Common TB Vaccine Reduces Rates of Lung Cancer

25.12.19

CHILDHOOD vaccination with the bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is associated with a reduced risk for lung cancer, according to a study published online Sept. 25 in JAMA Network Open.

Nicholas T. Usher, from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues conducted a 60-year follow-up of a clinical trial to examine whether BCG vaccination is associated with cancer rates in a secondary analysis of a BCG vaccine trial. The original study included 2,963 American Indian and Alaska Native schoolchildren younger than 20 years who were assigned to a single intradermal injection of the BCG vaccine or saline placebo.

The researchers found that total mortality was 44 and 41 percent in the placebo and BCG groups, respectively. There was no significant difference between the groups in the overall rate of cancer diagnosis (hazard ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.66-1.02), including the rates of diagnosis for lymphoma and leukemia. When controlling for sex, region, alcohol overuse, smoking, and tuberculosis, the rate of lung cancer was significantly lower in BCG vaccine versus placebo recipients (18.2 versus 45.4 cases per 100,000 person-years; hazard ratio, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.20-0.74; P = .005).

“The mechanism of this observed protection is unknown, but the association is large and scientifically plausible; we favor trained immunity as a hypothesis,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and another author disclosed receiving at-cost vaccine supplies from the Japan BCG Laboratory.

Source: CancerTherapyAdvisor

 

 

Saraki Continues Battle to Recover His Ilorin Seized Home

03.12.19

FORMER senate President, Bukola Saraki, has reacted to the temporary seizure of his Ilorin residence by a court order, saying it was an abuse of court process.

The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday ordered the interim seizure of the Ilorin home of former governor of Kwara State and the immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

This was contained in a statement by Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Head of media and publicity of the Commission and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Monday.

“The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had approached the court, presided over by Justice Ridwan Aikawa for an order of interim forfeiture of Saraki’s house.

“The house is worth about N1 billion and it is located at No. 1, Abdulkadir street, G.R.A, Ilorin, Kwara State.

“The claim was on the grounds that the house was acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activity,” Uwujaren said.
 “The Judge further said that any interested parties in the property should show cause while the villa should not be forfeited to the Federal Government,” Uwujaren said.

He added that the Commission in moving its application, had averred that the said property was reasonably suspected to be built from government’s funds and other proceeds of crime.

However, Saraki in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the application was an abuse of court process and a violation of an earlier order of an Abuja Federal High Court; he vowed to challenge the verdict at a higher court of competent jurisdiction.

His statement reads in part:
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceed of fraud is outrightly false.

“The fact is that the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while Saraki personally funded the remaining cost of the building.

“There are existing letters from the Office of the Head of Service of Kwara State notifying the former governor (Saraki) of the State Government’s compliance with the State Pension for Governor’s law and the one indicating his intention to bear the cost of the additional expenditure that will arise from building the property to his desired taste dated 25th January 2012 and 8th February 2012 respectively.

“The construction of the building did not commence until the last few weeks of Saraki’s tenure as governor and the bulk of his contribution to the funding were made with cheques.

“Where cash was involved, this was mainly in 2012 and 2013, more than a year after he had left office as Governor.
“So, where is the claim that the money for the construction of the house fraudulent obtained from Kwara State Government coming from? It should also be noted that the land on which the house is built is not a government allocated land.

“One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy.

“We are also surprised that the EFCC could not even hide its penchant for abusing the nation’s judicial institution as it engaged in forum shopping when it filed a suit in Lagos on a property situate in Ilorin.

“We will like to restate our earlier position that  Saraki will contest this matter in the court at least to further attest to his belief in the rule of law, the sanctity of the courts and their enduring readiness to do justice in all matters and to all persons.

“Let it be known that the usual claim by the EFCC that its actions were directed against corrupt elements does not apply to Dr. Saraki because he is a man who at every point in his public service has sought to institute transparency and accountability in governance.  Dr. Saraki has always worked to promote transparency in governance in all the places he had held public office.

“As a Special Assistant to then President Olusegun Obasanjo on budget matters, between 2000 and 2002, he initiated the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act.

