US Announces Coronavirus Treatment Breakthrough

By Steve Herman, VOA

An experimental drug has proven effective in treating COVID-19 patients, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced Wednesday.

“Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Fauci told reporters in the White House Oval Office. “A drug can block this virus.”

An international randomized placebo control trial at his institute started February 21 with hundreds of hospitalized coronavirus patients, Fauci said.

Recovery time was 11 days for those given the drug compared with 15 days for patients given a placebo, according to the NIAID and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health.

“Whenever you have clear-cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people who are in the placebo group know so that they can have access, and all of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care,” Fauci told reporters.

Beacon of hope’

“Today’s promising news from the NIH remdesivir trial is a beacon of hope for all Americans and everyone around the world waging war on the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement.

Remdesivir, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, is given intravenously and designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. In animal tests against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, it has helped prevent infection and reduced severity of symptoms. But it is not yet approved anywhere in the world for any use.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was expected Wednesday to grant emergency-use authorization for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Another study of remdesivir had not reached a positive conclusion, something reporters asked Fauci about in the Oval Office.

“It’s an underpowered study,” Fauci said of a study out of China published in The Lancet that found remdesivir was not effective in treating COVID-19 patients. “That’s not an adequate study.”

As of Wednesday evening EDT, COVID-19 had killed more than 227,000 people worldwide, including 60,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

Total U.S. confirmed infections exceeded 1 million, the most reported by any country in the world.

“That’s a tremendous amount,” U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday, calling it an “indication that our testing is so superior.”

To think that the United States has more cases than China, “does anybody really believe that?” Trump added.

China faulted

He again blamed China, where the coronavirus was first reported, and the World Health Organization for the pandemic.

“They misled us,” said Trump of the WHO, calling it “literally a pipe organ for China.”

“They’re not to be congratulated for what took place and WHO is essentially congratulating them,” Trump told reporters. “And when they start doing that, we’ve got problems.”

The president earlier this month halted U.S. funding to the organization, which annually totals $400 million to $500 million. The WHO has said it is working with its partners to fill the financial gap from the Trump administration’s decision to withhold the money.

The United States is WHO’s largest donor.

“We can give it to groups that are very worthy and get much more bang for your buck. We’re going to make a decision in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said.

Later in the day, the president hosted several business leaders in the White House State Dining Room for an Opening Up America Again discussion that stressed the need to continue practices to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“More specific guidance is needed” from the federal and state governments on such practices, said Josh Bolten, the president and chief executive officer of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of major American companies.

Bolten said that to avoid serious setbacks as establishments reopen to the public, there would be a need to rapidly identify and isolate new coronavirus cases.

Hilton Hotels CEO Chris Nassetta said his company, which has nearly 600 properties, was working with the maker of disinfectant Lysol and the Mayo Clinic to establish sanitizing procedures to ensure virus-free environments.

New normal’

Asked by a reporter what the “new normal” would look like, Trump replied: “I see the new normal being what it was three months ago.” He noted his desire to see packed stadiums for sporting events, something health experts caution would be reckless until there was mass deployment of a vaccine for COVID-19.

Trump announced he would resume traveling next week after a nearly two-month hiatus with a visit to Arizona, to be followed by a trip soon to Ohio. He said he eventually he would resume holding his political rallies with thousands in attendance in this election year.

The president expressed optimism that soon, with or without a vaccine, “this virus is going to be gone.”

UNIBEN Researchers Produce ‘Clinically-Tested’ Ventilators To Battle Coronavirus

As part of effort to battle the coronavirus in the country, researchers in the Faculties of Engineering and Medical Sciences, University of Benin (UNIBEN) have produced of a clinically-tested ventilators.

The group known as COVID-19 Initiative, made the announcement on Tuesday in Benin, while presenting to ventilator to the management of the University, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami.

Leader of the team, Prof. Kensington Obahiagbon, explained that the initiative was to place the University among world bests.

“The intervention is in response to the Vice Chancellor’s challenge to various experts in the University, to continue to strive to make relevant marks, in in order to place the institution among the very best and on a world class pedestal.

“The group took into consideration the peculiar circumstances of the country, hence the ventilator is produced to work without electricity for at least one hour.

“It is also designed to function in a dual mould for adults and children,” Obahiagbon said.

UNIBEN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, thanked the team for the feat.

