Monday, February 17, 2020

Video - Lagos artist transforms used tires into amazing artwork

In Nigeria, a sculptor has found a meeting point between art and waste management. Earnest Nkwocha is transforming discarded used tires, which litter streets in Lagos, into amazing work of art.

Video- Lagos officials roll out measures to protect city

As China battles to contain the Coronavirus, Africa's most populous city and Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos says it is putting measures in place to check any outbreak of the virus there. CGTN's Deji Badmus spoke with the city's Commissioner of Health about the measures being put in place, as well as his assessment of China's efforts to contain the virus.

Video - Nigeria secures $1mln U.S. grant for gas power plant

Nigeria has received more than $ 1 Million from the United States Trade and Development Agency to set up a gas power plant in Abuja. Africa's largest crude oil producer is looking to stop decades of gas flaring and to make far better use of its huge gas reserves to close its enormous electricity deficit.

Armed Herdsmen Kill 30 in Northern Nigeria’s Kastina State

At least 30 people were killed and several others injured on Friday in attacks by herdsmen in Nigeria’s northwestern Kastina state, the police said. In Tsauwa village, about 21 people were burned to death and some houses razed, while nine were shot in Dankar, the state’s Commissioner of Police Sanusi Buba said by phone Sunday. A suspect was arrested on Saturday and an investigation is under way, he said.

The villagers had an earlier disagreement with herdsmen, who made a reprisal attack, according to the commissioner.

“No one in the country has a right to take laws into his hands by the way of self-help or revenge,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in an emailed statement. “There is no place for violence in a decent society.” Attacks in northern states of Nigeria have led to a spate of kidnappings and raids, forcing people from their homes. The region has also been the epicenter for Islamist militants attacks, which pose a major security challenge for the West African nation’s government.

By Tope Alake


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Former Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo appointed as assistant coach

Nigeria have appointed former captain Joseph Yobo as assistant coach of the senior national team.

The 39-year-old will work with manager Gernot Rohr and replaces Imama Amapakabo in the technical crew, according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

His country's second most capped player, Yobo won the first of his 100 caps for Nigeria against Zambia in Chingola in 2001.

Yobo, who represented his country at the 1999 Under-20 World Cup, skippered the Super Eagles to Africa Cup of Nations success in South Africa in 2013.

The former Everton, Fenerbahce and Norwich City defender played in six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments between 2002 and 2013 in a 14-year career.

He featured in three World Cup tournaments in 2002, 2010 and 2014, playing ten matches at the World Cup finals in total - the most appearances for the West African nation on the biggest stage.

Yobo became the first African to captain Everton in October 2007 and made more than 250 appearances for the Toffees, helping them qualify for the Champions League in 2005 and playing in the side that lost the 2009 FA Cup final to Chelsea.

By Oluwashina Okeleji


Death toll from Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria jumps to 70

The death toll in Nigeria from an outbreak of Lassa fever has risen to 70 as confirmed cases shot up, according to authorities.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigerian agency responsible for the management of disease outbreaks, said in its week six update on Thursday that eight new deaths from Lassa fever were reported in three states.

"Four new healthcare workers were affected in Ondo, Delta and Kaduna states," the NCDC said in the update.

It said the number of suspected cases has "increased significantly" compared with the situation in mid-January, from more than 700 to 1,708.

Confirmed cases have also shot up to 472, it said.

Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

In 80 percent of cases, the fever is asymptomatic, but for some, the symptoms include high fever, headache, mouth ulcers, muscle aches, haemorrhaging under the skin and heart and kidney failure.

It has an incubation period of between six and 21 days and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretion.

Effective treatment

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the antiviral drug ribavirin appears to be an effective treatment for Lassa fever "if given early on in the course of the clinical illness".

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with about 200 million people, has five laboratories with the capability to diagnose the disease.

Lassa fever belongs to the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses but is much less deadly.

The disease is endemic to the West African country and its name comes from the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.

It infects between 100,000 and 300,000 people in the region every year with about 5,000 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Previously, cases of the disease have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Benin.

The number of cases usually climbs in January due to weather conditions during the dry season.

Al Jazeera

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Video - Mysterious disease in Nigeria kills 15

We're staying in Nigeria, where an unknown disease has killed 15 people in the northern part of the country. Medical experts say the disease does not appear to be Ebola, Lassa fever or corona-virus. With more details here's Ifiok Ettang reporting from Jos.

Video - Canoe-making enterprise continues to thrive in Nigeria

Canoes are among the oldest means of transportation in Nigeria, particularly in riverine areas of the country. Today, the use of ferries and ships are a common feature on Nigerian waterways, but the Canoe continues to hold its own. At the very heart of Lagos, the nation's commercial capital, there is a canoe-making enterprise which has been in business for over three decades. And, it's still thriving. CGTN's Deji Badmus has that report.

Video - Small scale rice farmers struggle to cope with market demands in Nigeria

The Nigerian government has put drastic measures in place to spur rice production, closing the country's land borders since August. That was to curb smuggling and give a boost to local farmers. But many of them say they are struggling to meet increasing demand, and that the price of rice has increased. Ifiok Ettang reports from Jos, North Central Nigeria.

Nigeria militants burn to death motorists as they sleep in their cars

Suspected militant Islamists have killed at least 30 people and abducted women and children in a raid in north-eastern Nigeria, officials say.

Most of the victims were travellers who were burnt to death while sleeping in their vehicles during an overnight stop, officials added

The attack took place in Auno town on a major highway in Borno State.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram and its offshoots have waged a brutal insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

About 35,000 people have been killed, more than two million have been left homeless and hundreds have been abducted in the conflict.

Nigeria's government has repeatedly said that the militants have been defeated, but attacks continue.

Borno State governor Babagana Zulum looked visibly shaken when he saw the charred bodies during a visit to Auno following Sunday night's attack, Nigeria's privately owned This Day news site reports.

The militants came in trucks mounted with heavy weapons, before killing, burning, and looting, state government spokesman Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

The assailants "killed not less than 30 people who are mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles," the governor's office said in a statement.

It also confirmed the abduction of women and children, but did not give a number.

Residents said most of the victims were travelling to the state capital, Maiduguri, but were forced to sleep in Auno, about 25km (16 miles) away, because the military had shut the road leading into the city.

The military has not yet commented.

Maiduguri was once the headquarters of Boko Haram, but government forces eventually drove the group out of the city.

It is unclear whether the assault was carried out by Boko Haram or a breakaway faction linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Calls for military shake-up

By Ishaq Khalid, BBC News, Abuja

The attack in Auno is a reminder of the threat posed by militants, and the vulnerability of communities.

When President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, he pledged to defeat the insurgents.

Although his troops have made significant progress in weakening the militants, the recent spate of attacks on both military and civilian targets threatens the initial gains.

Many Nigerians have therefore been calling for an overhaul of the security forces and the replacement of military chiefs.

They hope that new generals at the helm of the security forces will reinvigorate the fight against the militants and make sure that the decade-long insurgency does not get any worse.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Video - Ighalo shock Manchester United signing excites Nigeria

The biggest football news in Nigeria this past week is the signing of former Super Eagles international striker, Odion Ighalo by Manchester United. It came as a big shock to many in the country especially in Ajegunle, a poor community in Lagos, where Ighalo grew up and started playing football. CGTN's Deji Badmus brings us the story.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Trump is turning Canada into a haven for Nigerians

Nigerians have become central figures in the most heavily reported Canadian migration story in recent years, as the largest cohort streaming through Canada’s most controversial entry-point: the ditch at Roxham Road, in small-town Quebec, that became a magnet for asylum seekers.

More quietly, though, Nigerians are playing a significant role in this country’s overall immigration story: the numbers of people arriving through conventional channels—mainly as skilled workers—have spiked, nearly tripling since 2016. Canada now brings in more permanent residents from the west African country than it does from major traditional sources like Pakistan and the United States; in 2019, the flight of upper-middle class professionals like doctors and tech workers, along with their families, helped put Nigeria behind only India, China and the Philippines and as source countries for Canadian immigration, federal data show.

Now, this trend seems sure to accelerate thanks to that key disrupter of global migration patterns and norms, Donald Trump.