“Both laws were aimed at ensuring macro-economic stability and efficiency in government procurement through greater accountability and transparency.

“As governor of Kwara State, he waived his immunity to enable his regime be probed.

“He is, perhaps, the most investigated individual, in the nation’s democratic history. However, each time, Saraki has been given a clean bill of probity and health.

“It should be noted that seven separate investigations were instigated on Saraki during his time in office as Governor,” the statement said.

Saraki governed Kwara State for two tenures under Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He won election to the Senate under the same party and became the senate president; but decamped to APC in 2014 given his rejection of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration to contest for a second term.

However, things became frosty for the senator as he was often in disagreement with the executive arm of the government. On an occasion, his Abuja residence was invaded by security personnel suspected to be loyal to some politicians. At another time, he was accused of aiding ‘Offa Bank Robbery’ in which about 30 people were killed in a swipe; recalling that some of the suspected robbers were allegedly past members of his private security personnel.

Saraki returned to PDP shortly before the 2019 general elections. He aspired and contested for the presidential ticket under PDP, but was defeated among others by the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

 

 

 

UNN Drops Witches For Conference, Other Events To Continue

24.11.19

UNIVERSITY of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has dropped the controversial topic for its November 26th International Conference, hitherto focused on Witchcraft.

 The Prof. B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, UNN, had earlier proposed an International Conference with the theme: ‘Witchcraft: Meaning, Factors and Practices’ but some Christians in the country condemned the programme; arguing it would promote evil.

Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) particularly issued a statement, calling on Christians in the country to pray to stop the conference arguing that allowing the conference to hold as planned would portend harm to the foremost Nigerian university.

But a student of the University, Department of Agric Extension told Courtly that, those who condemned the topic were misinformed. He argued that the organizers of the conference, who are mainly Christians, selected the topic with a view to demystifying witch-raft in Africa.

“There is nothing wrong for a good Christian to research into major society problem with a view to conquering the same problem. But those who are protesting do not have good understanding of what the conference is all about,” the student said.

He also argued that if a pastor had come up with such a topic and called for deliverance, many Christians would shallowly troop to the venue.

 Nevertheless, the University authority has asked the organizers to drop the topic, according to a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Okwun Omeaku.

“This is to inform the University Community in particular, and the General public, that the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe has directed that the topic for the Interdisciplinary and International Seminar by the B.I.C. Ijeoma Center for Research scheduled for the 26th November be instantly dropped forthwith. “This is in response to the yearnings of the public that have erroneously misconstrued the ideas behind the choice of the topic, and a true demonstration of a Management with a listening ear. Other aspects of the programme will run its full course,” the statement said.

But Omeaku did not state the alternative topic or a replacement, given that the “dropped” topic was the theme of the conference.

He neither picked his calls nor responded to a text message sent to him for clarification. Another officer who responded in his office confirmed that other topics and events would go ahead as scheduled. When asked if a renowned learning institution as UNN would have been stopped by ignorance, he said: “Well, only Chief can answer such question.”

He however added: “What the VC considered was the reaction of people. There is no knowledge or education people can acquire from a topic they do not want to discuss at all. It is a big problem affecting religion all over the world. Yes; I agree with the view that most pastors in the country are not informed, but going ahead with the topic might cause a crisis, which we don’t want”

Some students involved in the organization of the programme accused the office of the PRO of a bad job. They argued that the PRO would have explained to the public.

“I guess that PRO mainly mounted pressure on the VC rather than addressing a press conference to convince members of the public that it (the topic) will not harm anyone one. There was no witch or wizard invited for the conference; it was not a conference for witches and wizards; it was meant for those who had knowledge in divinity, theology and sociology to explain what ought to have been simple but demystify by those who benefit from the evil. So, how could such discussion harm the university or anyone?” a member of the organizing committee queried.

He berated Christians who live in fear. “Except if what people are saying is that exposing witches and wizards might trigger attacks on the university by the so-called witches. If so, why do you pray? Are you telling me that all members of MFM who often call up fire on witches are all dead? To my knowledge they are the most powerful Christians on Campus even in the country today, because they know the modus of the witches.

