The Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, has reacted to the reports that he has defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he joined from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ajayi’s Chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo, faulted the claims that his principal has defected to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) on which platform he would contest the October 10 governorship election in Ondo after he lost in the PDP primary.
Okeowo told Channels Television during a telephone chat on Sunday that the deputy governor was under intense pressure from his supporters to contest for the election.
He, however, insisted that his principal has yet to declare for the ZLP or any other political party to contest the governorship election.
The deputy governor’s aide added that Ajayi has yet to take a decision on his next political move, saying he would likely make a declaration before the end of the week.
READ ALSO: Ondo Deputy Governor, Ajayi Resigns From APC
When contacted, the Publicity Secretary of ZLP in Ondo, Felix Olatunde, told Channels Television that the party has adopted Ajayi as its governorship candidate.
He explained that plans were being perfected to ensure that was done, noting that the candidate of the party, Rotimi Benjamin, had stepped down for the deputy governor.
Earlier, the PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, Zadok Akintoye, issued a statement that Ajayi was still a member of the party.
The deputy governor defected from the APC to the PDP in June to fight for the party’s governorship ticket in the primary but lost to Mr Eyitayo Jegede.
Thereafter, some of his supporters agitated that Ajayi be picked as Jegede’s running mate, but that was not the case as another person was chosen for the position.
The deputy governor’s exit from the APC followed a disagreement between him and the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
While he left the party in a bid to unseat the governor in the forthcoming election in Ondo, Governor Akeredolu has since emerged as the APC flagbearer for a second term in office.
Sixteen-year-old Linnet covers her face bashfully, mumbling into her hands as she recounts how she met the young man who bought her fries and gave her money, before leaving her pregnant and facing even greater poverty than before.
She is one of thousands of teenagers who fall pregnant every year in Kenya, a problem experts fear is worsening during the coronavirus pandemic, with some girls pushed into transactional sex to survive while others have more sex as they stay home from school.
Shortly before the pandemic hit Kenya in March, Linnet’s farmer parents in western Busia sent her to Nairobi to find a job as they could no longer afford her school fees.
She moved in with her sister, her sister’s husband — the sole breadwinner — and their two small children in a tiny corrugated-iron room in the Kibera slum.
Food was scarce and the advances of the 22-year-old boda-boda (motorbike taxi) rider, and the luxuries he offered, were hard to resist.
“He would buy me some fries, shoes and also give me some money,” said Linnet, her dress of brightly-coloured flowers stretched tight against her four-month pregnant belly.
She said she had asked him to wear a condom, but he had removed it during intercourse. He has demanded she terminate the pregnancy, and the romance has dissipated.
“I am too young to be pregnant and now I am going to be a mother to a kid,” she said.
“A child needs porridge, milk, money. I feel bad.”
‘The tip of the iceberg’
Kenya has long grappled with high teen pregnancy rates.
However numbers had fallen from 82 pregnancies per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2016, to 71 per 1,000 in 2017, according to Save the Children.
Last month, figures from a leaked health ministry document showing thousands of girls had fallen pregnant during lockdown between March and May led to fierce debate on social media.
In Nairobi alone almost 5,000 girls fell pregnant, just over 500 of them between the ages of 10 and 14, according to the figures from a data unit within the ministry.
Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe have mentioned the rise in teen pregnancies during addresses to the nation.
“Teenage motherhood is a catastrophic, disempowering outcome in the life of a girl. More often than not it spells doom to the teenager’s attainment of life’s full potential,” Kagwe said last month.
Evelyne Opondo, senior Africa regional director at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, said evidence of an uptick in pregnancies directly linked to the pandemic was still “anecdotal”.
However she believed the numbers are merely “the tip of the iceberg” as most girls do not seek proper ante-natal care.
She said teen pregnancies were likely increasing during the pandemic because girls were idle at home, or “engaging in relationships for survival”.
Some children get free lunches or free sanitary towels at schools, which will remain closed until at least 2021.
Being home also places an added burden on parents who may have lost their jobs.
“So the young girls will turn to men who will be providing them with pocket money, money for pads,” Opondo said.
“We have seen this even before the virus so you can imagine how much worse it must be.”
Oriema Otieno, a 30-year-old doctor in Embakasi on the outskirts of Nairobi, says he has seen more pregnant girls than usual at his clinic, which is run by a reproductive health NGO.
“Normally with schools open and teens in school we see two in every three months. Now there has been a rise, about seven to eight in one month in this community.”
No sex education
According to Opondo, one of the main drivers of teen pregnancy is ignorance.
“We know that in Kenya there is no comprehensive sexuality education… a lot of girls lack information on how to prevent unintended pregnancies,” she said.
Implementing comprehensive sexuality education in Kenya is a persistent challenge, drawing fierce pushback from religious institutions and conservative groups.
