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Protecting Life: African Water Activists Resist Corporate Privatisation As World Bank Meets

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At a time when life is more precarious than ever, the necessity to prioritise that which gives life is likewise greater than ever. Water is one of the most fundamental necessities for life, yet giant corporations backed by international financial institutions are exploiting this basic need by trying to privatise water across the African continent, threatening to leave millions of people suffering without water.

The only just path forward is by rejecting privatisation and returning water into the hands of the African people, who together have and will continue to advance public water solutions funded by public dollars. On October 13, 2021 at 9am ET, African water protectors will be speaking about these efforts and making demands for change here.

Private water giants like Veolia and Suez have been capturing Africa’s water systems for decades with the backing of institutions like the World Bank, undermining African governments’ efforts to ensure universal water access for their people. Right now the World Bank, one of the largest drivers of water privatisation in the Global South, is holding its annual meetings. Worse, Veolia and Suez, the two largest private water corporations in the world, are on the cusp of a mega-merger that would consolidate their control and further threaten the African people’s right to water systems that ensure true public health and equity. All this shows that the threat of corporate control of water for generations to come is becoming increasingly dire.

“This mobilization is the convergence of all the resistance struggles against water privatisation by the Our Water Our Right Africa Coalition,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa. “We are sending a clear and unequivocal message to the drivers of privatisation and their allies: Africans from East, West, Central and Southern Africa are united in their position that control of Africa’s water today and in the future must be determined by Africans and Africans alone.”

Frontline communities and workers across the African continent have long held the expertise needed to ensure that everyone has access to water and, by extension, life. In order for their leadership to thrive, movement leaders are demanding African governments listen to water protectors, ignore pressures from the World Bank and other institutions to privatise water, and reject all privatisation schemes from profit-driven behemoths like Veolia and Suez. Organisers say that government leaders must invest in public water systems that include meaningful public participation in water governance, with particular focus on the perspectives of those typically left out of decision-making processes, including but not limited to women, low-income people, and rural communities.

These demands build on the momentum of the water justice movement, which has already achieved over 300 cases of water de-privatisation around the world, including in cities such as Paris, the home of Veolia and Suez.

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa encourages all stakeholders to hear directly from the following African water protectors and allies:

  • Akinbode Oluwafemi from Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa will share highlights from the forthcoming report, Africa Must Rise & Resist Water Privatisation (due to be released October 13) and talk about how civil society and labour are banding together across Africa to reject privatisation.

  • Dr. Everline Aketch from Public Services International will talk about the impacts of water privatisation on workers and the role of labour in the water justice movement.

  • Dr. Melina Abdullah from Black Lives Matter Grassroots will locate the struggle for water justice in Africa within the context of struggles for Black liberation around the globe.

  • Younoussa Abbosouka and Oumar Ba will talk about their experiences fighting water privatisation and injustice in Cameroon and Senegal, as well as the power of organising.

This event will be moderated by Aderonke Ige, Associate Director at Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa.

Please join us on October 13, 2021 at 9am ET here.

Speakers and key contacts related to this event are available for additional questions or comments upon request.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Kanu Appears in Court, Pleads Not Guilty to Seven Count Charges

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Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, earlier today pleaded not guilty to the seven-count amended charge the Federal Government preferred against him.

Kanu, who was docked before trial Justice Binta Nyako, said he was innocent of all the allegations FG levelled against him after the charge was read to him in the open court.

His re-arraignment came on day the Department of State Services, DSS, blatantly refused to allow even a single journalist inside the courtroom.

Though this reporter and six other journalists were initially cleared at the main gate of the court to enter the premises, upon his arrival at the door leading to the courtroom, arm-wielding operatives of the secret service denied him entry.

The operatives insisted their action was based on “order from above”.

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Francis Megwa, an Inexperience Nigerian Doctor, Faces Panel in Ireland for Poor Professional Performance

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Francis Megwa, an inexperienced Nigerian doctor, described as ‘knowing next to nothing’ by doctors at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) is facing the Irish medical panel for poor professional performance.

Dr. Megwa, who was fired by University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) for lacking basic medical knowledge claims he had always made the hospital authorities aware of his lack of experience.

Dr Francis Megwa told a medical inquiry that the panel who interviewed him for the job of senior house officer (SHO) at UMHL in April 2018 knew about his limitations but he still believed he was expected to improve “in days rather than months”.

A hearing of the Irish Medical Council’s fitness to practise (FTP) committee was informed that Dr Megwa had never worked in a paid role in a hospital since qualifying as a doctor in Romania in 2015.

“This was the level of experience I had before taking up the job which they knew,” Dr Megwa said.

A consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician who interviewed Dr Megwa for his post at UMHL in April 2018, Mendinaro Imcha, admitted the recruitment process could have been better but stated it had improved since the hospital had hired him.

The Nigerian-born doctor, who was placed on call on his first day in the job, is facing two charges of poor professional performance over his time working at UMHL between July 9, 2018, and August 14, 2018.

The IMC claims he failed to demonstrate basic competency in taking a patient’s clinical history, in diagnosing symptoms, inserting cannulas, and in prescribing common medication.

He is also charged with being unable to give a clear history about a pregnant woman who had presented at UMHL with vaginal bleeding or estimate her level of blood loss as well as failing to recommend appropriate treatment for her.

The inquiry heard earlier evidence from witnesses that Dr Megwa knew “near nothing”, was unable to take blood samples, and had to ask what an obstetrician was.

He was accused of incorrectly diagnosing the woman who was 35 weeks pregnant with a condition associated with the first weeks of pregnancy when she was actually suffering from a potential emergency complication.