Last week, the Trump administration expanded the U.S. travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries to block or restrict immigration visas from four African states—Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania and Sudan—as well as Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar. As usual, the Department of Homeland Security dresses these bans up in bureaucratic language about vetting and national security. But it’s not lost on anybody that, amid his many hostile public rants about foreigners, the president has grumbled to aides that tens of thousands Nigerian visitors would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

These new restrictions will still allow Nigerians and others to come to United States on tourism or student visas—unlike the full clampdown on people from Iran, Syria and other countries Trump targeted in 2017—but prohibit the foreign nationals from obtaining permanent U.S. status through green cards. It’s most serious ripple effect is occurring in Nigeria, heavily populated yet oil-rich, with a burgeoning professional class. “New U.S. travel ban shuts door on African’s biggest economy,” a New York Times headline notes.

Johnson Babalola, the Nigerian-born managing partner of a Toronto immigration law firm, says he’s received a sharp uptick in inquiries from Nigerians this week. But they’re not all from Africa. A number are coming from Nigerians who live south of the border, including students and even professionals who already have U.S. green cards.

Why are Nigerians who’ve already securely immigrated to the U.S. suddenly wary? Because this new ban shuts the door to family reunification. “If I’m a green card holder and I can’t even bring in my spouse or my children or other relatives, then that’s tough,” says Babalola. “So you ask yourself is there somewhere I can go to that’s more open?

“Canada, quite frankly, is the obvious choice.”

Canada’s Express Entry program for skilled workers, which the Harper government launched in 2015, has a clear and predictable points system that already helped make it easier for well-educated and experienced newcomers to immigrate here. The number of Nigerians who immigrated to Canada rose from about 4,000 in 2014 to 12,000 last year, numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada show. Meanwhile, the number granted permanent residency in the United States during Trump’s tenure has been declining even before the current ban takes effect, according to data compiled by Robert Falconer, an immigration policy researcher at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy. During the last two years, Canada accepted more Nigerian immigrants than the U.S. did.

Falconer has also tracked newcomers to Canada from countries covered by Trump’s initial travel ban: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. In most cases, Canada’s intake of permanent residents from those countries rose, suggesting that this country will again pick up newcomers when its neighbour slams other doors.

Though reports suggest the Nigerian government is striving to maintain good relations with the United States, and to remedy the issues the administration claims are forcing it to put the ban in place, skilled workers may still prefer Canada, Falconer predicts. “If I’m a Nigerian professional considering a move to North America, I’d value certainty in the process over the whims of some mercurial presidency,” he says. Chad, which is Nigeria’s central African neighbour, was on Trump’s initial travel ban but came off a year later. Canada saw a spike in immigration from Chad during the ban and a decline afterwards, Falconer notes (though intake from Chad remained higher than pre-ban levels). The duration of Nigeria’s ban will determine whether Canada gets a smaller or larger bump, he adds.

Professionals from the rest of the developing world may also steer clear of U.S., lest their applications be suddenly ripped up because of a new Trump policy. Just as frustratingly, they could get into the country only to abruptly lose the chance to bring in children and spouses. “Other people from other nations will now be asking themselves: will we be next?” Babalola says.

A rise in conventional immigration, though, will not be the only effect of the new ban. To some, it appears tailor-made to induce Nigerians who land in the U.S. to enter Canada using the Roxham Road method—walking in and seeking asylum. They won’t be able to immigrate to Trump’s country, but they can get tourist visas to fly to New York and head straight to the Quebec-New York border, as thousands of Nigerians already have. The new policy will foreclose their option of seeking asylum in the United States.

But asylum claims by Nigerians dipped last year after efforts by Canadian and American officials to curb the pattern, and many of those who still choose the route are bound for disappointment. Only one-third of Nigerian refugee claims are being accepted by Canadian adjudicators, far lower than the typical success rate for asylum seekers, according to the most recent Immigration and Refugee Board data analysed by York University law professor Sean Rehaag. More than 10,000 more claimants from Nigeria await their hearings in a badly backlogged system.

Qualified professionals would have far more certainty coming in through the Express Entry, Babalola says. They and their relatives outnumber the number of Nigerians trying to move here as refugees. And thanks to the latest bit of migration upheaval the U.S. president has wrought, we can expect more of Africa’s best and brightest to boost the Canadian economy and plug our skills shortages.

By Jason Markusoff


Nigerians in limbo after Trump adds Nigeria to US travel ban list

Ikenna is in a bind. On the one hand, the US green card holder has been advised not to travel outside the United States for a year to avoid the risk of failing to meet the eligibility criteria for citizenship. On the other hand, his newly wedded wife in Nigeria cannot visit him. She had applied for a tourist visa days before the US suspended a "drop box" procedure in May 2019 that allowed frequent visitors to reapply without being subjected to the interview process - but her application was denied.

The healthcare professional said his wife was told that since she was married to a permanent resident, he should file an immigrant visa application on her behalf instead. As such, Ikenna quit his job in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and relocated to the US in late July to begin the process. In the meantime, his spouse applied for a business visa in October to no avail.

And now things have become even more complicated.

Last week, the White House said immigrants from Nigeria and five other countries will no longer be eligible for visas allowing them to live in the US permanently, expanding its controversial travel ban policy. A presidential proclamation on January 31 cited Nigeria's failure to comply with security and information sharing requirements, and its high "terror" risk to the US as reasons for imposing the restriction.

"I filed for her (immigrant visa application) in November and now the ban has been announced," says a frustrated Ikenna. "I've been a beneficiary of the long, tedious, nebulous process to obtain my legal permanent residence, and now I'm experiencing the same process to get the visa for my wife."

He remains unconvinced about the ban, arguing non-immigrant visa applicants were less scrutinised and therefore more of a threat to US security than those applying for immigrant visas.

"The [US government] is not just punishing Nigerians," he said about the travel restrictions, scheduled to come into effect on February 21. "They're punishing American citizens," he added, referring to the thousands of other Nigerians processing immigrant visas for their immediate family members in Nigeria.

That sentiment also rings true for Chienye, a product marketing manager who is currently petitioning for an immigrant visa for his mother in Nigeria. He feels the ban is unfair and infringes on his rights as a US citizen.

"Melania Trump herself used the same immigration method to bring her parents to the United States," he said of the wide of US President Donald Trump. "That's one of the luxuries of being a citizen. You can extend that and bring close family members to come be with you here."

A citizen since 2018, 37-year-old Chienye says he was excited about bringing his mother over as she has never visited in the 15 years he has lived in the US, first in Minnesota and then Washington states. It was something he had hoped to change now that he was financially solvent to pay for her trip.

"My mum is getting old and I want to bring her here to relax and enjoy herself even if it's for a few months."

While non-immigrant visa applicants remain unaffected, Nigerian student Onyinye is worried about the ban's knock-on effect. The mother of two is completing her nursing prerequisites in Maryland.

"I don't want a situation where I have to renew my papers and can't because of the ban," she said, speculating on the possibility the US government might unofficially limit the numbers of student visa issued to Nigerians. "I just don't want to be undocumented here."

In 2018, Nigerians were issued a total of 7,922 immigrant visas, the second highest among African nations. Over half of that number went to immediate relatives of US citizens. Incidentally, following visa fee hikes and suspension of the interview waiver Drop Box application last year, applications for non-immigrant visas dropped by 21 percent.

Approximately 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their non-immigrant visa in 2018, making them the third-largest defaulters behind Venezuelans and Brazilians, according to data from the US Department of Homeland Security. Some insist this may have informed the recent restrictions. Others maintain the ban is a ploy to further curtail the number Nigerians coming to the US.

"I think the Trump administration is trying to limit immigration from black and brown countries," argued Chienye, adding most Nigerians in the US are educated and dismissing the security reasons cited for the move.

"The only reason Trump is banning Nigerians is that he doesn't want black immigrants in the United States, and Nigerians make up a huge portion," he said.

For Onyinye, the right to live and work legally in the US supersedes the possibility of acquiring citizenship in the long run. And though she counts herself fortunate that her husband and children live with her, she wishes she could bring her mother over.

"If that's not possible, I'll have to work more so I can visit Nigeria to see her more often," she said before acknowledging the ban might prevent her from re-entering the US. "Until that's cleared up, I guess no trips for me."

