020 as netizens debated the veracity of his prophecy regarding the impending end of the deadly coronavirus.

A video from Sunday 1st March 2020, in which Joshua is seen declaring March 27th 2020 would signal the end of coronavirus was widely shared online, stirring controversy and heated discussions.

In a broadcast released today on Emmanuel TV, the cleric again insisted the “coronavirus is fading away” before encouraging viewers to hold fast to their faith.

Merely hours later, a team of experts from the prestigious University of Oxford in United Kingdom announced that they had discovered a vaccine for the deadly virus and would begin human testing on volunteers in the coming days.

Despite the scepticism expressed by online commentators, other significant events around the world throughout the course of Friday suggest that Joshua’s words indeed carried weight.

On the cusp of a medical breakthrough, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the first patients enrolled in its ‘Solidarity Trial’, which will officially examine potential treatment options for Covid-19.

"This is a historic trial which will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

In addition, statistics showed that the rate of the virus’ spread in Italy has started to steadily diminish, with more than 900 declared recovered on Friday alone – sparking celebration from health officials in the stricken country. 

Furthermore, Spain – one of the hardest hit nations in Europe – declared the virus was past its peak and expected cases to begin reducing.

For more than one week, there have been no new declared cases of the disease in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the outbreak – leading to Chinese officials reopening most of Hubei province with life returning to virtual normalcy.

A Chinese citizen released a video showing an outpouring of rain in Wuhan, in which he can be heard testifying that TB Joshua had declared rain would fall in the city as a sign the disease was being ‘wiped away’.

In Uganda, over 100 of those suspected to have been infected were confirmed to be negative after testing, leading to jubilation from the country’s health minister.

Joshua’s followers have held fast to their conviction that the “noise” of the disease had indeed been silenced according to the cleric’s declaration and the end was in sight for the sickness that resulted in an almost global lockdown.

“Let us take control of our situation instead of being afraid, for satan, the cause of crises, has been defeated,” the popular cleric declared during the interactive broadcast subsequently uploaded to YouTube.

“Don’t listen to the panic of the moment. Warfare is necessary for our victory,” he insisted.

OXFORD LINK - https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/press-release-trial-open
TB JOSHUA’S MESSAGE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQIwv1NnrQ4

Thursday, March 26, 2020

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: WITH THE MANAGING DIRECTOR A & A MOTORS AND NURTW BRANCH CHAIRMAN AMUWO ODOFIN BRACNCH C, ECONOMG PARK MILE 2 LAGOS



 Tell us a brief background about yourself?

My name is Prince Ajele Abeyi Abayomi  a transport provider and member of the National Union of Road Transportation Workers Lagos state branch and Managing Director A &A Motors.

 How long have you been in the business of transportation in Lagos state?

 I started as a bus conductor and this is over 25 years now. When I was in secondary school, I started as a conductor and i grew up from there as' Danfor Driver' and later become a owner of ' Danfo bus' for commercial operations. After my secondary school , I relocated to the United Kingdom to continue my studies at the University of Braford where I bagged a certificate in Healthy Living. In 2003, I came back to Nigeria to settle down and started my transportation business as a registered company with A & A Motors.

Recently Lagos state Environmental Task Force demolished Ecomog park, What is your take as a branch chairman of the park?

The  Lagos State Environmental Task Force came to serve a  Notice of Quit at this Ecomog  park, I was not around but on the next day, I heard on the national news that some hoodlums  and miscreants were selling drugs around the park which contravenes the law of the land even as a branch chairman and  registered transport company in Lagos state. 

While the agency failed to mention in their reports that there are five government agencies that occupied the park; LASTMA, NVU, VIO LASGA and Nigerian Police which was   not given a mention in the report.
The Ecomog and NURTW members felt so bad for the incident. As a transporter,  particularly  transporters operating from Ecomog park are corporate service provider with brand names across the country and west African coast. Ecomog Park, is the most peaceful and organized metropolitan  park adjacent to the first terminal railway station at Mile2 Lagos which has  never recorded any inform of violence and criminal before.

 The transport operation in Ecomog specializes in  inter state  travel and plies west African countries. While for as a member of the NURTW is a dent to our name  as corporate entity that we have hoodums and  miscreants who sell drugs around the park which the members are not comfortable with.

Meanwhile, NURTW Authority pleaded with the state government , the Executive Governor of Lagos State Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as a listen governor, he acknowledged our yearnings.

