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As the full horror of Monday’s flooding and mudslide disaster in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown emerges, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has issued an urgent appeal for global support.

Speaking at a joint press briefing with the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission in Geneva, IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy said:

“We still have hope to find survivors but the chances are getting smaller every day.

“While we are still in the critical emergency phase of the response, we also have to start anticipating the long-term needs of families who have lost their homes and livelihoods. We will need to accompany them.”

More than 400 people were killed and more than 600 are still missing after torrential rain triggered deadly mudslides that wiped out entire communities in the Racecourse, Regent and Lumley areas of Freetown. An estimated 1,600 families have been affected and need humanitarian assistance.

The IFRC appeal seeks a little over 4.6 million Swiss francs to help 4,600 people in the aftermath of the disaster and to support their long-term recovery needs.

“The appeal will allow us to scale-up and sustain our operations,” said Mr Sy. “The urgent needs are around shelter, safe water, food and re-establishing proper sanitation to avoid any risk of disease spreading.”

Red Cross volunteers and staff have been at the forefront of the response, carrying out search and rescue operations, giving first aid to survivors and comforting the bereaved.

“With the Sierra Leone Red Cross we were in the country before the disaster, and we will still be there long after. This allowed us to respond quickly, and it means we can accompany communities on their road to recovery,” Mr Sy said.

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EID-EL-KABIR: SANWO-OLU FELICITATES WITH MUSLIMS, CALLS FOR MODERATE CELEBRATIONS

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has rejoiced with Muslims across the country on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir festival, urging them to celebrate moderately in the wake of the rise in cases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor also advised Nigerians, especially Muslims to imbibe the lessons of sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim and work for the unity and progress of the nation.

Sanwo-Olu, in his Eid-el-Kabir message released on Thursday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, congratulated Muslims in Lagos and advised them to continue on the path of spirituality and peaceful co-existence.

He said Eid al-Adha became a symbolic event in the history of mankind, given the bountiful rewards that followed the patience and perseverance of Prophet Ibrahim, who held on tenaciously to his faith in God despite being afflicted.

Sanwo-Olu therefore urged Lagosians to draw lessons from the prophet’s examples by eschewing tendencies that could severe the unity and stability in the country.

“Today, I join millions of people around the world, to wish our Muslim brothers and sisters in Lagos State and in Nigeria happy Eid-el-Kabir, which comes with significant lessons for mankind. For the Muslims, today’s celebration is very unique.

“This symbolic Islamic festival is a reminder to us that, there will always be great rewards when we have abiding faith and patience in trying periods; persistence in prayers and tenacity in our belief.

“It also reminds us of the sacrifice we are expected to make not only for the purpose of spiritual fulfillment, but also for the progress of mankind and development of our society.

The governor also reminded Nigerians, especially Lagosians of the need to reflect on the new reality caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, saying it has altered the way we live, work and celebrate.

He said: “Traditionally, Eid-el-Kabir is marked with fanfare, where thousands of worshippers head to various designated praying grounds in their localities for special Eid prayer, followed by festive gatherings, visits to families and friends, gift exchanges, feasts among friends, neighbours and relations.

“However, these activities, which are a reflection of joy and happiness of the season, cannot hold this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let us reflect on the last four to five months of our lives as individuals, as a state and as a nation.  We should also remember our health care workers, and thousands of COVID-19 patients who would have loved to be at home to celebrate with us at this moment.”

Sanwo-Olu also advised Nigerians to support the government’s efforts in building a nation that would work for all, adding that the need to keep Nigeria on the path of development is a collective responsibility of all citizens.

“On behalf of my family and the Government of Lagos State, I wish all Muslims a happy and peaceful Eid al-Adha celebration,” he said.

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PA FASANMI, A GREAT NATIONALIST, PASSIONATE LEADER-SANWO-OLU

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has expressed sadness over the death of an elder statesman and leader of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi whom he described as “a great Nationalist, passionate leader and humility personified.” He was aged 94.

Pa Fasanmi, also the leader of Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba, died in the early hours of Thursday, after a brief illness.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the death of the nonagenarian came at a critical period when his wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom was most needed in Nigeria.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who also described the late Pa Fasanmi as a complete gentleman and selfless leader said he contributed immensely to the development of South West region in particular and the nation in general.

According to Mr Governor, “Pa Fasanmi, was an exemplary leader who spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the Yoruba course where he contributed to the development of the region.

Sanwo-Olu recalled, ” In the old Western Nigeria, Pa Fasanmi served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Old Western Nigeria Housing Corporation.

“He was National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 1977, elected into the Senate in 1979, and became a member of the House of Representatives in 1983.

He also served as a member of the National Constitutional Conference Commission in 1994.

“Pa Fasanmi was indeed an icon who will never be forgotten in history of Nigeria and the Yoruba race. He will surely be missed.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu said that late Pa Fasanmi, who was an “Awoist” to the core, would be remembered for his words of wisdom in keeping Nigeria as one united entity.

The Governor added that Pa Fasanmi, had always been advocating to Yoruba leaders to forget their differences and close the ranks for the good of the Yoruba race and Nigeria as a whole.

According to the Governor, “the late Pa Fasanmi made the call in Lagos in his remark at the public presentation of the book: “Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo and Corporate Agency”, written by Professor Wale Adebanwi, an Associate Professor in African American and African Studies, University of California-Davis.

“According to the frontline politician and second republic senator, this is (then) the time for political differences that have existed among the Awoists and the entire Afenifere clan to be cleared.

“At this auspicious time in our country, it is good we are having an occasion like this which brings many of us (Awolowo Associates) together. The event of today suggests to me that we need to forget our differences.

Sanwo-Olu stated that the above statement among other great virtues are what the late Fasanmi stood for.

“On behalf of my family, the Lagos State Government and people of the state, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased; the government and people of Ekiti and Ondo States over the irreparable loss.

“May God give the departed soul eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss. Adieu Pa Fasanmi,” Sanwo-Olu stated.

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Buhari to observe Eid prayers with family – Presidency

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President Muhammadu Buhari will observe the Eid-el Kabir prayers with his family at home, just as he did during the Eid-el Fitr over two months ago.

Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

The presidential aide stated that Buhari’s decision was in line with advisories from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

While wishing all Muslims safe and happy Eid-el Kabir celebrations, the president reiterated the protocols, as issued by the PTF that large gatherings should be discouraged, as much as possible.

“Where small groups choose to hold the Eid together, face masks are absolutely necessary, as social distancing.

“Advisedly, such prayers should hold outdoors and worshippers are encouraged to bring their own prayer mats,’’ the president added.

Buhari also said that he would not be receiving Sallah homage by religious, community, party and government leaders, as part of measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

While calling for the observance of the occasion as advised by state and local authorities, the president wished all citizens safe and happy celebrations.

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