According to immigration lawyer Leila Mansouri, who has handled cases for Iranians and Iranian Americans affected by the 2017 Muslim ban that restricted travellers from Iran and several other Muslim-majority countries, the text of the recent travel ban is not clear on whether Nigerians with non-immigrant visas are barred from applying for permanent residency.

"Based on how the [US government] handled it for Iranians, I think that [Nigerians] already in the US will be able to naturalise or get married and adjust their status," she said, adding that those who leave the US might find it difficult to re-enter.

Last week, the Nigerian government announced it had established a committee to address the updated requirements. On Tuesday, Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama appeared in a joint news conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stating Nigeria had been "blindsided with the announcement of the visa restrictions." He maintained, however, the country was in the process of fulfilling the demands and had already "ticked most of the boxes".

"Essentially, there were security measures that were taken with regards to electronic [and] lost and stolen passports," noted Onyeama, adding Nigeria was working to make data for the aforementioned and information on suspected terrorists available to the US and member countries of Interpol "very soon".

Like many in Nigeria and the US, Onyinye is hopeful both countries will reach a resolution.

"I reckon the ban will only be for a short time," she said.

By Shayera Dark

Al Jazeera

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Video - Some Nigerian businesses affected by coronavirus outbreak

With China being one of Nigeria's biggest trading partners, there are concerns that the Nigerian economy could take a big hit as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. Some businesses are already being affected, as CGTN's Deji Badmus reports.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Living with dementia in Nigeria

Before she started to forget things, Elizabeth Mustafa was relearning how to walk. Her diabetic foot ulcer had gotten out of control and her right leg had been amputated.

Leaning on her four-wheeled walker, she would try to manoeuvre herself around the house as someone, usually her daughter-in-law Victoria, accompanied her, watching, guiding, removing objects from her path.

Three years before she lost her leg, in 2010, Elizabeth fled religious rioting in northwestern Nigeria after receiving threats that her house and grocery store would be burned down. Seeking safety, she moved to Ibadan to live with one of her six sons and his family.

She loved telling her four grandsons stories about life in Ghana, where she was born and lived with her parents until 1969 when Ghana's then-prime minister, Kofi Busia, passed the Aliens Compliance Order, forcing African migrants - many of them Nigerian, like Elizabeth's parents - to leave.

Now 66, Elizabeth still enjoys telling stories about her life back in Ghana. The boys sit around her in their living room in Alarere, Ibadan, listening attentively and chipping in with anecdotes of their own as she remembers the school she attended, the friends she had.

"They [Ghanaians] are nice people. They show love," she says in Ashante Twi, before translating it to English.

A smile spreads across Elizabeth's face as she eases herself onto the brown sofa, holding a small radio to her belly.

"She remembers things from long ago. All others are pockets of memory," Victoria Mustafa explains gently.

'Where am I?'

The Mustafas live on a neat, quiet compound. The white-walled living room is punctuated by cream curtains that drape the windows and the entrance to the passageway leading to the bedrooms.

Victoria says this was where they were sitting a few years ago, shortly after the amputation, when Elizabeth suddenly asked: "Where am I? What am I doing here? What's the name of this town?"

Some mornings, Elizabeth would hold a tube of toothpaste for minutes, staring at it, before finally asking what it was used for. There were times when she could not remember the names of her relatives.

"We were thinking, 'What's this? What's going on?' We didn't understand what was happening," says 42-year-old Victoria, who is wearing a purple shirt - the official colour of the Alzheimer's awareness movement.

Victoria, who is from Kaduna, first met her future mother-in-law in 2004, two years before she married her son and moved to Ibadan.

"She was active and loved to tell stories," she recalls.

The change seemed sudden. Initially, the family assumed she was seeking ways to cope with the loss of her leg. Then they grew irritated with her.

"We thought she was just being difficult," Victoria says.

It was when she started to wake in the middle of the night, struggling to reach her walker, demanding that the door be unlocked so that she could go and open her grocery store, that they realised something was wrong.

'A pathology of the brain'

Victoria and her husband took Elizabeth to the University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCH), where they were referred to a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist treated her for depression. But, says Victoria, "after a long time, she was still not well".

They took her to the hospital again in 2016 and, three years after she first started showing signs of confusion, Elizabeth was diagnosed with dementia.

"I had never heard of dementia," Victoria says.

Dr Temitope Farombi, a consultant geriatric neurologist at the Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre at UCH, explains that relatives often assume that the early signs of dementia - confusion, irritability, difficulty performing familiar tasks and memory loss - are just normal signs of ageing.

But, Farombi says, "ageing is a physiological process, while dementia is a pathology of the brain. It presents in the form of memory loss and behavioural abnormalities".

The doctor sits at her desk in her office, explaining that issues affecting older people are rarely reported.

"Early diagnosis helps stall other associated risk factors that could accelerate the progression of dementia," Farombi explains, adding that "meditation can help improve cognition".

Farombi started working with dementia patients in 2015. She says she looks for signs, like an inability to remember the name of an object (asking for a thing that is used for eating, for example, but not recalling the word 'spoon'), going to the mall with a shopping list and coming back with nothing, or driving to an event but returning in a taxi.

Other symptoms include difficulty processing instructions, confusion about time or place, being suspicious of people around them, and depression, she explains. People in the later stages of dementia can experience bowel and bladder incontinence and an inability to communicate. "And at the end, you see them bedbound, severely dependent on people," Farombi says.

A healthy lifestyle and diet can help to reduce susceptibility to dementia, the doctor explains, but "no drug can reverse it".

The challenge of geriatric care

Love and support from family and early medical intervention can help improve the living standards of people with dementia, says Olayinka Ajomale, a consultant geriatric social worker and the executive director of the Centre on Ageing, Development and the Rights of Older Persons in Ibadan. But, says Ajomale, geriatric care is at an early stage in Nigeria.

UCH is the only hospital in Nigeria with a full-fledged geriatric care centre.

Every year, experts in different aspects of gerontology are invited to conduct training sessions for doctors from across the country at the UCH's geriatric care centre. "All tertiary institutions should have centres like this, not just units," says Ajomale.

In September last year, the federal government announced a plan to establish six regional geriatric centres in tertiary hospitals.

Globally, the number of people living with dementia is currently estimated at 50 million. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that by 2050, 80 percent of those aged 60 and over will be residing in low-and-middle-income countries where there is limited access to geriatric care and support such as adequate facilities and trained personnel.

There is a shortage of data on dementia in Nigeria but the data that exists suggests the number of cases has grown dramatically.

"It's [dementia] increasing but there is no increasing expertise," Farombi reflects.

The caregivers

It is not just those suffering from dementia who carry the burden of the disease. The stress it puts on caregivers is also a concern.

"It can be frustrating, repeating the same thing over and over again and the person does not remember," says Victoria. "It takes a toll."

As Elizabeth's primary caregiver, Victoria is responsible for her welfare, including checking her blood sugar at least twice a week, ensuring that the doors in the house are open for ease of movement and that there are no objects around with which she could harm herself.

Every morning, after the family say their prayers in the living room, Elizabeth goes to the bathroom. There is a slab on which she sits and then gently manoeuvres into the bath. Victoria tells Elizabeth to raise her arms and wash them, and she does. She tells her to wash her legs, and she does. She helps pour water over her body. Sometimes they sing, sometimes they laugh about an old memory. When she is finished, Elizabeth is helped out of the bathtub, her walker is passed to her and she slowly makes her way into the bedroom to get dressed.

"It limits the kind of work I can do," Victoria says. "I can't leave her on her own. I have to be back home to ensure she takes lunch."

For flexibility, Victoria works selling bedsheets from her car boot, often delivering them to her customers in their homes or offices.

She is also a member of the Dementia Caregivers Association in Ibadan. There are about 30 members, although only 15 usually attend their monthly meetings. The vast majority are women. The group share their challenges and offer advice on how to best care for their loved ones.

Sometimes, Victoria says, a new person comes and talks about how they started praying and fasting when their relative started to show signs of dementia, believing that there was a spiritual cause for the change. When they discover that there are others going through the same thing, they shed tears of relief, Victoria explains. "There is a sense of belonging," she adds, solemnly.

