Super User

Super User

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Leader of cross-border raid warns Russia to expect more incursions

The Russian commander of a militia that conducted a raid on a Russian border region this week said on Wednesday his group would soon launch more incursions into Russian territory.

Denis Kapustin, who described himself as the commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), spoke to reporters on the Ukrainian side of the border with Russia a day after Moscow said it had repelled the raid on the Belgorod region.

Kyiv has said the attack was carried out by Russian citizens, casting it as homegrown, internal Russian strife. Two groups operating in Ukraine - the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and Freedom of Russia Legion - have claimed responsibility.

The Russian military said it had routed the militants, who carried out their attack using armoured vehicles, and pushed those who survived back into Ukraine.

Kapustin said two of his fighters had been "lightly wounded", and that total losses on his side for the operation were two killed and 10 wounded. Moscow claimed it killed over 70 'Ukrainian nationalists'.

Kapustin also said the fighters had taken a Russian armoured vehicle and anti-drone gun as trophies.

"I think you will see us again on that side," said Kapustin, who introduced himself by his call-sign White Rex. "I cannot reveal those upcoming things, I cannot even reveal the direction. The ... border is pretty long. Yet again there will be a spot where things will get hot."

He was asked repeatedly about Western media reports that his militia had used U.S. military equipment that was meant to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia's invasion, but declined to answer directly.

"I know exactly where I got my weapons from. Unfortunately not from the Western partners", he said.

He also suggested that Western military equipment had been captured by Russia in the battle for Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and that such equipment could be bought on the black market.

"I think I explained that the Western military aid unfortunately goes back and forth, being raided. In Bakhmut for instance I know that a lot of armoured vehicles, American armoured vehicles, got raided by the Russian forces," he said.

Kapustin said Ukraine only supported the RVC with information, petrol, food and medicine.

"And, of course, the Ukrainian military took our wounded. But anything more than this would make things difficult."

"Every decision we make ... beyond the state border is our own decision. Obviously we can ask our (Ukrainian) comrades, friends for their assistance in planning," he said.

The RVC says it is made up of Russians fighting for Ukraine, and against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Our future plans are new territories of the Russian Federation, which we will definitely enter... You should be a just a little bit patient, and wait just a couple of days," Kapustin said.

The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League has described Kapustin as "a Russian neo-Nazi who lived in Germany for many years".

Kapustin said his group was right-wing, and when asked if he was minded being labelled a Nazi, he said he didn't "think it's an insult."

But he added: "I have my set of views, it's a patriotic set of views, it's a traditionalist set of views, it's a right-wing set of views. You know, you'll never find me waving a flag with a swastika, you'll never find me raising my hand in a Hitler sign. So why would you call me that?"

** Zelenskiy to Iran: Why support Russia and terror?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Iranians on Wednesday to reconsider the supply of deadly drones to Russia in order to stop their slide into "the dark side of history."

Iranian-made Shahed drones supplied to Moscow have played a major role in Russia's attacks on cities and infrastructure, though Zelenskiy said Kyiv's air defences were now skilled at downing them - about 900 of 1,160 aimed at Ukrainian targets.

"The simple question is this: what is your interest in being an accomplice to Russian terror?" Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

"What is the benefit to Iran of such cynical killing? By Russian hands, but with your weapons, your weapons...Your Shaheds, which terrorise Ukraine every night, mean only that the people of Iran are being driven deeper and deeper into the dark side of history."

Russia has boosted its military cooperation with Iran since it launched its invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.

Iran initially denied supplying Shahed drones to Russia but later said it had provided a small number before the conflict began.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russia opposes ‘freezing’ Ukraine conflict – Kremlin

Russia and the West are “in solidarity” to the extent that the conflict in Ukraine cannot be frozen, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency on Wednesday.

Asked whether Russia was considering putting the fighting on hold, Peskov stated that Moscow is only considering the option of “completing the special military operation,” which means securing Russia’s interests and achieving its goals either through military, or other available means.

The spokesperson noted that it is premature to talk about a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict, as there are no prerequisites for such an outcome yet.

“It is unlikely that we can talk about real negotiations with any of the representatives of the current Kiev authorities, because there [in Ukraine] any negotiations with the Russian Federation are simply prohibited now,” Peskov explained.

