Imperative of mobilising traditional, religious leaders to boost COVID-19 vaccination Imperative of mobilising traditional, religious leaders to boost COVID-19 vaccination By Folasade Akpan, News Agency of Nigeria Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), at the 2022 World Health Assembly, held recently in Geneva, Switzerland, warned that COVID-19 was not yet over in spite significantly drop of cases.
At that meeting of health from 194 countries, he said that deaths were rising in Africa, while the continent has the lowest vaccination coverage.
According to him, 60 per cent of the world’s population have already vaccinated, adding that one billion people in lower-income countries remained unvaccinated.
The WHO’s goal is to have 70 per cent of each country’s population vaccinated.
Regrettably, Nigeria seems to still be lagging behind the projection.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), recently gave statistics of vaccination coverage in the country.
NPHCDA data showed that as at June 19, in the 36 states and the FCT, about 28,427,564 of eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination, were partially vaccinated, while 21,236,404 of eligible persons were fully vaccinated.
The proportion vaccinated was 25.4 per cent of the total eligible persons targeted in the country.
The agency added that striving to vaccinate 70 per cent of eligible population of every country remains essential to bringing the pandemic under control.
NPHCDA says that Nigeria is working hard to ensure that its citizens have access to the life-saving vaccines.
Some of the measures to meet the projection is involvement of traditional and religious leaders in sensitisation, education and bringing awareness about the disease and importance of vaccination.
An assessment tour of selected local government areas of Sokoto State, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) showed that traditional rulers had key roles to play in mobilising the people to embrace vaccination against COVID-19 and other diseases.
At the palace of Sarkin Yaki Gagi (district head of Gagi) in Sokoto South Local Government Area, people of the area, gave testimonies how they were convinced by the district head, Alhaji Sani Umar-Jabbi to embrace vaccination.
Speaking through Yusuf Ladan, an interpreter, on the various interventions that were carried out to ensure the people were vaccinated, they said the Sarkin took it upon himself to ensure that the people got enough information about the myths surrounding vaccination.
Seventy-year-old Malam Mode Lambo, who spoke, said that before the arrival of the vaccines, the district head informed them of the dangers of the disease.
“So when I saw the district head take the vaccine, I had confidence to take it also.’’ For 50-year-old Abbass Hassan, he did not even believe that the virus existed and thought it was a ploy to reduce the rate of child-birth.
He, however, said that as a result of the awareness and after witnessing the district head took the vaccine, gave him the confidence, adding that he and his family were now fully vaccinated.
“I am happy I took the vaccine because I would not have been able to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as there were travel restrictions on people who did not take the vaccine.
“However, with it, I was able to travel with ease because some people who did not take the vaccine were prevented from traveling.” On the part of 59-year-old Hajia Hauwa Yakin, she said that she heard rumours that the vaccine could kill, but upon being mobilised, she took it.
“I also took it because I was told that I would not be able to go for hajj if I did not take it, so I had to take it.
However, I had fever for a day after taking the vaccine,” she added.
As for 45-year-Sambo Umar, the decision to take the vaccine was as a result of awareness, which helped him to know the dangers of the disease and the importance of vaccination.
“Due to the awareness I have on health now, if the government comes up with other health interventions, I will subscribe to them because I am now informed and know that the government will not bring things that will harm us.” Forty nine-year-old Alhaji Sani Umar-Jabbi, who has been district head for 17 years, has three wards namely: Gagi A, B and C under his jurisdiction.
There are also village and ward heads with 40 community heads and four village heads coordinating various wards.
Umar-Jabbi said that as a district head, his main concern is to ensure that he supports all government interventions and programmes, in health, education, environmental conservation, climate change impact and mitigations and others.
According to him, it is part of his responsibilities as a district head to mobilise the communities under him to support and successfully implement government programmes and policies.
He said that for healthcare provision, any programme that is to be implemented in the community has to go through the gatekeepers and there were no better gatekeepers than the traditional rulers.
For COVID-19, he said there were many misrepresentations and myths which scared the people at the beginning.
“When I heard about the controversies surrounding the vaccine I was afraid to take it, but being close to development partners, I was encouraged to take it and when I made up my mind to take it, I was immunised with about 100 people supporting me.
“For the second dose, I invited many of my community members and about 116 people were immunised alongside me.” Umar-Jabbi said that before he took the booster dose, he launched a campaign which paved way for more women and traditional leaders participation, adding that they converged on his palace and took the vaccine there.