"We just don't treat the patients, we also treat the caregivers," explains Farombi, who usually attends the gatherings. "The meetings make their burden lighter. It also gives them a sense of responsibility. They go out and talk to people about dementia."

'Until the battery runs out'

Before the dementia, Elizabeth enjoyed attending social events, spending time with her sons in different parts of the country and playing a leading role in her church. But the disease has changed all that.

The radio has now become one of her regular companions and her window into the world. "Sometimes she listens until the battery runs out," Victoria explains.

Elizabeth picks up the radio that has been sitting in her lap. "Why is it not on?" she asks, fumbling with the buttons.

"It's dead, Mama," answers Victoria. "There's no light to charge it now."

The youngest of Elizabeth's grandsons - a four-year-old with a near-permanent smile - goes to his grandmother's side and begins to tickle her.

Then he begins singing the times table, and she joins in. When the boy's knowledge has been exhausted, Elizabeth continues.

"That's what they do," Victoria laughs. "The children talk to her, play with her."

The oldest, who is 12, admits that it can be frustrating when Grandma wakes up in the middle of the night and starts banging on her bed frame.

At this admission, they all break out in laughter, including Elizabeth.

Elder abuse

Caring for elders involves more than healthcare, and elder abuse is a very real spectre that hangs over patients and those who care for them.

Ajomale speaks passionately about the issue, which is "not just beating, but pushing, shoving, pulling them forcefully," he says, his eyes widening as he recalls cases he has encountered over 20 years of social work.

"Some caregivers, children, and grandchildren do this … there's usually an element of trust between the abuser and the older person."

The abuse can be verbal, psychological, physical and sexual, he explains, although he says the most common form is physical.

"Most of them (elders with dementia) do repeat stories and people tend to shut them up. That's emotional abuse," he says.

There have even been instances of people with HIV raping elderly women, believing that this would cleanse their blood, he says.

Taking elderly individuals away from an environment they are used to and where they have friends, in order to live with relatives elsewhere, can also be harmful. Often, they will be left alone for long stretches of time, with only the television for company, he says. "That is psychological abuse. How do you want them to cope? At the end of the day, they fall into depression."

Ajomale is also concerned about abuse in hospitals and says that some health practitioners believe it is a waste to spend their limited resources on caring for those who will soon die anyway.

Nigeria has no functional national policy governing age discrimination or elderly welfare. A policy was proposed in March 2003, but it has remained in draft form ever since.

"What made it fail is that it placed too much emphasis on health," Ajomale explains. "Meanwhile there are other challenges faced by older persons. A policy should be encompassing."

There was another effort in 2007 that also failed. Ajomale was one of those who drafted the bill.

"But there's another one in the pipeline," he says, adding that several ministeries were involved in drafting it. "It has passed the second reading. We have been told to fine-tune it so it's implementable in all regions of the country."

Shame, love and medication

A culture of shame remains around dementia in Nigeria. One of the many misconceptions is that people living with dementia are witches.

"We have seen cases where old women were openly beaten or stoned," says Farombi, "they are pressured to say they are witches."

Deeply concerned by this, she started the Dementia not Witchcraft Campaign, a series of lectures targeted at different groups in Ibadan.

For a year after Elizabeth's diagnosis, she visited the hospital every two weeks for monitoring. There has been an improvement since she was first diagnosed and now she is only required to go every few months.

She can remember what toothpaste is used for now and no longer wakes up in the night to go to the grocery store she used to run decades ago. She can also communicate her feelings.

"If she's hungry, she will say it," says Victoria, adding: "The drugs have really helped."

Elizabeth's favourite food is amala. "Amala and fish," adds one of the boys. "Amala pokipoki," Elizabeth says, and everyone laughs.

"[Our] communication changed, the aggression was removed, we showed her more love," says Victoria. "It's still tasking, but the emotional pressure is no longer the way it used to be."

Elizabeth looks at the radio on her lap for a moment. She then takes it to her ear. "Why is it not working?"

"Because it's dead," Victoria reminds her. "No light to charge it now."

"I'm hungry," Elizabeth announces. Within minutes, Victoria places a plate of amala and ewedu before her. "The most important things," Victoria concludes "are medication and love."

By Kemi Falodun

Al Jazeera

Nigeria working to have U.S. travel ban lifted

Nigeria has begun working on the security and information sharing requirements for the lifting of a U.S. travel ban on prospective immigrants from the African nation, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Onyeama said Nigeria was ‘blindsided’ by the U.S. decision on Friday to add it and five other nations to an expanded version of the U.S. visa ban.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued an expanded version of his travel ban on Friday as part of a presidential proclamation which said Washington would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria.

Temporary visas for tourists, business people, students and workers from those nations will not be affected, it said.

U.S. officials said the countries failed to meet U.S. security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions.

“We’ve identified all those requirements and we had actually started working on all them,” Onyeama said. “It was very gratifying to come here, speaking to U.S. officials and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind this.”

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is the biggest country on the list whose citizens will be suspended from U.S. visas that can lead to permanent residency.

Pompeo also said Nigeria could do more in sharing important national security information, adding that he was ‘optimistic’ that Abuja would move in that direction.

He said some of the areas were security measures taken with regards to passports and information about criminal histories and suspected terrorist information being made available.

“With regards to lost and stolen passports, we’re putting in place the architecture that will now make that – the information and the data on that - immediately available to the U.S. and all the member states, member countries of Interpol,” Onyeama said.

He added that once all the criteria was met, Nigeria was looking forward to being taken off this visa restriction list. He did not predict a time frame.

The original travel ban, issued in 2017, barred nearly all immigrants and travelers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in 2018.

Trump has made tougher immigration enforcement a central focus of his 2020 re-election campaign. His travel ban policy is popular with Republican supporters.

The new travel ban will take effect on Feb. 21, according to the proclamation.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Video - 38% of Nigerian children miss out on primary schooling

Nigeria has one the highest rates of out-of-school children globally. UNICEF says that about 4 out of 10 primary age children are not accessing basic education. CGTN's Deji Badmus reports on the situation at one school, on the outskirts of the capital Abuja.

Nigeria to receive $308m from Sani Abacha loot

Nigeria is set to receive around $308 million seized from former military dictator Sani Abacha under a deal backed by the United States and the island of Jersey, US prosecutors said Monday.

The sum is the latest to be recovered from the accounts of Abacha, an army officer who ruled Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998 aged 54, which sparked an ongoing search for hundreds of millions of dollars he stole and hid abroad.

The repatriation of the money from Jersey, in the English Channel off the coast of northern France, follows a 2014 US court ruling authorizing the seizure of $500 million of cash laundered by Abacha in accounts worldwide, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

The $308 million recovered represents "corrupt monies laundered during and after the military regime of General Abacha" together with his son and a number of associates via US financial institutions and the purchase of bonds, the Justice Department said.

After several court challenges to the 2014 ruling, the government of Jersey seized the $308 million located on the island.

"General Abacha and his cronies robbed Nigerians of vast public resources and abused the US and international financial systems to launder their criminal proceeds," Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's criminal division, said in a statement.

"Today's landmark agreement returns to the people of Nigeria hundreds of millions of the embezzled monies through a lawful process that ensures transparency and accountability."

The agreement includes provisions to ensure "transparency and accountability," the Justice Department said, and after the US and Jersey transfer the money to Nigeria it is set to be spent on three major road projects across the country which has long struggled with waste and fraud in infrastructure projects.

In April 2018, Nigeria announced that it had received more than $300 million from Switzerland as part of money seized from the family of Abacha.

Those funds went to pay part of the bill of a government welfare scheme targeted at the country's poor.

The Justice Department is also seeking to recover other sums linked to Abacha, including $30 million in Britain, $144 million in France and $177 million located in trusts that name Abacha's associates and relatives as beneficiaries, according to the statement.


Monday, February 3, 2020

Video - Nigeria is the most affected country of fake football scouts

Nigeria is dealing with the growing problem of fake football scouts taking advantage of the country's up-and-coming footballers. Many of the young victims have lost possessions and more in pursuit for a career abroad. Experts are now calling on the government to protect young and vulnerable football stars from becoming victims. CGTN's Phil Ihaza has more.