Earlier, German chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that any peace talks on the situation in Ukraine cannot aim to freeze the conflict. “Russia must withdraw its troops,”  he insisted on the sidelines of the G7 summit on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the US is reportedly seeking to stretch out the conflict for years or even decades. According to the Politico news website, Joe Biden’s administration has been considering freezing the fighting instead of pushing for Ukraine’s victory, with the goal of achieving a situation similar to that between North and South Korea.

“A Korea-style stoppage is certainly something that’s been discussed by experts and analysts in and out of government,” a source told the outlet. “It’s plausible, because neither side would need to recognize any new borders, and the only thing that would have to be agreed is to stop shooting along a set line.”

The benefit of such a scenario for the US would be that it would cost less for Western nations to support Ukraine, draw less public attention, and reduce the pressure to assist Kiev. Additionally, it would allow Ukraine to continue switching its military to NATO standards, in the hope of joining the military alliance.

Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly criticized NATO’s expansion into Europe and its attempts to build a presence in Ukraine without the country’s formal accession. Moscow has cited such moves as one of the key reasons for launching its military offensive in February 2022.

** Zelensky’s penthouse seized in Crimea

The Crimean parliament has unanimously voted to nationalize the assets of Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians on the peninsula, RIA Novosti news agency reported on Wednesday, citing the State Council’s press service.

Among the assets is an apartment belonging to Elena Zelenskaya, wife of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Crimean Governor Sergey Aksyonov announced on Telegram.

More than 130 properties have reportedly been confiscated, among them a cinema, factories, shopping malls, wineries, and banking structures.

Last February the Crimean parliament also voted to nationalize about 500 properties belonging to Ukrainian politicians and businessmen.

Zelenskaya’s three-room penthouse on the Black Sea coast near the resort city of Yalta is estimated to be worth $800,000. It was bought from a business tycoon in 2013 for just under $164,000. After Zelensky won the presidential election in April 2019, Reuters reported that the price paid for the property was at least 50% lower than the market rate.

The seizures come in response to a law introduced in Ukraine last year making it legal to confiscate the assets of Russian citizens and businesses without compensation. In August, Kiev approved confiscations of more than 900 Russian-owned properties in the country, reportedly worth $765 million.

Russia has seen its state and private assets worth billions of dollars frozen or confiscated in Western countries since the start the military operation in Ukraine. The US and its EU allies have since been looking for ways to give the assets to Ukraine for reconstruction.

The Crimean Peninsula was part of Ukraine until 2014, when it voted in a referendum to join Russia after the Maidan coup resulted in the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Kiev.

Profits from the sales of the nationalized assets, including Zelensky’s apartment, will be used to help the families of soldiers killed in the military operation in Ukraine, the speaker of the Crimean Parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, was quoted as saying by Russia’s TASS news agency.

 

Reuters/RT

Clashes in Sudan's capital shatter lull brought by ceasefire deal

Clashes between rival military factions broke out on Wednesday in Sudan's capital Khartoum, residents said, threatening to shatter a fragile ceasefire designed to allow for the delivery of aid and create conditions for a more lasting truce.

The ceasefire deal, which is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States as well as the warring parties, was reached after five weeks of warfare in Khartoum and outbursts of violence in other parts of Sudan, including the western region of Darfur.

The fighting pits Sudan's army against the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and has worsened a humanitarian crisis, forced over 1.3 million people to flee their homes and threatened to destabilise the wider region.

The ceasefire had brought a relative lull in fighting in Khartoum on Tuesday, although little sign of a rapid increase in humanitarian relief.

Witnesses reported clashes in several areas of the capital on Wednesday afternoon.

West of central Khartoum columns of black smoke could be seen rising into the air, and there was shelling near an army camp in southern Khartoum, they said.

In Bahri, one of the three cities around the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers that make up Sudan's greater capital, the sound of clashes and artillery fire could be heard.

Earlier, residents reported artillery fire near the Wadi Sayidna military base on the outskirts of Omdurman, the third city.

The ceasefire was agreed to on Saturday following talks in Jeddah mediated by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Previous ceasefire announcements have failed to stop the fighting.

In statements late on Wednesday, the army and RSF accused each other of violating the agreement.

