Food security is critical as it enhances national security – Ecobank MD

(L-R) Andrew Nevin, Partner -West Africa Financial Services Leader and Chief Economist at PWC; Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria;  Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Minister of State for Agriculture; and John Aboh, Chairman, Ecobank Nigeria Limited at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit, held in Lagos
(L-R) Andrew Nevin, Partner -West Africa Financial Services Leader and Chief Economist at PWC; Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria; Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Minister of State for Agriculture; and John Aboh, Chairman, Ecobank Nigeria Limited at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit, held in Lagos



Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan says the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit was an initiative to create a common platform that brings together partakers in the Agric value chain, be it producers, processors, logistics entrepreneurs, insurance practitioners and others within the sector to think a better approach to agriculture sustainability for Nigeria. The bank Managing Director stated that Ecobank believes food security is critical, as it enhances national security, and to ensure our continuous survival as a country, we must put agriculture in the front burner.


 “Agriculture is not just a culture, it is a business. Historically, Agriculture used to be the lead within the economy, before the advent of petroleum, now, we understand that the long term sustainability of the economy can only come from Agriculture, because of its ability to create employment for the teeming young population and its ability to integrate all the parts of the country. When it is Agriculture, there is no North, West, South and East, it is all about where do I get the best item, best quality, best value. In addition, given the landscape in Nigeria, given  the population within Nigeria, we are a natural market and so when you look at what the Government and the central bank has been promoting in the last four to five years, a lot of focus have been  on supporting Agric as a means to reduce the import bill of Nigeria and ultimately increase the export revenues of Nigeria”.


“Ecobank saw the opportunity that Agriculture provides and we decided that working together on the policies provided by the Central Bank and in partnership with Vanguard Newspaper, we established this national Agric summit as a platform to bring the entire ecosystem of the  Agricultural  sector together to interface to get the best value for the growth of the sector in Nigeria.  Naturally as a bank, we know that participants in the Agric sector need to be financially included, we will therefore give them the ability to open an account instantly on their mobile phones so as to have the ability to make payment for farm needs and to also collect their proceeds from anywhere. We believe “you can stay somewhere in Niger State, sell to someone in in Lagos and through our secured  platform, the person in Lagos will pay and you will receive your alert in Niger state before you release your goods from your farm in Niger state. That type of integration is what Ecobank brings to bear by bringing the entire participants; producers, processors, logistics, insurance and other participants in the sector unto a platform, the national Agric Summit, established by Ecobank”.


Further, Mr Akinwuntan stated that Ecobank’s relevance to Africa would mean supporting growth in the mainstay of the continent’s economy, which is agriculture. “Agriculture ensures that our survival is guaranteed. Agric is available in every corner of Nigeria, be it fishery, to poultry, to arable farming . Be it Cocoa, maize, rice, cashew nuts, palm oil, or any of the Agric items that you know that is available in Nigeria and these can be produced on a higher scale”  he stated.


Also speaking,  Dr. Andrew Nevin, Partner -West Africa Financial Services Leader and Chief Economist at PWC said reshaping Nigeria’s Agribusiness Landscape will require us integrate agriculture value chain to manufacturing, invest in agriculture infrastructure and mechanization, see agriculture as a business in the form of capacity building and education, and enhance crop yields and output and also instigate Land reforms and integration of national and sub-national policies.


Dr. Andrew Nevin who spoke on the topic “Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agribusiness value-chain”, also maintained that there’s need for  interventions to overcome agriculture financing challenges and risks in the area of Capacity development – that is offer training to farmers and advise them on how to undertake farming as a profitable business; Develop agricultural customized loan products that are relevant to farmers’ needs – this could enable farmers to borrow and repay loans successfully; De-risk through financial and entrepreneurship education; Establish strong partnerships and alliances to promote investment in Agriculture and deployment of high-end technology to enhance efficiency and convenience of access


He noted that the UN expects agricultural production to rise by 69% between 2010 and 2050 to meet the expected increase in demand.  Farmers, he said  are therefore required to start implementing advanced technological techniques to boost productivity.


The maiden Ecobank Agribusiness summit in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers had exhibitors and hundreds of participants from within and outside the country in attendance.

Father Smuggles Hard Drugs For Son In EFCC Custody

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested a 60-year-old fish-farmer, Muyiwa Otuyalo, for attempting to smuggle in substance believed to be hard drug for his son, Damilola Otuyalo, who is currently in the custody of the Commission’s Ibadan zonal office.
According to the statement by Tony Orilade
Acting Head, Media & Publicity, the older Otuyalo was at the premises of the EFCC in Ibadan on Monday, February 17, 2020 supposedly to visit his son.
 But while discussing with the son, an officer noticed that he brought out a sachet of tablets and handed same to him. The officer subsequently raise alarm which led to the confiscation of the drug.