U.S. travel ban shuts door on Nigeria

The newlyweds had already been apart for half their yearlong marriage. Miriam Nwegbe was in Nigeria. Her husband was in Baltimore, and until she could join him, everything was on hold: finding a home together, trying for their first baby, becoming an American family.

Then, on Friday, their lives were thrown into disarray by the expansion of President Trump’s ban on immigration to include six new countries, including four in Africa. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, was one of them.

“America has killed me,” Ms. Nwegbe’s husband, Ikenna, an optometrist, texted her when he heard. “We are finished.”

A year after the Trump administration announced that a major pillar of its new strategy for Africa was to counter the growing influence of China and Russia by expanding economic ties to the continent, it slammed the door shut on Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy.

he travel restrictions also apply to three other African countries — Sudan, Tanzania, and Eritrea — as well as to Myanmar, which is accused of genocide against its Muslim population, and Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state.

The ban will prevent thousands of people from being able to move to the United States.

The initial ban, which was put into effect in 2017, restricted travel from some Muslim-majority countries as part of Mr. Trump’s plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.” It has already affected more than 135 million people — many of them Christians — from seven countries.

With the new expansion, the ban will affect nearly a quarter of the 1.2 billion people on the African continent, according to W. Gyude Moore, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, a research group, potentially taking a heavy toll on African economies — and on America’s image in the region.

“Chinese, Turkish, Russian, and British firms, backed by their governments, are staking positions on a continent that will define the global economy’s future,” he said, adding, “One hopes that the United States would follow suit and fully engage with the continent — but that hope fades.”

The rationale for the new restrictions varies depending on country, but the White House announcement said that most of the six countries added to the list did not comply with identity-verification and information-sharing rules.

And Nigeria, it said, posed a risk of harboring terrorists who may seek to enter the United States. The country has been hit brutally by the Islamist group Boko Haram, though the extremists have shown little sign that they have the capability to export their fight overseas.

Critics, many of whom also denounced the initial ban, saw something far more venal at play.

“Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security — they’re about discriminating against people of color,” Senator Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential candidate, declared on Sunday. “They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideologies."

Two Democrats still in the race also weighed in. Elizabeth Warren described the measure as a “racist, xenophobic Muslim ban.” Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called it “a disgrace.”

And Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker, said Democratic lawmakers would push ahead with a measure to forbid religious discrimination in immigration policy.

Beyond those people who may now never make it across American borders, the new ban could also affect millions who have no plans to travel to the United States themselves but may have benefited from the billions of dollars in remittances visa holders send home each year.

The United States may also emerge a loser, studies suggest. Nigerians are among the most successful and highly educated immigrants to America. (Mr. Trump, demanding to know why immigration policies did not favor people from countries like Norway, once disparaged those from Africa and Haiti, and said Nigerians would never go back to their “huts” if they were allowed in.)

Hadiza Aliyu lives in Borno, the Nigerian state at the epicenter of the Boko Haram crisis that has left tens of thousands dead. But she thought she had found a way out.

Ms. Aliyu was preparing to apply to move to the United States, where she once studied and where her two brothers live.

She was furious when she heard about the extended ban.

“Trump has been looking for a way to get at us Africans for a very long time, and finally got us,” Ms. Aliyu said. “To hell with Republicans and their supremacist ideas.”

Mika Moses moved to Minnesota from Nigeria nine years ago to join his mother and siblings, who were allowed entry after the family was attacked in religious riots in their northern city of Kaduna in 1991. His wife, Juliet, and their daughter were planning to join him, but are stuck in Kaduna, where Ms. Moses sells soda in a small store.

She said they were heartbroken by the news that the move would now be impossible.

“I have been struggling to raise our daughter alone,” she said. “Why would Trump do this to us, after we have waited for nine years?”

Nigerians already living in the United States have been calling lawyers to try to figure out whether they will have to leave. Marilyn Eshikena, a biomedical research ethicist, has lived in the United States for the past seven years, but her visa expires this year. Her employer sponsored her application for a green card.

“If it turns out that everything needs to stop, they will feel cheated, because they spent a lot of money on this process,” Ms. Eshikena said. “I will also feel cheated, because all the time that I spent working here will ultimately be for nothing. I can’t even imagine what packing up and leaving will mean for me.”

Her departure may also have serious consequences for her brother, who is studying in Canada. Ms. Eshikena has been sending part of her earnings to help pay his rent.

Some Nigerians praised Mr. Trump for his decision, arguing it might make it more difficult for those responsible for stealing government money back home to find cover in the United States, and force the country’s leaders to be more honest and work harder to develop Nigeria.

In 2018, 7,922 immigrant visas were issued to Nigerians. Of these, 4,525 went to the immediate relatives of American citizens, and another 2,820 to other family members. An estimated 345,000 people born in Nigeria were living in the United States in 2017, according to the census bureau.

If the visas are coveted in Nigeria, they are just as prized in African countries like Eritrea, where government repression is rampant and those who try to leave face obstacles and danger. With more than 500,000 refugees living outside the country, Eritrea was the ninth-largest source of refugees in the world in 2018, according to the United Nations, but fewer than 900 Eritreans received immigrant visas to the United States that year.

Abraham Zere, a journalist who moved to the United States from Eritrea in 2012, had dreamed of living in the same country as his mother since leaving home. On Saturday, he said his plans to bring her to the United States had been thrown into disarray. His family has been in constant communication on the messaging platform WhatsApp trying to understand what the ban will mean for them.

“This decision complicates everything and creates fear,” said Mr. Zere, 37, a doctoral candidate at the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University.

Mr. Zere and other Eritreans say they can’t go back. They fear they will be punished for criticizing the government or leaving without approval.

“If I can’t be reunited with my mother,” Mr. Zere said, “it nullifies the whole notion of protection and punishes innocent citizens for reasons they had no slightest part in.”

With nine siblings scattered across Europe, Africa, and the United States, Mr. Zere said their family has never had a full family portrait taken.

The economic consequences of the ban could be far-reaching, experts said.

“Being cut off from the largest economy in the world systematically is problematic,” said Nonso Obikili, a Nigerian economist.

The biggest impact, he said, could be on remittances.

Nigerians abroad send home billions of dollars each year, $24 billion in 2018 alone, according to the accounting firm PwC. With Nigeria’s economy highly dependent on oil and its unemployment rate at 23 percent, this money provides a lifeline for millions of its citizens.

The new restrictions come at a time when the United States says it wants to jockey for power in Africa, particularly through its “Prosper Africa” initiative announced last summer, which aims to double two-way trade and investment.

“If on the one hand you’re trying to make a push into Africa, and on the other hand you’re barring the largest African country by population from moving to your country, then it does send mixed signals,” Mr. Obikili said.

In January 2017, Mr. Trump’s travel ban targeted several other African nations, including Chad, Libya, and Somalia. Chad was later removed from that list, but the executive order halted the plans of thousands of Somali refugees living in camps in Kenya who were about to travel to the United States and start new lives.

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, nearly 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their nonimmigrant visas in 2018. The number of Nigerians visiting the United States dropped sharply after the Trump administration made it harder for visitors to obtain visas last summer.

The new restrictions affect those who want to move to the United States, not visit it.

The six countries newly added to the immigration ban are not easily categorized together by religion. Nigeria, for example is thought to be home to more than 200 million people, roughly half of them Muslim and half Christian. Of the four African countries newly singled out, only Sudan has a significant majority of Muslims.

The United States has left Sudan on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, even as the country works to reverse decades of authoritarian rule under President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was deposed in April.

“This ban contributes to the overall impression that Sudan remains a very fragile state,” said Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, a research group.

Many people from the countries newly targeted by the ban said the uncertainty was the hardest thing to bear. Ms. Nwegbe, the newlywed, who works as the chief operating officer of a tourism company that tries to encourage people to visit Africa, said the ban came as she and her husband were building their future.

The New York Times

Friday, January 31, 2020

Video - Coronavirus may affect economic exchange between China and Nigeria

The coronavirus outbreak is posing a huge economic threat. Not just in China, but in Africa as well. In Nigeria, several traders travel to China to buy goods, while thousands of Chinese citizens live and work in the country. Economic exchange between the countries accounts for over $85 billion in trade volume. And as Kelechi Emekalam reports, that may change as the coronavirus continues to spread.

