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Africa Bears 20 per cent Global Disease Burden -Osotimehin

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The Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, yesterday, said that with barely 11 per cent of the world’s population, Africa bears 24 per cent of the global burden of diseases.
Osotimehin made the disclosure while addressing the ministerial session at the ongoing Regional Conference on Population and Development in Addis Ababa.
He urged leaders to step up efforts in addressing the overwhelming health challenges facing the continent.
He said “Africa accounts for just one per cent of the world’s financial resources for health and three per cent of the global health work force, which results to limited and inequitable access to health services and very poor health outcomes for our people, particularly the most vulnerable of us.’’
The UNFPA boss said 450 African women and girls die every day in childbirth, accounting for more than half of all preventable maternal deaths worldwide.
“The region also accounts for half of all child deaths and roughly 75 per cent of all HIV-related deaths globally,” he added.
Osotimehin, who was former Nigeria’s health minister, urged leaders to increase funding to tackle challenges related to extreme poverty and income disparities, social exclusion and inequalities and address the needs of the young and the old.
“We also need to address challenges related to the status of women and girls, and to ensure universal access to basic health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, as well as address the unmet needs of some 47 million women in sub-Saharan Africa for family planning,” he added.
According to him, challenges related to urbanisation, migration, complex emergencies and conflict, the environment, food insecurity and climate change also need to be addressed.
“These challenges are linked in a vicious self-perpetuating cycle that must be broken.
“It is unacceptable that in the 21st century, girls are still subjected to harmful practises such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, which violate their rights to health, physical and mental integrity and life.
“Of the 10 countries worldwide with the highest rates of child marriage, eight of them are in Africa, while pregnancy complications remain the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 in our region.’’
He appealed to stakeholders for measures to tackle gender inequalities and critical barriers that prevented women and girls from exercising their rights and empowering themselves through a secure, sustainable, prosperous and resilient societies.
“We know that when countries invest in girls and other young people, and in their access to reproductive health information and services, household incomes rise, disease burdens fall, child survival improves and their economies thrive.
“The challenges of responding to the needs of Africa’s more than 50 million adolescent girls are linked to the youth bulge.
“We know that our continent is in demographic transition and there is much anticipation and excitement around the demographic bulge and its potential demographic bonus.
“ We must, however, be strategic, innovative and forward looking if we are to harness this demographic dividend and transform the region.’’
On his part, the Chairman of the AU and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn, assured of improved efforts to ensure that the outcome of the conference and the recommendations of the African common position were implemented.
The chairman said “if properly managed, the so-called youth bulge will represent a golden opportunity for many African countries to experience the demographic dividend, mainly in the form of accelerated economic growth and development.’’
He, however, urged governments to ensure effective implementation of policies that would take advantage of changes in the population structure.
Our correspondent reports that the conference is being attended by government agencies, civil society organisations and experts in population, health, women, gender and children matters across Africa and beyond.
Other participants include leadership of the AU Commission (AUC), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) being the host and several UN agencies.
The conference, which will end on Friday, is expected to evolve strategies and action plans beyond the 2014 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda.

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Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court

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The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.

Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.

The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.

It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.

They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.

According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.

The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.

However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.

Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.

The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.

Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.

He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.

More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.

Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.

The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.

The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.

The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.

“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.

“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?

“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.

“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.

“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”

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Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation

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Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.

The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.

“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.

Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.

It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.

It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.

“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’

“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.

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