“All the traditional rulers and the people said that because the district head was vaccinated, they too would be vaccinated.
“So in my community, it is very difficult to see anyone reject it, they accepted it whole-heartedly and we do not have vaccine controversy.
“Also, because I was vaccinated and no one saw any danger happen to me, they gladly took it.
“There were so many misrepresentations about the vaccine, but they were all nullified and the reality is that the vaccine is safe and preventive and when they did a survey testing, no one tested positive of the virus in this community.” On the means of mobilisiing members of the community, he said they were through various outlets such as religious and social gatherings, where facilitators sensitise the people on development programmes and other issues.
“We deliver all of these messages during wedding fathias, naming ceremonies and international observance days.” Also in Gidan Kaya, Gwadabawa Local Government Area,the people also attest to the fact that sensitisation, awareness and proper education on the virus and the vaccination influenced them greatly.
Ladi Daure, 48, said that when she first heard about the virus, she did not pay much attention, but when she learnt of its deadly nature, she decided to take the vaccine.
“When they told us about the vaccine we did not just go and take it, they sat all of us down to educate us about the virus and told us the implication of not taking the vaccine.
“This motivated us to take it, so I took the two doses and I have my card as proof,” she said.
For 53-year-old Buhari Mohammed, who is a member of the immunisation committee for polio, malaria, cholera and even COVID-19 in his community, it was not a new thing to him because he had been exposed to many healthcare interventions.
“A letter was sent to us from the Ministry of Health to the Primary Health Care (PHC) centre head and we all held a meeting and mobilised our people and created awareness on the importance of the vaccine.
“We really appreciate the help and support of development partners for always coming to Gidan Kaya to give our people vaccines,” he said.
The Executive Secretary, Sokoto State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SSPHCDA), Mr Abdullahi Romo, said that at the last count, the state had attained 52 per cent COVID-19 vaccination.
Giving a breakdown, he said that about 72 per cent of the total target population took the first dose, while 68 per cent took the second dose.
For the booster dose, Romo said that the state recorded about 52 per cent.
“So we are happy that at least 52 per cent of the people that have taken the first dose are covered and of course people are still coming in gradually unlike before,’’ he said.
Romo said that in getting the people to get vaccinated, religious and traditional leaders were engaged, while Jumaat service also featured talks on community health.
He added that town announcers were also engaged during naming and wedding ceremonies to keep on enlightening people on not only COVID-19 but on other health interventions generally.
“This facilitated people coming in to take the vaccine.
We realised that it was because we engaged traditional and religious leaders who head committees at various levels.
“So, it made it easier to make the information trickle down and cause people to take the vaccine that was why we decided to intensify the functions and responsibilities of these committees.” Romo, however, said that the challenges COVID-19 posed was the social stigma associated with it.
According to him, people believed that the vaccine was aimed at reducing the rate of child-birth and this made them to engage the chief imams to let them know that was not the case.
“We told them it was not so, because if it was, the Sultan would not have accepted it and the governor too would not have taken it,” Romo stressed.
(NANFeatures) ** If used, please credit the writer as well as the News Agency of Nigeria .
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has foiled an attempt by a human trafficker to export illicit drug to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), by planting it in the luggage of an orphan.
The Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi, said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Babafemi said that the suspect, Matthew Bassey, who had allegedly recruited the orphan, Ms. Peter Eno, for a phantom Job in Arab nation was at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja Lagos.
He said that Bassey, 29, from Oron LGA, Akwa Ibom, was arrested on July 6, following the interception of Eno at the departure hall of the Lagos airport.
He said Eno’s luggage was searched, 50 parcels of cannabis (2.80kg) concealed in food items were discovered while there were discrepancies between the age she declared and the date of birth on her international passport.
“Further interview reveals that the human trafficker, who recruited and brought her to the airport, Bassey, was still lurking around the airport, waiting for her departure.
“He was promptly tracked and arrested. Investigations showed that the victim, who hails from the same Oron LGA of Akwa Ibom like Bassey recently lost her mother.
“This made it easy for Bassey to recruit her with the promise of securing her a job in Dubai, UAE.
“It was further discovered that the recruiter leveraged on the victim’s naivety and planted drugs in her bag for onward delivery to his contact in Dubai,” he said.
According to Babafemi, the Chairman, NDLEA, retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa commended the officers and men of the MMIA command for staying vigilant and proactive in their areas of responsibility.
Marwa charged them and their colleagues across the country not to rest on their oars.
