Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ambode’s victory at tribunal expected–APC

Ambode’s victory at tribunal expected–APC

Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday it wasn’t a surprise that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s victory was confirmed by the Election Petition Tribunal

The party said the verdict confirmed that Lagosians voted for good governance and continuity in the Centre of Excellence.

Reacting to the verdict through a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, the APC described the verdict as a huge testimony that Lagosians know their leaders and their leaders know them.

The statement reads: “The PDP in Lagos said it did everything to win Lagos including setting one ethnic group against the other; dishing out millions of dollars and pound Sterling, unleashing ethnic militias like Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), deploying security agencies, SURE-P outlaws , and others to harass and intimidate Lagosians to succumb and surrender Lagos to them.

“Lagos PDP failed because there is no meeting point between light and darkness, no meeting point between the serious and the unserious, no meeting point between Conservatives and Progressives, and no meeting point between performers and non-performers.

“How can you use shoes for hammer? How can you move a car forward by engaging the reverse gear? How do you plant cassava and hope to harvest yam? Can a goat give birth to a lion? The truth is that Lagos has always been in the hands of the progressives since it was created in 1967 and the strong and dynamic Lagos will continue to remain in the hands of progressives for a long time to come.

“The progressives will continue to strive for greater heights in raising standards not only in Lagos but the whole of Nigeria,” he said.

Igbokwe expressed APC’s felicitation to Ambode, who he described as the party’s torch-bearer in the state. “Lagos APC rejoices with His Excellency, Governor Ambode for this resounding victory We urge the governor to seize the moment and hit the ground running, and move with a speed that will not only frighten detractors, but silence them”, he said.

He urged the governor to continue the good work he has been doing in the Centre of Excellence following the dismissal of the needless distraction by the tribunal.

Human trials of HIV vaccine begin after partial success in monkeys.

Human trials of HIV vaccine begin after partial success in monkeys.

The success of an experimental vaccine trial with rhesus monkeys is motivating a pharmaceutical company to undertake experimental HIV vaccine tests in Thailand, East and South Africa, and the United States of AmericaUS, with 400 healthy participants takingpart in the first phase of the trials.

Scientists say the vaccine protected half of a batch of monkeysagainst the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, SIV, which is very similar to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

This development came to light justasa former researcher at Iowa State University, wasjailed for fraudulently securing millions in fundsfor further research on a potential vaccine for HIV thatturned out to be fake.

Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, is testing the vaccine on humans, for the firsttime in eight years since apharmaceutical company lastattempted an experimental HIV vaccine trial on humans.

Researchers are optimistic that if results of the current human study are as good asthe result in the non-human primate test subjects, then alarger scale clinical trial could begin within the next two years.

A studypublished in the journal Science, revealed that monkeys used for the new study received shots of the experimental vaccine and were then injected with SIV, which is very similar to HIV. A total of six injections of SIV were given to the monkeys to find the point where the vaccine would fail.


The two-step vaccine notonlyprotected half the monkeys, but their bodies produced antibodies that can be measured to show how well-protected the monkeys are.

In step 1, the test subject is given a shot of a weakened cold virus. This allowsthe genes of HIV to enter the body. In step 2, the test subjects received a very pure form of an HIV surface protein. This causes the body’s immune system to strongly react to the invader.

Scientists are hopeful that the experimental vaccine is effective due to the combination of high exposure rate and the number of test subjects that did not get infected during the trial.

One of the doctorsinvolved in the study said that they are not certain the vaccine that is protecting the monkeys will protect humans.

Vaccine holdspromise

But in a statement, Dr. Mary Marovich, who is Director of Vaccine Research at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIAID, described the new AIDS vaccine as promising.

“I do think that their results are impressive. Even protecting half of the people who are exposed to the viruswould be a major accomplishment. It could ultimatelyend the epidemic when you use it in combination with other measures.”

The relationship between HIV and SIV is complicated. Only people become infected with HIV and the same disease is not caused by SIV that HIV does.

However, they are sufficiently close that they can test vaccines with them and researchers said that the SIV used in the studies was more virulent than what was used in vaccines studies previously carried out.

The researchers also used “SHIV”– a combined virususing HIV and SIV. The vaccine protected more than 40 percent of the monkeys injected.

Researchers have been frustrated for 30 years trying to find an AIDS vaccine. Worldwide, HIV has infected close to 78 million people, with over 39 million already dead and 35 million people have AIDS. Of those 35million, 3.2million are children who received the virus through their infected mothers. With an estimated 3.4million persons living with HIV, and more than 60,000babies born with HIV annually, Nigeria has the 2nd largest burden of HIV in Africa after South Africa

On the future of the experimental vaccine, Vice President of the development of viral vaccines at Janssen, Hanneke Schuitemaker, said the company recognises that work should be on vaccines that can prevent infectious disease.

Scientists chose monkeys for the trial, because their immune systems are similar to humans. Also, HIV has been linked to SIV, which iscarried by monkeys. HIV is actuallya genetic mutation of SIV.

Scientist jailed for fake claim

In a related development, Dong-Pyou Han, who was a researcher at Iowa State University,has been jailed for pretending to have found apotential vaccine for HIV.

Han who resigned as Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciencesin 2013, after admitting that he had falsified his research, even mixing human antibodieswith rabbit blood samples to make it appear more effective, was charged with falsifying HIV vaccine research, was sentenced to four and a half yearsbehind bars, and ordered to repaymore than $7.2 million that histeam received in using the fake data.