The RSF said it was forced to defend itself against land, artillery and air strikes by the army. The army in turn accused the RSF of attacks on the country's mint, army airbases and several cities west of the capital.

Witnesses in Omdurman reported that an army fighter plane had been shot down, and videos posted on social media appeared to show the incident. The footage could not immediately be verified.

The army said the plane had malfunctioned, while the RSF said it had brought down the plane.

'TERRIFIED'

In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, days of clashes between the army and the RSF had left most of the main market burned down, two residents said.

"We're in a very difficult situation. We feel emotionally broken and terrified," said resident Malak Ibrahim, adding that her family hadn't had regular access to water for two weeks.

Activists in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur State, said RSF-backed militias had surrounded the city and started looting homes and businesses. Zalingei and West Darfur State capital El Geneina, where hundreds have been killed since last month, both appeared to be cut off from phone networks.

The conflict in Sudan erupted in mid-April as plans for an internationally backed political transition toward elections under a civilian government were set to be finalised, bringing sustained air strikes and ground fighting to Khartoum for the first time. Many residents are struggling to survive as they face prolonged water and power cuts, a collapse of health services and widespread lawlessness and looting.

The United Nations human rights chief called the situation in Sudan "heartbreaking" and said there were "very deeply troubling" accounts of sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur with at least 25 cases reported so far and the real number likely much higher.

REFUGEES

Aid workers said many of the supplies and staff arriving at Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast have been awaiting security permits and guarantees.

U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said agencies were ready to deliver aid to more than 4 million people.

"I therefore urge the relevant authorities to take all steps possible to ensure they provide the security environment and (ease) bureaucratic impediments at local and national level," Abdou Dieng, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, said in a statement.

Sudan was facing severe humanitarian pressures even before the conflict broke out.

More than 1 million people have been displaced within Sudan and 319,000 have fled Sudan to neighbouring countries, some of which are similarly impoverished and have a history of internal conflict, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many have crossed into Chad and Egypt in the last few days, said Filippo Grandi, head of the U.N. refugee agency.

"We need more resources, urgently, to support countries hosting refugees," he said on Twitter.

The U.N. says that the number of people requiring aid within Sudan has jumped to 25 million, more than half the population.

 

Reuters

Even the most ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari must be happy to see him pack his nuisance and return to Daura (or Niger, wherever) come Monday. If there is a regime in this world on which the sun cannot set fast enough, it is Buhari’s. He rode into the presidency in 2015 with his babariga pockets filled with tokens of goodwill and high expectations of renewal. Eight years later, he had bankrupted everything with his sadism and indolence. He came into power in a blaze of glory but his departure will be accompanied with deep sighs of “good riddance.” One good thing about his sociopathic nature is that he will not even be moved to care how much he has let down everyone who once took him seriously.

As much as the buck stops at his table, he could not have been the kind of failure he was without his enablers. They are many, but the most vociferous of these minions was his media team. For a collective that never advanced an original thought or devised any meaningful strategy of public engagement, they had a larger-than-life reach. From buffering Buhari from reasonable public opinion to obfuscating serious issues, they enabled his apathetic stance while the nation faltered under his watch. If they had summoned their will to a higher moral resolve, perhaps Buhari would not be leaving so much wreckage and carnage behind.

If there was something that quickly defined the Goebbelsian ethos of the Buhari regime at its inception, it was the number of media aides recruited. For a man who would not even appoint his federal ministers, he was rather quick to inaugurate a whole nest of media howlers. Close to hand, he had people like Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu, Bashir Ahmed, Tolu Ogunlesi, and Lauretta Onochie. Some of them were accomplished professionals before they took up the job of image laundering for the presidency, but you can hardly look back at key moments during their term and cite instances when they had a shining moment of professional management of public relations and communication. By May 29, when the sun sets on their time, they would all have been indistinguishably diminished by the multi-dimensional failings of the government they served.

At the back end, the administration also maintained a troll farm. There, they had tucked the rabble-rousers, whose job was to loiter around the highways and byways of the internet, defending Buhari against every reasonability and generally darkening counsel with words without knowledge. Partly due to the redundancy of these associates and perhaps too, because of the lack of any apparent strategic thought that went into planning the information management aspect of the Buhari presidency, what the bloated media team ended up delivering was eight years of cacophonous public communication. On his own, Buhari is sure to fail at any leadership role. With the choir he appointed, his shortcomings got more loudly amplified.

