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Fears Raised In Iran Of ‘Fresh Outbreak’ Of Coronavirus



Iran’s health officials Saturday raised fears of a “fresh outbreak” of coronavirus cases in their country, which has paid the deadliest price in the Middle East from the pandemic.

As the predominantly Shiite country marked the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a day later than much of the Muslim world, another 76 fatalities were declared, raising Iran’s official death toll to 5,650.

Iran has in phases since April 11 allowed the reopening of a number of businesses that were closed as part of measures to curb coronavirus (COVID-19).

The spread of the disease has slowed since the start of April, but Alireza Zali, the anti-coronavirus coordinator for the capital, on Saturday criticised “hasty reopenings”.

They could “create new waves of sickness in Tehran and complicate efforts to bring the epidemic under control”, he said, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said Iran has now recorded 89,328 cases of COVID-19, including 1,134 over the past 24 hours, since its first case in February.

The number of Iranian casualties is widely thought to be much higher, however.

Jahanpour reiterated that social distancing and hygiene measures to guard against the novel coronavirus needed to remain in place.

The ministry’s infectious diseases department head, Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, warned of “signs of a fresh outbreak” in provinces such as Gilan and Mazandaran in the north and Qom in central Iran “where we made great efforts to control the epidemic”.

Iran, already weakened by tough US sanctions, has struggled to contain the virus outbreak since reporting its first cases on February 19 — two deaths in the Shiite holy city of Qom.


Sourced From: Vanguard News


Tanzania’s Magufuli: ‘Bulldozer’ who flattened freedoms




President of Tanzania, John Magufuli

Tanzanian President John Magufuli came to power as a no-nonsense man of the people nicknamed The Bulldozer, but along with popular efforts to clean up graft, he has been accused of crushing dissent and stifling democracy.

The 61-year-old on Friday won a second term in office with a resounding 84 percent of the vote, after an election which the opposition said was riddled with irregularities.

Magufuli was first elected in 2015 on a fiery anti-corruption stance which endeared him to a population weary of graft scandals under his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete.

He quickly took wildly popular decisions, such as scrapping lavish independence day celebrations in favour of a street clean-up and banning unnecessary foreign trips for officials.

Several headline-grabbing incidents saw him showing up in person to demand why civil servants were not at their desks, while in one case officials were briefly jailed for lateness.

Dozens of officials implicated in corruption were suspended and the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo spread like wildfire on social media.

However his tendency to flout due process and act on a whim alarmed foreign allies over the squeezing of democracy in one of East Africa’s most stable nations.

“I think he is actually bulldozing everything, laws, human rights, everything,” said Aikande Kwayu, a Tanzanian political analyst.

At the start of his first term, Magufuli banned political rallies — saying it was time for work, and not politics — and cut live coverage of parliament sessions.

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A series of tough media laws were passed while arrests of journalists, activists and opposition members soared, and several opposition figures were killed.

Magufuli called for teenage mothers to be kicked out of schools, while rights groups slammed an unprecedented crackdown on the LGBT community under his rule.

Ringisai Chikohomero, a researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said that to Magufuli, “the end justifies the means”.

“He is a person who believes in what we call guided democracy. For Magufuli, the state and the president have the last say and he treats the citizens like children… there is no room for participatory consultation,” he said.

– ‘There is no Covid-19’ –

For many observers, Magufuli’s handling of the coronavirus crisis cast his leadership style into sharp relief.

He championed prayer instead of face masks, before stopping the publication of statistics in April when the country had recorded 509 cases and 16 deaths.

In May he revealed he had submitted a variety of fruit and animals to be tested for the virus and that a papaya, quail and goat tested positive, revealing “sabotage” at the national laboratory.

He has since claimed prayer saved the country from Covid-19.

“That’s why we are all not wearing face masks here. You think we don’t fear dying? It’s because there is no Covid-19,” he said.

In July, the country’s already tough online content laws were amended to ban publication “on deadly or contagious diseases” without official permission.

– ‘The leader we needed’ –

Magufuli’s supporters praise his crackdown on corruption, an energetic infrastructure drive as well as a shake-up in the mining industry which has seen him renegotiating contracts with foreign companies to improve the country’s share in its own resources.

“He is the kind of leader we needed at this time when corruption was rampant,” said 32-year-old restaurant owner Agnes Thomas.

“He created discipline among the civil servants.”

READ ALSO: Lagos community where potable water, good toilet, school, hospital don’t exist

Magufuli expanded free education, increased rural electrification and embarked on the construction of a key railway and a massive hydropower dam set to double electricity output in the country.

However aggressive taxation has squeezed the private sector, and worsened the environment for doing business.

“For a trader like me, Magufuli is not a good person because things are not easily moving. Tax officials are even more strict while businesses are not growing at all,” said Musa Hemed, who owns a shop selling building materials.

– Humble beginnings –

Magufuli was born in Tanzania’s northwestern Chato district, on the shores of Lake Victoria, where he grew up in a grass-thatched home, herding cattle and selling milk and fish to support his family.

“I know what it means to be poor,” he has often said.

He was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam and also spent some time studying at Britain’s University of Salford.

Magufuli is a member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since independence from Britain in the early 1960s.

A member of parliament since 1995 and a devout Roman Catholic, he held various cabinet portfolios, including livestock, fisheries and public works, where he earned the “Bulldozer” moniker.

Magufuli is married with five children.


Vanguard News Nigeria.

The post Tanzania’s Magufuli: ‘Bulldozer’ who flattened freedoms appeared first on Vanguard News.