The obviously elated VC said she was especially pleased with the team for looking inwards in efforts to seek solutions to the coronavirus pandemic.

BREAKING:” I Have Cure For COVID-19,” Says Nigerian Foremost Pharmacist

Foremost pharmacist and proprietor of Africa Alternative Medicine Hospital, based in Abuja, Ben Amodu has laid claim to drugs that can cure Covid-19.

Pharm. Amodu, a Fellow of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and alternative medicine caregiver, in an interview in Abuja said that he has drugs that can handle all the symptoms of the new Corona virus.

The researcher and owner of 30-bed alternative medicine hospital reiterated that his SAABMAL drug for cure of malarial fever and typhoid is more effective than chloroquine.

“It is listed by NAFDAC and it’s in the market doing very well. It cures malaria within a few hours of use, and even typhoid. And now it can prevent and cure Coronavirus,” he explained.

He further pointed out, “The SAABMAL, which beat chloroquine in an international forum in Addis Ababa, was tested in a suppressive test, provilative test and creative test. It has 95% effectiveness against f.persiferium which is a positive agent of malaria and it’s also an absolvent in the treatment of so many diseases”.

The researcher claimed that his drugs, SAABMAL, SAAB and SAABFAT6 recently cured three patients, who were exhibiting symptoms of Corona virus, in a very short time, adding that the claim is verifiable.

The major problem with the handling of the dreaded virus, he stressed, was the lack of faith in alternative medicine, by the government.

“I am a lead phyto-medicine researcher. Immediately the pandemic broke out, the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology issued a statement that whosoever was a local researcher, that has knowledge in this area, should write to his office. I was the first person to contact them,” he pointed out.

But to his dismay, the office of the Honourable Minister has not reached out to him, even when he reminded him of his claims, after a long wait.

“We are ready to work with the government,” he said, stressing that “SAABMAL, which has been listed more than 10 years ago is for malaria and typhoid and, by latest discovery now, it can cure of Corona virus” he said.

“SAABFAT6 takes care of and prevents cancer of the lungs, pneumonia and fibrosis. It boosts the immune. So far, the combo of my three products are fantastic. I have two vaccines for Nigeria, which I have given government to test. What else Am I to do?” Amodu querried.

He remarked, “My research work is just the same as the ones Nigeria want to get from other countries”.

Hear him: “Nigerians should know that what we have is better than what the world has. I always subject my products to analysis, in line with the best practices. I appeared on NTA panorama and promised to produce malaria drugs that will be the best in the world and it has come to past. SAABMAL We sent SAABMAL to America for analysis, then an American publisher expose our products details to the world. Also, WHO sponsored us to UN to present it and the presentation was for suppression, prevention and cure of malaria, compared to the standard of chloroquine arthemytamin.”

He urged Nigerians and the Nigerian government to get serious with the handling of covid-19, if it wants results.

Israeli Professor Claims His Data & Statistics Prove That Covid-19 Has “Lifespan” Of Only 70 Days

The global lockdown approach adopted by almost every government in the world might not be the right, or the only solution, based on Coronavirus infection data collected and analysed by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel. After all, South Korea, Taiwan and Sweden didn’t lock down and they did not appear to be doing any worse than Italy or the U.S.

According to the Israeli professor, the Covid-19 virus will run its full course after 70 days. He said his team had analyzed global Coronavirus statistics and discovered an astonishing result – Coronavirus outbreak peaks after about 40 days, and thereafter declines to almost zero after 70 days. In short, the pathogen, which has left a trail of destruction globally, has a lifespan of only 70 days.

Ben-Israel – a mathematician, analyst and former general – said – “Our analysis shows that this is a constant pattern across countries. Surprisingly, this pattern is common in countries that have taken a severe lockdown, including the paralysis of the economy, as well as to countries that implemented a far more lenient policy and have continued in ordinary life,”

“This is how it is all over the world. In both countries where they have taken closure steps, like Italy, and in countries that have not had closures, like Taiwan or Singapore. In such countries, there is an increase until the fourth to sixth week, and immediately thereafter, moderation until during the eighth week, it disappears,” – said the professor (Singapore has actually locked down the country).

His study, first published on April 16, 2020, says that no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it, the spread of Covid-19 will be gone naturally after 70 days. With regards to Israel, he said – “It turns out that the peak of the spread is already behind us for about a week, and it will probably be almost completely wasted within two weeks.”