“It is unfortunate that the vital aspect of the conference is being sacrificed to ignorance. I hope that a better approach in future may be applied to resolve controversies.” The speaker would not want to pitch against anyone; therefore, remains anonymous.

 

 

 

Bayelsa Governorship Election: Court clears APC

15.11.19

ALL Progressives’ Congress (APC) is going ahead to participate in tomorrow’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, South-south Nigeria, following a stay of execution ruling by a Federal High Court.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva, announced that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had granted the party a stay of execution order on the judgment delivered earlier by a Federal High Court nullifying the primaries of the party held on September 4.

Sylva, a former governor of the state, was optimistic that the outcome of the election would favour his party.

 “I must tell you that the judgment nullifying the primary was clearly a bias one with all due respect to the judiciary. The court in Abuja has granted us stay of execution.
“That means, we are fully, as a party, in the position of contesting this election, because we know that the people of Baylesa are seriously behind us and we will win the election,” said Sylvia.

A Federal High Court had earlier ruled that the deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, was not qualified to contest the election. The judgment technically voided the entire party from contesting the governorship election.

But Sylvia said with the ruling of Appeal Court on Thursday his party was ready for the election.

“Everyone in Bayelsa knows that APC has the majority in the state; if there is an election today, it is clear even to blind and the deaf that APC will win.

“The electorate should go en-masse and vote the candidature of the APC, Mr. David Lyon,” Sylvia added.

Lyon is the governorship candidate while Degi-Eremienyo is his running mate. They are challenging PDP which rules the state since 1999.

 

 

 

US donates explosive devices detectors to Nigerian Police

22.10.19

PERHAPS, relics of past civil war are playing out in parts of Nigeria as explosives devices are being recovered in parts of the country. But worrisome is the report by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit of the Nigeria Police Force that it recently recovered an explosive material from the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Owerri, Imo State capital.

According to the police unit, 80mm Mortal Bomb was evacuated to the EOD base in the state, while three Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), were also recovered from the BUA Cement Company premises in Okpella, Edo State, south-south, on first of October this year..

The police unit made the disclosure in Lagos last Monday while receiving two mobile detection systems donated by the United States Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence.

“On August 16, 2019, technicians from EOD base, Owerri, recovered an 80mm Mortal Bomb on INEC premises, Umuguma, Owerri South Local Government Area, Imo State. The UXO was however evacuated to EOD base, Owerri Storage Magazine.

“On August 27, 2019, around 8.30pm, EOD personnel in conjunction with the FCT Police Command recovered 50 cartridges of commercial high explosive and 100 pieces of electric detonator at El-Rufai Motor Park, Nyanya, Abuja. Two suspects were apprehended and that matter is being investigated,” the police unit disclosed these in Lagos on Monday while receiving two mobile detection systems donated by the United States Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence.

An elated EOD Police Commissioner, Maikudi Sheu, said the equipment would assist the command in fortifying the entry points of the country.

“We need to fortify the entry and exit points of our country with the provision of these two vehicles. They will go a long way to help us detect materials that are illegally coming into our country. It will help us to put an end to the nefarious activities of these criminals.

He noted that the command would take off explosive detection programme with the two vehicle hoping that their deployment would enable the entire force appreciate the need to acquire more of such equipment.

“We are starting with two. We will discuss with the Inspector-General of Police to know how best to deploy these vehicles. When we do that and see how effective they are, then we will have to procure more to be able to cover other borders.
“I urge all participants to ensure effective use of the equipment and utilize the knowledge to be acquired from this training to enhance our national nuclear security,” Sheu said.

Speaking on behalf of the US donor agency, Bryceon Shulman, a senior advisor with the agency said the gesture was in furtherance of his country’s efforts to establish a durable partnership with Nigeria in the fight against trafficking in radioactive materials.

In July 2013, Imo State Police Command recovered some explosives believed to have been stored during the country’s civil war which lasted three years between 1966 and January 1970. Okpila was also another theatre of the 3-year war. Mining activities around Okpella is also believed to have attracked storage of such devices as recovered by the police.