Nigeria’s Supersand Eagles are returning to life and consequently international competition with a fixture against Libya in July.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this followed the confirmation of their fixture by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The Nigerian side will battle Libya in a two-leg playoff for a spot at this year’s Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be hosted by Mozambique.
They are two-time African champions, having won the then African Beach Soccer Championship in 2007 and 2009, and were runners-up in 2010.
The team also reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Italy in 2011, losing to Brazil after extra time.
NAN reports that Mozambique will host this year’s Beach Soccer AFCON from Oct. 21 to Oct. 30.
The playoffs will have the first leg holding from July 22 to July 24 and the second leg holding from Aug. 5 to Aug. 7.
All seven winners of the two-leg playoffs will join hosts Mozambique at the finals.
The two finalists in Mozambique will represent Africa at next year’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
ALL THE FIXTURES (First-named teams to host the first leg matches)
Seychelles Vs Madagascar
Comoros Vs Uganda
Malawi Vs Tanzania
Libya Vs Nigeria
Cote d’Ivoire Vs Morocco
Cameroon Vs Senegal
Ghana Vs Egypt
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has lauded some member countries on pledges and national aspirations toward net zero emissions target.
The OPEC listed the Member Countries as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which are making pledges on net zero emissions.
Dr Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC Secretary-General made this known on Thursday in his keynote address at an Energy Symposium organised in London.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the event was tagged “Quo Vadis? – Oil and Gas in the 21st Century, Charting New Directions for the Oil and Gas Industry after COP2”.
It was organised by the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law (CEPMLP) and White and Case LLP International Law Firm.
Recalled that as part of the Paris Agreement, countries globally agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
To achieve this, countries must align with global push to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by around 2050.
Barkindo, however appreciated the move by many developed nations to set net-zero emissions targets as national aspiration and recognised the fact that some developing nations also moved in this direction too.
“However, it is important to appreciate the massive challenges for developing countries to reach net zero emissions, many of which are acutely focused on priorities such as energy access, living wages, and supplying basic necessities.
“The challenges before us are enormous and complex.
“We have been delivered a stark reminder with recent strains and conflicts related to energy affordability and security and need to reduce emissions playing out in regions across the world at the end of 2021 and into 2022.
“It requires a delicate balancing act, comprehensive and sustainable solutions, and all voices at the table,” he said.
He called for energy affordability; transition to a more inclusive, fair, and equitable world in which every person has access to energy as referenced in UN Sustainable Development Goal Seven.
According to him, in OPEC’s World Oil Outlook (WOO) 2021, global energy demand is set to expand by 28 per cent by 2045.
This, he said would require the use of all forms of energy to support the post pandemic recovery, drive the energy transition, and address long-term energy needs.
“We see oil still making up 28 per cent of the world’s energy needs by 2045.
“This will require huge investments, with the WOO showing that oil-related investments alone amount to 11.8 trillion dollars between now and 2045,” he added.
He reiterated the commitments of OPEC member countries to remain committed to investments to ensure supply meets the demand of their customers.
Israeli PM Bennett makes surprise visit to UAE
Israeli PM Bennett makes surprise visit to UAE
Tel Aviv, June 9, 2022 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a surprise visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday.
Bennett met Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and is to also meet with new UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Their meeting would be to discuss several regional issues, his office announced.
Sheikh Mohammed succeeded his late half-brother Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month.
“Today, together, we will take to the special bond that has been woven between our countries to the next level for the growth and security of both our peoples,’’ Bennett said before his departure.
In 2020, the UAE and Bahrain became the first Gulf states to sign an agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Mohammed bin Zayed also pushed for this rapprochement.
It was primarily directed against Shiite Iran, which the UAE saw as an arch-enemy, though economic interests also played a role.
Until then, only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, maintained diplomatic relations with Israel. (
Taliban signs agreement with UAE on running Afghan airports Taliban signs agreement with UAE on running Afghan airportsAgreementIslamabad, May 24, 2022 The Taliban signed an agreement with a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday for the ground handling of three airports in Afghanistan.With the new agreement, the new officials in Kabul and the representative of the UAE-founded company hope that all international commercial airlines can resume their flights to the country.“International airlines, have been away from this country for the past few months.“We are hoping that they come back to us,” the executive director of the UAE’s GAAC Company, Razack Aslam said.Qatar and Turkey have been holding talks with Taliban officials for the past couple of months to run the country’s airports.The newly inked pact with the UAE will only apply to the logistics at Kabul, Herat and Kandahar airports and not security.“This contract includes a part of the services,” Taliban’s deputy minister of transport and civil aviation said.“We are still hopeful to continue talks with Qatar on another two parts which include the security of the civil aviation, such as searching and checking of the passengers and the air traffic control.”Afghanistan’s airspace is currently closed to all overflights.Only domestic flights and international evacuation or humanitarian aid delivery flights are taking place.
