Rwanda : Four discharged after recovery from COVID-19
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
A group of four people have been discharged from Kanyinya, a Health center in the outskirts of Kigali. They were discharged this Sunday, the 5th of April 2020 after recovering from coronavirus.
This is the first group of people who recovered from the pandemic after Rwanda announced its first case, on 14th March 2020.
As of Saturday the 4th April, Rwanda had 102 confirmed cases of coronavirus. After discharging four, the number of cases reduces to 98.
All discharged people had been tested before, to confirm that they no longer carry coronavirus.
In mid-March, Rwanda announced a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown was prolonged up to 19th April, to further contain the deadly disease.
Opinion: The pandemic is no time for fiscal distancing
April 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Akinwumi Adesina*
CNN)These are very difficult days, as the world faces one of its worst challenges ever: the novel coronavirus pandemic. And it seems almost no nation is spared. As infection rates rise, so does panic across financial markets, as economies drastically slow down and supply chains are severely disrupted.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. As such, it can no longer be business as usual.
Each day, the situation evolves and requires constant reviews of precautionary measures and strategies. In the midst of all this, we must all worry about the ability of every nation to respond to this crisis. And we must ensure that developing nations are prepared to navigate these uncharted waters fully
That’s why I support the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ urgent call for special resources for the world’s developing countries.
In the face of this pandemic, we must put lives above resources and health above debt. Why? Because developing economies are the most vulnerable at this time. Our remedies must go beyond simply lending more. We must go the extra mile and provide countries with much-needed and urgent financial relief — and that includes developing countries under sanctions.
According to the independent, global think tank ODI in its report on the impact of economic sanctions, for decades, sanctions have decimated investments in public health care systems in quite a number of countries.
Today, the already stretched systems as noted in the 2019 Global Health Security Index will find it difficult to face up to a clear and present danger that now threatens our collective existence.
Only those that are alive can pay back debts.
Sanctions work against economies but not against the virus. If countries that are under sanctions are unable to respond and provide critical care for their citizens or protect them, then the virus will soon “sanction” the world.
In my Yoruba language, there is a saying. “Be careful when you throw stones in the open market. It may hit a member of your family.”
That’s why I also strongly support the call by the UN Secretary-General that debts of low-income countries be suspended in these fast-moving and uncertain times.
But I call for even bolder actions, and there are several reasons for doing so.
First, the economies of developing countries, despite years of great progress, remain extremely fragile and ill equipped to deal with this pandemic. They are more likely to be buried with the heavy fiscal pressure they now face with the coronavirus.
Second, many of the countries in Africa depend on commodities for export earnings. The collapse of oil prices has thrown African economies into distress. According the AFDB’s 2020 Africa Economic Outlook, they simply are not able to meet budgets as planned under pre-coronavirus oil price benchmarks.
The impact has been immediate in the oil and gas sector, as noted in a recent CNN news analysis.
In the current environment, we can anticipate an acute shortage of buyers who, for understandable reasons, will reallocate resources to addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. African countries that depend on tourism receipts as a key source of revenue are also in a straightjacket.
Third, while rich countries have resources to spare, evidenced by trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus, developing countries are hampered with bare-bones resources.
The fact is, if we do not collectively defeat the coronavirus in Africa, we will not defeat it anywhere else in the world. This is an existential challenge that requires all hands to be on deck. Today, more than ever, we must be our brothers and sisters’ keepers.
Around the world, countries at more advanced stages in the outbreak are announcing liquidity relief, debt restructuring, forbearance on loan repayments, relaxation of standard regulations and initiatives.
In the United States, packages of more than $2 trillion have already been announced, in addition to a reduction in Federal Reserve lending rates and liquidity support to keep markets operating. In Europe, the larger economies have announced stimulus measures in excess of 1 trillion Euros. Additionally, even larger packages are expected.
As developed countries put in place programs to compensate workers for lost wages for staying at home for social distancing, another problem has emerged — fiscal distancing.
Think for a moment what this means for Africa.
The African Development Bank estimates that Covid-19 could cost Africa a GDP loss between $22.1 billion, in the base case scenario, and $88.3 billion in the worst case scenario. This is equivalent to a projected GDP growth contraction of between 0.7 and 2.8 percentage points in 2020. It is even likely that Africa might fall into recession this year if the current situation persists.
