Former Cook Islands prime minister dies in New Zealand of COVID-19



Joseph Williams, a former prime minister of the Cook Islands, has died after contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) in New Zealand, the Pasifika Medical Association announced on Saturday.

Williams, a well-known and respected doctor, was admitted to hospital on Aug. 13 after contracting the novel coronavirus.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed that the 82-year-old’s death was the second COVID-19 death in the country in as many days.

The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said in a statement that Williams was a “leading figure” in the Cook Islands medical community.

“Our thoughts are with his family and community at this time of loss and grief,” Bloomfield said.

Williams had served the Cook Islands, “his community in New Zealand and his many patients” for more than 60 years, the Pasifika Medical Association said in a statement.

“His love, generosity and kindness have touched so many families, friends, and colleagues.

“He has left us all with the gifts of his journey, and for that we are forever grateful,” his nephew and association president Dr Kiki Maoate said.

Williams spent 25 years in the Cook Islands and served as minister of health and education.

He also had a brief stint as prime minister in 1999 and was also involved in the World Health Organisation, serving as a member of the executive board.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand now stands at 24.

A man in his 50s died in Auckland on Friday, the first COVID-19-related death in the country in more than three months.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

General news

Electricity/Fuel pump hike: NLC insists on nationwide protest



The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that it would proceed with its planned nationwide protest with effect from Sept. 28 over Federal Government refusal to reverse the hikes in electricity tariff and fuel pump price.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this while addressing newsmen at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC on Tuesday in Abuja.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NLC’s Central Working Committee (CWC)  on Sept. 17 had issued a two-weeks ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and pump price of petrol or workers would embarked on a nationwide protest on Sept. 28.

According to Wabba, the NEC after its extensive deliberations, resolved to reject the hike in electricity tariff by almost 100 per cent and also reject the fuel price increased in the name of deregulation.

“This decision, along side other decisions of the government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, other numerous charged by commercial banks on depositors, without any explanation will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizenry, including their families.

“Therefore, this is coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and this is not only “ill timed’’ but it is also counter productive, ” he said.

He said that NEC also observed that the privatisation process that was done seven years ago had not yielded any positive result and that the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion.

He also noted that the Federal Government within the last four years have injected N1.53 trillion over and above the amount that was used to sell those important assets.

“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process have failed and the electricity hike, is a continuous process of exploitation of Nigerians,” he said.

Wabba also noted that the issue of the three refineries and increase in the pump price of petroleum had been on constant debate for more than three decades and that the arguments were still the same.

According to him, this is whether it is in the name of deregulation or subsidiary removal, what is obvious is that the fuel price hike has further eroded the gains of the N30, 000 National Minimum Wage, as it has spiral effects.

“The spiral effects include, high cost of goods and services and reductions in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.

NEC thought that on the issue of deregulation, it will be a continuous exploitation if it is imported driven. While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, and then it will be beneficial to Nigerians. ” he said.

The NLC president also said that NEC also concluded that “government has no business in doing business.”

He said that the primary purpose of governance was about the security and welfare of the Nigerian people.

He further called on the Federal Government to maintain refineries in the country for the benefits of its citizenry.

“In the light of all of this, NEC decided to endorsed the two- weeks ultimatum given to the Federal Government to try to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounced that the action proposed by the CWC is hereby endorsed by the NEC.

“That Sept. 28 will be a date that those actions will be challenged by Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and also other Labour centres,” he said.

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Felix Ajide
Source: NAN
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LASG receives 107,546 CA-COVID food palliative packs



The Lagos State Government on Tuesday says it received a total of 107,546 food palliative packs from the Coalition Against COVID-19 pandemic (CA-COVID).

Speaking on behalf of the State Government, during the symbolic handover ceremony at the Lagos House, Ikeja, the Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said the food items were donated by CA-COVID in May.

Olusanya said that the food palliative packs were meant for the indigent residents of the state and the elderly.

”We are here today for the hand over ceremony of the Coalition Against COVOD-19 pandemic distribution for the food items that were donated by this group as far back as April-May.

“Lagos officially is just taking receipt of it and we want to launch this distribution in a couple of days.

”According to the CA-COVID team, Lagos State is supposed to receive 107,546 beneficiary packs for our citizens – for the indigents, the elderly, for those that do not have the wherewithal or the capacity to have food on their table on a daily basis.

”Now for this 107,546 beneficiary packs, each pack contains 10 kilograms of rice, five kilograms of garri, five kilograms of sugar, one kilogram of salt, two cartons of noodules (Indomie) and one carton of pasta.

“That is what a single beneficiary will get for his or her family,” she said.

According to her, the food items are being repackaged by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that each beneficiary gets the right quantity of items.

”We do not want a situation where they receive the items and they claim that they have not received garri or they have not received rice.

