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COVID-19: Ooni, ABUAD Partner On Research For Drugs, Vaccines

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Arole Oodua & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) is partnering with ABUAD-Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti on clinical research aimed at developing drugs and vaccines for viral infections with special focus on Coronavirus pandemic.

Ooni Ogunwusi made this known at his Ile-Oodua palace on Monday while receiving reports from his Clinical Research Team.

The Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) after the donation of the motorized modular fumigator to Ekiti State on Thursday, April 30th, 2020 paid a courtesy call on Founder of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Aare Afe Babalola to discuss further on moving health of the nation forward.

Ooni Ogunwusi after the presentation of the locally designed motorized modular fumigator to the university poured encomiums on the founder for his great interest in education and health and described the legal luminary as a rare asset to the continent of Africa.

“Baba Afe Babalola at the age of over 90 is still very committed to the greatness of Africa, Nigeria is indeed blessed to have him and I am particularly blessed to have him as a descendant of Oduduwa. He has already invested millions of dollars in the ABUAD College of Medicine which is very outstanding in Africa and he is currently making great efforts to upgrade his Laboratory to Level 4 Biosafety that can handle very sensitive and other deadly infections like COVID-19.

“There is a need to develop joint clinical research on drugs and vaccines from plants/herbs to fight the Covid-19 infection with its peculiarity in the black race. With this, lots of vaccines to prevent sensitive and deadly infections will be rolled out for use globally. This is unprecedented! May the Almighty Olodumare keep this Baba Afe Babalola for us,” Ooni said.

Ooni who doubles as Spiritual Head of the Oduduwa Race Worldwide and Co-Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) used the occasion to call on the Nigerian government and wealthy people in the country to support the university researchers and partner on massive industrial revolution that will enable internal solutions to national challenges.

“It is very shocking that many professors have found solutions to sickle cell disease and other ailments in Nigeria but received no support for research from the government.

“We must look inward and solve our problems by ourselves. There is no need for our government officials and wealthy ones to go abroad for medical checkups. They should rather focus their resources on making Nigeria medical system work better,” Ooni said.

“Now that the House of Oduduwa under my watch and Afe Babalola University are about to start aggressive clinical research against all deadly diseases including Covid-19, it is about time we stopped looking up to the foreigners to solve our problems for us.

“It is so marvellous, what else do we want? With the ABUAD Multi-System Hospital and research facilities in place, we do not have to go outside Nigeria again for solutions to our medical problems.

Ooni Ogunwusi added that YEMKEM Herbal Therapy, a Lagos based globally recognised African Medicine experts has been a reliable partner in the mixtures of herbal solutions. The herbal solutions will be unveiled soonest and forwarded to National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)/ Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)/National Institute for PharmaceuticalResearch and Developmenthoping they will review and respond to us very promptly.

The herbal formulations will eventually be taken a step further for vaccine development with the partnership with research groups in ABUAD and availability of clinical & laboratory research facilities.

“I rejoiced because the facilities will enable our herbal solutions to go through the clinical rigours and transforming it to be internationally acceptable.

“The research on the Herbal Mix right now have started and Dr Akintunde Ayeni of YEMKEM Herbal Therapy and us have been working assiduously on these herbal solutions

“Recently, I proffered some mix solutions which I inherited from this throne as the custodian of the cultural heritage of the Oduduwa race. A team of four from the research unit of the House of Oduduwa Initiative which includes Professor Esimai presented the mixture to the founder of ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola who immediately constituted a research group to develop drugs and vaccines from the herbal mixture.

“ABUAD Teaching Hospital is 2nd to none. This is a major breakthrough, another interesting thing in Alternative Medicine(Herbal world).

I just thank God for Baba Afe Babalola who is now challenging younger professors

“With this, we now have solutions to vaccines. Vaccines of COVID-19 and several alternative medicines in clinical ways, Ooni added.