When the in-house nurse was called upon for assessment of the content, it was revealed that the said item was Rohypnol, a tranquilizer used under strict prescription for treatment of severe insomnia and assist in anesthesia.

The drug is said to possess high sedative effect and is rarely used except when prescribed by licensed medical officers.

The younger Otuyalo was recently arrested after a criminal case of money laundering detected in the United Kingdom was reported against him.

The case which involved £45,000 was a fragment of a wider one involving about £500,000 for which he has been declared wanted by the London’s Metropolitan Police.

He has been on the wanted list of the International Police, Interpol, before the petition was filed at the EFCC, Ibadan Zonal Office.

Officers of the Nigerian Interpol were already in contact with the Commission in respect of the said case before the suspect’s father attempted to smuggle in the hard drug for him.

Further investigations are ongoing, even as the Commission intends to hand him over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for possible prosecution of the suspected narcotic case.

LASUTH Performs Another Successful Kidney Transplant

The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Kidney Transplant Team has performed another successful kidney transplantation.

The Consultant Nephrologist and Head of the Kidney Transplant team, Prof. Olugbenga Awobusuyi said the 47-year old patient’s kidney started functioning immediately after the surgery.

“So far so good, the patient and the donor are doing well, kidney function started working immediately after the surgery, there is no major issue or complications after the transplantation”, he said.

The Nephrologist also briefed on the plan by the transplant team to use cadaveric donors for transplantation in the future saying, “We are working on a plan to use cadaveric donors (patients who are brain dead) for transplantation in the future; we have been working with the State Assembly to finalise it”.

Other members of the team include Prof. Odunayo Ikuerowo, Dr. Olufunmilade Omisanjo, Dr. Abimbola Abolarinwa, Dr. Adebowale Adekoya, Dr. Mumuni Amisu and Dr. Theophilus Umeizudike.

Ms. Laetitia Naankang Dagan, an Assistant Director at the State House, Aso Rock, Abuja was on Monday night assassinated by unidentified persons in her apartment.

The Permanent Secretary, State House, Abuja, Jalal Arabi, disclosed this on Tuesday, saying that the 47-year Dagan from Plateau State, worked in her office on Monday till 8pm, but by 11pm, she was gruesomely murdered in her apartment by unidentified persons.

He described the killing of Dagan, Assistant Director of Administration in the State House, as “a painful loss, not only to her immediate family, but also the entire State House.”

“She was a dedicated, hard-working officer, and we all feel pained by her dastardly and untimely death,” Arabi told her family members during a condolence visit.”

According to the Permanent Secretary, “We all share in your grief and pains, but be consoled by the fact that she lived a good life and contributed her best to the services of her nation.”

Arabi expressed confidence that “the Police will fish out the killers of Laetitia and the law will take its course.”

The Permanent Secretary prayed God Almighty to comfort Ms. Dagan’s family, the entire Staff of State House, and grant the soul of the departed officer eternal rest.


Lassa Fever : Lagos State Records First Case

With 364 cases of Lassa fever identified across 23 states with 47 deaths recorded so far, Lagos state has just recorded its first case of the disease since its outbreak in Nigeria.

The Lagos state commissioner for health Professor Akin Abayomi, in a statement  confirmed that the patient is currently in isolation at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Abayomi who assured that the situation is under control called for calm among the residents said there was no cause for panic as the State government in active collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, is doing everything possible to control the spread of the disease in Lagos State.

“The Ministry of Health through Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate is currently carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected in line with international standards while we beef up our other surveillance strategies”, he said.

Abayomi reiterated the need for members of the public to ensure and maintain adequate personal hygiene and environmental sanitation at all times as part of prevention and control measures against the spread of the disease in the State.

He said the prevention and control of the disease remains a shared responsibility of all citizens through the observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.

“Members of the public are further advised to avoid contact with rats, to always cover their food and water properly, cook all their food thoroughly, as well as block all holes in the septic tanks and holes through which rats can enter the house and clear rat hideouts within the premises.

“Isolation wards have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, drugs, and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities while health workers have been placed on red alert and community sensitization activities intensified”, Abayomi noted.

The Commissioner advised health workers, both in the public and private hospitals in the State to ensure that they observe universal safety precautions and comply with infection prevention and control measures when dealing with patients, stressing that appropriate personal protective equipment like hand gloves, facemasks, goggles, and overalls must be worn when attending to cases.

“Hands must be washed often with soap and running water or application of hand sanitizers after each contact with patients or contaminated materials and instruments must be autoclaved. Also, hospital mattresses must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent contamination”, Abayomi added.

He said a case of Lassa Fever should be suspected in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from the body surface.

“I would like to reassure Lagosians that our vigilance levels are very high and we are putting more measures in place to safeguard the State”, Abayomi noted.

