Resilience: Forging ahead - By Bashorun J.K. Randle (part XXI) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Resilience: Forging ahead - By Bashorun J.K. Randle (part XXI)

It took Resilience Television entirely by surprise that what both John Cleese and Sacha Baron Cohen had dismissed as a matter of little significance had degenerated into a major controversy which had developed a life of its own. 

It had to do with the station’s aversion to airing any COVID-19 virus reports so that its viewers who are already overwhelmed with anxiety fatigue over the ruthless pandemic would be spared the anguish of its invasion into their living room and private space. 

In a nutshell, in strict accordance with its editorial policy the television channel had blacked out the report on the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the headline: “RISK OF STROKE IS ALMOST EIGHT TIMES HIGHER FOR COVID-19 PATIENTS.” 

Headline: “Sun” newspaper of July 11, 2020: “People with COVID-19 are almost eight times more likely to experience a stroke during their illness than people with influenza, according to a study published recently in JAMA Neurology. This finding suggests that doctors should be alert for symptoms and signs of stroke in people with COVID-19 so that the patients can receive prompt treatment, if possible, to reduce the risk of stroke-related long-term disabilities, such as loss of control over body movements and aphasia (difficulty speaking), the study’s authors revealed. 

The finding also underscores how much more serious COVID-19 is than the seasonal flu. “Although the overall rate of stroke in patients with COVID-19 was low, the rate was substantially higher than among patients with influenza. Fundamentally, our results support the notion that COVID-19 infection is more severe than influenza infection,” Dr. Neal Parikh, one of the study’s authors and a neurologist at Cornell University said. This isn’t the first study to link COVID-19 with an increased risk of stroke. But previous reports of such a connection lacked appropriate control groups. 

The current study is designed to overcome that problem. For the study, Parikh and his colleagues compared data collected from two groups of patients treated at two New York City hospitals. One group consisted of 1,916 patients with test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 who received emergency department care or were hospitalized between March 4 and May 2, 2020. The other group — the “control” — included 1,916 patients with test-confirmed influenza who were hospitalized between January 2016 and May 2018. 

Among the COVID-19 patients, 31 (1.6 per cent) experienced a stroke. By comparison, three of the influenza patients (0.2 per cent) had a stroke. After adjusting for other factors associated with an increased risk of stroke, such as age, gender and race, the researchers calculated that the likelihood of stroke was 7.6 times higher for people with a COVID-19 infection than for those with influenza. 

All the strokes in the study were ischemic, the most common kind. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain. (The other type of stroke, haemorrhagic, occurs when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures.) The ages of the COVID-19 patients who had a stroke ranged from 66 to 78. The length of time between the onset of their COVID-19 symptoms and their stroke varied from five to 28 days. More than a third of them had severe cases of COVID-19 and had received mechanical ventilation. This research comes with caveats. To begin with, as Parikh and his colleagues point out, the study may have underestimated the true rate of stroke in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 because some of those patients may have been too unstable to undergo brain imaging (needed for a diagnosis of stroke), or they may have died before reaching the hospital. On the other hand, the study may have overestimated the stroke rate in people with COVID-19 because infected patients who were admitted to hospitals during March and April, a period when cases were surging in that city, may have been more severely ill than patients who were hospitalized for influenza in recent years. 

There are good reasons people with COVID-19 may be at a greater risk of stroke than those with influenza, as Parikh and his co-authors discuss in their paper. They note, for example, that acute viral infections, including the flu, are known to trigger an inflammatory response in the body that can lead to blockages in blood vessels. It could be that COVID-19 initiates a particularly vigorous inflammatory response, leading to even more dangerous results. 