For now, the governor issued a park where will be carrying out our legitimate operations for our passengers. This a kudos to  the governor. Specifically, we have been allocated a space within the parrk. we are expecting the state representatives architecture for 3000 Square metres promised to be measured and crafted out for the purpose of Ecomog park operation.

What is your relationship with people around you?

 First, I give thanks to God. As they say  'fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom' In anything you do in this life, Put the fear of God first. With the fear of God, you can know how to manage and relate with people. Whatever, you want to do for your fellow being today, prosperity will speak for you that been my guide in relating with people in life.

How much have you lost since demolition of the Ecomog park?

I can only speak for myself here and being a transporter, I have a lot, I live by loan. Most of the transporters get buses through loan to starts a business, For A & A motors, an estimate lost of amount since the demolition of the Ecomog Park worth of N50 Million. The demolition has cripple down the business activities and affecting monthly generation. 

 Abule Ado Tragedy how would  you narrates the story?

What happened on Sunday, 15th March 2020 in Abule Ado. It was black Sunday in Lagos, Nigeria. For anyone who visited the site,  I have never seen such in my life like a war zone. I have a property their which is adjacent to Bethlehem Girls College. The gas explosion badly destroyed most properties particularly my property, my wife seriously injured has one of the victims now she getting better and respond to treatment and stable for now It was a big tragedy.

What has been step of government so far?

I want to appreciate the governor of Lagos state and his team for quick response. The committee has been set up by Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu headed by deputy governor Dr Obafemi Hamzat. On the same day, he deposited N250 Million for them to raise N2 Billion for victims of Abule Ado Relife Fund.

The previous days, the Governor's Forum paid condolences visit to the state and the site of the incident led by Dr Kayode Fayemi Ekiti state where N200 Million donated and Zenith Bank through its social responsibility also pledged sum of N100 Million and some other private entities contributing toward the relief trust fund for able Ado. In respect of this, the people in charge do the needful for the property owners, those lost their lives and the victims injured in the incident.

Finally what do expect government should do for the victims?

Looking at the magnitude of the gas explosion,  destroyed properties worth billions of Naria. The committee headed by Dr Obafemi Hamzat had some government agencies and community leaders ; Baale of Soba, CDA chairman and a representative from Catholic Church.
My advice for the committee is to properly channel the resources to the affected victims. Also, the names of victims, residents and business operators  and property owners have been collected for proper documentation and planning.

Union Bank Partners 54Gene To Raise $500,000 Towards Nigeria’s Fight Against COVID-19


Lagos, NIGERIA: Union Bank, one of Nigeria’s foremost financial institutions has announced
a US$130,000 (N50million) donation to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in
Nigeria.
The donation was made into a fund set up by 54gene, an African genomics research, services
and development company working closely with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
(NCDC) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will help increase COVID-19 testing capacity in the country by up to 1,000
additional tests a day, by buying testing instruments and critical biosafety materials such as
biosafety cabinets and personal protective equipment urgently needed to keep frontline
healthcare workers safe. The procured equipment will be installed in general hospitals and
laboratories across the country, and will remain in place even after the ongoing COVID-19
pandemic, to be used in the case of future outbreaks.
In addition, there will also be extensive training and support to medical practitioners and
volunteers working across the country to curb the menace.
Announcing the donation, the Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, said:
“Community is one of our core values at Union Bank, and there’s no better time to live
this value than now. A critical need for the country at this time is to scale up our testing
capabilities and give us a better chance of slowing the spread of the virus. We are
therefore pleased to be supporting 54gene who is directly collaborating with NCDC
and World Health Organisation who are coordinating Nigeria’s Covid-19 response.
While commending Union Bank on its donation, the CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong
also said:
“The rapid and assured response from some of Nigeria’s most reputable institutions,
such as Union Bank, to join us in our fight against this deadly disease is highly
welcome, and we thank them for their unwavering support. They, like us, understand
the need for a multi-stakeholder, co-ordinated plan, that can be implemented almost
immediately, as we work together as a community, side-by-side, to fight COVID-19
and protect our population.”

Last week, Union Bank, which had already been proactive in rolling out stringent safety and
hygiene practices within its branches and service locations, took the lead in activating remote
work for its employees, directing more than 70% of its employees in non-service functions to
work from home starting Monday, 23rd of March.
Union Bank also announced the launch of a toll-free Customer Care number 0800 700 700
which customers can call free of charge at anytime of the day or night to get help with banking
issues.
These initiatives underscore Union Bank’s commitment to containing the spread of the virus
while actively supporting the communities within which it operates.

