Robert Lewandowski bagged his 26th league goal this season as leaders Bayern Munich maintained their four-point lead by brushing aside Union Berlin 2-0 behind closed doors on Sunday on the Bundesliga’s restart weekend.
Lewandowski netted a first-half penalty and defender Benjamin Pavard added a late header in Berlin after the Bundesliga became the first top European league on Saturday to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the review of the 2020 budget by the Federal Government.
In a statement on Thursday, he noted that the government slashed the budget by 0.6 per cent, representing a reduction of N71 billion.
Atiku decried the inability of the nation to expand its revenue base through the non-oil sector, especially in the period when the price of crude oil was plunging.
He asked the government to prioritise the welfare of the citizens and be realistic in its review of the budget amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The former presidential candidate called for the reduction of the money allocated for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President, adding that the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly should be scrapped.
According to him, the budgets to run the Presidency and the Legislature must be downsized as any budget reduction that is less than 25 per cent will not be in the interest of the country.
Atiku also asked the government to sell at least eight of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet, reduce the salaries of political appointees, but leave the salaries of civil servants.
He stressed the need for a budget realignment and invest in critical sectors of the economy such as health, education, and infrastructure, among others.
Read the full statement below:
Nigeria Cannot Afford Luxuries During an Austerity
It is to my consternation that despite the crash in the price of oil, and the inability of Nigeria to expand our revenue base through the non-oil sector, the Federal Government of Nigeria has only seen fit to slash our budget by a mere 0.6%, from ₦10.594 trillion to ₦ 10.523 trillion. This represents a reduction of only ₦71 billion.
Putting politics aside, this is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.
For the avoidance of doubt, when this budget was presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a projection that our nation would generate crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel.
Today, that is no longer the case. Both our production, and the price of oil have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, to the extent that we have unsold vessels, and our income has tanked by more than 50%.
Given that this is the case, how can anyone justify a reduction in expenditure of just 0.6%? We cannot be the only nation bucking the trend.
Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than ours and with a larger global market share, as well as foreign reserves that are 12 times ours, has slashed her budget by almost 30%. Ditto for other oil economies.
Nigeria cannot make up for the loss of expected revenue by taking out more loans and issuing out more bonds. Debt will be the death of our economy and bonds will put our people in bondage.
The best way out of this economic quagmire is to reduce our expenditure. And a 0.6% reduction is no reduction. It is only window dressing.
My counsel to the Federal Government of Nigeria is this: put Nigerians first and cut your coat, not according to your size, but according to your cloth.
Realistically slash the budget. Every pork barrel has to go. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has to be reduced.
The ₦27 billion budget for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go. The massive budgets to run both the Presidency and the Legislature has to be downsized.
The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be jettisoned. Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees. Sell 8 or 9 of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet.
Any budget slash that is less than 25% will not be in the interest of Nigeria. And beyond a budget slash, Nigeria needs a budget realignment, to redirect expenditure away from running a massive bureaucracy, into social development sectors like education, infrastructure, and above all, healthcare.
We must invest in the goose that lays the golden egg – the Nigerian people.
These are the types of sacrifices that we need in a time of crisis. We do not need empty gestures that will lead to empty treasuries.
In times of austerity, no nation, not the least a mono-product economy, such as ours, should be living in luxury at a leadership level.
A rapid coronavirus test touted by President Donald Trump and used to test White House officials produces false negatives in almost half of all cases, according to a new study by researchers at NYU Langone Health.
The test by Abbott Laboratories, which returns positive results in five minutes and negative in 13 minutes, as compared with machines that have a turnaround time of 45 minutes.
The researchers found that the Abbott test produced false negatives about a third of the time when the virus sample is taken using a nasal swab was transported in a liquid solution, and 48 percent of the time when the swab was dry, which is the method recommended by the company.
The results of the study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed and was posted on a medical preprint site — were contested by Abbott, which told AFP it was unclear that the samples were taken correctly.
“Abbott has distributed more than 1.8 million ID NOW tests and the reported rate of false negatives to Abbott is at 0.02 percent,” Scott Stoffel, a spokesman for the company said.