But who is this Israeli professor? While Isaac Ben-Israel is not a medical doctor, his credentials are incredibly impressive. He is the head of the Security Studies program at Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and the National Council for Research and Development. He possesses a PhD in Philosophy and a BSc in Physics and Mathematics from Tel Aviv University.

Isaac Ben-Israel joined the Tel Aviv University as a professor and was the head of the Curiel Center for International Studies (2002-04), the head of the Program for Security Studies (2004-07), Executive Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Technological Analysis & Forecasting at Tel-Aviv University and a member of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies.

Born in 1949, Isaac Ben-Israel joined the Israeli Air Force after graduating from high school and had been there until his retirement in 2002. He headed the Air Force’s Operations Research Branch, Analysis and Assessment Division and then was Director, Ministry of Defense for Research and Development.

Subsequently, he rose to the rank of Major General and was twice awarded Israel Defense Prize, also known as the Israel’s Defense Award, an award presented annually by the President of Israel to people and organizations who made significant contributions to the defense of the State of Israel.

However, while Isaac Ben-Israel has the data and statistics to prove his claims, which he credited his colleagues Prof. Ziegler and Ronnie Yefarah, the professor admitted that he does not know why the Coronavirus behaves in such a way. His theory as to why the virus could only live up to 70 days – it could be due to climate, or even that the virus has a life span of its own.

He argued that if indeed the virus spreads exponentially forever, Israel would have experienced double the amount of patients every few days. Even though he supports social distancing, the professor thinks the panic shutting down of global economies was a mistake. He suggested that the lockdown policy can be scrapped after a few days and replaced by a policy of moderate social distancing.

Does that explain why Wuhan, China, had managed to emerge victorious after 76 days of lockdown? Was it a coincidence that the dramatic drop in new cases in China was largely due to the virus’ lifespan of 70 days, and the lockdown only plays a minor part in reducing its spread? An estimated 56 million people in Hubei province were put under quarantine during the outbreak.

According to Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, a common and predictable pattern happens in all the countries, regardless of their response policies – a sudden rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak (called the exponential phase) in the 6th week and declines from the 8th week. A complete lockdown reduces the spread of the virus, but it was not the primary reason why the rate of infection declines.

In the case of Italy, which experienced a very high death toll despite a lockdown, Ben-Israel explained that the Italian health service was already overwhelmed. He said – “It collapsed in 2017 because of the flu.” The mathematician acknowledged, however, that there were limitations in data in the case of Iran and China, countries that do not transparently share information.

But Dr. Gabi Barbash, former director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry and former head of Tel Aviv’s largest hospital, has condemned Ben-Israel’s theory. He told Channel 12 Israel – “I strongly urge that we not let mathematicians – who know nothing about biology – determine when we lift the shutdown.” He insisted that “we’re going to be living with the Coronavirus for the next year.”

Like other countries, Israel’s economy has been affected severely by weeks of national lockdown, so much so that the country’s unemployment has skyrocketed to over 25% (from 4%) in April. A number of “exit strategy” plans have been drafted, including one that is based on dividing the population into high-risk and low-risk groups and thereafter put the former in “quarantine”.

Israel has over 14,000 Coronavirus cases and 191 deaths since the first patient was discovered on February 10. The subject of lifting the lockdown has seen heated battle between the Israeli Health Ministry and Finance Ministry. While the finance ministry believes most people in low-risk categories can return safely to work, the health ministry disagrees, saying that the pandemic is still not over yet.

FG should be careful, Nigerians fear only hunger, not Covid-19 – Activist

*Says Barrister Ogie, Philip Shaibu frustrated Edo CoS out of office

Fearless and consistent, Patriot Patrick Eholor has been known to speak the truth, and fight for the masses, even when there is threat to his life.

Eholor

He became famous for staging many protests against some unpopular decisions of the then governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and even extended his protests against the then Federal Government, National Assembly and to any sector where the common man faces oppression.

Truly, Eholor fits into a succinct description of himself he gave to Jungle Journalist Media Limited “I am a man who is a social crusader, a man who has put his life before men and risked everything that I have, and ate fire for my people to drink water”.

His relentless campaigns led him to receive a meritorious award from the African Bar Association some time last year in far away Liberia, in the presence of President George Weah.

Now in this interview, Eholor cries out about the dangers facing Nigerians in the wake of COVID-19, and specifically talks about Kano and late Abba Kyari.