In a statement, aUS attorney for the southern district of Iowa,remaked: “Just because somebody has a PhD, just because someone’s involved in the scientific community, doesn’t mean they’re going to necessarilybe treated differently than anyone else who’s committed a criminal offence.”

North Koreaalso recently reported a miracle cure for HIV, claiming its Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un had somehow advised scientiststo find the cure for AIDS, cancer and Ebola

The Korean Central News Agency made the claim, asserting that Jung-Un’s scientists had developed a miracle drug, known as Kumdang-2, from ginseng, a plant.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Tragic Migrations To Europe

IT is a great and tragic irony of history that about 200 years after Africans were being trafficked across the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean to the Europe and the Americas as slaves, Africans are willingly heading to Europe, in worse conditions than when they went as slaves. The new slavery has arrived.

Today, a cocktail of conditionsat home, resulting mainly from poor governance, causes Africansto abandon their countries in desperate search for assumed better life in Europe and the Middle East. Under the heavy yoke of quasi-slave masters, known ashuman traffickers, Africanssubmit themselves, paying heavy prices, in cash, and sometimes with their lives, to be taken to Europe. Many of them die in the inhospitable Sahara Desert. Those who survive the ordeal could perish in the treacherous watersof the Mediterranean aboard overloaded, rickety boats. They die in their thousands – Nigerians are amongthem.

President Muhammadu Buhari put it correctly when, at the African Union, AU, summit in South Africahe noted, “It isnot only an embarrassment to us as leaders, but dehumanises our persons. Indeed, they combine to paint averyunfavourable picture of our peoples and countries.”

Human trafficking and mass migration of Africans outside the continent have joined terrorism and internal instability across the continent as part of the pathetic conditionsthatdiminish the stature of Africans in today’s world. It is very important for the AU to payattention to the root causes of the migration. Bad governance, sit-tight leadership, inter-ethnic and religious rivalries, human rights abusesand corruption are at the centre of the enervating poverty in Africa.

The solution to the problem doesnot lie in Africans bolting from their countries to alien climesin hopes of non-existent “better” living conditions. While efforts must be made to stem the tide of these migrations, greater efforts should be invested in ensuring the quality of leadership improves across Africa. No substitute exists for governance that improves conditions of citizens within their countries, so that such countries can improve general global conditions.

Africans should work out unique blueprintsthat would make it possible to improve the quality of agriculture and infrastructure, especiallypower supply, to broaden the base of economies and give people useful means of livelihood within their countries. These are possible with collaborations acrosscountries and regions.

Unless urgent steps are taken to improve living conditions in Africa, the spark of xenophobia, which raged in South Africa recently, would become afad in Europe when their citizens can no longer tolerate the influx of unwanted Africans, some of who would arrive without skills that can earn them a living.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Yero and Government House Scandal

El-Rufa’i accuses Yero of squandering N10bn on Govt House complex

Kaduna—Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i, has accused his predecessor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, of squanderingN10 billion on the Kadunanew Government House complex.

Speaking yesterday at the opening of the Kaduna State Healthcare Summit, El-Rufa’i said that the money should have been channelled towards the development of the health sector and what he described as other critical areas.

Lamenting that the state has the second highest HIV prevalence in Nigeria, El-Rufa’i noted further that only 36per centof mothers have the benefit of receiving adequate healthcare.

He described the development as unacceptable, the governor pledged that his administration would seek vast improvement in healthcare outcomes for the people.

According to the governor, “Our goal isto deliver for Kaduna State citizensbetter health and longer life expectancy, and in this quest we seek results that will place our state in the top tier for healthcare delivery.

“We seek this vast improvement in healthcare outcomes for our people because the present situation is unacceptable.

“Current coverage of measles vaccine is 56%, reflecting a dismal immunisation coverage for 12-23month-oldsof only 35 per cent.

Phyllis Sortor Returns!

Sortor returns to Nigeria

Lokoja – Rev. Phyllis Sortor, the 86-year old American woman missionary kidnapped in Emi Woro in Kogi State on Feb. 25and late released by the abductors, has returned to Nigeria.

Sortor, who was seen at Government House in Lokoja on Wednesday, told newsmen that she returned to Nigeria to complete her missionary work as ordained by God.

She said she was happy to be back in Emi Woro where she was kidnapped by six masked gunmen who kept her for twelve days (Feb. 25 to March 7).

She said Emi Woro had become apart and parcel of her life, describing the people as her people and friends.

Phyllis thanked the villagers for their concern during her ordeal in the hands of her captors, saying that they had been of great help to her in the missionarywork.

Sortor, of Free Methodists, was kidnapped from her school, Hope Academy, which also houses a branch of her church. She expressed gratitude to God for her safe rescue from her abductors and was full of praises for the State Government for being a partof the efforts that led to her release.

Deputy Governor Yomi Awoniyi said the government was relieved and happy by her decision to come back to Nigeria.

Awoniyi described her asa woman of courage and great tenacity, saying that her action had put those behind her abduction to shame.

He pledged government’s further assistance to her school and cattle grazingprojects, saying that government will take adequate security measures around her and the projects.

Sortor was accompanied on the visitby two community leaders from Emi Woro, Alhaji Dauda Abdullahi and Mr Mugode Bature. (NAN