He added that another study from the University of Detroit had found the test to be 98 percent accurate.
The NYU study’s authors said they decided to investigate the test because the speed with which it produced results was seen as useful for their own institution, particularly the medical center’s emergency department.
By comparison, a test made by Roche returns results in 3.5 hours while one by Cepheid takes 45 minutes, and both have similar reliability, said the study authors.
These tests look for the virus’ genetic material and use a method that quickly makes copies to amplify an initially small sample to a level that is detectable.
The authors wrote their study “revealed low sensitivity with high false-negative results by Abbott ID NOW platform,” adding this raised concern about “its suitability as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients.”
The test received wide attention when it received regulatory approval and was shown off by Trump at the White House at the end of March.
Protests have erupted in the western Malian city of Kayes after a police officer shot a youngster dead, escalating simmering anti-government sentiment in the area.
Young men were riding motorbikes on Monday night — soon after Mali lifted an unpopular night-time curfew — when an off-duty police officer attempted to stop them and subsequently shot and killed an 18-year-old named Seyba Tamboura, according to government officials.
Mamadou Zoumana Sidibe, the governor of the Kayes region, said Tamboura’s friends torched a police station during the night in response.
They then had barricaded themselves on a bridge in the city, where they remained on Tuesday.
“This morning tension is still high,” Sidibe said.
Security Minister Salif Traore has travelled to Kayes to oversee the police operation. “We have asked the forces not to use force,” he said.
The unrest follows a string of anti-government protests in Kayes, concerning both Mali’s legislative election and its coronavirus restrictions.
The West African state held a long-delayed parliamentary election in March in which the results for dozens of seats were disputed.
Protesters took to the streets in several cities, including Kayes, when the Supreme Court declared the winners of the contested seats in late April.
City residents had also demonstrated against a night-time curfew meant to stem the spread of coronavirus, which the government lifted on Saturday.
Seydou Diallo, the regional director of Kayes police force, apologised for the killing of Tamboura and said the offending officer had been arrested.
“We cannot tolerate such indiscipline,” he said. “This is an unfortunate incident for the police”.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has called on medical doctors and other healthcare professionals to shun unauthorised treatment of persons infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).
He made the call on Thursday during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“All healthcare professionals and associated personnel should diligently follow safety infection prevention and control protocols – both inside and outside healthcare facilities, and not to indulge in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19 cases,” the minister said.
He explained that the appeal was important to reduce the incidences of health workers getting infected with the disease.
Ehanire noted that the government was committed to increasing its capacity for testing for coronavirus cases in the country.
He said, “21 laboratories nationwide are now operational for COVID-19 testing as we work to drive up demands.”
On the situation in Kano, the minister noted that a task team from the Federal Ministry of Health has been deployed in the state.
According to him, the team is working with the state government and is fully engaged with activities that strongly emphasise training and capacity building for all personnel.
Ehanire explained that this was to help rebuild the manpower in Kano and the federal health facilities in the state, as well as the non-medical personnel.
He revealed that laboratories in Kano have been directed to work in shifts to reduce the turnaround time for testing and enable the faster return of results.
The minister also hinted that the returnees from Dubai would be tested and those whose results return positive would be taken for treatment.
Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 26,097 on Wednesday — the second-highest in Europe behind Italy and third-highest in the world — as the government took into account fatalities outside hospital, including care homes, for the first time.
The increase came after surprise news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had become a father again at age 55, several months earlier than expected, and just weeks after he was taken to hospital with COVID-19.
Downing Street announced that his partner, Carrie Symonds, 32, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, prompting messages of congratulation from across the political spectrum at home and abroad.
The rare good news was soured however by the additional 4,419 deaths in the overall coronavirus death toll, just as Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, is under pressure to ease a month-long lockdown.
Until now, Britain had reported only deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital but there has been mounting concern about high numbers of unreported victims in the wider community.
On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics said deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 17 were running at roughly double the five-year average and were the highest weekly total since 1993.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday said there were an additional 3,811 deaths included in the outbreak since the start of March, on top of figures from the last 24 hours.