The Covid-19 shock will further squeeze fiscal space in the continent as deficits are estimated to widen by 3.5 to 4.9 percentage points, increasing Africa’s financing gap by an additional $110 to $154 billion in 2020.
Our estimates indicate that Africa’s total public debt could increase, under the base case scenario, from $1.86 trillion at the end of 2019 to over $2 trillion in 2020, compared to $1.9 trillion projected in a ‘no pandemic’ scenario. According to a March 2020 Bank report, these figures could reach $2.1 trillion in 2020 under the worst case scenario.
This, therefore, is a time for bold actions. We should temporarily defer the debt owed to multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. This can be done by re-profiling loans to create fiscal space for countries to deal with this crisis.
That means that loan principals due to international financial institutions in 2020 could be deferred. I am calling for temporary forbearance, not forgiveness. What’s good for bilateral and commercial debt must be good for multilateral debt.
That way, we will avoid moral hazards, and rating agencies will be less inclined to penalize any institution on the potential risk to their Preferred Creditor Status. The focus of the world should now be on helping everyone, as a risk to one is a risk to all.
There is no coronavirus for developed countries and a coronavirus for developing and debt-stressed countries. We are all in this together.
Multilateral and bilateral financial institutions must work together with commercial creditors in Africa, especially to defer loan payments and give Africa the fiscal space it needs.
We stand ready to support Africa in the short term and for the long haul. We are ready to deploy up to $50 billion over five years in projects to help with adjustment costs that Africa will face as it deals with the knock-on effects of Covid-19, long after the current storm subsides.
But more support will be needed. Let’s lift all sanctions, for now. Even in wartime, ceasefires are called for humanitarian reasons. In such situations, there is a time to pause for relief materials to reach affected populations. The novel coronavirus is a war against all of us. All lives matter.
For this reason, we must avoid fiscal distancing at this time. A stitch in time will save nine.
Social distancing is imperative now. Fiscal distancing is not.
*Akinwumi Adesina is the President of the African Development Bank. He was formerly Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and and is the 2017 World Food Prize laureate. The views expressed are solely those of the author. Click here to read the full OpEd on CNN.com
COVID-19: Cameroon Records 203 new cases as Total Confirmed Cases Reaches 509
April 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
203 new cases have been confirmed in Cameroon, as the total number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus reaches 509. This information was released by Cameroon’s Minister of Public Health in his daily briefing as the figure for April 3, breaking April 4.
This is the highest number of cases the country has had since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus was detected in the country. Eight people have died from the virus in Cameroon while 17 have recovered.
It is reported that the number of cases will sour if the social distancing measures, basic hygiene and other measures are not scrupulously respected by the population.
Minister Manaouda Malachie said: “The new confirmed cases were part of a large-scale sampling and testing that involved some 800 people who were suspected and their samples taken during the week,” while adding that the new cases “although asymptomatic have a high potential for contamination.”
The hot bed for the coronavirus remains Cameroon’s political capital Yaounde with over 240 cases recorded. Douala follows suit with some 51 cases while the South West Region has recorded two cases this far, one in Buea who died and the other in Limbe.
As part of containment efforts, Minister Manaouda Malachie has said that “Similarly, there is a large order for respiratory assistance equipment through the central procurement office of the United Nations Development Programme.”
The government is equally reorienting its strategy is it struggles to bring to an end the coronavirus in the country. The strategy involves massive and generalized testing, placement in immediate treatment of cases, active surveillance of suspected cases, awareness of the population (hygiene, distance), border control, and development of reliable local expertise for the response.
“My dear brothers and sisters, the coronavirus is a reality that should not be ignored. Let us protect our loved ones, protect ourselves. We should respect basic hygiene rules, and stay at home as much as possible,” the Minister of Public Health stressed.
The government has extended by 15 days some restrictive measures put in place to reduce the spread of the virus. The measures put in place include the shutting down of schools, borders, banning of gathering of more than fifty people, and encouraging people to follow hygiene rules.
Some of these rules have however not been fully respected across the national territory prompting Governors and Divisional Officers in some locality to close down the businesses for violating the laid rules. Security personnel have also been dispatched to the field to enforce the measures.
In the late hours of April 3, security officers were seen at Bonduma, a neighbourhood in Buea, South West Region checking and making sure that taxi drivers do not overload. The taxi drivers have been told to carry not more than three persons, two behind and one in front including the driver.