United Bank For Africa(UBA) Announced Today That it Will Provide N5 billion(U$14 million) To COVID-19 Relief Support Across Africa




MARCH 26, 2020 – United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) today announced a donation of over 5 billion Naira (USD14 million), through the UBA Foundation, to catalyse a comprehensive pan-African response to the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

The donation will provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries, by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support to Governments. The UBA support programme will be allocated as follows:

  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to Lagos State Government in Nigeria
  • N500 million (USD1.4 million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria
  • N1.5 billion (USD4.2 million) to UBA’s presence countries in Africa
  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) for Medical Centres with equipment and supplies
  • Free Telemedicine call centre facility

The pan-African bank will fund a medical centre immediately in Lagos, Nigeria, with beds for isolation and ICU facilities, managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings’ healthcare subsidiary, Avon Medical Hospital.

In addition, UBA is providing a free telemedicine platform, that is physician-led, to provide direct access to medical advice to citizens, in compliance with social distancing requirements.

UBA Group Chairman Tony O. Elumelu, stated ‘This is a time when we must all play our part.  This global pandemic must bring citizens, governments and business leaders together – and quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria and Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various Governments, in stemming the spread of the global pandemic.

We commend the efforts of governments and we are keen to partner and contribute our resources to the collective effort, that will ensure the response to the pandemic is swift and effective’.

Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, the United Bank for Africa has a strong record of supporting its communities, through challenging times. 

UBA Donates N5bn For Coronavirus Relief Across Africa


Africa’s foremost  financial institution, United Bank of Africa (UBA), has disclosed that it is set to donate a sum of Five billion Naira through its philantropic arm, UBA Foundation, as a financial relief aid aimed at supporting the continent’s fight against coronavirus pandemic in the countries which have recorded incidence of infection.
The bank, which carries out operations in all countries of the African continent, explained that the donation was in order to provide necessary support to Nigeria as well as 19 other countries in Africa, which were also battling rise of the global pandemic amongst their people, and that it expected that through injection of the relief fund into such countries, needed facilities to contain further spread of the viral disease would be effectively put in place.
According to the Chairman of UBA, Tony Elumelu, the intended five billion naira support would be made available to federal governments, and would be aimed at providing relief materials, medical care facilities, and needed fiancial support towards eradication of coronavirus in the continent.
Speaking in a statement which was released to newsmen on Thursday, Elumelu enumerated that the funds would be distributed by the financial institution’s foundation arm with One billion naira going to the worst hit state in Nigeria, Lagos State, which he said would benefit from the cash injection into its fight against the global pandemic.
He added that other beneficiaries included the Federal capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, which would receive N500 million, and Nigeria’s 35 other states which would receive a lump sum of One billion naira.
The bank boss added that the remaining sum of N1.5 billion would be made available to all other countries in Africa where the financial instittion had prescence, and which also had recorded cases of the viral global pandemic.
He revealed that a sum of One billion naira had been budgetted by the company to fund provision of fully equiped medical centers, free telemedicine call center facility supply, as well as a state-of the art, fully functional medical centre, to be opened in Lagos and made available for immediate use by expert medical personnel from Avon Medical Hospital.
Elumelu reiterated that key partnerships such as the one with Avon Hospital, would go a long way in aiding successful clamp on rising incidence of the deadly infection in Africa, and that his organisation expected that the medical facilities which would be managed by the hospital would go a long way in easing pressure on state medical personnel in the fight against coronavirus.
He advised Nigerians and Africans as a whole to comply with social distancing rules and ensure that they took all possible precautions to stay safe and virus free, adding thhat all hands would be on deck to ensure that a swift end is brought to incidence of coronavirus in the continent.
“This is a time when we must all play our part.This global pandemic must bring citizens, governments & business leaders together – & quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria & Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various Governments, in stemming the spread. We commend the efforts of governments and  we are keen to partner & contribute our resources to the collective effort, that’ll ensure the response to the pandemic is swift & effective

