The United Nations commemorated the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday, underscoring the need to learn lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, and urging greater investments in preparedness, to confront future health emergencies.
“This first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness falls at the end of a year in which a scenario many had feared came tragically true … As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a message.
He also highlighted the need for strong health systems and social protection, support for communities on the frontlines, and technical cooperation for countries.
“Across this work, science must be our guide. Solidarity and coordination are crucial, within and among countries; no one is safe unless all of us are safe,” the Secretary-General added.
Guterres also honoured medical professionals, front-line personnel and essential workers globally for their “remarkable commitment” in face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we recover from the pandemic, let us resolve to build up our prevention capacities so that we are ready when the world faces the next outbreak,” he urged.
Similarly, Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly, underscored that the “devastating experience” of the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, the benefits of tackling epidemics.
“If we ready ourselves, then we can save lives and stop epidemics from developing into pandemics,” he said, adding that COVID-19 “must be our final warning.”
“We cannot afford to be complacent, and we must learn from our mistakes.”
Bozkir urged everyone to join him in trusting science, supporting early warning mechanisms, and standing together in solidarity.
“We will prepare as we have never prepared before – so that epidemics and pandemics can no longer cause the kind of suffering we have seen across the globe this year,” the President of the General Assembly urged.
In a separate message, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), highlighted the importance of a “One Health Approach”, which integrates human health, animal health and plant health, as well as environmental factors.
This is all the more important given that 75 per cent of new and emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic, caused by germs that spread between animals and people.
“Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between human and animals,” said Tedros.
The head of WHO also urged countries to invest in preparedness capacity to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies, reiterating the importance of strong primary health systems as the foundation of universal health coverage as well as the “eyes and ears” of health systems everywhere.
“True preparedness is not just a job of the health sector, it requires an all-of-government and all-of-society approach,” he added.
The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, marked on 27 December annually, was proclaimed earlier this month by the General Assembly, to advocate the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for, and partnership against epidemics.
The General Assembly also recognized the role of the UN system, in particular WHO, in coordinating responses to epidemics, and supporting efforts to prevent, mitigate and address the impacts of infectious diseases.
This International Day falls on the birthdate of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, responsible for ground-breaking work on vaccinations.
Lagos CP Promises Improved Multi-Agency Collaboration for Better Security in Lagos
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has assured the good people of Lagos State of improved and sustainable synergy among security agencies for better policing of the state.
CP Hakeem Odumosu gave the assurance today Friday 15th January 2021 at the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration that was held at Tafawa Balewa Square, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Commissioner of Police, amongst other security chiefs in the state, assisted the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, in performing the remembrance rites and laying of wreath accordingly. Others in attendance were the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Prince Dr Femi Hamzat, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji, top government functionaries, the State Chairman ,Nigerian Legion, Col S Akande (retd) and senior officers from the armed forces and the police.
The police boss, who doubles as the chairman of the Lagos State Security Council, seized the opportunity to pay tributes to the fallen heroes and admonish the gallant officers and men on the field, defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our beloved country, Nigeria, to be focused and patriotic as the present security challenges in the country are not insurmountable.
The Lagos police boss also appealed to Lagosians to always pray for security operatives, be law-abiding and embrace community-based policing as a civic responsibility.
Armed Forces Remembrance Day: Sanwo-Olu Commends Nation’s Security Officers
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has commended all officers in the Military, Nigerian Police and the legion for their efforts in protecting the country against external aggression and keeping the peace internally.
Speaking at the year 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day parade and wreath laying ceremony at the Remembrance Arcade, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos on Friday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Nigerians should be thankful to God for celebrating this year’s ceremony despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Sanwo-Olu while applauding the organisers of the programme, said despite the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and other parts of the world, they could keep up with the yearly ritual while adhering to safety protocols.
He said: “It is usually a yearly ceremony and we are thankful that this year’s ceremony could still be observed.
“I want to congratulate and commend all of our officers in the military and also the Nigerian Police, but more especially men of the Legion and everybody that has participated in this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance ceremony, the parade, men on guard and everything.
“I think it has been a testimonial and it is a yearly ritual that we are thankful to God that we can still keep this year’s activity as important as it is. We were still able to observe all of the protocols and you could see that everything has gone very well. It is just a one hour event and we are thankful for the organisers that they have been able to put this together again.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day laid the wreath at the arcade and also released white pigeons and balloons into the air.
Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the Lagos State Government (SSG), Mrs Folasade Jaji; Service Commanders; State Chairman of Nigeria Legion and other dignitaries also laid the wreath during the ceremony in memory of the falling heroes.
The event was attended by service chiefs and members of the State Executive Council.
Kukah Has Offended People, But Should Not Be Expelled from Sokoto, Presidency Tells Islamic Group
The presidency has chided an Islamic group over its criticism and veiled threat against the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, over a recent controversial message he issued during Christmas.
The Islamic group, Muslim Solidarity Forum, had asked the outspoken cleric to tender apology to Muslims in the state “or leave the state” over his controversial Christmas message.
The clergyman in his Christmas message titled: “A Nation in search of vindication” alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari was not living up to expectations due to the various economic and security challenges affecting the country.
He also alleged that Mr Buhari was “institutionalising northern hegemony against national interests,” adding that if a Southern Christian president had practised such nepotism, there would have been a military coup in Nigeria.
The statement, however, triggered controversy as, for instance, a Muslim group described the bishop’s sermon as “irresponsible and seditious.”
Islamic group, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) had said Mr Kukah’s message “was a prepared address considering the occasion and the audience, one cannot but agree that it was a calculated attempt to insult Islam which is typical of him. His veiled insinuation that Muslims have a pool of violence to draw from, is disgusting, disheartening, as well as condemnable.”
In response to that, the bishop responded saying JNI was inciting violence against him.
Also, the Muslim Solidarity Forum (MSF), warned the cleric to “quickly and quietly leave” Sokoto, the Seat of the Caliphate.
MSF through its acting chairman, Isah Maishanu, said Mr Kukah’s “innuendos and parables” in his speeches were against Islam and its adherents, adding that they were provocative.
However, the presidency has waded into the face off via a statement signed by Garba Shehu, the spokesperson of President Buhari.
Mr Shehu said: “under Nigeria’s Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions,” in a bid to defend the cleric’s rights.
“Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity. The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s Constitution. The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the Constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians.
“Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric.
“On matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint. Knee-jerk reactions will not only cause the fraying of enduring relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as beacon of pluralism and tolerance. The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Father Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance,” Mr Shehu said.
“Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go.
“Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances,” he added.