”That is why under the administration of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, we have taken the pains to get bags marked, to print on them the Lagos State logo, the CA-COVID logo and to put these items in each pack, such that we have transparency across board.

”But nonetheless, with regard to the 107,546 packs, we are still repackaging and so far, the team has been able to repackage about 50,000 beneficiary packs.

”Until we finish repackaging, before we can ascertain and say this is the quantity that we have actually received as Lagos State.

”So currently, about 50,000 is what we will say we have taken possession of and we will start with the redistribution in the next couple of days,” she said.

The Acting Commissioner said that the CA-COVID team was also working with the ministry to ensure that all were on the same board.

She said that in terms of the distribution modality, the state would borrow a leaf from the experience during the lockdown period when it pioneered the distribution of over 50,000 food beneficiary packs.

”We will be going along the route of using the local government, as well as using our groups.

”When I talk about our groups, I am referring to the artisans and tradesmen groups, I am referring to the religious bodies, I am referring to people with disabilities, I am referring to the transporters union, I am referring to so many groups that cut across different cadres of society.

”The idea around this is also to use the ministries that have these people as their stakeholders to help in the distribution, such that we are able to reach the right people and there is also transparency across board.

“We can also hold people accountable for the redistribution,” Olusanya said.

Also speaking, the CA-COVID State Representative, Mr Amaechi Okobi, commended the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for the tireless efforts at ensuring things went well doing the lockdown.

”There is no gainsaying that COVID-19 took us by surprise but with people like you supporting us, we would win this battle.

”The Commissioner has been very eloquent in exactly about what we have done.

“The idea here is to take care of our fellow men. No fewer than 1,666,667 Nigerians need our help.

”All Nigerians need our help but we focused on the lowest five per cent to ensure that in this extremely tough time, they are at least fed.

”We have lockdown that prevented them from working. So, they need help. Could we do more? We will love to and could the Governor do more, I know he will love to do more.

“But this is a start and we are just basically saying that Nigerians for Nigeria are fighting this fight,” Okobi said.

He said that the efforts to get the food and palliatives were gigantic but to distribute the food was even more because some problems would be encountered.

”So, I ask on behalf of the CA-COVID that you continue to support to ensure that every Nigerian that the commissioners mentioned gets these items.

”It is critical. It impacts our credibility. It impacts the work of serious people that want to actually do something,” Okobi said.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu
Source: NAN
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At UNGA, AU chairman solicits ‘comprehensive stimulus package’ for Africa



President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on Tuesday solicited a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa to enable its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa made the appeal in his pre-recorded video statement to the virtual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union (AU), he also called for suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external and public debts.

The South African president said although the continent had responded “swiftly and effectively” to the pandemic, it would “inevitably set back our developmental aspirations”.

He said: “The resources we have had to redirect to fighting the pandemic has set back our efforts to provide housing, health care, water and sanitation and education to our people.

“When the Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July, 2020, he called on the nations of the world to forge a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal.

“He said we must create equal opportunities for all, that we must advance a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, that debt architecture must be reformed, and that there should be greater access to affordable credit for developing countries.

“It is in the spirit of this New Global Deal, that we call on the international community and our international partners to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa.

“This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.”

He, however, acknowledged joint efforts by the G20, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the UN to address debt sustainability in developing countries.

 He noted that pandemic had underscored the urgency with which the world strive to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ramaphosa reiterated the AU’s call for the lifting of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan to enable their governments to adequately respond to the pandemic.

According to him, relieving both countries of sanctions will also ensure no one is left behind as the world races against time to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Zeroing in on SDG 1, poverty education, the AU chairman noted that the purpose of the UN would remain a mirage until global poverty was eradicated.

He called for expansion of economic opportunities to all our people, especially young people, women and the vulnerable.

Ramaphosa further urged decisive action to rid the continent of corruption, which he said is “robbing our people of the opportunities and services that are their right”.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
Source: NAN
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Food Council to ensure reduction in fertiliser price – Gov. Bagudu



The National Food Security Council says it will ensure the reduction on the cost of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag as earlier ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari in April to boost food production in the country.

Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the National Food Security Council, disclosed this when he, alongside Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the National Food Security Council at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.

Bagudu explained that the implementation of the president’s directive was informed by the fact that production of the commodity had been normalized in the country following the reopening of Indorama plant in Rivers.

He said the plant was closed because of COVID-19 related deaths.

The governor also expressed optimism that prices of food items and goods would soon be coming down judging by the data obtained and made available to him.

He explained: “Yes, I said food prices for crops have started coming down. That was from data collated and made available to me in my state and from a pre-meeting with all the commodity association and farmer groups prior to the National Food Security Council meeting.

“I have been going round my state in the last one week and have seen further drops in prices and it makes sense and is self-explanatory. Harvest is coming in, harvests of millets, maize and of rice.

“Yes, we had a lot of devastating floods that affected the rice crop but again, there is upland rice that is being harvested that has not been affected by flood.’’