'Me Too' Nigeria style: women opt for martial arts over marches

Frustrated by one of the world’s highest rates of sexual assault, poor law enforcement and tribal taboos that keep people quiet about gender violence, some Nigerian women are breaking with tradition to take self-defense classes.

A local rights group and boxing coach have joined to offer free training that is tearing the lid off the largely unspoken problem of everyday violence against women in a country already well known for atrocities against girls by jihadist fighters.

New student Adeola Olamide says she was filled with fear and shame when first assaulted. When the attacks continued, the petite 35-year-old mother-of-three decided to learn techniques needed to fight off a bigger, stronger opponent.

“For us, the idea of a woman learning to defend herself is revolutionary,” said Olamide, who described having been choked and beaten several times in assaults.

“As a woman in Nigeria, you’re not supposed to have a voice. Every tribe has this in common.”

She spoke minutes before stepping into her first class run by rights group Women Impacting Nigeria and coach Rehia Giwa-Osagie, head of local gym Elitebox.

Their hands wrapped and stuffed into boxing gloves, the students soon filled the gym with hissing sounds as they practiced jabs and uppercuts against heavy bags.

Boxing and karate instructors taught Olamide and about 20 other students basic blocking, striking and escape techniques in the two-hour class, which is offered monthly to any women willing to step out of their cultural comfort zone.

Nigerian media are awash with horrifying stories of women and girls kidnapped and trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation. And the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in 2014 by Boko Haram jihadists sparked global outcry.

But everyday assaults have stayed under the radar.


Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher for Human Rights Watch, said law enforcement was inadequate. “When this is coupled with the negative perceptions that reinforce injustices against women, it culminates in a pretty hostile environment.”


Coach Rehia said the classes were in a nascent stage but should help combat an “enormous” problem in Nigeria. Official national data on violence against women was not available, but an official at the Women’s Affairs Ministry said the government was making a strong effort to combat the issue.

After her first session, Olamide’s confidence grew.

“There’s something about doing this with other women, reclaiming our dignity outside of a traditional therapeutic process,” said the mother-of-three, still sweating. “It’s different from sitting in a circle and telling our stories.”

Nigeria is the ninth most dangerous country in the world for women, according to a 2018 report from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The most dangerous was India.

“I had never heard of a women’s self-defense workshop in Nigeria. It’s just not done. But the #Me Too movement we’ve seen around the world has prompted people to ask how we can prevent violence,” said Tope Imasekha, head of the rights group.

#Me Too was ignited by revelations in 2017 of assaults against women in Hollywood and became a global movement.

“Traditionally, we believe that we should be defended by men: our fathers, husbands and brothers. But with more women working and walking around independently, we need to defend ourselves,” said Olamide’s classmate Motunrayo Naiwo, 39.

Naiwo said she had been groped on the streets of Lagos, and seen other women accosted while men stand by watching.

“Now, with this training, even I might be able to help another woman if she’s in trouble,” she said.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Video - Nigerian Artist turns passion for drawing into a career

Nigerian artist,Emmanuel Fisayo has turned his passion for drawing into full-fledged career. As a child Fisayo replicated drawings from texts books. Now his pencil drawings are tractiving art lovers in galleries.

Nigeria shuts Chinese supermarket due to coronavirus

A supermarket operated by Chinese nationals has been shut down in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission closed Panda Supermarket because of its alleged discriminatory practices against non-Asians and as a cautionary step following the outbreak of coronavirus in China.

FCCPC said it confirmed the allegations against supermarket located in Jabi area of Abuja.

Apart from confirming the allegations, FCCPC said “seafood and animals imported illegally from China” were discovered.

“Products with expired and irregular shelf life were also discovered,” FCCPC said on Wednesday.

“Regulatory activities to remove all offensive products from the Supermarket continues.”

FCCPC discovered some products on sale with expiry dates set for 2019, 2073 and 2089.

The Guardian

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Video - Nigerian Central bank raises cash reserve ratio amid inflation fears

The fear of a further spike in inflation has compelled the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria to adopt a tightening stance, by raising the cash reserve ratio for banks in the country from 22.5 per cent to a new level of 27.5 per cent. Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiel, says the move will mop up excess liquidity in the Nigerian economy and check rising inflation which has been on an upward trajectory since August last year. Here is CGTN's Deji Badmus with more on that story.

Lagos to ban motorbike taxis

Nigeria’s biggest city has partially banned the use of motorcycle taxis following an escalating number of fatal accidents, dealing a blow to Softbank Group Corp.-backed OPay and a potential boost to Uber Technologies Inc.

The Lagos State Government cracked down on the popular way to dodge traffic congestion in the commercial capital of Africa’s most populous country, calling the bikes and their three-wheel equivalents a “menace” that are responsible for “scary figures” regarding loss of lives. Drivers ignore traffic laws and allow criminals to use the ride-hailing services as getaway vehicles, Gbenga Omotoso, commissioner for information and strategy, said in an emailed statement.

Between 2016 and 2019, “the total number of deaths from reported cases is over 600,” Omotoso said. “The only motorcycles allowed are the ones used for the delivery of mail services,” he added by phone.

The ruling is a setback for OPay, which is based in Oslo and has shareholders including Softbank and China’s Meituan Dianping. The mobile-payments company started its ORide service in Lagos in June, before raising $120 million later in the year to expand its various online services in countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Kenya. Meanwhile Uber -- which has operated in Nigeria for more than five years -- may lose a fierce rival.

A spokesman for OPay declined to comment., a rival motorbike-taxi operator backed by investors including Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. of Japan, said the company would contact the state government about how the ban will work.

“The concern for us is how this will be implemented, because we don’t want people getting hurt,” Co-Founder Chinedu Azodoh said by phone. “We are engaging with the government.”

Lagos has one of the highest car densities in the world, with about 200 per kilometer, leading to notorious traffic problems. Its vast and underutilized waterways are seen as a viable alternative to relieve pressure on the roads, and Uber started to experiment with boats last year.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Video - Nigerian Para-athletes eye qualification marks for Olympics

Paralympic athletes in Nigeria have begun their trials to secure a spot and represent the country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria is conducting the selection process to meet world standards in the various categories. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam has more.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would add more countries to his travel ban list. While he gave no details, a source familiar with the proposal said the tentative list included seven nations - Nigeria, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania. [nL1N29R224]

An announcement was imminent, said Mohammed, adding that while Abuja had reached out to the U.S. administration since learning about the plan, his government did not get any warning and had not been told any possible reason.

“We are doing everything we can,” Mohammed told Reuters in an interview. “A travel ban is going to send the wrong signal to investors, it is going to stifle the good of the country and vulnerable people who need medication and schools will be the most affected.”

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, is a U.S. anti-terrorism partner and has a large diaspora residing in the United States.

It is not clear what sort of restrictions Nigeria might face if added to the list and the U.S. administration has so far not commented. Under the current version of the U.S. travel ban on foreign countries, citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, and some Venezuelan officials and their relatives are blocked from obtaining a large range of U.S. immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

“Nigeria has done very well in the area of fighting terrorism,” Mohammed said, adding that Washington help drive militant groups such as Islamic State out of Nigeria.

Asked about Nigeria’s move to close its land borders last August with neighbours such as Benin and Niger to fight smuggling, Mohammed said the move had been a success and boosted food production inside the country.

“Every attempt in the last 16 years to persuade our neighbours, especially Niger, to adhere to the ECOWAS protocol of transit has fallen on deaf ears,” he said, referring to the trade protocol governing the exchange of goods between the Economic Community of West African States to which Nigeria belongs. “No country can allow that it can become a dumping ground for goods from elsewhere.”

In 2015, the central bank banned the use of its foreign exchange to pay for rice imports and has backed loans of at least 40 billion naira ($131 million) to help smallholders boost output, before moving to a full border closure last summer.

Mohammed said his government was happy with how the move had spurred local production. Yet the border closure also worsened price pressures, with inflation at 11.98% in December, rising for the fourth straight month and well outside the central bank’s band of 6%-9%.