COVID-19 also tends to be, on average, a more severe respiratory illness than influenza, with complications that put more demands on the cardiovascular system and that, as a result, make stroke more likely. COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, usually attacks the lungs. It causes symptoms that include cough and difficulty breathing — but doctors are noticing a disturbing trend. People as young as 30 are experiencing strokes, even when their symptoms were mild. Young patients with no risk factors for stroke may have an increased risk if they have contracted COVID-19, whether or not they are showing symptoms of the disease. The coronavirus has been shown to cause development of microthrombi [small clots]. These clots can travel to the lung and obstruct blood flow to the lung, which is called pulmonary embolism, or travel to brain circulation and cause ischemic stroke. Recently published research finds COVID-19 and other diseases that cause severe inflammation throughout the body can increase the risk of fatty plaque buildup and blood vessels rupturing. 

This can lead to stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Although typically considered a lung infection, COVID-19 has been found to cause blood clots that can cause severe stroke. Experts say that this can happen in any patients regardless of age, and even in those with few or no symptoms. Concerns regarding getting sick could delay stroke treatment, but research suggests that a COVID-19 diagnosis shouldn’t prevent doctors from using life-saving procedures.” 

However, viewers were evenly divided between those who supported the blackout and those who insisted that it should have been aired, leaving it to the public to debate the merits and demerits of the report. In order to cool tempers and calm frayed nerves, it was the voice of the legendary Aretha Franklin that took over with: “A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS” Lyrics I won't (leave it alone) (Why don't you, why don't you, let it be?) (Still water run deep, yes it do) I know that (Whoa-o-o-yeah) If you only believe Said I wouldn't (leave it alone) (Why don't you, why don't you, let it be?) (Still water run deep) Yes it do (Yes it do' whoa -oh -ho yeah) If you only believe When you're down and out When you're on the street When evening falls so hard I will comfort you I'll take your part Oh when darkness comes And pain is all, is all around Just like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down (Like a bridge) Just like a bridge (Over troubled) over troubled water I will lay me down Sail on silver girl Sail on by Your time has come to shine All of your dreams are on their way (See how they shine?) Ooh and if you ever need a friend (Need a friend) Look around, I'm sailing right behind Just like a bridge Over troubled water I'll be there to lay me down (Like a bridge) Like a bridge over (troubled water) troubled water I will lay me down Ooh I'll be your bridge Yes I will Said I wouldn't (Leave it alone) Well (why don't you, why don't you, let it be?) (Still water run deep) I know that (Yes it do) yeah (oh-oh-oh yeah) Still water (don't trouble the water) Yeah (Leave it alone, why don't you, why don't you, let it be) Talking 'bout still water (Still water run deep) You know they run deep (Yes it do, oh-ho-ho-yeah) Well I'm gonna be your bridge yeah! (Don't trouble the water) The troubled water (leave it alone) Oh! (Why don't you, why don't you, let it be?) Come on come on Walk out on me (Still water run deep) Oh (Yes it do). 

It was like magic. It did the trick. The only flaw was that viewers flooded the station with request for the Simon and Garfunkel version of the same classical song at their memorable concert at Central Park, New York. It was like stirring the hornet’s nest when the station quoted the former military Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon: “The worth of a child born and bred in Nigeria cannot be compared to that in the United States.” The champions of “Black Lives Matter” were ready to go on the warpath until Chinua Achebe came to the rescue with his vignette: “In dealing with a man who thinks you are a fool, it is good sometimes to remind him that you know what he knows but you have chosen to appear foolish for the sake of peace.” Added to this was the apt comment of Bukar Usman (an old boy of King’s College, Lagos who served in both the civil service and security agencies without dumping his pursuit of literacy endeavours): “Distant hoses can’t put out local fire.” This somewhat confirms he old adage, all wars are the product of local politics. However, what took centre stage was the scoop by Resilience Television regarding the hideout of Ghislaine Maxwell who following the suicide of Robert Epstein just disappeared completely off the radar. Here is the story that has kept viewers asking for more and more: Prince Andrew has yet to publicly comment on his friend Ghislaine Maxwell's arrest. She was taken into custody in early July on six counts related to the sexual abuse and trafficking of minors and lying to investigators. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison. But the Queen's son's silence on the matter hasn't stopped the press from zeroing in on their friendship as the royal family's latest scandal. Prince Andrew was already under immense public scrutiny over his association with convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested almost exactly one year ago on multiple sex trafficking charges and died by suicide in jail before his trial could begin. Now, Maxwell's court case has thrust Prince Andrew even further into that unwanted spotlight. 