The governor attributed the increase in the prices of foodstuff to bulk purchase of food commodities for distribution as COVID-19 palliatives by the three tiers of government and wealthy individuals.

“The CACOVID was buying food items for the coronavirus pandemic response in bulk at a peak of the beginning of the season, at a time when demands are not high. So, it contributed to the high cost.

“The global lockdown also contributed because of lack of movement of food items. But now, harvests are coming in and it is good.

“Yes, there are some states that experienced huge draught but that has been overcome by the food coming from elsewhere.”

Bagudu assured that despite the flood disasters in parts of the country this year, which he said was worst that previous ones, “there won’t be food crisis’’.

He added: “Is there going to be goods crisis? No, by God’s grace. Yes, flooding is devastating. Unfortunately, that is part of life. We have a good eco-system where immediately after flooding we can plant again.

“In fact, the farmers are more confident because the risk of flooding has reduced.

“So, what is important is for us to mobilise and ensure we time properly and is part of the reason Mr President has been working very hard because that is what bothers him most, how to deliver to Nigerians.

“That is why since last week and a week earlier, the challenge has been ‘come up with how we can intervene so that farmers, fishermen and those in husbandry can resume economic activities as quickly as possible.’

“In fact, one of the key initiatives as the very first intervention of the national food security council, was to recognize how to support people to resume economic activity following the disaster.

“That is why in 2018, N23 billion was spent to support farmers in 14 states as well as another N8 billion to support some states that were affected by conflict and the need for people to resume economic activity.’’

Also, Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, expressed confidence that the prices of food items would come down as harvest season has begun and more commodities are arriving markets across the country.

Edited By: Felix Ajide
Source: NAN
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FG alleges that multinationals companies drill for water without approval Electricity/Fuel pump hike: NLC insists on nationwide protest LASG receives 107,546 CA-COVID food palliative packs At UNGA, AU chairman solicits ‘comprehensive stimulus package’ for Africa Sanusi calls for diversification of economy to address poverty, inequality Food Council to ensure reduction in fertiliser price – Gov. Bagudu Kwara Assembly urges Gov AbdulRasaq to assist rainstorm victims I’m loyal to APC, not factions, says chieftain in Ibadan Oyo govt re-awards 9.7km Saki township road for N4.7bn Suarez language exam for Italian citizenship rigged, prosecutors insist Runsewe urges youths to uphold cultural values Late Emir of Zazzau was a father to all – NDA Spurs’ League Cup match called off due to COVID-19 cases at Orient Mixed reactions trail CBN‘s MPR cut 40 coys bid for NEPZA constituency projects Bale may extend Spurs’ stay beyond loan spell, agent says Minister urges fertilizer dealers to work in line with Fertilizer Act IBEDC apologises to customers over poor electricity supply NAICOM urges state govts to domesticate compulsory life insurance, others for citizens Minister advocates return of state sports festivals to enhance athletes’ competitiveness PMAN congratulates King Sunny Ade at 74 FRC partners agencies on monitoring, evaluation, project verification TETFUND pledges support to Kogi confluence university King of Jordan, Abdullah seeks end to Palestinian-Israeli conflict Economic recovery: CBN reduces Monetary Policy Rate LASWA, Ibile Oil & Gas collaborate to enhance ferry services in Lagos  IBEDC appeals to Mowe, Ibafo, Magboro customers over poor electricity supply NAF immortalises Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combatant helicopter pilot 16 ships discharge petroleum products, food stuff at Lagos ports Putin calls for space peace treaty, offers coronavirus vaccine to UN Shippers Council visits bonded terminals, reviews operational efficiency Interest rate cut: Stock market advances by N42bn Rape : Group calls for domestication of VAPP Act in Abia Obaseki’s re-election: Benin monarch calls for support FCTA begins installation of solar-powered street light in schools Work hard for brighter future, Agency urges students Edo: Ogbeh advises Obaseki to run an all-inclusive govt CYMS, Tonto Dikeh hail Rochas at 58 Opposition says 1 dead, 50 arrests in Cameroon anti-government protests Opposition says 1 dead, 50 arrests in Cameroon anti-government protests FCTA demolishes 2,400 “Ruga” settlements on airport corridor NPC Chairman laments Nigeria’s inability to meet population policy goals NDDC promises to pay outstanding fees of stranded UK students Kano Govt trains stakeholders on Basic Healthcare Provision Fund Progressive Governors’ Forum felicitates with Okorocha at 58, Sen.Tinubu at 60 No hidden agenda on National Water Resources Bill – FG AfCFTA must be backed by adequate policies -Lawan Climate change effects more dangerous than COVID-19 – minister Obaseki’s victory rekindles people’s hope, place in democratic process — Don Commercial disputes: Stakeholders canvass for virtual Court hearings for speedy resolution