A 2017 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute found that, while various policies exist to provide sexual education in Kenya, topics are limited and do not include information on contraception.
It noted that “messages conveyed to students were reportedly fear-inducing and judgemental or focused on abstinence, emphasising that sex is dangerous and immoral for young people.”
Meanwhile, the topic is taboo at home.
“Let us not lie to ourselves, our kids are having sex,” said Ritah Anindo, 22, a youth advocate for the NGO Reproductive Health Network Kenya.
“Now children are at home, they are not studying. Rich kids, probably they are having online classes but kids in (poor communities), what are they doing?” Anindo said.
“Our kids are idle so what do you expect at the end of it all? Teenage pregnancies, new HIV infections, unsafe abortion.”
For many girls like Linnet, hopes of ever returning to school will be fully dashed once they give birth.
“Most of them will not be able to go back to school… it requires a lot of support, financial support, emotional support,” Anindo said.
“We may have more teenage pregnancies than COVID cases and it is so sad.”
One of Africa’s largest supermarket chains, Shoprite, has begun a formal process to exit Nigeria.
In a trading update published on Monday, the South African-based company said the decision was made after “approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the Group’s operating model in Nigeria.”
The company said when it reports its results for the year, its business in Nigeria “may be classified as a discontinued operation.”
The company’s Nigerian business posted a -6.3% decline in sales for the year ending June 2020, according to its Monday update.
The company entered the Nigerian market in 2005 and its exit continues a trend of South African retail business struggling in Africa’s most populated nation.
Mr Price, ano ther South African retailer, announced plans to close its Nigerian business in June.
In 2014, South African retailer, Woolworths, also pulled the plug on its Nigerian operation, citing high rents and duties, as well as marketing difficulties.
In 2012, Shoprite announced plans to spend up to $205 million on securing new locations in Nigeria.
The supermarket chain went on to spread its tentacles across most of Nigeria’s largest cities.
In 2015, the Nigerian economy suffered a recession, severely affecting consumer spending power and foreign exchange reserves.
In 2019, Shoprite stores were attacked in Lagos as part of reprisal actions for xenophobic-induced attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
Shoprite’s expected closure in Nigeria comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced economies across the world into a slump and devasted entire industries.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed additional seven charges against a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, over money laundering allegations involving about N400 million.
The trial of the ex-AGF who was re-arraigned alongside an Abuja-based businessman, MrAliyu Abubakar, before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 17, 2020 was expected to begin on Monday, but it was stalled due to the amended charges.
The initial charge contained seven counts, with six of them relating to Mr Adoke.
At the resumed trial, the prosecutor, Bala Sanga, informed the court of an amended charge he filed on July 29 which was served on all the defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Ekwo who frowned at the late filing of the amended charge adjourned the trial till Tuesday on the ground that he is yet to sight the amended charges.
In the former seven counts, EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the money laundering offences involving over N400 million in Abuja in September 2013.
In the counts relating to Mr Adoke, he was accused of among others, receiving the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Abubakar, paying the dollar equivalent of N367,318,800 to one Usman Mohammed Bello, and allegedly using the sum of N300 million, which was alleged to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activities, all in violations of various provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
The former AGF was also accused of making “structured cash payments, in 22 tranches” amounting to N80 million, another of such structured payments in 13 tranches summing up to N50 million into his Unity Bank account.
The commission alleged that the funds were not only part of the proceeds of unlawful acts but they also exceeded “thresholds outside a financial institution,” and that the payments were done with the intention of concealing the origins of the funds contrary to Section 15(2(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same law.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has insisted that coronavirus (COVID-19) tests conducted within its molecular laboratories across the country are free.
It stated this on Sunday via its verified Twitter handle.
According to the agency, the scale-up of testing is key in assessing the nation’s COVID-19 situation and coordinating response across the country.
The 61 NCDC facilities are located in 30 states across the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Some of them include the State Specialist Hospital, Amachara in Abia State; Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa; Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Akwa Ibom; and Virology Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, among others.
Scale-up of testing is key in assessing the #COVID19Nigeria situation and coordinating response across the country.
Kindly note that #COVID19 tests conducted in facilities within the NCDC molecular lab network are FREE of charge.
View full list via:https://t.co/SqEowDI58H pic.twitter.com/icl8UYRqu3
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) August 2, 2020
NCDC’s tweet came amid the controversy over the COVID-19 tests to be conducted for SS3 students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Ogun State.
Ahead of the resumption of revision classes for the students, the state government had asked them to take the tests for COVID-19 and malaria.
While the government said it would be responsible for the cost for students in public schools, it asked parents/ owners of private schools to do the same for their students.