The Governor of the South West region Bernard Okalia Bilai has in a latest communiqué banned drinking spots in the Region, while eateries have also been told to close. Bars, night clubs are also not left out.
Malawi records three positive Covid-19 cases
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By James Mwala
Three people have tested positive for Covid-19, President Peter Mutharika has announced.
Mutharika made the announced in a televised statement on Thursday, marking the Southern African nation among those with cases.
Until the last 24 hours, Malawi was among five other African nations without any positive case.
In his statement, Mutharika indicated that the cases have been recorded in capital city Lilongwe.
‘’ I would like to inform the nation that for first time, we now have confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease in the country. There are three cases. The first affected person is a 61-year-old female from Lilongwe. The affected woman had recently returned from India where she was in contact with a relative who was later confirmed as Coronavirus positive. She was in self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Malawi, but later became symptomatic within the 14 days’ quarantine period,’’ he said.
The president also said that the second case is a relative to the index patient, while the third case is a domestic worker for the index in their household.
Meanwhile, Mutharika has said government is providing initial care and medical management for all three cases and tracing all close contacts and requiring them to go into quarantine for 14 days where they can be observed.
COVID-19: SLFA Donates LE 656 Million Solidarity Boost for Clubs and Players
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The President of the Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA Isha Tejan-Cole Johansen has confirmed that six hundred and fifty-six million Leones (Le 656,000,000) has been donated to Premier, First, and Second Division clubs in the country as a solidarity contribution by SLFA, as per the SLFA Media Department.
Four hundred and six million Leones (Le 406,000,000) will be distributed to 14 Premier clubs and Two hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 250,000,000) contribution goes to the Five Regional football Associations to be spread out and allocated to the respective lower division clubs (Division One and Two).
The novel coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact in the sporting domain as leagues across Africa, and many parts of the world have been put on hold. Football in Sierra Leone has equally been affected.
“These are abnormal and truly worrying times, and the only instinctive reaction these days are how to protect and be protected. As a parent football body in Sierrra Leone, we have a duty to support and protect each other,” Isha Johansen remarked.
Financial donations are not the only gesture from SLFA. In addition to financial boost, several hundreds of face masks will be distributed to SLFA staff and clubs.
All football activities in the nation has been put on hold until further notice as a part of the precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.
A statement by SLFA signed by General Secretary Chris Kamara explained that it was taking the decision following the world football governing body’s recommendations while tasking all clubs and football connected bodies to conform to the instructions.
“In line with the government’s effort in preventing the coronavirus, and in compliance with the FIFA recommendations to its member associations for general precaution, the Sierra Leone Football Association has suspended all football related activities across the country effective today, Tuesday 17th March 2020,” the communiqué read in part.
“SLFA is encouraging all Clubs, Regional and District Football Association and its affiliates including but not limited to Mini Leagues and officials to comply with the directives to protect fans, players, coaches, and everyone involved in the beautiful game of football, and most importantly to prevent the virus from entering in Sierra Leone.”
African Development Bank Group approves Gender Equality Trust Fund and Risk-Sharing Mechanism to improve women’s economic empowerment in Africa
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group have approved a new Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF) aimed at pushing forward gender equality and women’s empowerment across the continent.
Funded by donors, the GETF will support the delivery and scale-up of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme and promote gender transformative lending and non-lending operations. It is the first thematic fund on gender in the Bank Group’s history. The Fund will be established for an initial period of 10 years.
AFAWA is the Bank’s flagship pan-African initiative which aims to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa. Through AFAWA, the Bank is spearheading a major push to unlock women’s entrepreneurial capacity and economic participation for maximum development impact.
Also on Tuesday 31 March, the Board of Directors of the Bank approved a Risk-Sharing Mechanism – an innovative financial instrument to de-risk women-empowered businesses, enhance their profile with banks and support them to grow and thrive as entrepreneurs.
Anchor investors in the GETF are the governments of France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
“It’s a great day for us as a Bank. It is a great day for the continent and the women of Africa as this facility provides innovative ways to tackle the access to finance challenges for African women business owners,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.
The Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF) has been chosen as the first implementing partner to facilitate access to finance for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). AGF is a pan-African entity that provides financial institutions with guarantees and other financial products to support SMEs in Africa. AGF has a network spread out over 42 African countries and 150-plus financial institutions, which AFAWA will leverage. This first transaction is expected to unlock up to $2 billion in credit for women-empowered businesses across the continent.
Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director, Gender, Women and Civil Society, described the approval as “the largest effort ever to bridge the gap in access to finance for women in Africa’s history” and said the Fund’s resources and the Risk-Sharing Mechanism would prioritize women’s economic empowerment and high-impact women’s initiatives.
Moungar said the partnership with AGF is a starting point for mobilizing other financial institutions and increasing access to finance for women entrepreneurs on the continent.Apart from the G7 donors and the Netherlands, other countries are showing strong interest in contributing to the initiative, including Rwanda and Sweden. The Bank Group will continue to mobilize resources in order to unlock $5 billion worth of financing for women-empowered businesses in Africa. AFAWA is also an implementing partner of the Women Entrepreneurship Finance (We-Fi) Initiative.
African Development Bank approves $1.5 million emergency grant to curb desert locusts ravaging East and Horn of Africa
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
|The proposed assistance will be channeled to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)|
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 2, 2020/ — The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million emergency relief grant to assist nine countries in the East and Horn of Africa on the control of swarms of desert locusts that are threatening livelihoods and food security.
The proposed assistance will be channeled to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has been mandated to mobilize resources on behalf of the African Union.
IGAD is collaborating with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is leading coordination of development partner support to provide desert locust invasion control, safeguard of livelihoods and to promote early recovery of affected households in the in the East and Horn of Africa. FAO will act as the Executing Agency for the grant.
The funds will be used to control the spread of the current locust invasion, prevent potential next-generation swarms and to conduct impact assessment and monitoring to enhance preparedness and awareness. A portion of the funds would also be allocated to administrative costs.
The nine beneficiary countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak and widespread breeding of locusts that is expected to create new swarms in the coming weeks. The infestation poses an unprecedented risk to livelihoods and food security in an already fragile region and has caused huge damage to agricultural production.
In Ethiopia and Somalia, the outbreak is the worst in 25 years, and in Kenya, in 70 years.
In Ethiopia, the locusts have devastated more than 30,000 hectares of crops, including coffee and tea that account for about 30% of the nation’s exports. Despite government’s interventions, swarms and breeding have been reported in large parts of the country. In Djibouti, over 80% of 1,700 agro-pastoral farms located in 23 production zones are affected by desert locust infestations.
At least 18 of 47 Kenyan counties are affected with more than 70,000 hectares of crops under infestation according to recent FAO reports. Locust swarms are devastating pastureland, maize, cowpeas, beans and other crops despite the government’s efforts to curb the outbreak.
Locust swarms are reportedly also threatening Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea.
Efforts to control the infestations will require around $147 million, of which $75 million has been provided by governments, donors and UN agencies including FAO and the World Food Program (WFP). However, a significant funding shortfall remains.
World Bank Approves $10 Million Grant to Gambia to Fight COVID-19
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The World Bank has announced Tuesday its approval of $10 million to support The Gambia’s COVID-19 response.
The grant is approved from the International Development Association (IDA) for the country to provide emergency assistance in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 Response and Preparedness Project will enhance case detection, tracing, and reporting, as well as provide equipment to isolation and treatment centers, and improve disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity,” the statement from Washington stated.
It will also focus on risk communications and community engagement for increased awareness and compliance with prevention and social distancing measures.
“This rapid response operation draws from the World Bank Group’s $14 billion package of fast-track financing to help countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the spread of COVID-19,” said Ms. Elene Imnadze, Resident Representative for The Gambia.
“It provides the financing needed to strengthen coordination with partners and implement the Government’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.”
The World Bank Group is rolling out a $14 billion fast-track package to strengthen the COVID-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery.
The immediate response includes financing, policy advice and technical assistance to help countries cope with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The statement indicated that the IFC is providing $8 billion in financing to help private companies affected by the pandemic and preserve jobs. IBRD and IDA are making an initial $6 billion available for the health-response.
“As countries need broader support, the World Bank Group will deploy up to $160 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.”
COVID-19: Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and others hit out at using Africa as “Guinea pigs” to test Potential Vaccine
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Four times African Player of the Year, and Cameroon great, Samuel Eto’o Fils and Ivorian Legend Didier Drogba have both hit out at “racist” and “contemptuous” calls made by two doctors on French TV calling for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa.