“They don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths,” he told reporters.
According to an AFP tally from official sources at 1300 GMT on Wednesday, Britain has now leapfrogged the tolls in France and Spain and is the second-worst affected country in Europe, behind Italy’s 27,359 deaths.
The United States has the world’s worst death toll with 58,355.
Britain has widened its testing regime for COVID-19 to care homes, the over-65s and people unable to work from home, as part of increased measures to curb the outbreak.
A total of 85 frontline workers in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) have died from the coronavirus, and 23 in social care, according to the government.
There remain questions about the provision of personal protective equipment to medics and others dealing with patients, and the availability of testing.
Raab, who has deputised for Johnson during his illness and recovery, warned the government is not yet ready to ease lockdown restrictions.
“This issue of a second spike and the need to avoid it, it’s not a theoretical risk,” he said.
“Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they’ve seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.
“We’re in a delicate and dangerous moment. We’re coming through the peak, but we’re not there yet.”
‘Relief and joy’
Britain shut non-essential shops and services, and ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries and medicines, on March 27.
A review of the measures is expected on May 7, amid dire warnings about the economic impact and indications of frustration at the continued confinement.
Johnson held a lunchtime telephone call with the leader of the main opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer who has called for more clarity on the lockdown exit plan.
Starmer earlier joined well-wishers in congratulating Johnson on becoming a father again, particularly after his recent experience. Symonds also displayed COVID-19 symptoms but was not tested.
“Whatever differences we have in this house, as human beings we all recognise the anxiety the prime minister and Carrie must have gone through in these past few weeks,” he told parliament.
“I really hope this brings them incredible relief and joy.”
Johnson had to spend three nights in intensive care, and later admitted his illness “could have gone either way”.
He was present for the birth at an unnamed NHS hospital in London and would be taking some paternity leave later in the year, his spokesman said.
Johnson has at least five other children, including four with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he split in 2018.
He also had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair while he was mayor of London, according to a 2013 court case.
The news of his youngest child’s birth came as a surprise, as Symonds was not thought to be due for several weeks.
Both she and the baby were said to be doing “very well”.
Some 21 people have died and 13 others have been seriously injured in the Mexican state of Jalisco after ingesting contaminated liquor, regional authorities said Wednesday.
In total, 56 people have been affected in two municipalities in the western state since Saturday, state health official Huge Esparza said during a press conference, including the 21 who have died and 29 who have become ill.
The 13 who became seriously ill were transported via helicopter to hospitals in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, while the rest were discharged, Esparza said.
As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that it is ill-equipped to handle a large outbreak.
Nabiam said that a “good number” of members of an interministerial coronavirus committee had caught COVID-19, suggesting that this was because they have been “at the forefront” of fighting the disease.
Health Minister Antonio Deuna told AFP that three other government ministers had been infected in addition to the premier.
Interior Minister Botche Cande has tested positive, he said, as well as Secretary of State for Public Order Mario Fambe, and Secretary of State for Regional Integration Monica Boiro.
Deuna added that several ministers and government officials were tested after the country reported its first coronavirus death on Sunday, in Senior Police Commissioner Biom Nantchongo.
A police officer assigned to the interior ministry, who requested anonymity, said that ministry staff are in close contact and often converse without wearing masks.
The organisers of the French Open, who were criticised for unilaterally moving the tournament to a September start without consulting other tennis federations, could delay the event by another week, a report said Friday.
The claycourt Grand Slam could now start on September 27 instead of September 20, preceded by a week of qualification matches, Le Parisien newspaper said.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) declined to confirm the report, but said in a statement: “The FFT is in contact with the international bodies, the ATP, WTA and ITF, and is waiting for the calendar to be confirmed by them.”
The FFT caused surprise in the tennis world by announcing in mid-March, just as France was going into lockdown because of the pandemic outbreak, that it was moving from its original May 24-June 7 slot to the September date.
If the tournament is delayed until September 27, it would give a two-week pause after the US Open, which is currently scheduled to finish on September 13.
Wimbledon, which was to have been played from June 29 to July 12, has been cancelled.