Prof Olapeju Esimai in her report thanked the Ooni for the opportunity given her and the research team in House of Oduduwa Initiative to work with Afe Babalola University’s medical research team on drug and vaccine development from the herbal mix made from calcium salts and processed leaf plants.

Professor Esimai also stated that the team was introduced by Chief Afe Babalola to the Provost of College of Sciences at the university, Prof Abiodun Ojo. The ABUAD research groups on the drugs and vaccine development include Prof Abiodun Ojo, Prof Okiki (microbiologist), Prof Onasanya (molecular biologists ), Prof Sanya ( Provost of College of Medicine & Clinician who has worked on local herbs), a great number of researchers, laboratory technologists and graduate students. The research group held the inaugural meeting on May 6th, 2020 and since then series of meetings have been held and work is in full progress.

Prof Esimai who made a brief presentation at the inaugural meeting informed the research group that the herbal mixture have been used on people with symptoms suggestive of covid19 infection and there have been remissions of the symptoms within few days. However, for wider and continued use, the mixture needs to be compounded into drugs and vaccine need to be developed.

“The drug and vaccine development are in phases, the first phase is drug development. This entails analysis of the mixture for microbial, mental, photochemical, chemical characterisation, toxicity, pharmacological and medicinal property classification.

“The second phase according to her which is the vaccine development will involve animal experiments to derive antibodies to the introduction of recombinant protein antigens of different viruses. These experiments will take place in the laboratory which is about level 4 Biosafety. While the third phase is the clinical trials,” she said.

Professor Olapeju Esimai, a Public health Physician, a public health consultant to WHO, UNICEF and many other international health agencies, also current Head of the Community Health Department, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife said the members of the research group were so enthusiastic and as such work has commenced immediately.

Founder of ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola who had earlier received the Ooni’s Research Team in his office praised the African foremost monarch for his partnership with the university, describing him as a great monarch with visionary leadership, promising his best to make the research a huge success.

“I have already dedicated my life to humanity. What else Am I looking for in this world? God has been so kind to me, that’s why I must be so kind to humanity too. Even if I have to increase the laboratory from Level 4, I will do so without any hesitation, so that this partnership can be a huge success.

“All my life has been challenging, I never saw the 4 walls of the university but I have several university degrees.

“It is my happiness that Arole Oodua Ooni of Ife has visited us to see what we have here at Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti and he (Ooni) is impressed. He is a great African king with visionary and pragmatic leadership,” Afe Babalola said.

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EndSARS: Insurers Pay N4bn Claims, To Pay More

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By Sola Alabadan

The dust generated by the EndSARS protest in October 2020 is yet to settle, as insurance companies in the country have already paid N4 billion as claims to over 2000 policyholders that were affected during the protest and more claims will still be paid.

The chairman of Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA),  Mr. Ganiyu Musa, made this known at an interactive session with journalists on Thursday in Lagos.

He also informed that the insurance operators are still collating claims which arose from the incident, assuring that all genuine claims will be paid as promptly as possible.

Musa said: “the number of insured businesses that were affected at the last count was about 2000 insured losses and the industry have settled over N4 billion claims in respect of the EndSARS protest. Once they are documented and completed, we have the commitment of our members that claims will be paid timely.

The association is on top of developments on the aftermath of the protests and will continue to encourage members to pay all genuine claims in line with the extant policies.”

On the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020, he said: “NIA welcomes the review as it will align the Act with global best practice and promote the business of insurance in the country.”

According to him, the current insurance legislation is outdated and has made it impossible to do things that need to be done.

On the African Insurance Organisation Conference, AIO 2021, Musa said: “Originally planned for year 2020, COVID-19 was a force majeure due to health protocols and travel restrictions. With availability of vaccines, reduction in infection rate, coupled with relaxation of travel restrictions and other protocols around the coronavirus disease, the AIO Executive Committee and the NIA have agreed to hold it from September 4 – 8, 2021. A hybrid conference has been agreed and we solicit your support in hosting the best conference ever.”

