PGA Endorses Jonathan for 2015, Demands Accord with PDP

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) on saturday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to seek re-election in the 2015 general elections, saying that his  transformation agenda would be impaired should he fail to heed the voice of the people to contest and continue with his good governance of the country.

However, the party which made its position known at a rally to mark the formal inauguration of a pro-Jonathan nongovernmental organisation and support group, Joint Jonathan Journey (JJJ), at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka yesterday also demanded for an accord with the PDP in 2015.

The National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh said, “We are supporting Jonathan in the whole to continue his transformation agenda. Without him, any other person will cause confusion. Apart from supporting Jonathan, APGA wants to have an accord with PDP.”

Speaking in a similar, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, said APGA has resolved to give Jonathan and Umeh automatic tickets for presidency and Anambra Central senatorial race, while all other aspirants would face party primaries.

Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani who represented a PDP major financier, Sir Emeka Offor at the rally, thanked APGA for supporting Jonathan, adding that “APGA supporting Jonathan is a welcome idea.”

The Director-General of JJJ, Chief Ben Oranusi, said the organisation was the vision of the Igbo people to ensure the re-election of President Jonathan who he described as “good brand.”

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India’s Top Police Drop Corruption Case Against Industrialist

India’s top police agency has dropped a corruption case against leading industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, who had been accused conspiring to obtain a coal block at a cut-rate price nearly a decade ago.

The case filed last October against Birla, viewed in India’s sometimes murky corporate world as a by-the-book player, had sent shock waves through business community at the time.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said late Friday in a statement evidence “did not substantiate the allegations” of criminal conspiracy.

“There was no evidence of criminal conspiracy,” the agency said.

The case stemmed from the 2005 awarding of a coal block to Hindalco Industries, one of Asia’s biggest primary aluminium producers and part of the Aditya Birla conglomerate headed by Birla.

The police force also dropped its corruption investigation against a former top government coal ministry bureaucrat, P.C. Parakh.

Both men had denied any wrongdoing.

The coal block allocation was probed as part of a scandal in which India’s federal auditor in 2012 accused the government of underpricing coal mines and giving away billions of dollars in windfall gains to companies.

While police are not pursuing charges against Birla and Parakh, the Supreme Court ruled last Monday the awarding of coal blocks from 1993 to as far as 2010 was illegal, creating new uncertainty for energy-hungry India.

New legislation to auction coal blocks instead of through a government screening committee became law in September 2010.

A Supreme Court hearing will be held on Monday to consider whether the allocations should be cancelled.

The court said in its ruling there were “legal flaws” in the procedure for awarding the nearly 220 coal blocks in India, which relies on the fuel to generate over half its power.

In 2012, when the previous Congress government was in power, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecommunications licences sold at below-market prices, causing upheaval in the fast-growing cellular industry.

Many coal blocks were awarded during the Congress government. It was ousted in May after a decade in power by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi, who vowed to stamp out corruption.

The scandal came to prominence under Congress although the BJP was also in power for part of the period cited by the court.

Many of the coal blocks are still lying idle, but mining is under way in others. The government has seized back around 80 blocks because they are not being mined.

India has one of the world’s biggest proven reserves of coal but disarray in the sector means demand still outstrips supply, causing huge power outages and hurting industrial output.

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Joan Rivers Now On Life Support

This is sad. Joan Rivers is  now on life support  is completely dependent on the machine to stay alive.

The family are still being hopeful that with time she would be able to get breath on her own and recuperate soon.

The family is also going to decide in some days time if she should continue on life support or if to turn off the machine.  Quick recuperation Joan.

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Jonathan should promote rights-based approach to control Ebola—SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to “promote a rights-based approach to healthcare for millions of disadvantaged Nigerians to control and combat the Ebola disease.”

In a statement today signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, “We note that the government’s reaction so far has contributed to curtailing the spread of the disease. But the inadequacy of a reactive approach to the problem is illustrated by the low survival rates of victims here in the country when compared to those in countries with developed and functioning healthcare systems.”

The organization said that, “the unfortunate reality is that the full enjoyment of the right to health still remains a distant goal for millions of Nigerians especially those who continue to live in poverty as a result of years of mismanagement and high level official corruption.”

“This problem is further exacerbated by the absence of functioning public health and health-care facilities, grossly insufficient resources and official corruption. The result is that payment for basic healthcare remains beyond the reach of majority of Nigerians,” the organization said.