He also comments on recent resignation of the Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki, among other things:

Kyari

Covid-19, Kano, Abba Kyari:

Abba Kyari was a victim of his own impudence. Before he passed on, because of nepotism and indiscipline of these so called bosses who call themselves leaders, I have never recognised any of them as a leader, I have always seen them as bosses. Because a boss is somebody who wants everything done his own way, a leader is one who seeks your opinion, will accommodate you and you all work together.

Ganduje

Abba Kyari moved the budget allocation of the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Agriculture. Who does that? That’s why I said he is a victim of his own impudence. As we speak today, it has not been reversed. Whatever money the Health Minister needs, he will have to pass through the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture has to approve whatever he wants. Its not done anywhere. The current minister now, is finding it very difficult in this Covid 19 era.

Unfortunately, as is usual with our ministers, they feel that the president is God and they can’t approach him and tell him where they feel the pain. The president isn’t God, he was elected.

Now, there is no isolation centre in the whole of Kano. The only few that they had have been closed, some people have contracted Covid-19 and have absconded. So there are walking corpses everywhere in Kano, waiting to die, and distributing the virus.

If he has not moved the Health Ministry to Agriculture, perhaps the health sector would have been working and he won’t end up a victim of his own. So we have to be careful not to throw stones into the market as we don’t know who its going to hit.

Back to the Kano case. What can you say about Kano and the challenges of Covid-19?

We should call the lawmakers-Senators and Federal House of Representatives, who know that they were genuinely voted in, and acknowledge that they have a responsibility to represent those who voted for them, and remind them that this Covid-19 is real and they should stop playing politics with it.

First, Nigeria will wake up to be responsible to its citizens, to talk to Airtel, MTN, to talk to local and multinationals, Dangote, and those we call rich men. They should call them to come in and assist Nigerians.

Nigerians need that help because they cannot be at home and also be hungry. They are not afraid of Covid-19, they are afraid of hunger.

There was a protest in Kano where people were chanting ‘coronavirus barawo, coronavirus barawo’. It means they are ignorant, it means there is no leadership in that constituency, it means there is no governance in that area. Otherwise they will not say that Coronavirus is barawo, they would have known that its a deadly disease and has no respect for anybody

Having said that, are you aware that about 25 to 35 of very prominent people that have lost their lives within the past few days in the North? So what they have to do is to begin interstate ban. There is no movement into and out of the states. Nobody should leave Edo State to Lagos, nobody should leave Ibadan for Sagamu, Kaduna to Sokoto, Warri to Bayelsa, or leave Bayelsa for Calabar. Because there are a lot of carriers who do not even know and they are taking it from one place to another.

You need to see what happened in New York, and over 53,000 have been lost in the country. The last interview you did with me I told you over 10,000 have lost their lives. So by the day, its counting.

We have people who go to the North and buy cows, tomatoes, yams and onions. We also have our northerners who travel from the North to the South, they should stay in the North for now. If there is any people coming to the South, let us quarantine them.

It’s not enough to say they have no right to travel.
They should be in their respective quarters until we find a solution.

Shaibu

Resignation of Chief of Staff to the Governor of Edo State

What’s your opinion on the resignation of the Chief of Staff to the Governor?

You don’t ask me that, you journalists know what’s going on. What I think is that you reap what you sow. This thing started from Adams Oshiomhole who is my brother and my friend. Because Oshiomhole is a man that was so open in governance, he entertainer no secrecy.

Ogie

He might have his own flaws, he might have his own issues but he was open to a fault. When he took Barrister Osarodion Ogie as his chief of staff, Ogie enjoyed that position without interference. But Patrick Obahiagbon, the Igbodomigodo, who is also my friend was not so fortunate. Igbodomigodo was a victim of loyalty, of kindness, a victim of honesty. Because he had an aspiration, those who didn’t want him to aspire high, who wanted to stop him did just that.

Obaseki and Oshiomhole

So Osarodion Ogie took the job of the CoS and was doing the job of the CoS, even though he was no more the CoS.

Igbodomigodo was not too happy, but because of his loyalty to Oshiomhole, he bore that burden.

Obahiagbon

Now, Akerele came from Lagos and didn’t understand the politics. The Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu whom I know very well, who loves power and will do anything to get it – he knows that, he is my friend. Even when he reads now he will smile and giggle, because he knows that I am the Observer – General in politics.