Sourced From: Vanguard News

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Nigerian inflation rises to 11.85% in November



By Emmanuel Elebeke

The consumer price index, which measures inflation increased by 11.85 per cent in November 2019. The figure is 0.24 per cent points higher than (11.61) per cent, the rate recorded in October 2019.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics report published on its website on Tuesday, increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the Headline index.

According to the report, the Headline index increased by 1.02 per cent in November 2019, On a month-on-month basis, indicating 0.05 per cent rate lower than the rate recorded in October 2019 (1.07) per cent.

The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending November 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 11.35 per cent, representing a 0.05 per cent point from 11.30 per cent recorded in October 2019.

Also, the urban inflation rate increased within the month under review by 12.47 per cent (year-on-year) in November 2019 from 12.20 per cent recorded in October 2019, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.30 per cent in November 2019 from 11.07 per cent in October 2019.

On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.07 per cent in November 2019, down by 0.08 from 1.15 per cent recorded in October 2019, while the rural index also rose by 0.98 0 per cent in November 2019, down by 0.01 from the rate recorded in October 2019 (0.99) per cent.

The bureau noted that the corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 11.75 per cent in November 2019. This is higher than 11.68 per cent reported in October 2019, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in November 2019 is 10.98 per cent compared to 10.95 per cent recorded in October 2019.

The composite food index rose by 14.48 per cent in November 2019 compared to 14.09 per cent in October 2019. This rise in the food index, NBS said was caused by increases in prices of Bread, Cereals, Oils and fats, Meat, Potatoes, yam and other tubers, and Fish.

On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.25 per cent in November 2019, down by 0.08 per cent points from 1.33 per cent recorded in October 2019. However, the average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending November 2019 over the previous twelve-month average was 13.65 per cent, 0.11 per cent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in October 2019 (13.54) per cent.

Sourced From: Vanguard News

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2019: You’re No Match For Atiku, PDP Tells Buhari





The PDP chided President Buhari accusing him of neglecting troops fighting in the North East and reneging on his promise to “lead the fight from the front”, which it said has resulted in the vulnerability and killing of soldiers by insurgents.

In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said Nigerians are aware that President Buhari is “afraid of facing our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in a general debate organized by independent bodies.

For this, the PDP grants him the liberty to choose a venue, date and time convenient to him to face our candidate before a neutral panel. “President Buhari must face Atiku in person, as Nigerians are not ready to accept any representation, whosoever, from him.

If, as a Commander-In-Chief, Mr President cannot face a political debate, how then can he vigorously engage international competitors?” The PDP also tasked the President to muster the courage to “face his failures and avail Nigerians of his sectoral performance scorecards, as well as, present his future blueprint, if any, to enable the electorate to weigh him alongside our Presidential candidate.

“Mr. President should explain why he has been insensitive to the killing of citizens and soldiers by marauders and insurgents, particularly, given allegations that he has been distracting the Armed forces by dragging them to participate in his re-election campaign.

“Nigerians recall that at the time our troops were being attacked by insurgents, our service chiefs were attending the launch of President Buhari’s “Next Level” campaign mantra, stolen from a foreign institute.

“Nigerians await President Buhari to answer to the humongous corruption in his administration; why he has failed to fulfill any of his 2015 campaign promises and why he cannot show any key development project he initiated and completed in his three and half years in office.”

The statement further read: “President Buhari must be ready to face the over 40 million Nigerians who lost their jobs and millions more whose businesses have folded up due to his incompetence and harsh economic policies. “He must face the victims of human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and arbitrary detention under his administration.

“President Buhari came to power through false promises and propaganda. Now, the day of reckoning has come and he cannot run away from his failures. “On our part, our candidate is ready to face President Buhari, one-on-one.

He has his scorecard in governance and his blueprint for national rebirth; wealth creation, youth empowerment and building a prosperous nation, which has become dominant among the aspirations of Nigerians.”

Sourced From: Vanguard News Nigeria

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Minimum Wage Crisis: FG, Labour Meet For Conciliatory Meeting



By Johnbosco Agbakwuru.

ABUJA – THE Federal Government Minimum Wage Negotiation Team is expected to meet today with stakeholders including labour leaders for a conciliatory meeting on the impasse over the new minimum wage.

The meeting is scheduled at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF by 12 noon and it is expected that the leadership of the organized labour will be in attendance.

A source privy to the conciliatory meeting told Vanguard that it was aimed at taking a holistic view of the minimum wage brouhaha in a bid to find a lasting solution to it.

The Federal Government delegation expected at the meeting includes the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Finance and Budget and National Planning, Senator Chris Ngige, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and Udoma Udo Udoma respectively.

Others are the Head of Service to the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Director General, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Chief Richard Egbule and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris. Efforts made to confirm from the President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba whether the organized labour will attend the meeting did not yield results as he did not pick the calls on his phone.

Wabba had while briefing journalists on Wednesday said that every discussion or negotiation on the minimum wage had been concluded, adding that over 50 percent of members of the Tripartite Committee of Minimum Wage Negotiation team in its last meeting had agreed for N30,000.

He, however, told Vanguard that having submitted minutes of proceedings during the negotiation meetings to President Muhammadu Buhari, the leadership of the organized labour would honour any invitation by the President.

Following the resolution of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, NGF, to pay only N22,500, Wabba said that the organized labour had reverted to its initial demand of N66,500, noting that the N30,000 agreed at the negotiation meeting was a product of compromise. Recall that the Federal Government had offered to pay N24,500 as the new minimum wage which labour rejected before the NGF came with its own proposal of N22,500 on Tuesday.

Sourced From: Vanguard

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