UBA, GTBANK, OTHERS POSTPONE AGM DUE TO CORONAVIRUS




United Bank for Africa (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and seven other companies have postponed their annual general meeting (AGM) as the pandemic Coronavirus (Covid-19) continue to rise in Nigeria and dislocate the global and domestic capital markets.
As confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection quadrupled the nation activities, governments announced closure of schools and restrictions of large socio-religious gatherings, quoted companies have postponed their scheduled AGMs of shareholders.
As at March 24, 2020, 24 companies have released their audited results for the financial year ended December 31, 2019 and out of these 14 companies have notified the investing public of their general meetings, while five companies have been able to hold their AGM, we gathered from Leadership
UBA, United Capital, Transcorp Hotel, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), Morison Industries, Guaranty Trust Bank, Custodian Investment and Nigerian Breweries have announced their cancellation of the notice of their AGMs till further notice.
Despite the postponement of the AGM, there is likelihood it will not affect the payment of dividend being proposed by the companies such as Africa Prudential. The company, which was supposed to hold its AGM on March 23, 2020 has paid the dividend of 70 kobo per share to its shareholders.
According to Africa Prudential in a release signed by its company secretary, Joseph Jibunoh, following the Covid-19 global pandemic, which necessitated the postponement of the seventh AGM of the company and cancellation of the notice of some, the board of directors of Africa Prudential in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Section 379(2) of CAMA, has approved that an interim dividend of 70 kobo per share be paid to shareholders whose names appear in the Register of Members of the Company as at the close of business on March 23, 2020.
Concerns had risen over the safety of large gathering of shareholders and other stakeholders at AGM. With shareholders’ base of most companies in thousands and the large number of other stakeholders usually at AGM, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a circular advising all quoted companies that plan to hold meeting to put in place adequate precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all stakeholders.
According to the Exchange, companies that plan to hold their AGMs in the near future should adopt the safety procedures provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in preparation for their AGMs. Such companies must also adequately communicate these procedures to all invitees to the AGM.


The NSE however noted that companies that wish to postpone their AGMs or are yet to schedule their AGMs, must comply with extant rules and regulations on the timeline and conduct of AGMs.
According to the rules, companies must hold their AGM within nine months from the end of their financial year end or within such extended period as may be approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Section 213(1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2004 stipulates that “Every company shall in each year hold a general meeting as its annual general meeting in addition to any other meetings in that year, and shall specify the meeting as such in the notices calling it and not more than 15 months shall elapse between the date of one annual general meeting of a company and that of the next.”
Section 213(1)(b) of CAMA meanwhile permits the CAC to extend the time within which an AGM may be held by a period not exceeding three months.
“The Exchange advises all listed companies to strictly adhere to communications and advice from the health authorities at the NCDC, World Health Organization (WHO) and Lagos State and Federal Ministries of Health in the effort to tackle this dreaded virus,” NSE stated.
Also, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved a 60-day extension, in the first instance for public companies and capital market operators to file their 2019 annual reports and first quarter, 2020 reports.
Looking at the Nigerian equities market so far in the month of March showed that it has lost 17.1 per cent as at March 24, 2029 and year-to-date loss of 10 per cent as a result of global oil price crash and increasing spread of Covid-19.

Capital market analysts noted that this is the worst start to a year since 2016, and the reaction of investors reflects concerns about Nigeria’s vulnerability to external shocks, mainly oil, saying that the slowdown in global oil demand, in addition to the decision of OPEC+ to abandon output cuts, has caused a 50.2 per cent year-to-date drop in oil prices to $32.9/bbl as at March 12, 2020, the lowest in over four years.
Speaking the chief operating officer of InvestData Consulting Limited, Ambrose Omordion said that the impact of the virus seems heavy, killing more stock markets and economy than people across the globe, sending panic waves around the world, more devastating than the financial meltdown of 2008.
The chairman of Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), Chief Oyinyechukwu Ezeagu assured the investing public that the market would soon bounce back.
Although ASHON acknowledged the high level of down swing on the market in the last couple of days, saying that fundamentals of the quoted companies remain strong. He explained that Nigeria’s stock market remained part of the global exchanges and as such any development in the global market would impact on its operations.
“The effect of the coronavirus is gradually affecting trading all over the world and whatever happens elsewhere reflects in our market. The centre of it all is China and being a major world power both in productive and consumption capacities, any ill wind affecting China would naturally cause a big sneezing to the rest of world.
”Investors should not panic. The share prices will bounce back. The companies’ fundamentals remain strong. Many investors are taking advantage of the bearish run to beef up their portfolios,” said Ezeagu