It Is Important That Women’s Voices Are Heard, Says Osinbajo

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, says it is important for the voices of women to be heard and for them to participate more actively in the development of policies in different sectors as they are major contributors to national development.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this today when he received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, a delegation of Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, the association of women in Northern Nigeria.

At the meeting, the Vice President was also presented with the Association’s Icon/Humanitarian Award, in recognition of the VP’s support to the less privileged in society and especially children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, particularly through the North East Children’s Trust, an initiative championed by Prof. Osinbajo, which set up The Learning Centre in Maiduguri.

While appreciating the group for the award, the Vice President stated that “it is important that your voices are heard very clearly, it is an economic issue. No country in the world has attained economic development without giving equal opportunities to women. Every wealthy nation in the world that has attained greatness has done so because women in that nation were accorded equal rights and opportunities.”


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Urging for more collaboration between government and similar private and civil society organisations in addressing issues related to the welfare of children, and girl-child education, among others, the VP further stated that “it is important that the private sector and civil society organisations such as yours, focused on women, participate more actively in developing policies because you are right there, so it is important to collaborate more.”

The Vice President also mentioned the proposed 35 per cent affirmative action for women to be given elective and appointive positions in government, noting that “there is a need for women to be properly recognized and given the rights in society.”

Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the work being done by the At-Risk Children Programme, ARC-P, a Federal Government led initiative in addressing the challenges faced by the vulnerable in society, especially children and young people, nationwide.

(The ARC-P is led by Mrs Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments.)

In her remarks, the President of Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa and leader of the delegation, Hajiya Rabi Musa Saulawa, said the association of Northern women embraces all women in the Northern region regardless of their tribal and religious differences.

She added that it was founded in 1963 to unite Northern women and improve their standard of living socially and economically, and has branches in all the 19 Northern States and the FCT.

Appreciating the VP for his dedication and commitment to humanitarian causes such as the orphans in the North-East, Hajiya Saulawa said, “this is the kind of leadership our nation deserves, where region, tribe or religion does not dictate the direction of government policies and initiatives. It is as a result of this commitment and dedication that Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, an institution that looks after orphans, has also decided to honour His Excellency with the JMA humanitarian award.”

While also acknowledging the humanitarian work of the wife of the Vice President, Hajiya Saulawa prayed for God’s blessings on the VP and his family.

“Your Excellency, Northern women and children are indebted to you for taking care of our children. All we can do is to pray for you that the Almighty God will bless you and your family abundantly,” she added.

Trudeau Announces Canada Handgun ‘Freeze’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 21, 2022 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 23, 2022 revoked emergency powers used to dislodge weeks-long trucker-led protests in Ottawa and blockades of border crossings to the United States, as he declared the crisis over. (Photo by Dave Chan / AFP)

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday a proposed freeze on handgun ownership in Canada that would effectively ban their importation and sale, following recent mass shootings in the United States.

The bill must still be passed by Parliament, with the ruling Liberals holding only a minority of seats.

“We’re introducing legislation to implement a national freeze on handgun ownership,” Trudeau told a news conference, joined by dozens of families and friends of victims of gun violence.

“What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” he said. “In other words, we’re capping the market for handguns.”


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Days after Canada’s worst mass shooting left 23 dead in rural Nova Scotia in April 2020, the government banned 1,500 types of military-grade or assault-style firearms.

But Trudeau acknowledged Monday that gun violence continues to rise.

The government statistical agency reported last week that firearms-related violent crimes account for less than three percent of all violent crimes in Canada.

But since 2009 the per capita rate of guns being pointed at someone has nearly tripled, while the rate at which a gun was fired with an intent to kill or wound is up five-fold.

Almost two-thirds of gun crimes in urban areas involved handguns.

Police often point to smuggling from the United States — which is reeling from recent shootings at a school in Texas and at a supermarket in New York state — as the main source of handguns.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino estimated there are about one million handguns in this country — up significantly from a decade ago.

Trudeau commented, “People should be free to go to the supermarket, their school or their place of worship without fear. People should be free to go to the park or to a birthday party without worrying about what might happen from a stray bullet.

“Gun violence is a complex problem,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the math is really quite simple: the fewer the guns in our communities, the safer everyone will be.”

The proposed law would also strip anyone involved in domestic violence or stalking of their firearms license, and take away guns from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, as well as strengthen border security and criminal penalties for gun trafficking.

It would also ban long-gun magazines capable of holding more than five bullets.

Our Main Job Is To Make Laws Not Build Roads, Legislators Cry Out

 

Members of the National Assembly on Saturday said many Nigerians do not value the main duty of a legislator, which is to make laws.

The lawmakers spoke at Open Square, a townhall meeting organised by Daria Media and supported by Channels Television and the MacArthur Foundation.

“Legislators are not judged by their performance as to how they advocate for their constituents,” Kogi senator, Smart Adeyemi said.

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“They want to see you provide those things that are exclusively the responsibility of the executive. As a legislator, people assume that you should be able to construct roads for them, build houses.”

A member of the House of Representatives, Dachung Bagos, re-echoed Senator Adeyemi’s stance.

“What constituents usually want to see is that you bring infrastructure, you bring empowerment, you pay school fees, you pay hospital bills, and things that are directly beneficial to the constituents,” he said.

“But 70 percent of the role of a lawmaker, which is lawmaking – as long as it doesn’t translate to food on the table – the constituents don’t understand it.”

Bogus promises

The wrong perception of the role of legislators may be linked to the kind of promises they make during election campaigns.

“You find yourself during campaigns actually making promises and unfortunately because politicians are looking for the votes, they say yes,” Rep. Bagos said. “The Nigerian political space has made politicians overpromise and when you overpromise, you find yourself not meeting up to the demands.

“There are things that you might even say during elections, and they will remind you; they will even play videotapes of the campaign.”

The lawmaker wants Nigerians to be fair to the National Assembly, saying its members have been living up to their responsibilities.

According to him, it will be unreasonable to expect lawmakers who are not up to 500 to solve the problem of a country with over 200 million people.

Bagos also believes the system of politics in Nigeria has worsened the situation, decrying the level of partisanship in the country.

He stated that this was one of the major factors why the National Assembly has failed in some aspects of its responsibilities, especially in holding the executive accountable.

“In fairness to Nigerians and in fairness to the true nature of what democracy needs to stand for, the Nigerian political space has caged democracy to the democracy of partisanship – you have to be a party man before you get something; to religious and ethnic democracy that you have to belong to a certain religious group to be able to get something for your people,” the lawmaker lamented.

“We have been able to make resolutions upon resolutions to the executive that do it this way, do it this way; with 200 million people, you don’t expect about 400 people to solve the problem … the National Assembly today cannot boldly say – because of politics of party, because of politics of ethnicity; that the executive has not done well.”

Insecurity: Nigerians Go Out Unsure Of Returning, Soyinka Laments

Impunity Rides Again – Wole Soyinka
A file photo of Professor Wole Soyinka.

 

Wole Soyinka has lamented the rising level of insecurity in the country, saying many Nigerians go out unsure they would return home safely. He believes the country needs help to tame insecurity. 

The Nobel laureate spoke on the sidelines of a media briefing held in Lagos on Thursday.

“This government needs help, it no longer can cope,” he said.

“It has been going on for years and I don’t know if the citizens of this country should live under such a cloud, such uncertainty: get up in the morning and you don’t know if you would get back at night.”

READ ALSO: [Elections] Nigerian Youths Not Ready To Take Their Destinies In Their Hands – Soyinka

Soyinka, who noted that the problem has been lingering for a while, blamed the judiciary, impunity, and others issues for contributing to the problem.

“There has been laxity; there has been the encouragement of impunity; there has been compromise even within the judicial so that cases are not solved in time and seem to be solved very objectively,” the literary giant explained.

“There has been, of course, the sieving of money intended for the military to combat insurgency whether of the religious or the secular kind known as banditry.

“So, it is a multi-level situation and it did not begin just now. If we don’t keep stressing that, we would never get to the root of the problem.”

He also berated the main political parties in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the wave of defections.

According to him, such development does not augur well for the country’s democracy. Soyinka equally lamented the youths’ inability to take up leadership positions in the political space.

“The youths of this nation don’t seem to want to take their destiny into their own hands,” he said.

While recalling that he was part of the move for youths to present a consensus candidate during the 2019 election, he lamented that such did not materialise.

“Well, they failed to do that and I have a fear that this same thing will happen this year,” the revered poet explained.

2023 Elections: Don’t Interfere With Nigerian Politics, Buhari Warns New Diplomats

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised diplomats in the country to stay within the limits of their schedules and not meddle in the internal politics of the nation as the 2023 elections approach.

President Buhari said this at the presentation of Letters of Credence to ambassadors of the Czech Republic, Zdenek Krejci; Italy, Stephano De Leo; Spain, Juan Ignacio Sell Sanz, and Israel, Michael Shual Freeman in Abuja on Thursday.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Observe, but don’t interfere in internal politics, President Buhari tells diplomats ahead of 2023 elections.’

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“You are assuming your diplomatic responsibilities in Nigeria at the very interesting political period as Nigeria’s national elections are due in early 2023,” he said.

“As you settle down in the face of these developments, it is my hope that you will also be guided by diplomatic practice, to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to and the conduct of the general elections next year.’’

President Buhari had in October 2021 issued the same caution to diplomats who he also called on to adequately monitor the build-up to and the conduct of the 2023 general elections as well as support the country in addressing rising global insecurity. He urged the ambassadors to build lasting friendships while performing their duties that will go beyond assignments in Nigeria.

“We are living in unprecedented times and with so many uncertainties, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in global insecurity, and the devastation of our environments caused by climate change among other existential threats to our collective peace, progress, and shared values.

“Different factors that accounted for these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain alone. Matters of security have become the business of all the nations of the world to work closely together to build consensus in order to overcome these challenges,’’ he noted.

“For us in Nigeria,’’ President Buhari told the diplomats, “we continue to make steady progress despite the daunting challenges, especially in the areas of insecurity, fight against corruption, diversification of the economy, and our efforts in promoting good governance, amongst other aspirations.’’

The president noted that Nigeria’s differences and divergence in culture and religion had contributed immensely in cementing unity, as a people, as well as spurring religious tolerance and respect for one another.

On the regional level, the president said Nigeria will continue to work with other member-states of ECOWAS and regional blocs to deal with the problems of terrorism, trans-border crimes, banditry, maritime issues, and unconstitutional change of government.

“We are engaging in frank self-retrospection in order to identify and isolate appropriate containment strategies that can help de-escalate the drift into the unconstitutional seizure of power in the sub-region,’’ Buhari added.

President Buhari assured of partnership and mutual cooperation in canvassing more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the healthcare system, education, infrastructure, local manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, and transportation.

UN Urges World To Turn The Screw On Myanmar Junta

 

The United Nations urged the world on Friday to ramp up the pressure on Myanmar’s junta to cease violence against the country’s own people and quickly restore civilian rule.

One year on since the military seized power, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the country’s people had paid a high price in terms of lives and freedoms lost.

Bachelet said that while there had been near-universal condemnation of the coup and the ensuing violence, she branded the international response as “ineffectual”, saying it “lacks a sense of urgency commensurate to the magnitude of the crisis”.

“It is time for an urgent, renewed effort to restore human rights and democracy in Myanmar and ensure that perpetrators of systemic human rights violations and abuses are held to account,” she said.

The former Chilean president said the UN Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had not done enough to convince the junta to facilitate humanitarian access.

Bachelet said she had spoken with civil liberties defenders in Myanmar who were pleading with the international community not to abandon them.

“I urge governments — in the region and beyond — as well as businesses, to listen to this plea,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Deaths, Detentions and Impunity

Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1 last year, ousting the civilian government and arresting its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta has waged a bloody crackdown on dissent.

The UN Human Rights Office said that since the coup, at least 1,500 people had been killed by the military in a brutal effort to crush dissent, while thousands more would have been killed in the wider armed conflict and violence.

At least 11,787 people have been arbitrarily detained for voicing their opposition to the military, the office said, of whom 8,792 remain in custody.

At least 290 have died in detention, many likely due to the use of torture, it added.

Bachelet said the current crisis was built upon the impunity with which the military leadership waged a campaign of violence against the Rohingya minority four years ago.

“As long as impunity prevails, stability in Myanmar will be a fiction. Accountability of the military remains crucial to any solution going forward — the people overwhelmingly demand this,” she said.

Bachelet’s office is due to publish a report in March detailing the human rights situation in Myanmar since the coup.

Shocking Defections, Electoral Act Amendment Saga + Top Political Events In 2021

A combination of photos highlighting some of the major political events in 2021.

 

The 2021 political year has been quite eventful, and there is no way a recap can be done without talking about the crises that hit some political parties, the congresses, the defections, and the frustrations in the bid to redefine the nation’s political space as it relates to the amendment of the Electoral Act, among others.

It all began with the congresses at the ward and state levels in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) amid the series of crises in various organs of these parties.

A combination of file photos of the PDP logo and Mr Uche Secondus.

 

Before the congresses, Mr Uche Secondus, who served as the PDP National Chairman, was engulfed in a corruption scandal that snowballed into a series of litigations. He was later suspended from his position by a court.

READ ALSO: TB Joshua, Sound Sultan, Attahiru, And Other Prominent Nigerians Who Died In 2021

Secondus remained suspended while the main opposition party conducted its national congress which elected Mr Iyorchia Ayu, a former Senate President, as its new national chairman, as well as 20 other national officers in October to give the party a new set of National Working Committee.

This meant that Secondus did not complete his tenure in office, but the new NWC was inaugurated about a month after the election.

Senator Iyorchia Ayu and other members of the PDP NWC at their inauguration ceremony in Abuja on December 10, 2021.

 

The APC, on its part, was also hit with some crises, including the call for the sack of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, as the acting APC National Chairman over allegations that he cannot hold such a position as a sitting governor.

He, however, enjoyed the support of the party’s leaders while APC has fixed February 2022 to conduct its national congress. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) also had its fair share of the squabbles, especially in the build-up to the governorship election in Anambra State.

Critics Turned Allies

In the quest to succeed Governor Willie Obiano, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo, emerged the flagbearer of APGA, but not after a hard-fought battle over the party’s ticket. He went on to win the election and he will be sworn-in in 2022.

Professor Soludo is the governor-elect of Anambra State.

 

In the middle of the crisis, the PDP lost two of its governors who defected to the APC. Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State was the first to join the ruling party while his Zamafara State counterpart, Bello Matawalle, dumped the opposition party about a month later.

On September 16, one of the most vocal critics of President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Fani-Kayode, announced a shocking defection to the APC. While most people did not see it coming, Fani-Kayode – a former minister of aviation, had said he would rather die than join the ruling party.

Another significant occurrence in 2021 was the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the National Assembly which attracted many commendations. But the feat would be incomplete until President Muhammadu Buhari signs the bill into law.

President Buhari meets with Governor Mai Mala Buni, Governor Bello Matawalle, and Mr Femi Fani-Kayode at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

 

A similar bill was passed in 2018, but the President rejected it thrice. The third time, he cited the closeness to the 2019 general elections as the reason for his refusal to sign the bill.

About three years after the President’s action, the National Assembly made further attempts to improve the nation’s electoral process.

In what could be described as a bow to pressure, the lawmakers amended the Act to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide the mode of transmission of election results, and propose the direct primary mode for political parties, among others.

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

 

Buhari’s Successor

Thirty days after receiving the bill from the National Assembly, President Buhari informed the lawmakers that he has decided to withhold his assent because of the direct primary clause which he said would cost the country a lot of resources.

In their reaction, the lawmakers resolved to properly address the issue when they resume from their recess. Meanwhile, the National Assembly passed and forwarded the 2022 Appropriation Bill to the President.

President Muhammadu Buhari signs the 2022 Budget at the State House in Abuja on December 31, 2021.

 

The lawmakers raised the total budget figure from the N16.391 trillion proposed by President Buhari to N17.126 trillion. While the Electoral Act Amendment Bill suffered a setback in 2021, the year ended with the signing of the budget into law, to allow Nigeria continue on the part of a January to December budget cycle.

But in assenting to the bill, the President faulted the ‘worrisome changes’ by the National Assembly and promised to revert to the lawmakers with a request for an amendment.

A file photo of a bag containing electoral materials to be deployed for an election.

 

As Nigerians look forward to a promising 2022 political year, political players and parties would be preoccupied with activities to get a successor for President Buhari who completes his second term in 2023.

While key political players in the North and South continue to eye the highest office in the land, there are rumours that the leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, will join the contest to become the next president, although he has yet to officially declare his interest.

Participate In Political Activities To Move Nigeria Forward, Peterside Tells Youths

 

President and founder of ANAP Foundation, Atedo Peterside has asked Nigerian youths to participate in political activities to move the country forward.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight which aired on Monday, Peterside said the young people should develop an interest in the nation’s affairs and be involved in the voting process.

According to him, a situation whereby the young people do not show interest in elections would mean them selling their birthrights to politicians.

READ ALSO: 2023: Zoning Presidency To South-East Will Stop IPOB Agitation – Northern Group

“Many more people have to get involved in that activity. A large volume of educated youths deciding to opt out, saying I have no more interest, I won’t vote and register. When you do that, you have surrendered your birthrights to the politicians who get elected,” he said.

President/Founder of ANAP Foundation, Atedo Peterside speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight on December 6, 2021.

 

“On getting into office, he can do whatever he likes because you have told him you are not interested. So, you are not interested in your own future. So why do you expect him to deliver on your own future?

“I think more people will get politically active. It may not necessarily be businesspersons. The people whose destiny is on the line are the youths. They are the ones who must take part in the process right down to register to vote.”

He also reacted to the Federal Government’s plan to remove fuel subsidy by June 2022, noting that it is the job of leaders to present convincing arguments to a large number of people who might otherwise have opposed the removal of the subsidy on the price of petrol.

According to him, such arguments must be compelling enough to make the people accept the choice of a painful but long-term beneficial decision.

This is even as he explained that currently, some of those making the argument and are in leadership positions give confusing signals.

Age Does Not Determine Competence To Rule, Says Osinbajo


 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says age should never be a barrier for young Nigerians to get involved in holding strategic positions, especially political offices.

He believes political office holders do not necessarily have to be very old, but such persons only require some experience to get the job done.

“If you are going to get in, in the Nigerian system, in this system of ours, to walk through all that is required, I think you need some experience, a bit of it, you don’t have to be very old,” the Vice President said on Monday in Abuja during a book launch.

“But it helps if you have served in one capacity or the other as a special adviser or special assistant, all of those positions are very central positions. I don’t agree that a special assistant or a P.A. is not a somewhat serious position.

“Every special assistant or special adviser that I have, take very important decisions, and they take those very important decisions on their own. And the truth is that the way governments are set up, everybody there can play a very serious role; it depends on how very serious you are.”

According to him, a majority of the people prefer liberal politics, free enterprise, democracy, and individual freedom.

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

For the Vice President, this means that there can be no discrimination either on the basis of age, gender, or political persuasion.

He stressed the need to remove the barriers to ensure a level playing field for all, saying he had the opportunity to bring young people on board.

The quality of the contributions, according to Professor Osinbajo, is not necessarily defined by age and the focus should be on what people bring to the table.

“I had been adviser to the Attorney-General of the Federation when I was 31, so I had some experience coming into this,” he said.

“So, there is a place for preparation, a place for getting ready. There is no point saying that I have become Minister of Finance at the age of 25 because I am a smart kid; it takes more than that.”

The launch of the book by Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Alex James titled: ‘Politics That Works – What Schools and Seminars Won’t Teach You About Winning Elections’ held at the NAF conference centre in the nation’s capital.

Politics Hinders Security Agencies From Doing Their Jobs, Says Ex-DSS Director

 

A former Deputy Director, Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree, has identified politics as a factor hindering security agencies from effectively performing their jobs.

Nigeria currently faces myriads of security challenges with banditry activities in the northwest, terrorism in the North-East, militancy in the South-South, IPOB activities in the southeast, calls for secession in the South-West among others.

Although some successes have been recorded in the fight against insecurity across the country, Amachree believes more can be achieved if politics does not hinder security personnel in carrying out their constitutional duties.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Free 93 Islamiyya Students Three Months After Abduction

“One thing I know is that the intelligence community is solid in this country but what impedes them in carrying out some of the jobs they want to do is politics, politicians because when you mix with politics security, then it becomes a big problem,” he said.

“If these agencies are independent on their own, they should be able to do a better job but when they are under the direction of leaders that are not forthcoming or who don’t think seriously about the whole country, then we have a problem.”

Arrested But Not Prosecuted?

Amachree, an intelligence officer, said the whole country is under siege.

Citing kidnappings and attacks that regularly occur, he noted that Nigeria needs to solve what he described as some fundamental problems.

One of such, he stated, was divisiveness among the citizens, with another being unpatriotic acts exhibited by Nigerians.

A former Deputy Director, Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on August 27, 2021.

 

According to Amachree, a recent survey carried out in the country indicated that only 37 percent of Nigerians are patriotic, a situation he said isn’t good enough.

He lamented that though some arrests have been made by security agencies, some of the suspects are not being prosecuted.

“When we start to have these different kinds of attitudes of where we came from or whether the herdsmen, bandits are from outside the country or they are unknown gunmen, it is something that we have to put a finger on.

“When these kinds of things happen, people are arrested, nobody is prosecuted or if they are prosecuted, nobody is jailed. Then it becomes a problem whereby we keep on calling names or apportioning blames in the country,” he said.

UK PM To Self-Isolate When Not Working, After Minister’s Infection

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to attend the NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2021. The allies meet to agree on a statement stressing common ground on securing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, joint responses to cyber-attacks, and relations with a rising China. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL / AFP

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will undertake “only essential government business” in the week ahead after the state health service designated him a close contact of a person infected with Covid, Downing Street said Sunday.

Johnson and finance minister Rishi Sunak were both designated but are taking part in a government pilot scheme that enables them to continue working, a spokesperson said.

The development came just as Johnson’s government prepares to ditch most pandemic restrictions in England on Monday. The pilot mandates daily testing for participants and outside of work, they must self-isolate.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Saturday he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was now self-isolating for 10 days.

“The prime minister and chancellor have been contacted by NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street.

“They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”

Javid had a “lengthy” meeting with Johnson on Friday, according to the Sunday Times. The prime minister nearly died of Covid last year.

Javid also appeared alongside ministers in parliament last week, and one government source told The Telegraph newspaper: “I don’t see how half the cabinet doesn’t end up in isolation by the end of the week.”

Javid has only been in the job since late June, when former health secretary Matt Hancock resigned following revelations he had broken coronavirus restrictions during an affair with a close aide.

Jonathan Ashworth, the main opposition Labour party’s health spokesman, accused the government of double standards after millions of schoolchildren and workers were forced to stay home under Covid tracing rules.

The pilot’s exemption amounts to “an exclusive rule for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak”, he told Sky News, and the public will see “one rule for them and something else for the rest of us”.

‘Pingdemic’

Javid stressed he has received both doses of a Covid vaccine and his symptoms were “very mild”. He said any member of the public feeling symptoms should get a test too.

“If everyone plays their part, you’re not only protecting yourself and your loved ones, but you’re also safeguarding the NHS and helping to preserve our way of life,” the minister said.

However, with coronavirus cases again surging, many scientists say the government is endangering the NHS with its plan on Monday to scrap most legal pandemic requirements in England.

For the first time since January, Britain’s daily Covid caseload now exceeds 50,000, and Javid has warned the figure could double from that in the coming weeks.

But the government insists that with two-thirds of the adult population now fully vaccinated, the risk can be managed, and Monday has been dubbed “freedom day” by many UK media.

Munira Wilson, health spokeswoman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, said Javid’s test result “shows no one is safe from this deadly virus”.

Urging the government “to rethink its reckless plans for Monday”, she said: “By easing all restrictions with cases surging, they are experimenting with people’s lives.”

The surge in infections sweeping Britain led to more than 530,000 people being instructed to self-isolate by a government-run app in the week to July 7, according to latest data.

Some companies such as carmaker Nissan have been losing staff en masse after they were pinged by the app — in a brewing crisis described by UK newspapers as a “pingdemic”.

Staff shortages caused by the isolation rules disrupted the London Underground network on Saturday, with one line suspended entirely.

AFP

South Africa’s Top Court To Review Zuma Jail Term

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018, former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges. Former South African president Jacob Zuma must pay back state funds and cover his own costs, a court ruled on December 13, 2018, leaving him facing massive legal bills as he fights graft charges.
Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

 

South African ex-president Jacob Zuma will on Monday ask the nation’s top court to let him out of jail by rescinding its 15-month sentence for snubbing anti-graft investigators.

The Constitutional Court on June 29 slapped Zuma with the prison stretch for refusing to appear before a probe into the corruption that mired his nine years in power.

Zuma is seeking to have that ruling set aside on the grounds that it was made in his absence.

Should the bid fail, Zuma’s team will seek to convince the judges that jail time is not the appropriate punishment for this instance of contempt, due to reasons including the implications for Zuma’s health, according to an information handout for media from the court on Saturday.

Zuma, 79, is also asking to be released from the Estcourt prison in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province on the grounds of his age and ailing health, adding that the ongoing pandemic means he is not a flight risk.

The man once dubbed the “Teflon president”, spent his first night in jail on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities following hours of drama and suspense.

His lawyers had also petitioned the Pietermaritzburg High Court in KwaZulu-Natal to stave off imprisonment. But on Friday it rejected the case, saying it lacked jurisdiction over the matter and Zuma’s claims about his health were “not supported by any evidence.”

The former president testified to the commission once in July 2019, but then swiftly withdrew his cooperation, saying he was offended by being treated as an “accused” and not as a witness.

He returned in November 2020, without uttering a word, and missed several subsequent appointments by evading his summonses on various grounds, including medical reasons, lack of funds and his request to have the chairman of the commission, then-deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself.

If Zuma is to serve the full term, he could still see himself back home long before year-end as he would be eligible for parole in less than four months.

Meanwhile, sporadic violence has erupted in the country, with dozens arrested after looting in KwaZulu-Natal and in the economic capital Johannesburg.

AFP