 

 

 

Tolling Returns To Nigeria's Highways

03.10.19

Nigeria’s Power & Housing minister, Babatunde Fashola announced, Wednesday, government’s decision to reinstate tollgates in the country, dismantled 18 years ago.
Fashola told newsmen in Abuja after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that the government’s plan had been concluded adding that there was never any law abolishing it.

“Let me just clarify this impression about tollgates. There is no reason why we cannot toll; there is no reason. There was a policy of government to abolish tolls or as it were, dismantle toll plazas, but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.

“We expect to return toll plazas. We have concluded the designs of what they will look like; what material they will be rebuilt with; what new considerations must go into them. What we are looking at now and trying to conclude is how the bank end runs. And that is important because we want to limit significantly, if not totally eliminate cash at the plazas while ensuring that electronic devices that are being used do not impede rapid movement.

“We are also now faced with the need to acquire more land to establish the width of the toll plazas because I believe we are looking at 10-lane plazas so that there can be more outlets. So, we need to acquire more land. That is the work that is currently being done now.”

The minister, however, dismissed the assumption that money used for road construction could be recovered through tolling, saying a survey carried out on major highways showed that vehicles transiting on the roads are not enough to recoup the cost of construction.

He used the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Expressway and Abuja-Lokoja road, which are the busiest roads, as illustrations.”

The administration of former President Olusegu Obasanjo abolished tolling in the country following serious traffic grids it caused on nation’s highway besides it being conduit for corruption among government officials and various agencies which managed the programme.

However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said government’s return to tolling is another sign by the APC-lead government to further impoverish the people.

A statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, reads in part: “Only recently, President Buhari approved the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.2% despite outcry by Nigerians, who are also being made to pay exorbitant tariffs for electricity and other essential services.

“Since President Buhari came into office in 2015, his administration has continued to increase prices and impose all manner of levies on Nigerians, which proceeds are being frittered by the cabal in the presidency leading to a bleeding economy and despondency among the citizenry…The PDP, therefore, charges President Buhari to immediately rescind the decision to return toll gates on our highways as such (measure) is not in the best interest of Nigerians.”

Delta Education, Too little noticed, huge sum to comprehend

20.06.19

IN spite of the huge investment in secondary education in Delta State, standard of education in the state is still quite low relative to the level of other states with which old Bendel was in competition.

For instance, in just one year Delta State Government paid N269, 440, 650 (N269.44m) to West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) being examination fees for the enrolment of senior secondary students in the public schools.

Checks show that Delta State has not been on the list of advanced states in education across the federation in the past 10 years.
Recent results of examinations conducted by JAMB, WEAC, NECO and other institutions placed Delta below the status of states with which it hitherto competed.

Besides, most students of Delta State origin are no longer bold to apply for admission to some universities considered 'strong for the men;' where competition for admission is considered by merit. For instance, in the immediate past post-UTME organized by the University of Nigeria (UNN) Delta State had the lowest admission (cut-off) mark in Medicine, Pharmacy and Civil Engineering compared to Anambra and Imo states. While candidates from Anambra and Imo states who scored aggregate of 220 for Civil Engineering were not offered admission on merit list, candidates from Delta states with lower scores were admitted. It indicated lower performance and sparse enrolment by candidates from Delta State. It also means that quota for Delta State is hardly met.

Investigation also shows that not many students who study in Secondary Schools in the state have the confidence to apply to competitive universities for admission.

Again random poll shows that many candidates of senior secondary school certificate examinations avoid public schools. Whereas the examination enrolment fee in the public schools has been quite low, these students prefer to pay so much to the private schools and notorious centres for the same examinations as organized by WAEC and NECO. Though we are aware that the aim is to find a free zone for cheating, we consider that, in all, it indicated lack of confidence on the part of such students or candidates.

Considering that education is free at both primary and secondary schools in the state, one would expect high performance in the sector. Note that we are not advocating for payment of tuition fees.

Having visited such schools in Asaba as the Government Model Secondary School and ZAPA Basic and observed the commitment and diligence with which the schools are managed, it beats the human imagination why performance is still low among students of Delta State origin. Is it possible that there are no qualified teachers or the curricular are wrong?