The same way, he knows the history of his boss, Adams Oshiomhole. But he and Ogie didn’t want a free hand given to Akerele. Akerele was more like just like a CoS by name. He wasn’t doing anything representative of his office. He was redundant, and may have become useless, but because he was not a useless person, he realised sooner than later that he was very useful to himself, his friends and family and said I will no longer tolerate this, it’s either I live free or die.

So he said, I beg to resign. Thank you for letting me work with you. If the likes of Shaibu or Ogie had allowed Akerele to work, he would have delivered as a CoS.

Akerele

Are you invariably saying Governor Obaseki has no hand in it?

I don’t know the governor too well to either deny or accept anything of him. I love the governor so well from a distance, but I am afraid of the devil in him. There is a demonic power in the governor that supercedes the genuine work he is doing.

Please can you throw more light on this?

You can see some people very nice, very respectful to your rights, you cannot predict them, but more also, whenever they are doing things that does not please God, the devil will tell them that they are doing what’s right. Continue, you don’t have to listen to anybody, continue, you should imprison or destroy anybody you want to destroy. You should not listen to any advise. That’s why I said that I am afraid of the devil in him.

Otherwise, if you look at him name, Nogheghase Godwin, my own must come to pass, you have won, its all synonymous with God. But because there is something in him that he needs delivering from, that’s why he is surrounded by those two powerful, destructive forces that we are seeing destroying his government today.

What You Should Know About Madagascar’s COVID-Organics Cure And Senegal’s $1 COVID-19 Test Kits

by Onwuasoanya Obinna

In the race for solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegal has developed a test kit that costs $1 while Madagascar claims to have found a cure named COVID-organics.

In March 2020, the UK and Senegal had partnered to develop a COVID-19 test kit that costs around $1 to produce (per unit). Even more amazing is the fact that these test kits could have results ready within 10 minutes.

It was to use a saliva-based virus antigen test and a blood-based antibody test. It was also touted as being able to give an easily readable result. Probably something like a line that appears if the patient tests positive for pregnancy or so.

However, after the initial buzz that it had generated, not much was heard about the test kits again. It seems that they have been testing the kits all this while.

A Bloomberg article had speculated that it may be launching sometime in June 2020. But, an Aljazeera video on YouTube has produced evidence that Senegal has begun using it.

Since it is cheap and easy to produce, from the country’s AIDS and Ebola experience, Senegal is testing everyone. This is a much better development as they are not taking chances.

The Institut Pasteur de Dakar taking the lead in producing the kits says that the goal is to manufacture at least 2 to 4 million units. This will also assist other African countries battling the virus.

In addition to the news about the $1 COVID-19 test kits in Senegal, there are stories about a possible cure for the pandemic in Madagascar.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) and other notable health bodies around the world maintain that there is no cure for COVID-19 yet, Madagascar claims to have found one and named it COVID-organics.

COVID-organics is said to be made from natural ingredients and President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar launched it last week; drinking from it on national TV.

It is touted as acting as both a vaccine and a cure as well. For now, there is no verified information concerning the effectiveness of this product. But the President allegedly said schools will reopen by Wednesday, 29th April 2020.

Social media has been alit with users praising the efforts of the two African countries.

We May Ask Madagascar To Send Us A Plane Load Of Herbs To Treat COVID-19: SFG

Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), says the country may ask Madagascar for a planeload of “herbal solutions” to treat COVID-19.

This comes following reports a week ago that Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina launched a herbal medicine believed to cure the novel coronavirus.

Branded COVID-organics, the medicine which contains artemisia, a plant used in treating malaria, was developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Mustapha also the chairman of the presidential task force on COVID-19, they are keeping tab of happenings around the world.

“I want to assure you that whatever is happening in the world, we are mindful of it and we are keeping tab,” he said.

“I was reading of the experiences in Madagascar– of why everybody is drinking some solutions that have been prepared. This morning I was sharing with my wife, and I told her that probably I would request that Mr President allow us to import a planeload for a trial.

“Because, we are all navigating an unchartered cause. Nobody has ever been on this road. So, every attempt to find a solution that would bring succour to our people, be rest assured that this task force is very responsible and we would do everything to ensure that we get what will benefit our people, what will help them in the processes that we find ourselves today.”