According to the organization, “The Ebola outbreak provides an opportunity for the government to formulate a coherent health policy that is based on human rights principles. And President Jonathan needs to urgently provide the leadership to make this happen. As a starting point, the President should now publicly support the inclusion of a legally enforceable right to healthcare in the constitution.”

The organization also said that, “A long term and preventive approach that conceives health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity is urgently needed. Any such policy must adopt a holistic approach to the right to health by for example promoting the effective enjoyment of associated rights such as the rights to food, housing, work, education, human dignity, life, non-discrimination, and equality.”

“One of the things this government can immediately begin to do to prevent the spread of Ebola is to commit adequate resources to provide and promote an environment across the country where people can lead a healthy life, in particular by ensuring access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, safe and healthy working conditions, and a healthy environment,” the organization also said.

The organization also said that, “The government must ensure the participation of the population in all health related decision-making across the country. Investments should not disproportionately favour expensive curative health services which are often accessible only to a small, privileged fraction of the population, rather than primary and preventive health care benefiting a far larger part of the population.”

“There is absolutely no justification why Nigerians especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population should not enjoy a right to health that would assure to them medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness, including the provision of equal and timely access to basic preventive, curative, rehabilitative health services and health education; regular screening programmes; appropriate treatment of prevalent diseases such as Ebola, and the provision of essential drugs and care,” the organization added.

The organization said that, “Health is a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. Every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services’”

“The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides the most comprehensive article on the right to health in international human rights law. In accordance with article 12.1 of the Covenant, States parties recognize “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” the organization added.

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Ebola: Sierra Leone Sack Health Minister

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma dismissed his Health Minister Miatta Kargbo on Friday over her handling of the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 400 people in the West African country.

A presidency statement said that Kargbo was removed “to create a conducive environment for efficient and effective handling of the Ebola outbreak”. She will be replaced by her deputy Dr Abubakarr Fofanah, the statement said.

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ALGON Condemns Confab Proposal To Scrap Councils

The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) Friday condemned the recommendation of the National Conference to scrap the third tier of government from the constitution.

ALGON national chairman, Mr. Ozo Nwabueze Okafor, told reporters at the end of the national executive committee in Abuja that the conference should have rather suggested ways to strengthen the councils to among others guarantee their independence and tenure of office.

“We saw some members arguing that the local government as a tier of government should be scrapped because most of the governors were mismanaging the funds meant for them. We also saw some other members rather calling for the strengthening of the councils. We all know the councils are the closest to the people. We all need to collectively fight to ensure that the illegal deductions are stopped and that the tenure of office of four years currently enjoyed at the federal and state levels is also enshrined in the constitution for the councils,” Okafor said.

He commended the Supreme Court for ruling that the state governments lack constitutional powers to dissolve elected council officials and that those states that illegally dissolved the elected officials should reinstate them.

Okafor urged some of the states where the Supreme Court orders have not been obeyed to adopt legal means to enforce their rights of reinstatement as ruled by the apex court.

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Ebola: Researchers Link Outbreak To Funeral

Researchers at Harvard University, U. S.A. on Friday linked the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone to the funeral of one of its traditional healers.

The traditional healer was alleged to have been treating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patients from neighbouring Guinea before he contacted the disease and later died.

According to livescience. com, the first case of Ebola was discovered in May in Sierra Leone, after the death of the healer.

The Minister of Health in Sierra Leone released an official statement that linked the death of the healer to Ebola, after investigations by his ministry were concluded.

“Investigators found 13 additional cases of Ebola, all in women who attended the burial,” the minister said.

The researchers studied the viruses isolated from the blood of these patients, as well as subsequent Ebola patients, to identify the genetic characteristics of the Ebola virus responsible for the outbreak.

“Understanding how a virus is changing is critical knowledge to the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, as they usually get specific parts of the viral genome that might change both between and within outbreaks, said the researchers.

The findings suggest that the virus was brought to the region within past decades, likely by an infected bat traveling from Central Africa.

Earlier work suggested that the virus was circulating in animals in West Africa for several decades without having been detected.

“The virus seemed to have made a single jump from an animal to a person, from there continued its journey through human-to-human transmission.

“This finding can guide decisions on whether to focus on human -to -human spread of the virus , or on minimizing contact with animals, for example by banning the consumption of bush meat,” the researchers said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over 3,069 persons have been suspected and confirmed as being infected by the virus, with 1552 deaths globally.

There are no vaccines to prevent infection with Ebola virus or drugs to cure the disease.

An experimental treatment based on antibiotics, called ZMapp has shown promise in monkeys but it is unclear whether the drug is effective in treating people.

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