Speaking on the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database /Nigerian Insurance Industry Portal (NIID/NIIP), the NIA boss stated that: “The Nigerian Insurance Industry Database was established to reduce soft market practices and eliminate fake insurance policies. The Association has taken a step further by creating the Nigerian Insurance Industry platform to enable vehicle owners purchase their third-party motor vehicle insurance cover from the comfort of their homes and telephones. So far, we are seeing a lot of traction on the platform across the states of the Federation and we are hopeful that other states will key into the project before the end of the year.”

On the Marine Module, he said: “As you are probably aware, the Central Bank of Nigeria has since integrated the NIA Marine Module into the National Trade portal and all insurance certificates required for import and export are generated from the portal.  This, no doubt, signals the end of fake Marine Insurance Certificates at the Ports.”

Musa further disclosed that he became the Chairman of the Council of Bureaux of the Ecowas Brown Card Scheme at its 37th Ordinary Session in January this year. “A major issue for the Bureau is domestication of Compulsory Brown Card in the country. We are hopeful that when all the fine details have been sorted, it will be implemented in Nigeria,” he said.

On the new NIA House Project, he said; “Construction of a befitting Secretariat for the association has reached an advanced stage and we are hopeful that the building will be completed at the end of the second quarter so that we can take full possession of the property and relocate our secretariat staff before the end of the year. Of course, we have had some delay in meeting delivery timelines due mainly to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the regulatory restrictions on number of workers on site at any point in time.”

On the initiatives on compulsory insurance, he said: “We have commenced discussions with Lagos State Building Control Agency, as part of engagements on the implementation of Lagos State Building law. We are also working closely with the state vehicle Inspection service on enforcement of Third Party Motor Insurance in the state. We are also engaging Kaduna, Kogi and Ogun States, and remain hopeful that other states will see value in the platform and embrace it. Out of the estimated 13 million vehicles in Nigeria only about 2,939,767 Third Party Motor policies are in force as at Apr 26, 2021.”

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‘It’s Suicidal ’, Labour Rejects FG’s Plans To Slash Salaries

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Agency Report

The Organised Labour has condemned and rejected the plan by the Federal Government to slash the salaries of workers in the country.

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who said this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, noted that the plan was tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers.

Waba said that NLC was shocked at a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on the plan to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the workers’ salaries.

”The minister also allegedly directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.

”It is almost unthinkable that the government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time,” he said.

Wabba added that, “the question to ask is which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meager national minimum wage of N30, 000, which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice”.

He expressed the belief that the proposed slash in salaries was certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some state governors were still dragging their feet to pay.

According to him, it is in public knowledge that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a short time, and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria, have knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.

”Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.

”It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers currently.

”This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers,” he said.

While opposing the move, he demanded an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of  Finance.

The NLC president, however, said that if there was any salary that needed serious slashing, “it is the humongous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria, who do extraordinarily little but collect so much.

”Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government.

”We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance. It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.”

He said that many countries of the world were increasing the salaries of their workforce and extending social security coverage for their citizens.

According to him, many are providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waba said that it would be completely strange for the Nigerian government to be thinking of a salary slash.

“This move is not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic but also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.

“We urge the government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers.

“Nigerian workers have shown sufficient understanding with the government through the tough patches of the pandemic.

“Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances,” he said.

NAN

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Paying ransomt To Kidnappers Is Foolishness —Obasanjo

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, has cautioned against the payment of ransom to kidnappers.

He, however, submitted that the government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.

He noted that the governments of both President Goodluck Jonathan and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) paid ransom to kidnappers but they denied it.

Obasanjo said he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits, saying it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.

The former president berated any government that pays ransom, describing them as follies.

Obasanjo spoke on Wednesday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to members of Tiv professionals Group led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu.

Obasanjo insisted that it requires a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill.

He said “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.

“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”

Obasanjo expressed fears that those beating drums of division in Nigeria don’t think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.

He added, “Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?

“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.

“But is there hope? There is hope.”

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