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COVID 19: Bad News For Smokers ” You Stand Greater Risk Of Dying From Virus”

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As Nigeria battles to contain the raging COVID 19 pandemic, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has warned that smokers are at higher risk of developing fatal complications from contracting the virus.

The group in a statement issued in Lagos and signed by Head, Media – Campaign Philip Jakpor, said that while there is currently no conclusive evidence that people who smoke tobacco are at higher risk of being infected with the virus, researchers have confirmed that people who smoke are at greater risk of other respiratory infections.

The World Health Orgnisation (WHO) has similarly warned that because   smoking involves repeated hand-to-face motions, it creates a route of potential viral transmission, like the current COVID 19. 

In view of the growing number of donors seeking to support government efforts to combat the spread of the virus, ERA/FoEN cautioned government at all levels from receiving donations from tobacco companies, saying such gestures are hypocritical of an industry whose products are directly and indirectly fueling the pandemic.

According to the group, the largest study investigating the link between COVID-19 and smoking published to date looked at clinical outcomes from 1,099 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection from 532 hospitals across China.

The research discovered that 12.4% of current smokers either died, were admitted to an intensive care unit or required mechanical ventilation, compared with 4.7% of non-smokers. Along similar lines, 21.2% of current smokers had severe symptoms, as opposed to 14.5% of non-smokers. 

Several countries have taken far-reaching actions to prevent imminent upsurge of smoking-induced fatalities as the COVID-19 virus ravages on. For instance, Russia has banned the use of Hookah (Shisha) in all public catering facilities. On March 16 the Governor of Cairo banned Hookah (Shisha) in cafés and restaurants. Other nations that have equally banned Hookah in the last one month are Iran, India, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Oman, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

“There is therefore, no other time than at this period of the pandemic for smokers to quit and for the government to enforce strict adherence to the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, 2015. In fact, an outright ban of the sale of cigarettes, vaping products, and Shisha and the likes will be a step in the right direction during this period, said ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi.

This last weekend, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that vaping may leave users with underlying health conditions thereby putting them at higher risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19. Experts from the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Secretary of State of the United Kingdom also say that smokers will suffer worse impacts if they contract the virus.

ERA/FoEN, while also reacting to media reports that Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde is already in talks with some companies, including the  British America Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) to make donations to tackle the spread of the pandemic in the state, said  any donation from BATN or their front groups are “Greek Gifts”.

These “Greek Gifts” are ultimately targeted at compromising public officials, weakening heath systems and positioning the tobacco industry as a credible stakeholder in public health policy.

ERA/FoEN expressed sadness that Governor Makinde is making overtures to a company that is reported to have flagrantly flouted government directives on gatherings involving many people when it refused  to shut down its production lines, putting its factory staff at risk.

Rather than shut down production and protect lives, media reports say a boss of BAT West Africa allegedly sent a message to staff saying: “I would like to particularly thank and pay tribute to both our heroes in the factory who are keeping production going and our Field Force that are using all their ingenuity and track relationships to keep the supply chain intact as restrictions mount.”

“This company has demonstrated sheer recklessness for the well-being of their staff and demonstrating that it puts profits above the lives of its staff; this company should be under investigation. This has further proven that as recommended in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s Article 5.3 which Nigeria is a Party to, it can never and should never be seen or accepted as a stakeholder in tackling public health problems”. Oluwafemi counseled.

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Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga

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Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.

 

 

The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.

 

 

In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:

“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

 

 

“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.

 

 

“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.

 

 

A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

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Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture

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ALAAFIN

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

 

 

The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.

 

 

PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.

 

 

According to a source, who spoke to  PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige;  a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu,  Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.

 

 

A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.

 

 

The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

 

The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

 

 

The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.

 

 

“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.

 

 

“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”

 

On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”

 

 

On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”

 

 

But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.

 

 

Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.

 

 

 

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NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital

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Bandits

Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.

 

 

Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.

 

 

“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”

 

 

“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.

 

 

“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.

 

 

“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”

 

 

 

Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.

 

 

“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.

 

 

He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.

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