Dilma Rousseff’s future as president of Brazil was cast into further doubt as millions of protesters, wearied by scandal and recession, staged some of the largest rallies in the country’s modern history.
Brazilians demonstrated peacefully for Rousseff’s ouster in cities throughout the country on Sunday, with some estimates counting more than 3 million people on the streets. Sao Paulo recorded its largest political rally on record, according to polling firm Datafolha. In the capital Brasilia, some 100,000 people marched toward Congress, expressing their support for the anti-corruption blitz that has put several high-profile executives and politicians behind bars.
Many Brazilians say they have had enough of corruption revealed by the two-year investigation known as Lava Jato, or Carwash in English, that has paralyzed Congress and deepened the worst recession in over a century. Sunday’s protests could prompt more legislators to abandon the ruling coalition and vote for Rousseff’s ouster, according to Paulo Calmon, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia.
After being stalled in Congress for months, the impeachment proceedings are expected to resume in coming days when the Supreme Court decides on guidelines for the lower house to follow.
Some allies have already begun to distance themselves from Rousseff, as her party gets drawn deeper into the corruption scandal. The March 12 national convention of her largest allied party, known as the PMDB, ended with the threat to fully break from the ruling coalition next month. Earlier in March, the smaller Brazilian Socialist Party joined the opposition.
Rousseff, who on Friday said she hadn’t given up and wouldn’t resign, made no public appearances on Sunday. Instead, she issued a statement in which she said that the peaceful nature of protests shows “the maturity of a country that knows how to live with diverging opinions.”
Brazil’s political drama is playing out less than five months before the 2016 Olympic Games are due to start in Rio de Janeiro.
Pressure on Rousseff started building in February with the arrest of her campaign strategist and a news report of allegations that she tried to interfere with corruption investigations. The political crisis hit a new high with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s brief detention for questioning on March 4.
Adding to Rousseff’s woes, the country’s top electoral court is investigating whether she illegally funded her re-election campaign in 2014.
Both Rousseff and Lula have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
With distrust of much of Brazil’s ruling class running deep and many leading politicians linked to the corruption scandal, a possible Rousseff exit could be messy. Some opposition leaders, including Senator Aecio Neves, who narrowly lost to Rousseff in the 2014 presidential election, were criticized during the demonstration as “opportunist.”
“We’re seeking a way out of this impasse in accordance with the constitution,” Neves wrote on Twitter.
It’s not just government critics taking to the streets. Supporters of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party held some small rallies on Sunday and plan demonstrations this month against the impeachment process. They also will show support for Lula, the party’s co-founder and Rousseff’s predecessor, who was charged last week with money laundering and providing false testimony.
One of the big winners coming out of Sunday’s protest was Sergio Moro, the federal judge from the southern state of Parana who’s overseeing the Carwash investigation, said Carlos Pio, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia.
Throughout the country, protesters hailed Moro as a national hero. Some wore t-shirts saying “In Moro We Trust” and others laid out a sign before Congress that read “We Are Moro.”
“The protests were a loud call from Brazilians: ‘Clean up our country,´” Pio said.
NAFDAC Grants Conditional Emergency Use Authorisation For Jansen COVID-19 Vaccine
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Tuesday granted conditional Emergency Use Authorisation for Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in Nigerians above 18 years of age.
In a press statement made available to the media, the Director-General of the Agency, Prof Christianah Mojisola Adeyeye said after a thorough evaluation, the NAFDAC Vaccine Committee concluded that the data on the vaccine were robust and met criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.
”The data also show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks thereby supporting the manufacturer’s recommended use. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is the third vaccine recommended in Nigeria for preventing COVID-19.”
On vaccine efficacy, Adeyeye noted that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a single dose and results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.
She added: ”The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given a placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.
”The trial found a 67 percent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine”.
On side effects, she said the most commonly reported side effects with the vaccine were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.
Speaking on vaccine safety, she said in line with the NAFDAC’s Pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine would be closely monitored and subject to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.
”Manufacturers are required to provide monthly safety reports in addition to the regular updates generated by NAFDAC activities. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine works by preparing the body to defend itself against COVID-19.”
She further explained that unopened vaccine vials can be stored and/or transported frozen at -25°C to – 15°C for up to 24 months and three months when stored at 2 to 8°C.
She also stated that the Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency will announce when the vaccine becomes available for use in Nigeria.
NLC Alleged That El-Rufai Reverted Minimum Wage to N18,000
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday alleged that the Kaduna State government plans to infiltrate its protest with thugs.
It said it was misled in praising the Nasir El-Rufai administration for being the first to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage.
NLC, in a statement by its Kaduna State Council Chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, said the state had since reverted to the old wage of N18, 000 for council workers. It said 20,000 civil servants have been receiving half salary of less than N18, 000.
The workers union said the state owed its members several allowances. It condemned threats to arrest NLC President Ayuba Wabba.
“We are calling the attention of the general public to the planned mobilisation of thugs by the state government to discredit our peaceful protest. We urge the people of Kaduna State to be vigilant and stand against this plan.
“We implore the general public to remain calm and peaceful throughout the five-day warning strike.
“We are assuring the Kaduna State workers and the general public of our commitment to maintaining peaceful strike action in their interest,” Suleiman said.
FACAN Seeks Partnership With Lagos on Ranching
The Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) is seeking partnership with the Lagos State government on the operation of ranches as part of a road map with investment plans that seek to improve animal productivity and production, as well as increase the value addition of key livestock value chains.
Its President, Dr Victor Iyama told the media that the association is examining various aspects of agricultural development such as investment, demand, consumption, gender and social inclusion and is ready to partner with Lagos in driving out livestock-sector investment interventions, to help the state meet its targets by improving productivity and total production in the key livestock value chains of sheep and cow
According to him, the absence of a roadmap to develop the livestock sector had hindered the successful implementation of previous investment plans for the sector.
He said the creation of the master plan would guide livestock-sector investment interventions in improving feed and water resources, health services, industry and factory and promote private sector investment and business environment.
Urging the Lagos government to pursue the establishment of ranches for hire, Iyama reiterated that investors were convinced the efforts would foster public-private partnerships for livestock development.
According to him, private operators will be ready to rent ranches for meat cattle, indicating that the state remains one of the safest places for increasing industries for meat production and milk processing.
Recently, the Lagos State Butchers Association has requested the provision of about 50 hectares of land from the Lagos State Government for ranching and rearing herds of cattle in the state.
Meantime, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Absiola Olusanya, said well over 1.8 million herds of cattle and over 1.4 million herds of sheep and goats, were being consumed in Lagos yearly.
Olusanya called on the private sector to partner with it to establish feedlots in the state for cattle rearing and fattening in furtherance of its reforms and sanitization of the red meat value chain, stressing that partnership becomes necessary as it would ensure better production and supply of cattle for consumption in the state.
According to her, the feedlots when operational would help revive and resuscitate cows that might have travelled from far cities such as Sokoto, Jalingo, Bauchi and Jigawa among others where they may have come to Lagos before slaughtering them.
Olusanya added that the feedlot system would also help in fattening the cows before taking them to the slaughter slabs which would improve the quality of beef as well as help butchers and meat sellers to make more profit. “We have been having discussions around the transformation agenda centred on abattoirs, transportation and markets but there is a revised plan to have a more holistic approach to the red meat value chain.
“We are not just focusing on abattoirs alone which are a processing angle, we are starting right from the animal identification and traceability systems, meaning right from the source or point of origination of the cattle.
“That is why we want to establish feedlots in the state so that we can have cattle fattening centres. Having feedlot centres means that the cattle can rest, they can be fattening.”
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