To be fair, media managers in the new media age face a peculiar dilemma in managing public relations and communication. Now that virtually anyone for whom the odds align can sidestep the traditional media gatekeepers and reach an indeterminate public directly, responding to the public can be vertiginous. Media aides to non-performing politicians like Buhari have it far worse—for good reasons. They must confront and control public perceptions and sentiments that can be so powerful they trump objective reality. Also, considering how more easily information can be released into the public sphere to stir mischief these days, media aides to politicians find themselves working in a permanent crisis zone where they are putting out either series of small fires or a conflagration (or both at the same time). Continuously being in a self-defence mode can do things to one’s cerebral capacities, and the frequent misspeaks and missteps that typified these aides’ jobs since 2015 is proof that the aides’ wit became addled over the years of managing Buhari’s crisis-prone government. The highest they achieved was a raucous and rancorous engagement with Nigerians whom—judging from their frequent putdowns—they passionately despise.

Yes, one must admit that being a media aide to a Nigerian politician is unenviable responsibility. We live in a polity where poverty is endemic, political promises are aplenty, and people confront their leaders with a sense of urgency that can be incompatible with the slow-paced nature of democratic deliberations. You cannot blame people jaded by the persistent failures of leadership for wanting quick-fire solutions. Sadly, the cohort of mostly myopic leaders that Nigeria is plagued with can hardly envision solutions to what bedevils us. Consequently, our interactions with them cannot but be defined by antagonisms, bitter exchanges, and mutual frustrations. That is why media aides to politicians turned their social media handles into workstations where they engage the public in crass and classless exchange of clap backs and other claptrap.

When leaders have nothing to show as solid achievements, their media aides must justify their existence by becoming one-trick ponies whose expertise begins and ends with fighting random people online. Aides managing a truant boss like Buhari have had it really hard. They spent the eight years inventing stories, deflecting questions bordering on accountability to the public, punching down at political opponents and their supporters, pandering to their current paymasters while putting up a grand show for prospective ones, and generally maintaining a facade of government functionality. While it must have been exhausting work for them, many of those activities are ultimately useless because neither their approach nor the substance of their communication advanced the course of democracy (or even our national values).

Our relationship with our leaders has ontologically been acrimonious, and they lack the political savviness to redefine it meaningfully. Our leaders probably cannot function without antagonising Nigerians, and their public relations managers too cannot act outside that frame. The conception of their professional responsibility is locked into that debilitating cycle such that they can hardly imagine public interaction without slap downs and punch downs. Even if they discern that the irascibility some people display online is borne of frustration with a polity where nothing ever happens, they still cannot demonstrate empathy. They must necessarily antagonise their fellow citizens. Once behind the high walls of Aso Rock, they can no longer afford to see humans whose survival is threatened by the cluelessness of their employers and who have every reason—and right—to make demands on the government. All they see are pesky irritants who will not let them eat in peace. Their revert is duplicity, deceit, and the shallow-mindedness that suffuses every part of their communication.

Looking at the spin they put out during those times Buhari was hospitalised outside of the country, you saw people in whom there is no truth. You assess how they dragged the presidency on social media like a rag cloth, and you see professional misfits. You consider the childishness of those who classified a section of Nigerians that refuses to drool before them into “wailers,” and what you see are small-minded bigots in high places. When you recall how these people poorly responded to the serious issues of insecurity that imperilled many Nigerian lives, you see people drained of their humanity. When you evaluate their double-fanged responses to the problems of corruption and its consequent denudation of the Nigerian value system, you see a bunch of frauds who add a lack of reflexivity to their hypocrisy. When your measure their dismissive attitude toward the economic hardship that Nigerians suffered under the watch of their inhumane principal, you see people shorn of their capacity to be reasonable humans.

On Monday, they will exit their respective offices (save for those lucky to be reabsorbed by the incoming administration). We will not miss them. Goodbye to their játijàti!

 

Punch

12 years ago, Gert-Jan Oksam was in a biking accident. He emerged alive, but unable to use his legs due to a spinal cord injury. 