The Commissioner urged health workers as well as citizens to report suspected cases or cases of the disease to the nearest government-approved health facility, the Ministry of Health or call the emergency operation centre lines – 08023169485, 08033565529 and 08052817243.

Why Hand Washing Really Could Slow Down An Epidemic

To prevent viral infections, doctors suggest practicing good hand hygiene. In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, public health guidelines continue to emphasize this. Is hand washing really that helpful in the context of an epidemic? New research suggests that it is.

A new study explains why hand washing is so important when it comes to controlling a virus outbreak.

When it comes to preventing viral infections — especially those that spread via droplets from coughs and sneezes — washing the hands is always the first-line measure.

Now, in the midst of the recent coronavirus outbreak, correctly washing the hands remains public health officials’ top advice when it comes to controlling infection rates.

In their guidelines on how to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) state that people should “[w]ash [their] hands frequently with soap and water.”

Still, people continue to express doubt that something as simple as basic personal hygiene could have any effect in the context of an epidemic.

New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge aims to put those doubts to rest by showing just how important washing the hands can be in slowing down the spread of infectious disease.

The study, which now appears in the journal Risk Analysis, used epidemiological modeling and data-based simulations to determine if and how better personal hygiene might affect the rate of disease transmission.

30% of people do not wash their hands
The researchers started from existing data indicating that a large number of people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.

According to study co-author Prof. Christos Nicolaides, “70% of […] people who go to the toilet wash their hands afterward.”

“The other 30% don’t [wash their hands]. And of those that do, only 50% do it right.”

– Prof. Christos Nicolaides

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that best practices for hand washing include not only rinsing the hands with water, but also applying soap and scrubbing the palms, the back of the hands, between the fingers, and under the fingernails.

A person should scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing the soap and drying the hands with a clean towel.

However, Prof. Nicolaides notes that of the people who do wash their hands after using the restroom, many never apply soap and spend under 15 seconds on the procedure.

“We consider that, at most, 1 in 5 people in an airport have cleaned [their] hands at any given moment in time (i.e., 20% of airport population),” the researchers write in their study paper.

Better hygiene may reduce disease spread
The researchers used existing data about global flights. Specifically, they looked at flight duration, flight distance, connections, and estimates of the amount of time travelers spend in airports.

Based on these measures and data from studies into how people interact with others and with their surroundings — as well as what this might mean for the potential of coming into contact with pathogens — the investigators built simulations of contagion patterns.

They pinpointed 120 airports that they think play a key role in the spread of contagious agents. However, they also explain that these are not necessarily the airports with the highest traffic.

For example, airports in Tokyo, Japan, and Honolulu, Hawaii, are likely to be key players in the spread of disease due to the fact that they offer direct connections to many of the world’s largest airports. However, these do not have the highest traffic overall.

These airports are also points of transit between a significant number of countries in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.

Taken together, these factors make such airports key players in the spread of contagious diseases.

However, the researchers argue that if more people were to wash their hands frequently and correctly, it would significantly slow down the rate at which diseases are likely to spread.

Specifically, if 60% rather than 20% of air travelers maintained clean hands, it could slow down the spread of infections by almost 70%, according to the researchers.

Even increasing the number of people with clean hands by 10% could slow down the rate at which disease can spread by as much as 24%.

“Eliciting an increase in hand hygiene is a challenge, but new approaches in education, awareness, and social media […] have proven to be effective in hand washing engagement,” says Prof. Nicolaides.

Implementing targeted hygiene campaigns
Although the researchers explain that educational campaigns about personal hygiene could help improve the overall situation, they admit that this may be difficult to achieve in such a high number of airports.

Nevertheless, they argue that it may be possible to achieve similarly positive results by identifying “the 10 most important airports” close to the source of an outbreak and implementing an educational hand washing campaign in each of those.

This approach might help slow down the spread of infection by around 37%, the researchers suggest.

Prof. Nicolaides and colleagues also note that it may be helpful to add more washbasins to airports, even outside restrooms, to encourage people to wash their hands more often.

The researchers say that another helpful step might be to clean and disinfect surfaces in airports more frequently, especially those that a large number of people come into contact with.

“The current research can potentially shape the way policymakers design and implement strategic interventions based on promoting hand washing in airports, which could help [keep] any infection within a confined geographical area during the early days of an outbreak, inhibiting its expansion as a pandemic,” the researchers write in their paper.

“Our study,” they add, “concludes that population engagement with proper hand hygiene could be a simple and effective solution for preventing transmission of infections and reducing the risk of massive global pandemics.”

Medical News Today

Camp Hill: Three children among dead in ‘horrific’ Australia car fire

Four people, including three children, have died after a car was allegedly set alight in the Australian city of Brisbane, police said.

The children, all under the age of 10, were found dead in the car by emergency responders, said Queensland Police.