A video of the doctors’ comment was posted on Twitter by Senegalese forward and Former Newcastle and Chelsea player Demba Ba
Demba Ba wrote: “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and stupidity become commonplace. TIME TO RISE
There are ongoing studies on the possibility of using the BCG vaccine that has previously been used for Tuberculosis, as a possible preventive vaccine for the coronavirus.
“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, and no resuscitation? Professor Jean-Paul Mira, Head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris asked on French TV.
“The same as for some AIDS studies where prostitutes try things because we know they are unprotected,” He added
Professor Camille Locht replied: “You are right. We are currently thinking in parallel about a study in Africa to make this same type of approach with the BCG.”
“There is a tender process that has gone out or is going to go out. We will seriously think about that. That doesn’t prevent us from thinking in parallel about a study in Europe, and Australia,” He added
Multiple awards winner Samuel Eto’o vented out his anger as he replied to Ba’s video on Twitter as he held nothing back. “Sons of Bitches,” He said.
“You are SH*T. Africa isn’t yours to play with,” the former Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea player said on Instagram.
Two-time African player of the year winner Didier Drogba equally vented out his frustration as he called the comments “absurd” while advocating against the use of Africa as “guinea pigs.”
“It is inconceivable that we continue to accept this,” Drogba wrote on Twitter. “Africa is not a laboratory. I strongly denounce this racist and contemptuous remark.” “Help us safe lives in Africa, and stop the spread of this virus which is destabilizing the whole world, instead of considering us as guinea pigs. It is absurd.”
He went on to add: “African leaders have the responsibility to protect their people from these heinous plots.”
Scientists across the globe are in a race against time to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. Health specialist note that it could take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is produce as it has to go through various tests before it is certified.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earliest the US could possibly get a vaccine would be in 12 or even 18 months — “at least.”
40 vaccines for the coronavirus are in development right now, according to the World Health Organization. A number of labs have begun human trials.
Cameroon: Buea Council Distributes FCFA 4.5 Million to 33 Vulnerable Persons
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
33 vulnerable persons comprising physically challenged, those in great financial difficulty, IDPs have benefited from grants worth 4.5 Million FCFA from the Buea Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Distributing the grants Tuesday, March 31, the 1st Deputy Mayor Akawoh Minerva epse Molinge enjoined the beneficiaries to make proper use of the gift, using it to carry out the project they want to with the money.
“It is a project that is ongoing within the municipality that those who need assistance write to the Council and when it is available it is given to them,” Akawoh Minerva epse Molinge said.
“This is a follow-up programme as each year it (aid) is giving out. When they are found capable of receiving it, they grant will be giving to them.” “If someone says he is disabled and need a tricycle, the person present his/herself, and we see that the person needs a tricycle the social service will evaluate, and the grant will be made available.”
She added: “… Our beneficiaries are very faithful. Some are already in their tricycle, and if they come for some financial assistance it is different from the first application that they did. So what the beneficiaries ask for is usually provided.”
Follow-ups will be carried out to ensure that the beneficiaries do not misuse the money but used it in carrying out various businesses. “In the next two months, a team will be on the field to inspect, and make sure the aid was used judiciously,” Mbeng Marie Laure, Chief of Social Centre Buea said.
She further stressed on the fact that these grants are not ordinary gifts, but geared towards improving on the socioeconomic status of vulnerable persons in the society.
Akoh Caroline, displaced person, former Head Teacher, and a mother of five children has been badly affected by the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions. She was kidnapped, giving multiple wounds while her right wrist was cut off, and her three fingers in her left hand also chopped off.
“This grant will help me a lot as I intend to open a small business while hoping to apply for more funds next time. Before I used to do farm work, but now I cannot even do that due to my present situation.”
“The FCFA 200,000 that has been given to me I will start with a table, so that when the coronavirus is over I can add other things to open a store. The only thing in can do is to take something and give to somebody with my two fingers,” She added.
She has called on the government to continue with such gesture which goes a long way in assisting the physically challenge persons in the society.
For one to benefit from the Buea council’s grants to vulnerable persons, he or she must be vulnerable which implies being physically challenged; those in great financial difficulty, Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and residing within the Buea municipality.
The 2020 Buea council grants for vulnerable persons have been opened and those in need of such gesture have been urged to massively apply.