Here we take a look at the royal's history with Epstein's alleged accomplice. Maxwell has been friends with Prince Andrew for decades. Few details about the beginning of Prince Andrew's relationship with Maxwell have been made public, but in 1999, she reportedly introduced the royal to Epstein, and the trio were photographed several times together in 2000, including at the Royal Ascot horse races and at Mar-aLago in Palm Beach. During Prince Andrew's sit-down interview with Newsnight last November, he also confirmed that Epstein had been a guest at both Windsor Castle and at a "shooting weekend" at Sandringham in 2000, explaining that Maxwell was "the key element in this." Epstein, he said, "was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect." During that same broadcast, Prince Andrew claimed that he cut ties with Epstein during a trip to New York in 2010, when the two men were photographed walking in the park together. By then, Epstein was already a convicted sex-offender. "I went to see him and I was doing a number of other things in New York at the time and we had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed which was when I said to him, 'Look, because of what has happened, I don't think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact,'" Andrew explained. "By mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day and to this day I never had any contact with him from that day forward." In contrast, Andrew said he had been in touch with Maxwell within the past year, having spoken to her "before July," ahead of Epstein's arrest. But the conversation, he says, didn't turn to their mutual friend. 

"There wasn't anything to discuss about him because he wasn't in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on," he said. "I have no recollection of meeting her," Prince Andrew said in the Newsnight interview. Buckingham Palace also issued a statement on Prince Andrew's behalf addressing Giuffre's allegations. It reads: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation." • Virginia Giuffre, the woman who accused Prince Andrew of sexual abuse, opened up about her experience and implored the British public to stand behind her, in an interview with BBC. • "This is not some sordid sex story," Giuffre told the BBC. "This is a story of being trafficked. This is a story of abuse, and this is a story of your guys' royalty." • The Duke of York has long denied Giuffre's allegations, saying he does not remember meeting Giuffre despite a photo in which they appear together with Maxwell in the background. Thankfully, the brainy Marie Robert the French philosopher par excellence made a reappearance on Resilience Television. She was as combative as ever: “French people are scared of their emotions. It’s not as bad as “Keep Calm And Carry On” but we’re all at ease. We don’t know what to do with our feelings. I think that’s what is at the root of this. We have a lot of political philosophy. But intimacy, love, family, responsibility, culpability – they are seen as “not philosophical enough” and they’ve been abandoned as “less serious”. We endlessly analyse the political significance of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) but we never talk about the anger.” Added to this was the incisive comment of Don Wilder (1926 to 2010) and Bill Rechin (1930 to 2011). 

“Excuses are the nails used to build the house of failure.” The charm offensive launched by Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of The United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] paid off handsomely as Resilience Television enthusiastically aired the following press release: “ARMANI, SORBILLO NAMED SPECIAL AMBASSADORS AS ITALY RESTARTS TOURISM” “The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has appointed two new Special Ambassadors as it leads to the restart of the sector across Europe. On the occasion of a visit of the Secretary-General to Italy, the first official delegation to travel since the closure of borders in response to COVID-19, UNWTO has named renowned fashion designer Giorgio Armani and celebrated chef Gino Sorbillo its latest Special Ambassadors for Tourism. In their new roles, both Special Ambassadors will draw on their status and influence to promote the work of the United Nations specialised agency for responsible and sustainable tourism. As leaders in gastronomy and fashion. They represent two of Italy’s biggest economic sectors and two of the industries that contribute to making the country a global tourism leader. Since launching his own company in 1975, Giorgio Armani has become synonymous with Italian style. As a chef, Gino Sorbillo celebrates traditional Nepalese pizza and has opened award-winning restaurants around the world. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Italy is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. Each year, millions of people visit to enjoy its culture, its fashion and its gastronomy. In return, tourism supports livelihoods as well as local and regional economies and helps preserve this Italian culture. As UNWTO Special Ambassador for Tourism, Giorgio Armani can help amplify UNWTO’s key messages of the power of tourism to create opportunities and drive growth. As UNWTO Special Ambassador for Gastronomy Tourism, Gino Sorbillo will showcase the unique ability of gastronomy to preserve and promote heritage and give tourists a unique taste of the destinations they visit.” Upon receiving the plaque, Mr Armani said, “I’m genuinely pleased to have been honoured in this way by an organisation that believes that people should be encouraged to see the beauty of the globe in a respectful and responsible manner. It has been a sense of responsibility (sic) for our community that has helped my country through this terrible pandemic, and this too is what has driven me to play my small part in helping those engaged in the fight against the virus, and the fight against the economic challenges it has posed. 