A man known to the victims has also died, while a woman suffered extensive burns and has been taken to hospital.

“It’s a horrific scene,” Det Insp. Mark Thompson told reporters on Wednesday.

“It is very early in the investigation, but the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon police arriving,” he said. Paramedics said they had also treated a passerby, who had “tried his best to get to the car”. He had suffered some “facial burning” and also been taken to hospital, a Queensland Ambulance spokesman said.

Residents on the street told Australian media they had seen the woman jump out of the car while she was on fire.

She had yelled, “he’s poured petrol on me”, one witness told The Australian newspaper.

Police said it was too early to confirm details about the victims’ identities, and refused to comment on questions about family violence.

Queensland’s Police Minister Mark Ryan told parliament about the “horrific incident” on Wednesday.

“My thoughts are with all of those affected by this terrible tragedy,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his “heart goes out to the families and community going through this tragic time and the emergency responders confronting what would be a shattering scene”.

Federal MP Terri Butler said she was “horrified and devastated” by the incident.

‘Queen of Katwe,’ Disney Actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa, Dies at 15

A Disney actress died Saturday following a brain tumor, according to the Ugandan school where she was a student.

Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who appeared in the 2016 Disney film “Queen of Katwe,” was 15.
The movie tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi who went from living in Uganda’s slums to becoming an international chess star. Nikita played the main character’s friend Gloria in the film.

Nikita’s school, Gayaza High School, tweeted about her death Sunday.
“Fare thee well Nikita Pearl Waligwa. You were a darling to many and we have lost you to brain tumor at such a tender age,” the school’s tweet read. “Rest in Perfect Peace dear.”

“In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer,” Nyong’o said. “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon.”

David Oyelowo, who also starred in the film, wrote on Instagram that Nikita was “a ball of light” in the film and in life.
“Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness,” Oyelowo wrote. “Her light will live on.”

Coronavirus Death Toll Rises Above 2,000 Worldwide

Death toll passes 2,000: The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people, all but six of them in mainland China. It has infected more than 75,000 people, with over 1,000 cases outside mainland China.

What’s happening on the cruise ship: The remaining passengers aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan began disembarking Wednesday after a 14-day quarantine. A total of 545 cases of the virus are linked to the stricken ship.
Cases spike in Japan: Seven new infections were confirmed in Japan Tuesday, bringing the total in the country to 68 outside the ship. Along with Singapore and Hong Kong, Japan has the most cases outside mainland China.

The numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths in mainland China is still rising, with more than 2,000 people killed in the country alone.

But Chinese President Xi Jinping said the prevention measures were “achieving visible progress” in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

Xi said, “the battle has reached a crucial time” and China had “mobilized the entire country, and adopted the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures,” state news agency Xinhua reported.

Positive messaging: There has been a tone of optimism in Chinese state media and government statements today, implying the worst is over as the country begins to get back to work.

But experts have warned that it is too soon to tell whether the virus is under control.

This trend must be interpreted very cautiously.

Trends can change as new populations are affected. It’s too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said during a news conference on Monday.

The largest and most comprehensive study yet of the novel coronavirus has found it is highly contagious but not as fatal as similar, previous diseases.

Carried out by a group of experts at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology on Monday, the study looked at more than 72,000 confirmed and suspected cases of the coronavirus.

It found clear indications that the virus which originated in Wuhan, central China is more contagious than the related coronaviruses that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

While the resulting disease, Covid-19, is not as fatal on a case-by-case basis, its quick spread has meant it has killed more people already than either of the other viruses.

International experts have cautioned reading too much into the early numbers, saying case fatality rates may come down as officials discover patients with milder symptoms who didn’t seek medical care.

“My sense and the sense of many of my colleagues, is that the ultimate case fatality rate … is less than 2%,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “New Day” Tuesday.

“What is likely not getting counted is a large number of people who are either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic.”

Coronavirus Vaccine Could Take 12 to 18 Months to Develop and Test – – WHO

A vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take 12 to 18 months to develop, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general for the World Health Organization.

But a vaccine is preparing for “the worst situation,” he said, and for now, long-term preparation needs to be balanced with immediate public health solutions that contain the virus and keep the fatality rate low.

“This is a window of opportunity that should not be missed,” Tedros said Tuesday during a press briefing.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, said there could be a candidate for a coronavirus vaccine in about 16 weeks, but it would still require months of development and trials to prove its effectiveness in humans. Briand said there’s been no new data on vaccine development since WHO’s coronavirus research meeting earlier this month.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of Health Emergencies Programme, said many lives can be saved in the coming months even without a vaccine, so immediate investment is needed to support health systems and provide treatment.

“There are people sick now and health systems that are vulnerable now,” Ryan said. “We can save a lot of lives through supportive therapy.”