Today he can walk about 100 meters — or just over 300 feet— all on his own. Essentially, he's taught his spinal cord to work again thanks to some small implants in his back and brain, which have rehabilitated the connection between his legs and his mind.

"I'm not walking to the grocery market yet, but I can for sure stand way better now," the 40 year old patient said during a press conference on Tuesday.

At home, he can stand up to paint. When out and about, he can rise to the bar for a beer with friends. 

"It's still hard to walk," he said. "But I'm very happy I've achieved what I achieved."

A mind-reading brain-to-computer interface makes it easier to walk smoothly 

Oksam is able to walk thanks to a "brain-to-computer interface," or BCI, a cutting edge technology that is currently used by just a few dozen people worldwide. Essentially, Gert-Jan thinks of walking, stimulates his own spine to move, and retrains himself to walk again by reinforcing the key connection between his mind and his legs. 

Researchers at NeuroRestore in Switzerland, a "research, innovation, and treatment center" where Oksam was treated, call his system a "digital bridge" between the brain and the spine. Detailing their work in the journal Nature on Wednesday, they describe how surgically-implanted electrodes placed just inside his skull send his thoughts out to an antenna headset he wears. Those ideas are then processed in a backpack he's wearing, turning the ideas into a command. Finally, his intentions are translated into movement, as spinal stimulation.

And, because he's doing this all through a BCI, the movements have become far more human and less robotic than the kind of rehab that other, external spinal cord stimulation could provide.

"The introduction of the BCI has enabled this thought-controlled walking, which is smoother, more natural," Dave Marver, CEO of Onward — the company working to commercialize NeuroRestore's research — told Insider. "He's able to pause, he's able to traverse more complex terrain, he's able to climb stairs."

The system isn't something anyone could just pick up and try. In addition to the brain surgery, it takes many hours of training to calibrate this kind of BCI system to a person's unique thought processes. 

"It's fighting, it's sometimes being patient," Oksam said of the process during the press conference. "You need to have time to fix and solve some problems." 

Over the next 18 months, Marver says, the team is planning to implant four more patients with similar systems to Oksam's. Two have spinal cord injuries, and two will be hoping to "move their hands and arms again," he said.

"You're going to see improvements relatively quickly," Marver said of Oksam's somewhat cumbersome system, which includes a backpack plus an antenna headset he needs to wear when he's doing the stimulation.

Other BCI companies, including Elon Musk's Neuralink, have really only used BCI technology to control things, like keyboards, or computer mice. One of the most advanced systems around is Brooklyn-based startup Synchron's tiny brain implants, which help paralyzed patients use computers independently. Musk, on the other hand, has yet to implant his tech in people

 

Business Insider

Flying Eagles of Nigeria defeated Gli Azzurrini of Italy 2-0 in their second game of Group D at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Goals from Salim Fago Lawal and Jude Sunday proved vital as Nigeria secured three maximum points against the Italians on Wednesday at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina.

Ladan Bosso made just one change to the team which defeated Dominican Republic 2-1 in the opening game as Italy-based Victor Eletu was brought on for Tochukwu Nnadi in the midfield.

Eletu proved the change was essential when he attempted the first shot on target in the game but Sebastiano Desplanches, the Italian goalkeeper, gathered easily.

The Azurrini, who thrashed Brazil 3-0 in their first game, almost took the lead in the 20th minute but Cesare Casadei struck the woodwork.

The Flying Eagles resumed control of the game, and two consecutive chances fell to Sunday and Samson Lawal but none could beat Desplanches.

Nigerian then suffered another scare when it appeared the ball had clipped the arm of Solomon Agbalaka inside the goal area. An extensive video assistant referee (VAR) review was followed by the referee deciding against a penalty.

After the first-half break, Bosso sent on the double substitution of Nnadi and Emmanuel Umeh for Samon Lawal and Ibrahim Muhammed.

Shortly after, Nigeria broke the deadlock. Umeh held off an Italian defender in the goal area before calmly scooping a cross onto Fago Lawal, who glanced a header to the top corner.

The Nigerians gave little away as they guarded their lead into the later stage of the game.