READ ALSO: Ogun Govt Clarifies Requirements For COVID-19 Test For Students
This led to a protest in Abeokuta, the state capital by some parents of private school students over the purported payment of N25,000 for the test.
In its reaction, the government said it has decided to further assist the private schools by negotiating “a huge discount” in the cost of the COVID-19 test with some healthcare service providers.
It, however, advised private school owners and parents to engage any other service provider of their choice as long as they were certified by the NCDC as COVID-19 Test service providers.
See the full list of the 61 NCDC laboratories below:
|1||State Specialist Hospital, Amachara lab||Abia||GeneXpert|
|2||State Specialist Hospital , Amachara||PCR Laboratory|
|3||Federal Medical Centre Yola||Adamawa||PCR Laboratory|
|4||Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Akwa Ibom State||Akwa-Ibom||PCR Laboratory|
|5||Accunalysis medical diagnostics||Anambra||PCR Laboratory|
|6||COOUTH Awka Abbott lab||PCR Laboratory|
|7||Bauchi state Reference Laboratory||Bauchi||PCR Laboratory|
|8||Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital||PCR Laboratory|
|9||161 AHM lab||Benue||GeneXpert|
|10||University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital||Borno||PCR Laboratory|
|11||Lawrence Henshaw Memo Calabar||Cross Rivers||GeneXpert|
|13||Delta Mobile Laboratory||Delta||PCR Laboratory|
|14||Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital||Ebonyi||PCR Laboratory|
|15||Irua Specialist Teaching Hospital||Edo||PCR Laboratory|
|16||University of Benin Teaching Hospital||PCR Laboratory|
|17||Edo Specialist Hospital, Benin||PCR Laboratory|
|18||Ekiti – 54gene||Ekiti||PCR Laboratory|
|19||University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital lab||Enugu||GeneXpert|
|20||University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Molecular Virology Laboratory||PCR Laboratory|
|21||Everight diagnostics and Laboratory services Ltd||Imo||PCR Laboratory|
|22||Federal Medical Centre Owerri lab||GeneXpert|
|23||Jigawa molecular lab||Jigawa||PCR Laboratory|
|24||DNA laboratory||Kaduna||PCR Laboratory|
|25||Africa Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria||PCR Laboratory|
|26||Mobile lab Kaduna||GeneXpert|
|27||Yusuf Dansoho Memorial Hospital lab||GeneXpert|
|28||Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital||Kano||PCR Laboratory|
|29||54gene Kano||PCR Laboratory|
|30||International Foundation Against Infectious Diseases in Nigeria (IFAIN)||PCR Laboratory|
|31||EHAlab Kano||PCR Laboratory|
|32||Bayero University Kano||PCR Laboratory|
|33||Sahel Centre for Molecular Diagnostics and Research, Katsina||Katsina||PCR Laboratory|
|34||State Specialist Hospital Kogi lab||Kogi||GeneXpert|
|35||Sobi Specialist Hospital||Kwara||PCR Laboratory|
|36||Virology Lagos University Teaching Hospital||Lagos||PCR Laboratory|
|37||Nigeria Institute for Medical Research||Closed System|
|38||Biosafety Level-3 Laboratory||PCR Laboratory|
|39||54gene Lagos||PCR Laboratory|
|40||NCDC Central Public Health Labortaory||PCR Laboratory|
|42||54gene Ogun||Ogun||PCR Laboratory|
|43||Afriglobal Medicare Laboratory||PCR Laboratory|
|44||FMC Owo||Ondo||PCR Laboratory|
|45||African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases||Osun||PCR Laboratory|
|46||University College Hospital Virology department laboratory||Oyo||PCR Laboratory|
|47||Biorepository and clinical virology lab, University College Hospital||PCR Laboratory|
|48||National Veterinary Research Institute||Plateau||PCR Laboratory|
|49||Jos University Teaching Hospital lab||GeneXpert|
|50||University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital||Rivers||PCR Laboratory|
|51||Rivers State University Teaching Hospital Satallite Molecular Laboratory||PCR Laboratory|
|52||SPDC (shell) lab||PCR Laboratory|
|53||Indorama Company Molecular Laboratory||PCR Laboratory|
|54||Centre for Advanced Medical Research and Training, Usmanu Danfodio University||Sokoto||PCR Laboratory|
|55||NCDC National Reference Laboratory||FCT||PCR Laboratory|
|56||Defense Reference Laboratory||Closed System|
|57||FCT – 54gene||PCR Laboratory|
|58||State House Annex Clinic lab (SHAC)||PCR Laboratory|
|59||University of Abuja, Gwagwalada Laboratory||GeneXpert Laboratory|
|60||United Nations IOM Lab||GeneXpert Laboratory|
|61||Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Gombe State Specialist Hospital||Gombe||PCR Laboratory|