While we are not able to investigate the sciences, we can say for sure that such subjects as Civic Education and Literature have a few qualified teachers in the state. It is embarrassing to find teachers in Literature who do not even understand why Literature is a subject of study at school. Some of them who were engaged in discussions exhibited ignorance, while some others lack the critical disposition of an average Literature teacher. Some of them confessed lack of time to read study texts, let alone reading broad as the field requires. It was also embarrassing to find a Literature teacher in one of the popular schools in Asaba selling dika-nuts (Agbonor) and melon (egwusi at Ogbeogonogo during her free periods. It sounds unbelievable but is true. During one of our visits to her schools, she arrived sweating, dropped her sac of agbonor and egwusi between her chair and desk in Staffroom and rushed to the class. When does she prepare for the class?

We praise the commitment of some principals of public schools in the state. Some of them: yes; some of them are good. During our investigations, we notice high level of commitment among them; some of them monitor classrooms to ensure that the teachers are available during lesion periods; academic vice-principals mark lesson notes of teachers to ensure rightness.

But we are shocked to note that the committed principals are not popular among their respective teachers. Some of them are hated, persecuted and sabotaged by the teachers.

In some schools utter laxity is palpable: Teachers not supervised, some of them are not in their classes while lessons ought to be ongoing.

We noticed that principals of such schools are popular among the teachers. The teachers travel during sessions; on return, buy fine gifts for them. Other teachers bribe their transfers to such schools.

We however note that some of these schools do not have basic furniture. For instance, we found that even a school like Asaba Model lack chairs in the classrooms. In some arms of JSS1, four students squeeze into seats designed for two. Some of the students sit on the desks. Yes; government is doing wonderfully well given the paucity of funds, but the situation is destructive.
Sometime past, former Basic and Secondary School Education Commissioner who is now SSG, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, promised government's commitment to make imprint in the subsector before the end of its tenure. There is no doubt that Mr. Ebie effected pronounced landmark, seeing the restoration of probity and discipline during his time, but more is required because the situation was too bad which four years of attention could not have solved.

Yes, there are good structures in many schools; we are not sure if the buildings have good and committed teachers, particularly in the rural areas. Teachers posted to the rural areas bribe their return to the cities within a year of such posting.
What about the private sector? Most of the private schools are covert. They advertise what they do not have. In one of them in Asaba touting excellence in the media, we found a lawyer teaching English Language. While the lawyer has no basic qualification other than secondary school knowledge of English, an NCE holder in Agric Science teaches Literature in another private school touting first class before the public. These schools are nine in ten across the state.

During external examinations, most of these private schools connive with exam invigilators in perpetrating malpractices. Most of the private school authorities charge extra fees from their respective students to enable them bribe the invigilators.

Not up to two in ten may be found innocent of this charge. We may sufficiently vouch for Catholic Schools in the state wherePriests and Reverend Sisters are in charge and are not noticed to have compromised integrity, no matter the odds. Sometimes, their students are often punished “for being stubborn.” For example, two years ago the best Mathematics student of one of the Catholic schools in Asaba purportedly failed the same subject at JSS 3 external examination. While the young boy wept in tears saying it was not his result, the vice principal helplessly prayed, saying: “God investigate this case.” This should be an area of concern for the State's Basic and Secondary School Ministry.  We suggest that only officers of the Ministry who have the fear of God may be sent out to the schools to supervise examinations.

We are aware that education inspectors go round from time to time; how much honesty applied in such inspections is what we do not know. It is alleged that most of the inspectors collect bribe at the gates of the schools and return to their offices to give good reports about the schools. We therefore suggest that honesty should apply in thorough policing of the private schools in the state.

We also suggest that books approved for various subjects and for the respective classes should meet national and international standards. Some of the books on the current state's list for junior secondary school classes are written by unguided but talented writers in the respective fields and are poorly edited. Government should encourage such writers to submit their work for proper editing. We suggest that Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) may be consulted for good books rather than patronizing Onitsha and Warri book pirates.

The government has fared fairly in the education sector, but something beyond the scene is required to restore the enviable position of the State in the sector. Now that Senator Ifeanyi Okowa is given another four years, returning Delta state to its enviable competitive position in education sector should be a priority to the State Government

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