“We see this only as temporary,” he said, adding he expected inflation to fall into the single digits by 2023.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Lassa fever outbreak kills dozens in Nigeria

Nigerian authorities have announced increased emergency measures to contain the latest outbreak of Lassa fever in the West African country, following the death of 29 people this month from the viral disease.

"As at 24th of January 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states," the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a statement on Saturday.

A national emergency operations centre had been activated to coordinate the response "to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases" across the country.

What is Lassa fever?

Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever. It belongs to the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses but is much less deadly.

The disease is endemic to the West African country and its name comes from the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.

Previously, cases of the disease have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Benin - where it killed at least 9 people in 2016.

How is it spread?

The virus is transmitted to humans from contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent faeces or urine. The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa.

The virus, which has an incubation period of between six to 21 days, can also be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretions: blood, urine, saliva, sperm, vomit, faeces.

Symptoms and treatment

Lassa fever is asymptomatic in 80 percent of cases but for some, it can cause fever, physical fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, abdominal pains or sore throat. Swelling of the neck or face can sometimes be observed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the antiviral drug ribavirin appears to be an effective treatment for Lassa fever "if given early on in the course of the clinical illness".

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with some 200 million people, has five laboratories with the capability to diagnose Lassa fever.

Previous outbreaks

The number of Lassa fever infections across West Africa every year is between 100,000 to 300,000, with about 5,000 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last year, the disease claimed more than 160 lives in Nigeria.

In some areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia, 10 to 16 percent of the people admitted to hospitals annually have Lassa fever, according to the US CDC, demonstrating the serious impact the disease has on the region.

The number of cases usually climbs in January due to weather conditions during the dry season.

Al Jazeera

Friday, January 24, 2020

Nigeria charges ex-attorney general in court over $1.3 billion oil deal

Nigeria’s financial crime watchdog charged former attorney general Mohammed Adoke in court on Thursday for allegedly receiving bribes to facilitate a $1.3 billion oil deal, the agency said in a statement.

It is the latest development in one of the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandals, over the 2011 sale of the offshore oilfield known as OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas.

A resulting investigation has entangled two of the sectors biggest players, Shell and Eni, as well as an array of powerful figures from the previous Nigerian government.

“Adoke is accused of using public office for gratification,” said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission statement, adding there were 42 charges against the former official.

Adoke was charged with receiving the U.S. dollar equivalent of 300 million naira ($980,550) in 2013 to facilitate the OPL 245 deal and help waive taxes for Shell and Eni, according to a charge sheet filed in an Abuja high court last week.

The former attorney general pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to the commission’s statement. Reuters was unable to reach Adoke or his lawyer for immediate comment.

The next hearing, for bail applications, will be Jan. 27, the statement said.

Shell’s and Eni’s local subsidiaries have also been charged with illegally assisting Adoke in waiving the taxes, according to last week’s charge sheet.

Malabu was owned by former petroleum minister Dan Etete.

Shell and Eni, and their executives, have denied any wrongdoing. Etete has also denied wrongdoing.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Video - Nigeria's Odunayo Adekuoroye eyes wrestling medal in Japan

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics flame is burning within African sportsmen and women as they spend hours getting ready for the action. Nigeria's wrestling champion Odunayo Adeku-oroye is one of those determined to make it to Japan. CGTN's Kelechi Emekalam now reports on the former sprinter's Olympics mission.

Kanu Nwankwo loses daughter

Former Super Eagles player, Kanu Nwankwo Wednesday announced the death of one of the first beneficiaries of his heart foundation turned daughter, Enitan.

“Why why why one of Kanu heart foundation gone,” Kanu said on Twitter.

“My daughter gone gone gone I can’t believe this R I P Eniton God knows all.”

Kanu’s wife Amara Kanu on Instagram said the 21-year-old died of complications from malaria.

Enitan who was 2-year-old when she benefitted from the former Arsenal player’s foundation just completed her university education before moving to Nigeria.

Amara said she moved back to Lagos to work for the Kanuprior to her death.

“Enitan was just 2 years old when she had her open surgery done in London courtesy of the Kanu Heart Foundation,” Amara said on Instagram on Wednesday.

“She then became part of my family and 19 years later after completing her university studies, she came back to work with us in our Lagos office until she passed yesterday from some complications with malaria.”

Kanu started the Heart Foundation in 2000 after he survived a heart condition.

The foundation has “successfully helped 538 children” get open-heart surgeries in hospitals across the world and spent about $4.2 million.

The Guardian

Related story: Kanu to build cardiovascular hospital in Nigeria

Airports in Nigeria brace for coronavirus

International airports yesterday went on red alert as they intensified the screening of inbound passengers, following an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) advised passengers and other airport users to comply with all quarantine procedures at airports nationwide to prevent the importation of the virus.

Airports worldwide also increased health screenings and the implementation of new quarantine procedures as officials hurried to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, a new SARS-like illness that first appeared in Hubei province, China.

The General Manager (Corporate Affairs) at FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, said all the equipment and personnel used in combating the deadly Ebola virus in 2014 were still much in place at the airports and were being deployed accordingly.
She said FAAN had always had thermal scanners at its airports to monitor the temperature of passengers and capture their pictures. “When passengers walk pass the scanner, it registers their temperature. And if it’s too high, they are pulled aside for observation. FAAN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, has confirmed the adequacy of the facilities at the nation’s airports, to prevent the importation of the virus through the airports. Passengers are therefore advised to submit themselves for routine quarantine checks whenever they are asked to,” Yakubu said.

With the coronavirus (nCoV) reportedly infecting over ‘10,000’ persons and killing nine, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed that it had set up a multi-sectoral technical group to handle the threat. It advised Nigerians to remain calm, while travellers from Nigeria to Wuhan, China, have been asked to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which implies that they are normally transmitted between animals and people. But a novel coronavirus is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, in a household or health care setting. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans, until now.

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, NCDC advised members of the public to adhere to the following measures: wash your hands regularly with soap under running water; cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing; you may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available; avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing; avoid self-medication; and report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

In a statement by its Director General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, in Abuja yesterday, NCDC said the Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria had been placed on alert and had heightened screening measures at the points of entry. It also said that in China, exit screening measures had been enhanced for travellers from Wuhan city at the Points of Entry (PoE) -airports and ground transport stations- since the January 14, 2020, and this includes temperature checks, combined with provision of information and masks to passengers with fever, as well as directing symptomatic passengers to health facilities for follow up.

Asked if Nigeria is ready to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of any case of coronavirus, Ihekweazu told The Guardian: “As this is a new strain of the coronavirus, a standardised diagnostic test is still being developed. We are working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to access reagents molecular diagnosis in the NCDC National Reference Laboratory. As the situation evolves, we will know more.”

According to the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, the institute in collaboration with NCDC is capable of diagnosing and containing possible cases of coronavirus in the country.

He explained: “Last year, we sent three of our researchers to China for three months to learn the art and skills and research of pathogen identification especially viruses. So, this knowledge is with them. We also have about two of them who went for another two weeks course. Two people also went to Institute Pasteur in Senegal, a World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional lab, which is where Nigeria often sends samples to during outbreaks and they spent about two weeks. All of these are to prepare the capacity of the institute to assist public health institutions in making detection of pathogens during outbreak.”

The Guardian

Slum dwellers in Nigeria left homeless after mass eviction

Authorities in Nigeria evicted thousands of impoverished residents from a Lagos slum, leaving many homeless, residents and eyewitnesses told CNN.

Residents described scenes of panic and confusion Tuesday as hundreds of navy personnel pushed into Tarkwa Bay and neighboring island communities on the Lagos Lagoon, ordering them to leave within an hour.

Navy Cmdr. Thomas Otuji, a spokesman for the operation launched in December, said the planned demolition of buildings aims to tackle oil theft along pipelines that run through the coastal city.
Mohammed Zanna, a resident and paralegal, told CNN that the forces shot sporadically in the air as residents, who said they had no prior notice, scrambled to find their families and pack their belongings.

"Everyone was panicking and packing everything they could carry. The men were shooting in the air and shouting that people should leave," Zanna told CNN.

