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Soyinka blasts critics of his ‘Green Card’ saga

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Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka yesterday came down hard on Nigerians who questioned the sincerity of his claim that he had dumped his United States green card.

Prof. Soyinka last week in Johannesburg, South Africa, announced that he had dumped his green card in fulfilment of his pledge to do so should Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.
But some Nigerians questioned the claim in various social media posts.

Angered by this, Soyinka, who said he got the green card during the days of struggle against military rule in this country, told reporters in Lagos: ”Our common sense is totally lost. I am embarrassed sometimes that I occupy the same nation space with some people.

“Where is the arrogance coming from? What right do they have to tell me that I have no right to take a decision in a particular way? I never took orders from (the late) Sani Abacha, why should I take orders from you? Let us have a little respect and spirit of tolerance. I can decide whether to use a garden shell or scissors for my green card.

What is the business of any Nigerian to challenge me on my decision? Green card is even more important than human beings. Barbarians have taken over the country, using the anonymity of the Internet. They sit somewhere, writing about me, questioning the right of me to express myself.”

He added: “I am not an entertainer. Why should I entertain you on that? I am a dramatist. When I say I have done something, Ogun (the god of iron) is my guiding spirit on it. Maybe I should be exiting Nigeria and not the U.S. People that one dedicated one’s life of struggle to can be so slavish in mentality to query the right of their champions to freedom of expression.”

The Nobel laureate added: “If I decide to leave the U.S., it is my personal decision and not that of the millipedes of the Internet. Why do Nigerians weep more than the bereaved? Trump is not really my business. He has been elected. He should do his work. There are born-again humans in all areas, why not in politics? Even the stock exchange reacted to Trump’s election. I also reacted in my own way. There is freedom of expression. We have far too many illiterates in this country.’’

The playwright, who said he might consider Wolexit 2-a word he coined on his planned exit of the U.S.- added that he would relocate the Soyinka Foundation outside Nigeria.

“It is a significant decision on my part in response to the stupid melodrama. Exit can take two forms; internal or external. I can stay put in my private Green Belt – the one I have named the Autonomous Republic of Ijegba,’’ Soyinka said.

He said his former students, including Prof. Femi Osofisan and Prof. Biodun Jeyifo, always took him up on issues.

Soyinka plans to hold a private funeral on January 20, the day Donald Trump will be inaugurated as president, “to mourn the death of common sense in Nigeria and not to bewail the citizens of the U.S. over their choice of president”.

He cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against sending congratulatory messages like he did to ex-President of The Gambia, Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, for conceding defeat to Mr. Adama Barrow.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. 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.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects 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.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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