Deep into stoppage time, Jude Sunday added another goal for Nigeria as he slotted the ball between the legs of Desplanches after reacting fastest to a clearance by Kingsley Aniaboso, the Eagles goalkeeper.

The victory takes Nigeria to the summit of the group with six points. The Flying Eagles will play Brazil on Saturday in their final game of the group.

 

The Cable

It's graduation season, which means many parents will observe a sacred rite of passage: dispensing terrible life advice to their kids.

Mom and dad mean well. But the class of 2023 will enter a job market during one of the worst periods of uncertainty since the 2008 financial crisis.

I've endured similar crises, from growing up in poverty, to dropping out of high school to care for my disabled mother, to holding down two jobs while earning my college and law degrees.

Throughout my trials and my journey to becoming a self-made millionaire, bestselling author, CEO and investor, the one key to thriving was to not play it safe.

Here's the worst and most outdated advice young people should ignore, and what to do instead:

1. "You need a fallback plan."

A Wharton study found that just thinking about a backup plan can significantly reduce the likelihood of Plan A from happening, along with the motivation to even try.

There are only a handful of things you can break in your 20s that you can't fix in your 30s. The only way you'll have a shot at being the next Taylor Swift is to believe that you will be, and to not worry about what happens if you fall short.

Trust your capacity and agency to figure things out if Plan A doesn't work.

2. "Cut down your screen time."

Screens are the future of work. Playing video games for 10 hours straight might not help, but you can learn all sorts of lucrative new skills online.

If you want to start a side hustle, write a business plan, launch a website or market a product or service, the right resources are out there, and often at low or no cost at all.

3. "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Partially untrue. While crippling anxiety should be addressed, not all anxiety is problematic. In fact, studies show that the most successful entrepreneurs harness anxiety and make it work for them.

They maintain what's called a state of "optimal anxiety:" the balance between having enough anxiety to catalyze focus and improve performance, but not so much as to inhibit excellence.  

4. "Go work at a big, stable company."

It used to be sage advice to start your career at giants like Facebook, Google, Lyft, Netflix and Disney. But even companies that once promised 30-year careers are now facing massive layoffs.

Instead of going with a big name, go for the right role. Ensure that your interests and skills line up with the position you want, even if it's at a small startup or midsize company.

Even better, use your skills and passion to start a business. It may sound crazy, but with a week of intense focus, you could use AI to launch a business earning $10,000 a month. And then you won't have to worry about layoffs.

5. "Buy a house and settle down."

Lastly, the most important piece of advice every young person should know: Cash is king.

Save cash and preserve as much liquidity as possible. If it means renting or living at home, that's fine. The housing market is due for a big correction that may take years to unwind.

And in a high inflationary environment, saving cash is more important than piling on debt. Credit card debt among people between 18 and 25 years old is also at the highest rate compared to any other age demographic, so be more cautious with excessive spending.

** Matt Higgins is an investor and CEO of RSE Ventures. He began his career as the youngest press secretary in New York City history, where he helped manage the global press response during 9/11.

 

CNBC

 

United Kingdom recruited a record number of international nurses in the last financial year to plug hospital staffing shortages, with as many as 10% coming from so-called "red-list" countries where health staff should not be actively recruited.

Britain has long hired from abroad to staff its state-run National Health Service (NHS), and its vote to leave the European Union in 2016 meant the number of EU staff has dropped sharply in recent years.

In the year to March, nearly half of the 52,148 nurses, midwives and nursing associates who joined the British register were internationally educated, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Nearly 3,500 came from Nigeria, which is on the the World Health Organization's safeguards list.

The two biggest international contributors to Britain's nursing workforce - India and the Philippines - are not on the red-list.

The WHO has warned that poorer countries are increasingly losing healthcare workers to wealthier countries, and has flagged concern over active recruitment in some countries.

Jim Buchan, senior fellow at the Health Foundation, said the numbers arriving in Britain from red-list countries, notably Nigeria and Ghana, had gone up markedly.

"The requirement of (WHO) member states is not to actively recruit from these countries, but what the data can't tell us is how these nurses have come to be on the UK register," he said.

Caroline Waterfield, director of development and employment at NHS Employers said hospital trusts and others who hire staff in England's NHS have been told to work only with agencies that are accredited, vetted and not operating in red-list countries.