The inquiry heard Dr Megwa had described working as a SHO with the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Scotland because he felt it was the “most appropriate term”.

Dr Imcha said his CV stated he had previous work experience as an SHO and had completed an internship at his medical school in Romania.

He was also registered with the Irish Medical Council (IMC) and had an EU medical qualification.

The FTP committee heard Dr Megwa had been ranked fourth out of five candidates on a panel to fill vacant SHO posts at UMHL.

He had been scored 55 out of 100 for his medical and diagnostic skills, 60 out of 100 for decision-making and initiative, and 70 out of 100 for communication and personal skills.

The interview panel had noted Dr Megwa was “short of experience but eager to work and learn”.

A member of the FTP committee, Veronica Larkin, said there appeared to be “a big mismatch” between the marks scored by Dr Megwa and his subsequent work performance.

Dr Imcha admitted she was “surprised and worried” when she was alerted within a few days of Dr Megwa taking up his post about problems with his performance, although she still wanted to give him a chance.

However, Dr Imcha said a decision was taken to assess the SHO’s competence after she was notified that his performance had not improved and other staff remained concerned about his treatment of patients.

Dr Imcha recalled how Dr Megwa, who had already been given an oral warning, struggled to answer questions based on what a final-year medical student should know, while she was also concerned that he was unable to specify the speciality he had done during his internship.

The consultant said she had made a complaint to the IMC about Dr Megwa as he lacked the basic knowledge expected of someone who had been to medical school for five or six years and completed an internship.

“We felt it may not be safe for him to continue,” she recalled.

Dr Imcha said she was unaware that Dr Megwa complained that he was shaking and panting with nerves during his assessment meeting.

Dr Megwa said he had learnt to take blood and fit cannulas after just a few days working at the hospital but claimed the only people who really helped him at UMHL were his fellow SHOs.

The hearing was adjourned until a future date.

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Nigeria, World Bank To Raise $30M For Vaccine Plant — Osinbajo

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The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government and the World Bank are working together to raise $30 million to fund a vaccine factory in the country.

VP Osinbajo discussed this on Monday in Abuja at the International Conference on “Access to Health and Socio-Economic Development Beyond Covid-19: The First Multisectoral Approach to Finding Solutions.”

The conference was organized by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD. He said the global health trend has made it essential for Nigeria to establish its own vaccine production facilities.

“Nigeria is in talks with the private lending arm of the World Bank and other lenders to raise around $30 million to help finance a vaccine factory.

“Bio-vaccine Nigeria Limited is chaired by Professor Oyewale Tomori; 49 percent of the company is owned by the Nigerian government with the remainder held by May and Baker Nigeria PLC and they are planning to start construction of a factory.

“ I believe in the first quarter of next year; the plant which is supposed to be located in Ota, Ogun State, will initially, we are told, fill and finish, which I’m also told, means importing the raw materials for the vaccines and then packaging them for distribution.

“Some South African companies are already involved in this task; I believe Aspen Pharmacare and Belvac Institute operate similar facilities.

“Full manufacturing, we are told, should follow in the months or years to come; I’m not quite sure when.

“So it’s obvious that the way forward is more funding for healthcare and research for innovators to develop solutions in pharmaceuticals and medical consumables.”

The Vice President said that through the discussion he had with NIPRD Director-General Dr. Obi Adigwe, he was inspired by the potential and the kind of support that the pharmaceutical industry and research agencies provided.

Osinbajo said the federal government established the Health Sector Intervention Fund which disbursed 76.9 billion naira, or about $185 million, to finance the acquisition and installation of critical medical care equipment.

He said the fund was also intended for the expansion of production lines at various pharmaceutical companies across the country.

According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also supporting a number of research and development initiatives in the health sector, as it has disbursed a total of 233 billion naira in grants.

Mr. Osinbajo said the NIPRD is also making immense contributions to developing a local cure for COVID-19.

“NIPRD has also developed an impressive variety of pharmaceutical products from indigenous resources and both the Niprimune and Niprimune plus both of which I have the pleasure of seeing, have been found to possess a reasonable property that is able to prevent or combat COVID-19.

“Both products, which have been registered by NAFDAC, are currently undergoing clinical studies at various levels with a view to production approval for emergency use.

“NIPRD Director-General Dr. Obi Adigwe assured that around the same time next year, the institute will launch three new products currently under development at its centers for nanomedicine, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“It is this proactive approach that we must adopt in the face of the slow access to vaccines in Africa and of course in Nigeria.

“Although we have received help from some friendly countries and the Covax alliance, less than 4 percent of our eligible population would have been vaccinated by the end of this year.

“There is no doubt that we cannot afford not to have our own vaccine production facilities.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic was a revelation for him in five different ways: the unpreparedness of most developed economies; vaccine reluctance and the danger of conspiracy theory and misinformation, especially in a public health crisis.

VP Osinbajo said the fourth revelation was that, in terms of the COVID-19-wide global health crisis, help should not be expected.

“The fifth revelation is that despite infrastructure weaknesses, in Nigeria we have an experienced and robust public health system, populated by some of the best staff in the world.

“But more importantly, we have the opportunity to become one of the leading countries in healthcare,” he said.

Earlier, in his welcoming address, Adigwe said the conference was the first of its kind to bring together multidisciplinary academics to engage, innovate and synthesize new approaches to solving global health challenges.

Keynote speaker Prof Joseph Fortunak, who spoke virtually, said COVID-19 exposed the vulnerability of the pharmaceutical supply chain and urged Nigeria to take drug manufacturing seriously.

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