COVID-19: NBA condemns Obaseki’s mobile courts

Obaseki-led administration has faced another indictment of its management of COVID-19 in Edo state after a committee of the state’s chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association monitoring the conducts of the government’s mobile court trying offenders of enforced measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in Benin City condemned its observed violation of human rights and ‘obnoxious’ fines imposed on the people, most of whom are the poorest of the poor.
The Mathew Edeghese-led NBA Benin Committee, in an interim report sent in yesterday, the 27th of April, said that the mobile courts treated residents of the state inhumanly and issued fines that were both high and in contravention of the limit set by the laws.
It said in the report: “The Committee observed that persons were asked to sit on the bare floor. The Committee questioned the propriety of such inhuman treatment and asked why they were not given chairs to sit on as they were not criminals. The restrictions were released thereafter.”
In an observation that brings into question the integrity and motive of the government’s mobile court officials, the committee also recorded cases where residents were arrested even though they had the recommended face masks – and the imposition of fines that far exceeded what was recommended, pointing out a possible case of sanctioned extortions.
“The Committee observed in some cases that indicted persons had face mask, they just did not wear them and were arrested. The Committee frowns at the arresting of citizens that have face masks and demands that forthwith they should not be arrested but asked to wear them.”
“The Committee states that the fines being imposed by the Moblie Courts are obnoxious ranging from Three Thousand Naira to Five Thousand Naira. The Committee condemns the Commercial Nature of the Mobile Court and asks it to stick to the 200 naira the Officials indicated earlier they fine Citizens.”
To further make the case of the inhumanity displayed by officials of Obaseki’s mobile court, the committee cited the instance of a case involving one Blessing Igbinosa who was arrested and fined despite the fact that she had an emergency that was verified. Out of pity, the committee admitted to paying the fine of the woman and criticized the officials for their cruel conduct even as the government failed to provide residents with the face masks.
According to the Committee, the majority of the indicted citizens are the poorest of the poor who couldn’t afford the obnoxious fines and were thus detained for hours, in addition to being asked to carry out grueling community service. This echoes earlier criticism of the government’s enthusiasm to set up courts to try and deliver harsh judgment on the people even though it has fallen short in its own responsibility to provide basic needs and protective equipment for the people.
Across the state, thousands of residents have complained of hunger due to the insufficiency of the food palliatives distributed by the state government. In a bitter war of words, the NMA also previously faulted the government’s medical preparation, bemoaning the fact that several health workers lack personal protective equipment and are forced to work in unconducive facilities. All of these informed the outrage that trailed Obaseki’s claim that his administration had spent over a billion naira on COVID-19 as many wondered where the huge sum went.
It remains unclear what the official response of the state government would be to the indicting findings of the NBA as the administration is presently submerged in a political in-fighting after the sudden resignation of Obaseki’s Chief of Staff, Taiwo Akerele, sparked a purge of aides and appointees from the government house.

Obscene Corruption Being Perpetrated by NDDC’s IMC and Akpabio

Following the revelation of corruption allegations leveled against him and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) the minister of Niger-Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio, made a feeble attempt to explain the humongous contract awards and payments made in recent weeks by the Commission.

That lot fell to Dr Cairo Ojugboh, Acting Executive Director Projects of the IMC who appeared on a Channels TV program on Sunday, April 26, to address the allegations and repeatedly invoked Akpabio’s name in a desperate bid to explain away the allegations.
Ojugboh’s incoherent babble of platitudes and blustery to dodge the questions was all the more telling when he inadvertently confirmed the N4.8 billion Osmoserve Global Limited contract for unspecified medical supplies. The contract was awarded to Osmoserve on April 6 and an upfront payment of 55 percent was effected. In continuation of the practice under Akpabio and the IMC, the award letter does not specify the lots, quantity and quality of materials to be supplied, giving room for fraudulent manipulations.
Ojugboh’s testimony of lies and half-truths extends to the contract awarded to Signoria Concept Services Limited. The letter to the company dated April 6, 2020, read ‘Award of Contract for the Emergency Procurement of Specialized Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Health Workers and Provision of Community Based Sensitization Campaign Against the Spread of Covid-19 and other Communicable Diseases in the Nine States of the Niger Delta Region’ and signed by Head, Procurement Unit on the instruction of the IMC. What has happened is that Akpabio and the IMC are trying to walk away from scandal because it has been busted and they are presently destroying all the evidence of the award of the contract to Signoria Concept Services Limited, which was made on April 6, 2020. Signoria Concept Services Limited was also paid N357 million for maternal delivery kits on February 22, 2020.