President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja after a two-day visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Presidential aircraft carrying the president and members of his entourage landed at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 4.10 p.m.
While in Abu Dhabi, Buhari met the new President of the UAE, His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to whom he conveyed his and Nigeria’s condolences on the passing of the former president and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The president also joined the Juma’ah prayers, at which prayers were offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased on Friday.
During a short interaction with Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, Buhari expressed his condolences and that of Nigeria on the demise of the late Sheikh Khalifah and congratulated the new president on his election.
Buhari expressed optimism that under Sheikh Mohamed the two countries would continue to actively champion a vision of sustainable security, strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, facilitate trade and investment, and promote prosperity and development.
NAN reports that the Nigerian leader returned to Abuja amidst confusion on whether or not he had signed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill forwarded to him by the National Assembly few days ago.
The amendment is crucial to the participation of statutory delegates at the primaries and national convention of political parties.
They have been excluded from voting and being voted for during the exercises in the previous amendment signed into law by the President.
When asked to confirm whether or not Buhari had indeed assented to the latest amendment, the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Sen. Jide Omoworare, simply said the president ”should have signed” the amended fresh electoral act into law.
Also a member of the House of Representatives, Emeka Chinedu, representing Ezinihittee Mbaise Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, was quoted by a national newspaper confirming that the prssident signed the fresh amended electoral act bill on May 21.
“I can confirm to you that Mr President signed the bill into law this afternoon and we are all happy about it as it will give us and other statutory delegates the power to vote at the primaries,” Chinedu said.
However, NAN reliably gathered that the president had not signed the latest Electoral Act Amendment as being speculated in some quarters.
Earlier in the course of the week, the president had on May 17 congratulated newly-elected Somali President, Hassan Mahmud, “for successfully staging a comeback after being unseated in 2017’’.
The president commended the out-going president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, for his swift acceptance of Mahmud’s victory which inevitably would lead to a peaceful transition in the best interest of the people.
He reassured the new Somali leader that “Nigeria will continue its usual support for peace-keeping efforts in Somalia’’.
Buhari stressed that “African countries must unite against terrorists and other evil forces seeking to disrupt and destroy our territories’’.
Also on the same day, the Nigerian leader received the Secretary General of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Mr Juan Carlos Salazar, at the State House, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, Buhari assured that more investments would be deployed to the provision of infrastructure and facilities for safe, secure, environmentally friendly and sustainable civil aviation in the country.
According to him, Nigeria will support the ideals and aspirations of ICAO and achievement of its strategic objectives, in collaboration with other Member States of the organisation.
The president also presided over the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday where members of the cabinet observed a minute silence in honour of former Minister of Communications under retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida regime, Olawole Ige, who died at 83.NAN recalls that the family of Ige announced his death on May 9.
The council approved N169.7 billion for the reconstruction of four roads under the tax credit scheme.
Buhari on May 18, condoled with families of victims of the Sabon Gari, Kano, gas explosion in which nine casualties were reported.
He directed relevant officials to provide adequate treatment for the injured persons.
The Presidency on Thursday stressed the significance of President Buhari’s visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to the president’s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, Nigeria has very strong economic and defense ties with the UAE.
The countries, which are trying to strengthen their post-COVID recovery, are banking on strategic partnerships to further commercial ties.
“UAE, which is today a recognised financial and manufacturing hub and has shown, to our admiration, a remarkable willingness for energising our industry to industry cooperation, which will help strengthen the post-COVID economic recovery in both countries,” he stated.
Sheikh Mohammed was once cr
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), joined the Muslim faithful to observe Jummah prayers, at which prayers were said for the repose of the soul of the late President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
A statement by the President’s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja said the Nigerian leader attended the Friday prayers at Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed, ”The First Mosque.”
The president was accompanied by members of the Nigerian delegation, who are on condolence and a congratulatory visit to the Middle East country, following the death of Sheikh Khalifa and the subsequent election of his successor, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In a sermon titled: ‘‘Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the loss of the Nation’’, read at all the Friday Mosques across the country, the Chief Imam of the mosque, Sheikh Ali Alhamoudi, expressed gratitude to God for the life and legacies of the late President.