"The bit which has always been a bit more tricky is if individuals apply themselves," she said.

The rules do not stop individuals based in red-list countries applying for jobs in Britain, and while an agency may not actively recruit them, community links to people already in the country might mean people apply more from certain countries.

Paul Wanyonyi Simiyu is a nurse, originally from Kenya, who came to Britain four years ago. Kenya is on Britain's "amber" list, meaning any active nurse recruitment has to be through a bilateral agreement Britain has with Kenya.

Despite that agreement, Simiyu estimates 90% of the recruitment of Kenyan nurses comes via direct applications to UK jobs, adding that there often aren't jobs for them in Kenya. He founded KenyanNurse to help train Kenyan nurses for English exams and advises them on how to process their registration.

"It's not against any international or national laws for me to tell a friend or anyone else, hey, there's a job somewhere overseas," he said.

On Friday Britain announced 15 million pounds in funding to strengthen the health workforce in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, citing low staff numbers in their health systems and high unemployment among health workers.

QUICK FIX

Britain's health service has endured a tough winter, creaking under high demand, staffing shortages, strike action over pay and long waits for operations and ambulance visits.

It pledged in 2019 to have 50,000 more nurses in the NHS in England by next year, and health minister Steve Barclay said the government is on course to hit that target and would publish a new long-term workforce plan shortly. The Health Foundation estimates that NHS England has 43,000 nursing vacancies.

The drop in EU staff has helped fuel demand for more workers, with NMC data showing a 20% fall in health staff from the European Economic Area between March 2018 to March 2023.

Buchan said that the lower numbers of EU staff, domestic shortages and a lack of UK nurses in training meant further non-EU recruits would be needed to hit the target.

"The target itself has been a driver for international recruitment because it's the relatively quick fix way of getting nurses into the system," he said. "Will we have to carry on at high levels of international recruitment to try and fill vacancies in the short term? Yes we will."

 

Reuters

President Muhammadu Buhari has boasted about his cordial relationship with neighbouring country Niger Republic.

Buhari, whose tenure ends in six days, attributed his confidence in the country’s defence to the cordial relationship he enjoys with them. He said if Nigerians make the country difficult to live in after the handover ceremony scheduled for May 29, Niger will come to his aid.

The president made this known during the inauguration of the N19.6 billion Nigeria Customs Service Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Buhari, during his speech at the inauguration ceremony, also noted that he plans on relocating to his country home in Daura, which is far away from Abuja and closer to the Niger Republic.

He said, “I said these few things about my personal belief because I have only six more days to go.

“And I try to plan to be as far away from Abuja as possible. I came from an area that is far away from Abuja.

“I said if anybody with force moves, I have a good relationship with my neighbours. Niger people will defend me.”

According to him, if one fails to secure confidence in his neighbour, he or his grandchild will be in trouble.

Buhari also stated that he intentionally appointed women to be Ministers of Finance in his eight years in office to combat disruptions from people looking for the award of contracts and payment of contract sums.

The president noted that the egos of most men will stand in the way of them seeking favours from a woman as Minister of Finance.

Buhari’s first finance minister was Kemi Adeosun, who resigned after the NYSC scandal of 2017.

After Adeosun’s resignation, the President appointed another woman, Zainab Ahmed, to head the finance ministry.

He said, “I deliberately appointed ladies so that it will give me a lot of peace.

“I made sure I gave the ministry of finance to a lady to exploit the cultural behaviour of all Nigerians: once ladies are in charge, people feel too big to go to ladies.

”So, I was sure peace would be allowed in the Ministry of Finance, where people will go and lobby for their contracts to be paid, and so on. So, they feel too big to go to the ladies.”

 

Punch

The presidential election petition court (PEPC) has concluded pre-hearing in all three petitions filed against Bola Tinubu, president-elect.

Tinubu, standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner of the February 25 election after scoring 8,794,726 votes.

Aggrieved by the outcome, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, are challenging Tinubu’s victory.

The Allied Peoples Movement (APM) is also challenging Tinubu’s election.

At the court session on Tuesday, the five-member panel consolidated all the petitions because of the time-bound nature of the case.

The court issues a trial schedule to aid the speedy dispensation of the petitions.