Amnesty International, Foreign Newswires as Nigeria’s Second Coronavirus
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Ahmed Danfulani*
Fear has been sold to the world with the outbreak of pandemic of Coronavirus (CONVID-19) in Wuhan, China. In just a few weeks, the entire world has been reduced to one huge symbol of deaths and of mass graves.
The phobia of Coronavirus is real and deafening. The victims are as scary as much as the non-victims. Like a verse in the legendary South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, everybody “is the next victim,” unless the haunting image of Coronavirus is pulled down globally. It has reached the shores of Nigeria with about 30 reported cases of infected people, with one death so far.
Regrettably though, Nigeria has seen enough mass deaths in her history in a decade to the extent the global alarm over Coronavirus induced deaths is mincemeat or child’s play in the psyche of Nigerians. Boko Haram insurgency, with its latest tincture, ISWAP terrorism have made mass deaths a regular menu in the country.
Can Nigerians excuse themselves from gory and nauseating memories of mass deaths and graves spurred by vicious armed bandits, armed separatists campaigners, herders/ farmers conflagrations, communal upheavals, militancy or religious extremists and even political thugs or violent election riggers?
These memories are evergreen and recurs from time to time.
However, it should not be misconstrued that recounting these orgies of recurrent circle of violence and deaths in Nigeria implies an endorsement or preference for it than the epidemic of Coronavirus. But it’s simply, a parodic attempt to establish how Nigerians are inured to mass deaths in other more demonic forms in the country than Coronavirus.
And to date, Nigeria has been grappling with silent, but very sophisticated layers of Coronavirus in other colorations. Nigeria has been battling things far more deadly and contagious than Coronavirus which neither the military nor the civil authorities have fully appreciated its intensity in recent times.
The determination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to blight insecurities in Nigeria, especially insurgency is unflinchingly consistent. And the unquenchable zeal and courageously gallant outings of the Nigerian military to also eliminate Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria is self-evident. But again, it is variously frustrated in more stealthy ways than the global invasion and spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
Many Nigerians may not be aware of the dark forces against the resurgence and festering of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in the country. The problem with these latest security threats is not because insurgents or terrorists are so powerful to the level of repressing the Nigerian military. It is also beyond the contemplation that the FGN has not done commendably enough to terminate the reign of insecurities in Nigeria.
The major issues in the Northeast are not really the Boko Haram terrorists who, who like Coronavirus, sneak to hack people to death at will, abduct and destroy public infrastructures in the region. It is also not the evil men who masquerade under the cover of NGOs to subject the already traumatized, frail and suffering victims of insurgency to inhumane and degrading treatment after taking so much from the outside world to assist them survive.
More than a few will also be shocked that it is also not the usual political actors who appear on the stage only when Boko Haram is at the losing end with their crocodile tears. But they initiate nothing to get youths off the streets to divert their attention from conscription as foot soldiers of terrorism.
From these ponders, one will therefore hastily guess that it is Coronavirus pandemic that is Nigeria’s problem. But the real problem in the Northeast shockingly is not Coronavirus. After all it hasn’t been discovered in Nigeria beyond manageable stage, after the first case in Lagos.
On the contrary, the greatest existential threat to Nigeria now in respect to her battles with terrorism and insecurities is the role of Amnesty International (AI) and some foreign cables such as Reuters and AFP. They have constituted the worse stumbling blocks to Nigeria’s match towards exculpation from insurgencies and insurrections.
AI and these foreign online platforms have been the major disasters that our country has faced in its war against Boko Haram and it is hideously more potent and lethal than Coronavirus. And insurgency has attracted more deaths in Nigeria than Coronavirus has ever recorded anywhere in the world outside Wuhan in China.
There is every clue to suspect AI and these foreign newswires as agents and fake news purveyors for terrorists and their external sponsors. Not only that they fabricate and circulate fake news on the FGN and the Nigerian Military’s confrontations with Boko Haram, but their extreme focus of propaganda on Nigeria on the fake side of news is repulsive.
AI has morphed into a daily news medium in Nigeria; inventing and syndicating news about terrorism and the Nigerian military encounters with terrorism in the Northeast. The common denominator among them all is that their published reports are permanently crafted to indict the Nigerian troops and Military authorities.
