Friday, December 6, 2019

Video - Health tech startup in Nigeria seek to bridge service access gap

Imagine being a healthcare professional without your own healthcare facility. Well, in Nigeria, a health care startup is providing consultation and treatment facilities for rent. Doctoora, as it is called, provides a platform for people to find and book private healthcare professionals, bridging the gap between medical practitioners and patients.

Video - Abuja hospitality industry boosting youth football development

Nigeria's hospitality industry in the capital, Abuja, is now promoting grassroots football. Night clubs and Lounges are collaborating with key players to provide a platform for young football talents to display their skills in a tournament. The players are keenly watched by scouts, out to select some of the best, for international trials.

Nigerian activist Sowore re-arrested hours after he was freed

A Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate whose detention has prompted protests by rights groups was re-arrested on Friday at a court hearing hours after he was freed on bail, his lawyer told Reuters.

Omoyele Sowore, who ran against President Muhammadu Buhari in February’s election, was first arrested in August and has pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.

He was released on bail on Thursday ahead of a court hearing on Friday. However, his lawyer, Femi Falana, said the activist was re-arrested by state security officials on Friday after the hearing, screaming and shouting as he was dragged away.

Falana said the state security had filed new charges against Sowore, without elaborating.

Sowore’s continued detention despite being granted bail has led to criticism of Buhari’s administration and allegations that human rights have been flouted in this case and those of other high-profile figures.

Prior to Thursday’s release, the Department for State Security said Sowore’s bail conditions had not been met and detained him for several weeks. But a court in Abuja said on Thursday he must be released within 24 hours.

“Having complied with the order of court ... what is therefore required is for the state security service to allow our clients enjoy their limited freedom,” Falana told Reuters after Sowore was re-arrested on Friday.

Sahara Reporters, the online Nigerian news organization Sowore founded, said he has been taken to the state security headquarters after his latest arrest.


Nigeria's parliament passes record budget for 2020

Nigeria's parliament passed a record 10.59 trillion naira ($35bn) budget for 2020 on Thursday, paving the way for the country's likely return to the international debt market next year as it struggles to shake off the impact of a recession.

The budget passed by lawmakers assumes a deficit of 1.52 percent of the estimated gross domestic product - representing around 2.18 trillion naira ($7.2bn) - to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing.

In 2019, the debt office said it did not tap the international debt market because of time constraints before the end of its budget cycle. The West African country held its last Eurobond sale in 2018, its sixth outing, where it raised $2.86bn.

Nigeria emerged from a 2016 recession in 2017, but has struggled to boost growth. Ratings agency Moody's downgraded the country's outlook to negative from stable on Wednesday, citing an increased risk to government revenue.

Nigeria's Senate, parliament's upper house, passed the plan. It was also approved by the lower house a few hours later.

The budget assumes crude production of 2.18 million barrels a day and an oil price of $57 per barrel. Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer.

The spending plan includes a value-added tax increase from five percent to 7.5 percent. The budget is also up from the 8.83 trillion-naira budget for 2019 and tops the previous record spending plan, the 9.12 trillion-naira budget for 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari last week asked parliament to approve a request for $23bn in foreign borrowings for infrastructure projects. It was not immediately clear if that sum was included in the budget passed by lawmakers on Thursday.

A central goal of Buhari's tenure has been to increase non-oil revenues to reduce Nigeria's dependence on crude oil sales.

In the president's first term, he was embroiled in a power struggle with the legislature, leading to months of delays in the implementation of spending plans.

But loyalists in his ruling party now occupy key parliamentary roles, which has sped up the passage of legislation.

"I hope we continue to work together as colleagues to ensure the 2020 budget is fully implemented," said Senate President Ahmed Lawan after passing the budget.

Lawmakers increased the budget from the 10.33 trillion-naira ($31.3bn) spending plan that Buhari presented to them in October. The president must agree to the revised plan before signing it into law.

Al Jazeera

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Nigeria's Leon Balogun says fight against racism is a collective responsibility

Nigeria international Leon Balogun believes tackling racism is a collective responsibility and that more 'extreme punishments' are needed.

The 31-year-old Brighton defender also supports players walking off the pitch, but admitted it is only part of what needs to be done.

Balogun wants those not being targeted on the pitch to fully support their team-mates who feel that leaving the pitch is their only option, so that not too much pressure is put on the individuals.

"It's like they are afraid because the manager might say 'if you don't want to play, even though you might be an important player to us, we can replace you' and so that's something you will think about at least twice," Balogun told BBC Africa.

"That is what a team is supposed to be. We are a family. We are walking off [together], this would empower so many players who are racially abused because that way they then wouldn't feel alone."

Balogun says in order to get the message across, fans who do not take part in the abuse must also get involved in the battle against racism.

"You really take away what they love so much so that they understand we need to rethink here for a minute," he explained.

"So it will also affect people who are not involved in the racial abuse of the players.

"People who just happen to be in the stadium and they will be like 'wait a minute', those ones, let's call them idiots are taking away what we love, what we are passionate about."

Harsher punishments needed

A recent rise in incidents of racism across Europe has been met with financial penalties and partial stadium closures.

He is also adamant that the kind of sanctions being handed down are simply not having the necessary affect.

"At the point it's at right now I think you have to be extreme, even banning a team or like deducting points," he added.

"You need to shock people the same way racism shocks players.

"You probably have to go to a place they never expect, where you can actually hurt [punish] those involved in racist behaviour."

The Germany-born player has experienced racism first hand and points to one incident in 2018 when playing for Mainz and he was subjected to monkey chants from Hannover fans.

Balogun says authorities also have to make an example of the clubs when their supporters become involved in the racial abuse.

"When they are punished, clubs that are affected by the actions of their fans will have to do something about it," he added.

"They will have to find a solution. 'We are fighting for the championship here or we are fighting for relegation'. We need every point. So they can't allow or afford to lose points over something which is as stupid as racism."

By Mimi Fawaz