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FG: COVID-19 Vaccination Now Mandatory for Christian, Muslim Pilgrims

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The federal government has said that henceforth all intending Christian and Muslim pilgrims to the holy cities of Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia are expected to show evidence of vaccination against COVID-19.

The new rule by the government came just as the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the COVID-19 third wave appeared to have stabilized in Africa.

Speaking at a biweekly media briefing in Abuja organised by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), the Executive Director of the agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said Christians and Muslims who are planning to perform pilgrimage next year or in the future should get vaccinated now in order to avoid delays.

He also said that as the COVID-19 vaccines have become available worldwide, some countries are making vaccination a requirement to gain access to their territories.

“At this juncture, I would like to remind all Nigerians that evidence of vaccination against COVID-19 is now mandatory for all pilgrims to the holy cities of Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. I therefore urge adherents of both religions who are planning to perform pilgrimage next year or in the future, to get vaccinated now to avoid any delays,” he said.

Shuaib said that phase two vaccination has commenced in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said that as at August 30, 2021, Nigeria has so far vaccinated 2,897,201 and 1,430,379 eligible persons with first and second doses respectively across the 36 states and FCT.

He said that for clients, who have not had any vaccination, the Moderna vaccine is available and is being administered currently in all designated health facilities in the country, while those who have had their the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine are encouraged to visit their designated health facility to get their second dose.

Faisal expressed appreciation of Nigeria to Britain for the donation of an additional 592,880 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which was received last Thursday through the COVAX Facility.

According to Faisal, the total quantity of vaccines donated by the UK Government to the country now stands at 1,292,640 doses.

He explained that the additional doses would be included in the second dose vaccination exercise currently ongoing for clients who have already taken the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first phase.

Faisal said that the agency was impressed with the example shown by the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, who mobilized churches and religious leaders towards mass acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine, adding that: “Already, we are getting request from Edo State for additional vaccines. This is highly commendable.”

Faisal also responded to insinuations being created by a viral text message which purported that the US Supreme Court has cancelled universal vaccination.

“Let’s set the record straight and once again punch holes in the malicious intentions of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists: The US Supreme Court has not overturned universal vaccination – there is no record of such a case, and there is no such thing as ‘universal vaccination’ in the US. So this is another case of ‘fake news’.

“Scientists developed the technology to help respond quickly to pandemics, such as COVID-19. It is therefore ridiculous when the anti-vaccination campaigners claim that COVID-19 alters the human DNA or that people will die in two weeks or two years after vaccination.

“Similar claims that polio vaccines were intended to cause infertility and kill our children were made in the past but today, many of the children who received polio vaccine have grown to adulthood, become parents and are fulfilling their various dreams.

“No child in the country died of polio vaccination. It is therefore critically important for us all to always seek correct and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines from reliable sources, so that we can be rightly guided to dispel fake news and misinformation from individuals or groups driven by mischief,” he said.

On its part, WHO said that although the COVID-19 third wave appeared to have stabilized, but the number of new cases is still very high with almost 248,000 reported in the past week.

“In Africa, the third wave appears to have stabilized but the number of new cases is still very high with almost 248,000 reported in the past week,” it said.

WHO said the trend showed that each new wave strikes Africa faster and harder, causing a higher number of new cases more rapidly than the previous wave.

“This puts an increasing strain on already stretched health facilities and health workers. The good news is that, increasing vaccine supplies raise hopes that the continent will meet the target of vaccinating 10% of the population by the end of September,” it said.

WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who spoke at the NPHCDA’s briefing, also gave reasons for the upward trend that Nigeria is currently experiencing in COVID-19 cases.

He attributed the rise to weak observance of preventive measures, increased population movement and interaction, adding that the factors have heightened the risk of COVID-19 resurgence in many states.
According to Mulombo, the flow in the pandemic’s transmission dynamics is expected and is likely to continue until a sizeable proportion of the Nigerian population is vaccinated.

The WHO scribe further said the organization is reinstating its call for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

Mulombo said WHO believes that equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reason for this call is vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity and if we don’t tackle it together, we will prolong the acute stage of this pandemic for years when it could be over in a matter of months,” he said.

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2023: We’ll Reproduce Burnt PVCs, Attacks Can’t Stop Elections, INEC Assures

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A former Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mike Igini says attacks on the offices of the electoral umpire are attacks on democracy but non-state actors can’t stop the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

He also said the electoral commission will reproduce all Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) burnt by hoodlums during attacks on its offices.

“I am very concerned about the attacks on INEC offices across the country particularly in the areas that have been identified,” Igini said on Channnels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

Attacks on INEC offices have surged in recent times with at least three incidents recorded only in November. 65,699 uncollected PVCs were destroyed by hoodlums who attacked two of its offices in Ogun and Osun states while several PVCs and other electoral items were also burnt during an attack in Ebonyi State.

However, Igini said INEC has the information of all PVCs at state and national offices and it won’t take it days to reproduce them.

“INEC has the capacity to respond to these challenges, particular in respect to the PVCs that have been burnt. INEC has the number of all the PVCs…It is a matter of days, INEC will produce those PVCs,” he said.

He urged Nigerians not to be discouraged but to ensure they get their PVCs and exercise their franchise in the next general election.

The former REC also decried the inability of security agencies to bring perpetrators of violent attacks on INEC offices to book.

“Why should extra-constitutional actors, why should non-legitimise actors continue to attack INEC. It is an attack on democracy. My pain is that we have not been able to track anybody.

“It is a big challenge to all security agencies in this country that for these years, we have been unable to track those who attack our democracy.

“Look at what happened in the US, all those who attacked the Capitol Hill have been brought to book everyday but here we are in a state of anomie,” Igini stated.

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Entertainment

‘APC Made Nigeria, The Poverty Capital Of The World’, Charly Boy Fumes

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Nigerian entertainer, Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy or Area Fada, has accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, of paying people to attend the party’s campaign rallies.

The popular activist shared a video which captured a man in a vehicle giving out N1,000 each to those on board who were wearing APC caps and T-shirts on his Twitter handle.

He also accused the ruling party of crippling the nation’s economy, saying APC made Nigeria the “Poverty Capital of the World”.

He wrote, “APC paying money to rent crowd for their rallies. What a shame. They first made the country the Poverty Capital of the World, and now they’re shamelessly renting crowds for their rallies openly.

“Anyways, collect your money but wake up
You should use your power to serve the people, not Oppress them!! Free Aminu!!!”

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Femi Kuti Frowns At Tinubu, APC Over Unauthorised Use Of Fela Song For Campaign

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The family of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti frowned at the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate Bola Tinubu for the use of the late artiste’s song for the 2023 election campaign.

Femi Kuti in a “disclaimer and notice of use without consent” for the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti family said the use of Fela’s popular song “Eko Ile” during one of its campaign activities for their 2023 presidential campaign was unauthorised.

The Kuti family said it wished to continue to be politically neutral.

“We the administrators of the estate of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti issue this disclaimer. We wish to state here for clarity, that the permission of the estate was not sought for the use of Fela’s music, Eko Ile, in the All Progressives Congress social media campaign currently making the rounds,” Fela Anikulapo-Kuti family said.

“We do not involve Fela’s music in any political campaign at home or abroad and choose to remain neutral.

“While we wish all candidates the best, we demand that the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are abided by and intellectual property rights are duly respected. Signed the estate of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.”

Tinubu and the members of the APC presidential campaign council held a rally last Saturday at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos State.

Fela’s popular song “Eko Ile” was used in a video recap of the rally by Tinubu on Twitter.

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