Many residents queued at the harbor till nightfall, trying to secure boats to transport their families from the island to the city, said Megan Chapman, co-director of the Justice & Empowerment Initiatives, a nonprofit that assists poor communities. She visited neighborhoods while the evictions were ongoing, Chapman said.

"We saw dozens of boats filled with belongings and families trying to see how they were going to leave the island. Most of them did not know," Chapman said.

A consortium of advocacy groups, including JEI and the Nigeria Slum/Informal Settlement Federation, put the number of displaced persons in the thousands.

The navy's Otuji said he did not have an exact figure of those impacted by the eviction, but residents in affected communities had been told to leave before the exercise began.
Residents were still packing their belongings out of the waterfront settlement on Wednesday, according to Zanna.

Tarkwa Bay, home to at least 4,500 people, is among dozens of communities with structures that have been marked for demolition by the navy. All are accessible only by water.
In some communities, bulldozers have already done their work.

Otuji said residents had been advised to leave in December after authorities found that the majority of homes on the islands were built along pipelines. They also discovered that some structures in the slum were being used as a disguise for crude oil theft operations, he said.

"We found at least 300 illegal spots and dug out pits where oil products were being tapped and sold illegally, even to neighboring countries," Otuji said.

"They have been there doing all sorts of illegalities. This is dangerous for people to be living in these areas with oil pipelines. What else can we do but to make sure that we salvage the situation?" he said.

Chapman said authorities should have targeted those involved, instead of evicting innocent families in the community, mostly inhabited by fishermen and artisans.

"The law does not allow for collective punishment and summary demolition as a security measure. If there are individuals involved in these activities, what the law requires is for the individuals to be arrested and prosecuted for any crime they might have committed," Chapman told CNN.

People living in waterfront communities in Lagos, a city of 21 million people, have been forcefully evicted in recent years by authorities citing safety concerns.

In 2016, more than 30,000 families were sent packing from Otodo Gbame, a fishing community, after state security agents allegedly destroyed their homes.

Many of them are still homeless despite a court ruling that the Lagos state government should resettle those affected by the demolition.


Related stories: 200 homeless after demolition of Makoko slum in Lagos

Video - Makoko floating school collapses

Makoko's floating school struggles to stay afloat

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Popular Nigerian words added to Oxford English Dictionary

My English-speaking is rooted in a Nigerian experience and not in a British or American or Australian one. I have taken ownership of English.

This is how acclaimed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes her relationship with English, the language which she uses in her writing, and which millions of her fellow Nigerians use in their daily communication. By taking ownership of English and using it as their own medium of expression, Nigerians have made, and are continuing to make, a unique and distinctive contribution to English as a global language. We highlight their contributions in this month’s update of the Oxford English Dictionary, as a number of Nigerian English words make it into the dictionary for the first time.

The majority of these new additions are either borrowings from Nigerian languages or unique Nigerian coinages that have only begun to be used in English in the second half of the twentieth century, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.

One particularly interesting set of such loanwords and coinages has to do with Nigerian street food. The word buka, borrowed from Hausa and Yoruba and first attested in 1972, refers to a roadside restaurant or street stall that sells local fare at low prices. Another term for such eating places first evidenced in 1980 is bukateria, which adds to buka the –teria ending from the word cafeteria. An even more creative synonym is mama put, from 1979, which comes from the way that customers usually order food in a buka: they say ‘Mama, put…’ to the woman running the stall, and indicate the dish they want. The word later became a generic name for the female food vendors themselves—Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka notably includes a Mama Put character in one of his works.

The informal transport systems that emerged in Nigeria’s huge, densely populated cities have also necessitated lexical invention. Danfo, a borrowing from Yoruba whose earliest use in written English is dated 1973, denotes those yellow minibuses whizzing paying passengers through the busy streets of Lagos, the country’s largest city. Okada, on the other hand, is first attested twenty years later, and is the term for a motorcycle that passengers can use as a taxi service. It is a reference to Okada Air, an airline that operated in Nigeria from 1983 to 1997, and its reputation as a fast yet potentially dangerous form of transport, just like the motorcycle taxi.

A few of the Nigerian words in this update were created by shortening existing English words. One example is the adjective guber (earliest quotation dated 1989), which is short for ‘gubernatorial’—so Nigerians, for instance, would call a person running for governor a ‘guber candidate’. Another frequently used clipping with a longer history in English is agric. It was originally used in American English around 1812 as a graphic abbreviation for the adjective agricultural, but is now used chiefly in this sense in West Africa. In the early 1990s, agric began to be used in Nigeria to designate improved or genetically modified varieties of crops or breeds of livestock, especially a type of commercially reared chicken that is frequently contrasted with ‘native’ (i.e. traditionally reared) chicken. Two decades later, Nigerian students also started to use the word as a noun meaning agricultural science as an academic subject or course.

Also originating in the 19th century is K-leg, first attested in 1842 in British English, but now used mostly in Nigerian English. It is another term for the condition of knock knees, as well as a depreciative name for a person affected with this condition, whose inward-turning knees often resemble the shape of the letter K. It is of such widespread use in Nigeria that by the early 1980s, it had acquired a figurative meaning—a K-leg can now also be any sort of problem, flaw, setback, or obstacle.

The term ember months was first used in an American publication in 1898 to signify the final four months of the calendar year. Almost a century later, this expression was taken up again in Nigeria, where the months from September to December are usually considered together as a period of heightened or intense activity.

The oldest of our new additions that are originally from Nigeria is next tomorrow, which is the Nigerian way of saying ‘the day after tomorrow’. It was first used in written English as a noun in 1953, and as an adverb in 1964. The youngest of the words in this batch is Kannywood, first used in 2002, which is the name for the Hausa-language film industry based in the city of Kano. It is a play on Hollywood, following the model of Nollywood, the more general term for the Nigerian film industry that was added to the OED in 2018.

Nigerian Pidgin is another rich source of new words for Nigerian English. Sef, first evidenced in Nigerian author Ben Okri’s novel Flowers and Shadows, published in 1980, is an adverb borrowed from Pidgin, which itself could have been an adverbial use of either the English adjective safe or the pronoun self. It is an emphatic marker added to the end of statements or rhetorical questions, often to express irritation or impatience, as in this quotation from Adichie’s 2013 novel Americanah:

‘He could have given you reduced rent in one of his properties, even a free flat sef.’

Also coming from pidgin contexts is the verb chop, which is a common colloquial word in Ghana and Nigeria meaning ‘to eat’. However, beginning in the 1970s, chop also developed the sense of acquiring money quickly and easily, and often dishonestly. The negative sense of misappropriating, extorting, or embezzling funds is also in the earlier reduplicative noun chop-chop (earliest quotation dated 1966), which refers to bribery and corruption in public life. This likening of stealing money to actually devouring it is also reflected in the even earlier synonymous phrase to eat money (1960), as in the following quotation from Nigeria’s News Chronicle in 2016:

‘Our roads were not done. By the end of this year, you will know who ate the money of these roads.’

A few other expressions in this update would require some explanation for non-Nigerians: a barbing salon (earliest quotation dated 1979) is a barber’s shop; a gist (1990) is a rumour, and to gist (1992) is to gossip; when a woman is said to have put to bed (1973), it means that she has given birth; something described as qualitative (1976) is excellent or of high quality.

By focusing on contemporary language in this update, and adding words and phrases that form part of the everyday vocabulary of today’s Nigerians, we hope to give a flavour of English-speaking which, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it, is rooted in a Nigerian experience.

Here you can find a list of the new Nigerian words and senses added to the OED in this update:

agric, adj. & n.
barbing salon, n.
buka, n.
bukateria, n.
chop, v./6
chop-chop, n./2
danfo, n.
to eat money, in eat, v.
ember months, n.
flag-off, n.
to flag off in flag, v.
gist, n./3
gist, v./2
guber, adj.
Kannywood, n.
K-leg, n.
mama put, n.
next tomorrow, n. & adv.
non-indigene, adj. & n.
okada, n.
to put to bed, in put, v.
qualitative, adj.
to rub minds (together) in rub, v./1
sef, adv.
send-forth, n.
severally, adv.
tokunbo, adj.
zone, v.
zoning, n.