A belief in the community – the global community – and an appreciation of the humanity we all share are what will help us build a better future for ourselves and the generations to come, through being mindful of the important things in life, like the preciousness of the environment and our duty to protect it. It is, therefore, an honour to take up the role of Special Ambassador for Tourism.” The appointments also strengthen UNWTO’s strong relationship with Italy, the first Member State to receive a visit from the organization’s leadership since destinations around the world introduced restrictions on travel in response to the pandemic. The UNWTO delegation led by the SecretaryGeneral will visit Rome, Italy, Milan and Venice and work with both the national and city authorities to support tourism’s restart and ensure this goes hand-in-hand with wider economic and social recovery.” In Nigeria, what is causing sleepless nights has little to do with tourism. It is the huge pile of debts that is responsible for the nightmare. The front page of “ThisDay” newspaper on 11th July 2020 went to town with the blazing headline: “NIGERIA’S PUBLIC DEBT STOCK HITS N28.63 TRILLION” “Nigeria’s total public debt portfolio, all the states and the federal government inclusive, stood at N28.63 trillion as at March 31 this year. According to the Nigerian Domestic and Foreign Debt Q1 2020 report released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the total public debt rose by 4.48 per cent compared to the N27.40 trillion recorded in Q4 2019. External debt accounted for N9.99 trillion or 34.89 per cent of the total debt. The domestic component stood at N18.64 trillion or 65.11 per cent of total borrowing. Of the domestic debt of N18.64 trillion, the Federal Government’s share alone is N14.53 trillion compared to Q4 2019 when total domestic debt was N18.37 trillion with the federal government accounting for N14.27 trillion. Federal government’s domestic debt service for Q1 also increased to N609.13 billion compared to N254.04 billion in Q4 of 2019. 

Total domestic debts by states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were valued at N4.11 trillion with Lagos State accounting for N444.23 billion or 10.8 per cent. Yobe was adjusted to have the least debt domestic stock, accounting for N29.29 billion or 0.7 per cent of total debt. In dollar terms however, foreign debt was estimated at $27.66 billion. Debts from multilateral institutions totaled $12.65 billion or 45.75 per cent of total foreign debt while bilateral debt amounted to $3.84 billion or 13.89 per cent of total external borrowing as well as commercial debts which stood at $11.16 billion or 40.37 per cent of total foreign debts. In addition, the federal government’s domestic debt stock by instrument stood at N14.53 trillion with FGN bonds accounting for N10.55 trillion or 72.65 per cent of domestic borrowing. Abia State accounted for N69.63 billion of the domestic debt stock of states, Adawawa N101.58 billion, Akwa Ibom N240.03 billion, Anambra N33.91 billion, Bauchi N100.40 billion, Bayelsa N154.95 billion, Benue N116.19 billion, Borno N83.38 billion and Cross River N165.91 billion within the review period. Others include Delta N230.75 billion, Ebonyi N42.41 billion, Edo N84.76 billion, Ekiti N77.89 billion, Enugu N62.98 billion, Gombe N82.50 billion, Imo N163.99 billion, