Tuesday, 24 May 2016

DATELINE NIGERIA.: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PLANS DIALOGUE WITH THE MILITANTS TO END PIPELINE VANDALISM

The fact that only yesterday, on the orders of the President truck loads of soldiers reportedly moved into the Niger Delta does suggest that this current rapprochement may not be the idea or preferred option of Mr President who (because of the soldier in him) saw no other way forward but the military option. Having said that, it is to me immaterial whose idea it is. What is imperative is that the Buhari administration  approach the dialogue with a sincerity of purpose because the issues highlighted by the Avengers go to the very foundation of our national existence and ignoring them would be the worst mistake this administration will make within their first year in office.

On a lighter note, I am aware that Jonathan was demonised and harangued for allowing a rag tag army of Boko Haram to virtually hold Nigeria hostage holding seventeen LGAs in the North East. From what Lai Mohammed the Hon Minister for Information said, if the current volte face by the government is not tantamount to Nigeria capitulating to a rag tag  army operation  in the inhospitable swamps of the Niger Delta I don't know what is. I hope my good friend Emeka Okala is listening. No one doubts that these are very trying times for our dear country. She needs all the prayers.
God bless Nigeria.

Emeka Obiandu
"You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".

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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Uganda Opposition Gathers Evidence to Challenge Election Outcome


Uganda’s main opposition party says it's working hard to gather evidence to legally challenge the outcome of the February 18 general election.

Uganda’s electoral law says challenges can be filed up to 10 days after results are announced. Mugisha Muntu, chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change, said the party was doing everything possible to meet the deadline, despite what he said had been continuous harassment and intimidation by state security operatives.

Muntu noted that the intimidation followed the frequent arrests and subsequent release of Kizza Besigye, the FDC presidential candidate.

“We started gathering evidence on Saturday, right after we found out that there were huge discrepancies between what was being announced and what we’ve been gathering from our own polling stations," he said. Since then, he added, "our presidential candidate … has been taken to the police cells several times.”

Muntu said security services had raided party offices and arrested data entry clerks, but "we are not deterred. We are continuing to gather evidence to be able to move in that direction [toward a challenge] once a decision is firmly made."

Badru Kiggundu, the electoral commission chairman, declared incumbent Yoweri Museveni the winner of the presidential election with 60.07 percent of the votes cast, while Besigye was second with 35.37 percent.

Kiggundu insisted the general election was credible, despite preliminary reports by local and international observers that the poll was neither free nor fair.

“I don’t think he could have said anything else apart from that," Muntu said of Kiggundu. "Even as we moved towards the election day itself, you could see that the electoral commission chairman was partisan from the statements that he was making, from the actions that they carried out, and ultimately, from the evidence, which now is so visible.”

A Ugandan riot policeman blocks the gate of the party headquarters of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, shortly after raiding the premises for the second time in a week, in the capital Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 22, 2016.Discrepancies alleged

Muntu said initial evidence showed some of the poll results had been manipulated. He said results on the declaration forms signed by all party representatives, which show the results at the polling stations, were different from those the electoral commission announced.

Opposition groups also accused the electoral commission of bias after voting in areas where they were strong — including the capital, Kampala — started about seven hours later than in areas where the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) had a strong following. The FDC said the delays were a deliberate attempt to suppress opposition votes.

The electoral commission denied the accusation. It said the delays were regrettable but insisted that the results were credible, despite the logistical challenges.

Some FDC supporters said they weren't confident that the party’s legal challenge would succeed, contending that the country’s judiciary is not independent. They also said the government could pressure judges to rule in its favor.

“In our decision to eventually go to court, [judiciary independence] is also one of the factors that is being considered,” Muntu said.

Supporters of the NRM said the opposition parties were sore losers. They said the opposition parties weren't complaining about parliamentary races in which they defeated government ministers but were challenging losses to Museveni in the same areas.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world ..... Albert Einstein

Saturday, 20 February 2016

EU referendum: Cameron sets June date for UK vote

British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London on Saturday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London on Saturday.
Britain will vote on whether to remain in the EU on Thursday 23 June, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
The prime minister made his historic announcement in Downing Street after briefing the cabinet.
He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU - and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions "in our lifetimes".
Ministers immediately divided up into the leave and remain camps as the campaigns got under way in earnest.
Home Secretary Theresa May heads the list of those who have announced they will campaign to stay - but Justice Secretary Michael Gove has signed up to the leave campaign.
Leave campaigners are also hoping London Mayor Boris Johnson will join their cause - but he has yet to declare where he stands.

'Source of instability'

In his statement, Mr Cameron warned that leaving the European Union would be a "leap in the dark" as he urged voters to back his reform deal.
"Those who want to leave Europe cannot tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe's free trade single market, or if working people's jobs are safe, or how much prices would rise. All they're offering is a risk at a time of uncertainty - a leap in the dark."
In a direct appeal to voters, he said: "The choice is in your hands - but my recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union."
Vote LeaveImage copyrightVote Leave
Image captionMinisters nail their colours to the Vote Leave campaign
Mrs May said the EU was far from perfect but "for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world" it was in the national interest to remain in.
Mr Gove said it had been the most difficult decision of his career to go against the prime minister but he believed "our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU", adding that "far from providing security in an uncertain world, the EU's policies have become a source of instability and insecurity".
Commons leader Chris Grayling, another leave campaign backer, told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg: "I actually believe the EU is holding this country back. We cannot control our borders, limit the number of people who come here do trade deals.

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Saturday, 6 February 2016

World Cancer Day 2016: millions to take action against the world’s most deadly disease


Breast cancer risk: debunking the myths and misconceptions


Thursday 4 February 2016 – World Cancer Day: Geneva, Switzerland – Cancer will kill more than eight million people worldwide this year, which is equivalent to the entire population of New York. Half of these will be people of working age (30-69 years old).
It has been estimated that the cost implications on world economies caused by cancer and the other non-communicable diseases (including mental health) could be as high as USD47 trillion[1] if no action is taken to reduce the anticipated growth in cases over the next two decades. This is a greater economic impact than the global financial crisis of 2008 and represents 75% of global GDP.
Today on World Cancer Day 2016 (Thursday 4 February), the world unites against this disease that knows no borders and represents one of humanity’s most pressing and financial concerns.
Under the campaign theme ‘We can. I can.’ World Cancer Day represents a unique opportunity to draw attention to what can be done to address cancer, save millions of avoidable deaths and, in turn, support global economic growth and development.
‘We can’: Today, the world’s leading international cancer NGO, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), urges corporations to focus their business on products and services that improve public health.
Moreover, UICC is asking governments to urgently reaffirm their commitment to the following cost-effective cancer ‘essentials’ package that save lives:
  • Implementation of vaccination programmes which prevent infections that cause cervical and liver cancer
  • Scale up of access to early detection and screening programmes for cervical, breast and bowel cancers and follow-on treatment[2]
  • Improved tobacco taxation, regulation and control
  • As well, as pain relief and palliative care services for all cancer patients.
“Preventing millions of unnecessary deaths and suffering from cancer is not outside of the world’s scientific or financial capabilities,” said Dr Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, UICC.
“It will however require collaborative action at both individual and collective levels – spearheaded by key leaders in society. Governments have made global commitments to priority actions for addressing cancer, we now need to see these converted to national investments in treatment centres, services and skilled health workers, as well as health promotion. Employers can play a crucial role also by investing in the well-being of their workplace and the wider environment which they impact,” he added.
‘I can’: With more than a third of all cancers (up to 4.5 million per year) preventable through lifestyle interventions, UICC also calls on individuals to take responsibility for reducing their own cancer risk. Simple measures such as stopping smoking, eating less red and processed meat, exercising regularly and reducing alcohol use can extend a healthy life, and must be seen as the first-line of defence against cancer and other associated non-communicable diseases.
 “World Cancer Day 2016 is a chance to reflect on what everyone can do to reduce the impact of this devastating disease, now, and for the future. We wish it to be a springboard for positive change. Take action for yourself, your organisation or your community/country, as everyone can make a difference and inspire others. ‘We can. I can.’ beat cancer,” noted Professor Tezer Kutluk, UICC President.
“Join the fight against cancer, to take action on cancer by making health and well-being commitments, participating in the official ‘Talking Hands’ social media activity and getting involved in hundreds of other awareness raising initiatives that are happening worldwide,” he continued.
Visit www.worldcancerday.org for more information on how the day is being marked around the globe.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Saudi Arabia recruits Sunni allies in row with Iran




Saudi Arabia rallied Sunni allies to its side in a growing diplomatic row with Iran on Monday, deepening a sectarian split across the Middle East following the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh's example the previous day. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers.

He blamed Iran's "aggressive policies" for the diplomatic action, alluding to years of tension that spilled over on Saturday night when Iranian protesters stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations but the other Gulf Arab countries -- Kuwait, Qatar and Oman -- stayed above the fray.

Shi'ite Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as an "excuse" to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions, as protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce Saudi Arabia's execution of Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

A man was shot dead in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province late on Sunday, and two Sunni mosques in Iraq's Shi'ite-majority Hilla province were bombed in the fallout from the dispute between the Middle East's top Sunni and Shi'ite powers.

Oil prices spiked during European trading as the two big petroleum exporters traded insults and after violence hit other crude producers such as Iraq. But prices then eased back on evidence of economic weakness in Asia.

Stock markets across the Gulf dropped sharply, led by Qatar which fell more than 2.5 percent, with geopolitical jitters outweighing any benefit from stronger oil.

Crude importer China declared itself "highly concerned" with the developments, in a rare foray into Middle East diplomacy. The United States and Germany called for restraint, while Russia offered to mediate an end to the dispute.

The row threatened to derail efforts to end Syria's five-year-old civil war, where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab powers support rebel groups against Iran-backed President Bashar al-Assad.

In neighbouring Lebanon, newspapers said the spat had clouded the hopes of filling the vacant presidency that had been raised last month after Iran and Saudi Arabia both voiced support for a power-sharing deal.

Nevertheless, analysts said fears of a sectarian rupture across the Middle East were premature, and the break in relations could be more a symptom of existing strains than evidence of new ones.

"The fact that the UAE was unwilling to cut off ties with Iran completely, despite the closeness of its relations with Saudi Arabia, shows the difficulty that the Saudis will have in trying to isolate Iran," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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