It does not usually have named attributions, but speculative and propagandic. It drapes with everything which conveys the message that these actors are into active promotion of cyberspace terrorism. And the world frowns at it and there are laws which prohibits it.
Nonetheless, these vicious enemies of Nigeria make generous, but unprovable allegations against the Nigerian military such as human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, sexual abuse of women, use of child soldiers, starvation of Boko Harm suspects in military detention facilities, unlawful arrests and detentions and sundry such constructions of offences of war crimes.
But sadly, while they level such allegations on the military, these suspected agents of terrorists are less bothered to confirm their findings from military authorities before rushing to the press with the scanty findings from what they usually term “eyewitness” account. And the “eyewitness accounts” are usually their planted agents in the theatre of war in the Northeast or outrightly cooked sources.
Therefore, they reel out very alarming and unsubstantiated casualty figures. When terrorists triumph against troops or not, a news story is crafted to give credit to the “invincible” might of terrorists, to cause anxiety in Nigerians and dampen the spirit of troops. These agents are normally the first to break the news of Boko Haram attacks on any community, an indication that they might be privy to such attacks before its occurrence. It means they are likely working closely with terrorists.
In its 2015/2016 annual report on Nigeria, AI levelled such senseless allegations of war crimes against the Nigerian Army prosecuting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast as well as other security agencies.
However, when several probe panels invited them to substantiate the allegations, AI hedged and adduced excuses on lack of trust in members of the Panel. From its reaction, it was clear that AI was functioning like an opposition party or alternative government in Nigeria. And it had no evidence to prove the allegations.
And the scheming of AI and its apostates is to perpetually and falsely accuse Nigerian Military of war crimes in prosecution of the counter-insurgency combats in the country. And therefore, frustrate plans by countries of goodwill to sell weapons to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, citing human rights violations and war crimes against Nigeria.
So, AI and these online newswires are Nigeria’s worse version of Coronavirus more than the pandemic itself. Any country will be glad to accept Coronavirus, but pray fervently never to have these agents of darkness gang-up or occupy their country in the guise of anything.
Nigerians should not forget that AI and these newswires as well as their external sponsors are very determined to set the people against themselves. Over the years, this has been the game plan, which is designed to finally plunge Nigeria into an interminable war like in Syria or Sudan. But the plans have so far not succeeded because Nigerians are aware and have refused to fall for their cheap propaganda. Nigerians are urged to remain steadfast and vigilant.
*Danfulani wrote from Yola, Adamawa State. The views are his
Paradigm Initiative, NetRights coalition, others ‘kill’ Social Media Bill in Nigeria
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
In Nigeria, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and dozen media houses have joined Paradigm Initiative to contest a controversial Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations; and for Related matters Bill, 2019 (SB. 132) during a public hearing at the Nigerian senate.
The bill popularly referred to as “Social Media Bill” was introduced in November 2019 by Muhammed Musa, a senator representing Niger East, to regulate the social media and curb fake news on the internet. Since then, the bill has continued to attract criticism from Nigerians and civil society groups.
The Bill received public outcry just like the similar Anti-Social bill introduced in 2015 during Senator Bukola Saraki-led 8th National Assembly; which has now been dropped by the Senate.
About 110 CSOs said the bill is a resuscitation of “an obnoxious bill that had been hitherto unanimously rejected by the people” and should not be further considered for public hearing to be funded by tax-payers’ money.
We have documented clauses in the proposed Bill that are likely to push the Internet space in Nigeria to the trenches.
In a memo submitted to the lawmakers, we explained extensively how the bill has huge ramifications that can threaten the fabric of Nigeria’s democracy.
The NetRightsNG represented by our Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan, also believes there are existing laws which the legislature should press for their implementation.
‘Gbenga Sesan told lawmakers that: “If the desire of the Legislature is to enact a law that curbs false statements online, then Nigeria is not lacking in such laws and it does not need one more. There is adequate provision for the very objective of this Bill and a furtherance of legislative actions in the direction of the passage of this Bill will only birth the conclusion that the Legislature is willing to ineffectively use state’s time and resources to chase a cause that has already been legislated over by previous assemblies.”
In addition, Paradigm Initiative supported the participation of 6 online journalists to cover the public hearing and streamed the public hearing live across social media platform. We shared additional resources with the Senate Committee working on the Bill
*Source Paradigm Initiative