According to the electoral act, the tribunal has 180 days to determine the petitions. The court is expected to round up all its activities on or before September 16, 2023.

OBI AND LP

In the petition filed by Obi and the Labour Party, a total of 83 witnesses would be called by both the petitioners and the respondents.

The petitioners indicated that they would call 50 witnesses, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) listed five witnesses, Tinubu and Shettima listed 21 witnesses and the APC listed seven witnesses.

All the parties indicated that they would call experts and subpoenaed witnesses asides from those already listed.

Tinubu, Shettima and the APC said they would require the services of interpreters to translate from English to any other Nigerian language as required.

All parties were opposed to a settlement out of court.

The tribunal said it would distil all the cases for determination since parties were unable to agree on the issues to be determined in the petition.

In its ruling, the court held that the petitioners must present their case within three weeks (May 30 – June 23) as opposed to the seven weeks they had sought.

The court held that in line with paragraph 41(3) of the first schedule of the electoral act, there shall be no oral examination of witnesses. Instead, they will only adopt their witness statement on oath.

For star witnesses, the examination in chief shall be for a maximum period of 30 minutes while cross-examination and re-examination shall be for 20 and five minutes each.

As for other witnesses, the court allotted a maximum of 10 minutes each for examination in chief and five minutes for cross-examination.

If respondents are cross-examining each other, they shall have five minutes to do so.

The first, second and third respondents have five days each to present their respective cases while the fourth respondent has three days.

Haruna Tsammani who led the five-member panel said the time given shall be strictly enforced “and for that purpose, we will appoint a Timekeeper”.

The court fixed May 30 to June 23 for Obi and LP to prove their case, June 24 to June 29 for INEC, and June 30 to July 5 for Tinubu and Shettima while the APC would present its case between July 6 to July 10.

August 5 is fixed for the adoption of final addresses.

ATIKU AND PDP

The PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, have also been directed to prove their case against Tinubu within three weeks.

The court said the 100 witnesses the petitioners intended to call would not be going through an oral examination. Rather, they would adopt their written witness statements on oath.

A total of 166 witnesses (including respondents’ witnesses) are expected to be called in Atiku’s petition.

All the parties in the petition also indicated that they would call expert witnesses.

Like LP, the court also allowed that star witness would be examined for 30 minutes while cross-examination and re-examination would be for 20 and five munies each.

While INEC has two days to present its case, Tinubu and the APC have five days each to prove their cases.

The petitioners are expected to start presenting their cases from May 30 to June 20.

The close of cases would be July 16. The respondents’ address would hold on July 26 while the petitioners’ address would be on August 2.

The court fixed August 8 for the adoption of addresses.

APM

The Allied Peoples Movement (APM), INEC and the second respondent said they had one witness each to present before the court.

The third and fourth respondents said they would call two out of the five witnesses they initially listed. The fifth respondent has one witness. In all, there are six witnesses to be called in the petition filed by the APM.

The witnesses are also not expected to give oral evidence but adopt their written depositions on oath.

Similar to the other petitions, the star witnesses are allowed examination in chief for 30 minutes while cross-examination and re-examination shall be for 20 and five minutes each. 

The first and second respondents have one day each to prove their respective cases, the third and fourth respondents shall have two days while the fifth respondent shall have one day to present the case.

The petitioners have to present their cases on May 30.

The first respondent will be on May 31 while the second respondent will be on June 1. The third and fourth respondents are to be from June 2 to June 5 and the fifth respondent on June 6.

Close of evidence shall be on June 6. Addresses by the respondents are scheduled for June 17 while that of the petitioners will be on June 26.

The court fixed July 3 for the adoption of final written addresses.

 

The Cable

President-elect Bola Tinubu hosted ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Defence House, Abuja, on Tuesday.

Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, who disclosed this, did not provide details.

However, he released pictures with caption, “President-elect Bola Tinubu and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair after a meeting this Tuesday afternoon at Defence House, Abuja.”

Tinubu will be inaugurated as 16th President of Nigeria on May 29.

Last week while in France, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, telephoned him to assure Tinubu of US support for Nigeria.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Joe Biden unveiled the delegation due to attend Tinubu’s inauguration.

 

Daily Trust

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