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Wednesday, 8th July 2020
1:06:28pm

West Africa

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Former Ghana President John Mahama said on Monday that he had chosen Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman as his running mate for this year’s election, making her the first woman on a major Ghanaian party’s presidential ticket.

The Dec. 7 poll will pit Mahama, who governed from 2012 to early 2017, against his successor, President Nana Akufo-Addo, who defeated him in the late 2016 election. 

Opoku-Agyeman, 69, is a former education minister and university professor. She became the first female vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, according to the announcement on Mahama’s Facebook page.

He called her “God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant and a role model”. 

Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia were formally nominated last month by their New Patriotic Party (NPP) to contest the election.

The presidency has changed hands repeatedly between the NPP and Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) since 1992 in a series of peaceful elections that have cemented Ghana’s reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

-Reuters

Nigeria’s coronavirus outbreak may push 5 million people into poverty as it triggers the worst recession in the African powerhouse since the 1980s, the World Bank said on Thursday.

The twin shock of the pandemic and a global oil price crash has pummelled Nigeria, which has Africa’s largest economy mainly because it is the continent’s top crude producer.

But Nigeria also has the highest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world, and has not recovered from another recession in 2016.

The World Bank forecasts Nigeria’s economy will shrink 3.2-7.4% this year, depending on the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak. In a worst case scenario, the recession could continue into 2021 when the economy could contract 2%, it said. 

“Today’s unprecedented crisis will require an equally unprecedented response from the entire Nigerian public sector (and) private sector to contain the outbreak and protect the lives and livelihoods of low-income and vulnerable communities,” the Bank said in a report on Nigeria’s economic development.

The 5 million people facing poverty due to COVID-19 come on top of the 2 million the World Bank had previously projected would become impoverished, with the pandemic disproportionately affecting the poor, particularly women.

Overall, 42.5% of Nigerians will be poor - defined as living on less than $2 a day - as of 2020, the bank said.

Poverty and unemployment have often fuelled violent insecurity in Nigeria, from militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta to the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and banditry in the northwest. Thousands have been killed. 

Coronavirus is also fuelling inflation, while a projected 70% hit to oil revenues could further depress “already low” government revenues at a time when greater spending is needed to weather the crisis, said the World Bank.

Nigeria is now in talks with the World Bank and other multilateral lenders to raise $6.5 billion in funding.

-Reuters

Ghana’s health minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu is in a stable condition after contracting the new coronavirus, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Sunday.

“Let us wish our hardworking minister for health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, a speedy recovery from the virus, which he contracted in the line of duty,” Akufo-Addo said in an broadcast, giving an update on the pandemic situation in Ghana.
Akufo-Addo confirmed that final year students in secondary schools and universities would resume classes on Monday as the West African nation pursues its phased lifting of restrictions that were put in place to curb the pandemic.

Ghana has recorded 11,964 positive coronavirus cases, one of the highest in the region, but has also carried out one of the highest number of tests in the continent at 254,331 and has one of lowest number of deaths from the virus.

With 54 deaths reported thus far in Ghana, the ratio of deaths to positive cases stands at 0.4%, compared to the global average of 5.5%, and the African average of 2.6%, Akufo-Addo said.

-Reuters

Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos has suspended plans to reopen places of worship after a review of the new coronavirus outbreak, the state governor said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month Nigeria’s government said it would allow the reopening of places of worship, which the government ordered to close in March to halt the spread of the highly infectious virus. It said each state would decide the terms.

Christianity and Islam are widely practised in Lagos and the rest of Nigeria. Places of worship were due to open from June 19. 

“We will not be proceeding with the opening of the places of worship,” Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu told journalists, adding the closures would be effective until further notice.

Sanwo-Olu said the decision followed a review of the outbreak in the state.

“Due to the continuous increase of #COVID19 cases in our state, we have rescinded till further notice our earlier decision to open churches and mosques for worship,” he said in a tweet. 

Lagos state, whose capital city of 20 million inhabitants bears the same name, is the epicentre of the outbreak in Nigeria. The country that has recorded 16,658 confirmed cases and 424 deaths.

A month-long lockdown in Lagos was eased in early May but authorities have expressed concern that many people are not observing rules to remain 2 metres from others, wear a mask in public and not gather in groups of 20 or more.

-Reuters 

Gunmen killed at least 20 people in attacks in the northwestern Nigerian state of Katsina, police and residents said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the last year by criminal gangs carrying out robberies and kidnappings in northwest Nigeria. In May, the United Nations said the violence had forced about 23,000 refugees to across the border to the north into Niger.  

Around 200 attackers travelled on motorcycles to the village of Kadisau, in Katsina, on Tuesday, a police spokesman said, adding that 20 people were killed after the attackers opened fire on locals who tried to resist their attempts to loot the village.

Three locals told Reuters 30 people were buried following the attack.

Such attacks have added to security challenges in Africa’s most populous country, which is already struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the northeast and communal violence over grazing rights in central states.

In a separate flashpoint on Tuesday, suspected Islamist gunmen killed at least 69 people and razed a village to the ground in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno.

-Reuters 

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