The two awards made to Signoria and Osmoserve were signed by Head of Procurement on behalf of the acting managing director/CEO of the Commission. We want to restate that both contract award letters dated April 6, 2020, were signed by the Head of Procurement on behalf of the acting managing director of the Commission. The contract award letter to Signoria has a Reference Number NDDC/MD/HPU/20/4/EHSS/05, while the one to Osmoserve Global Limited has Reference Number NDDC/MD/HPU/20/4/EHSS/02. Following the award on April 6th, 2020, the IMC has paid Osmoserve Global Limited upfront 55 percent of the contract value of N4.8 billion. Ojugboh knows he cannot deny this payment to Osmoserve. If he does, we will release the reference codes in the financial instruments used to pay them from the TSA to the CBN records!
Under intense questioning, Ojugboh also admitted, rather shamelessly, that the IMC paid over N4 billion to some firms for yet another medical supplies contract, this time for Lassa fever and others. Clearly the IMC was illegally put in place by Akpabio to enable him fleece the Commission and line up his pockets. In making these questionable payments, Akpabio and the IMC have depleted the NDDC bank balances, which was a total of over N50 billion earlier this year to a little over N10 billion as at today.
Even in making these payments the IMC and their boss resorted to the dubious practice of splitting payments to circumvent financial regulations. For instance some items in the over N4 billion payment made for Lassa fever and other medical supplies were split in sums of N47, 166, 787 each all paid on the same day, February 22, 2020. All of these can be confirmed from the TSA records at the CBN and we have copies of these records. What is apparent to the people of the Niger Delta is that Akpabio is using the forensic audit as a dummy to mop up the accounts of the NDDC. It is clear that Akpabio and the IMC have been exposed for what they are.
These evidence of large scale larceny by the IMC of the NDDC and Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta Affairs, make a mockery of the anti corruption mantra of President Buhari and is an insult to Niger Deltans and Nigerians who are destitute, especially at a time when resources are limited and far between. President Buhari has an official duty and a moral responsibility to Nigerians to put an end to these grand heists which are happening under his watch. He should as a matter of urgency bring order to the NDDC by disbanding the IMC which has clearly shown itself to be a tool for fleecing the Niger Delta people of their resources. He should also ensure that all funds looted by the IMC are recovered and ploughed back into the development of the Niger Delta.

Signed,

COMRADE GODKNOWS SOTONYE

NATIONAL COORDINATOR

Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ADVANCEMENT GROUP

Covid-19: Expect more cases, Edo warns

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, has warned that cases of coronavirus disease will continue to increase, as the state ramps up testing for the virus.

He gave the warning on Tuesday in Benin, the state capital, while briefing journalists.

Recall that the State House of Assembly Speaker, Mr. Frank Okiye, was announced as the index case in the state on March 25.

Okundia said no fewer that 254 persons have so far been screened for coronavirus disease in Edo state, out of which 29 tested positive for the virus.

According to him, results for 31 samples are pending, adding that there are 326 Persons of Interest (PoI) in the state and out of this number, 105 have exited follow-up; 420 contacts have been line-listed, and 300 have exited monitoring.

He said “197 of the suspected cases were confirmed negative, representing 76.4 percent. Out of the 29 confirmed cases, we have recorded 3 deaths and discharged eight patients.

“Total active cases in the state currently undergoing treatment are 18. These persons are distributed across three isolation centres in the state.”

Also speaking, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Coordinator in the State, Mrs. Faith Ireye, said from the 29 confirmed cases, the state has completed line-listing for 25 persons, which resulted to 420 contacts from which 300 exited, while 120 are being followed up.

She said, “Our team is in the field currently line-listing contact for the four new cases and at the end of today, we would have more contacts. As at today, 17 of the 18 LGAs have reported suspected cases; this is made possible by our strong contact tracing team in all the LGAs.”

Meanwhile, the State Focal Person for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Mrs. Ifueko Alufokhai, said data of the needy and vulnerable persons in the state are being collated.

Alufokhai added that a call centre is being set up to verify persons who will benefit from the mobile wallet package in partnership with Access Bank.

“We are coordinating the welfare package for the poor and vulnerable persons in Edo State. We are to also develop a long-term plan for proper targeting and employment of vulnerable persons in the state,” she said.