He described the late President as a forerunner in charitable works and humanitarian initiatives, saying through his efforts numerous mosques and hospitals were built, schools and universities were founded, while cities and institutions were established.
”Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed (may Allah have mercy on him) was always close to the people with his excellent morals and character.
”He was well-known among them for his praiseworthy qualities in this regard, and our prophet said: ‘The dearest and the closest of you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who are the best in character,” he said.
The Imam said Sheikh Khalifa promoted the principles of justice in the UAE, so that all within the country could live within it in peace and equality, regardless of their religions and nationalities.
On the new leadership, the Imam said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was chosen by the Emirates and its rulers, its Sheikhs and its people, bearing the great trust of the nation and the great responsibility to lead the UAE towards global leadership.
”Prayers were offered for the success of the new president, the Vice-President, the Crown Prince and his brothers, and the Rulers of the Emirates,” the statement added.
First Lady Aisha Buhari has commiserated with the government and people of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the demise of their 16th President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who died at the age of 73.
The First Lady offered her condolences on Friday, when she led members of the first family, friends and well-wishers to the UAE Embassy in Abuja.
She was received by the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Fahad Al Taffaq.
While sympathising with the government and people of the emirate on behalf of the first family, she described Zayed as a visionary leader.
She also described his death as a loss, not only to the UAE but the entire global community.
Buhari, therefore, prayed to almighty God to grant the deceased eternal rest and give members of his immediate family and the entire country the fortitude to bear the loss.
Responding on behalf of the UAE, the ambassador expressed gratitude to the First Lady for identifying with them in their moment of grief.
Al Taffaq expressed confidence that the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and the UAE would continue to flourish for the mutual benefits of both countries
Human rights groups ask FIFA for millions for Qatar migrant workers’ fund
London, May 19, 2022 World football ruling body FIFA has been asked to contribute at least 440 million US dollars to help remedy migrant worker abuses in 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar.
Amnesty International, along with other human rights organisations and fans’ groups, have written to FIFA president Gianni Infantino this week insisting that sum be set aside as a minimum.
Amnesty says the amount is equal to the World Cup prize money fund.
It said such a programme would compensate the families of migrants who have died working on infrastructure projects in Qatar since 2010 and those who have been injured.
The fund will also reimburse those who have had pay withheld by unscrupulous employers or been forced to pay recruitment fees in order to secure work.
The programme, which Amnesty believes should also be funded by the Qatari government, should also work to ensure the prevention of future migrant worker abuse.
The letter to Infantino states: “When FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar, it knew or should have known the risks this would pose to migrant workers’ rights given the country’s poor human rights record and the ban on trade unions.
“And yet it did so without placing on Qatar any conditions for the protection of labour rights.
“In awarding the 2022 World Cup without imposing any conditions to avoid foreseeable labour rights abuses…FIFA contributed to the widespread abuse of migrant workers on World Cup-related projects that followed.
“The kick-off of the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East should be a moment of joy and pride for football lovers across the globe.
“But until all workers are compensated and harms remediated, the tournament cannot be truly celebrated.”
A new Amnesty report —- titled “Preventable and Predictable: Why FIFA and Qatar should remedy abuses behind the 2022 World Cup” —- acknowledges the labour reforms now in place.
These are reforms that have taken place in Qatar since the World Cup was controversially awarded to the Gulf state back in 2010.
However, it says the “limited scope and weak enforcement” of these reforms means labour abuses persist.
FIFA has also been urged to strictly implement its human rights criteria in the awarding of hosting rights to any of its future events.
Amnesty noted that the 2021 Club World Cup had originally been awarded to China, before being taken on by another country with a poor human rights record, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In response to the report, FIFA told Amnesty it had taken note of its proposition and was assessing it.
Amnesty feels existing remedy programmes operated by FIFA and the Qatari government do not fulfil their respective responsibilities and obligations.
It said that a grievance redress scheme operated by the local organising committee, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, “only covers workers under its purview, which form a small proportion from workers on World Cup-related projects”.
The report’s summary concludes: “The 2022 World Cup will be far from exemplary in terms of preventing harm.
“But, if all workers who have suffered abuses in the preparation, staging and delivery of its flagship event receive adequate reparation, it can still represent a turning-point in FIFA’s commitment to respect human OLAL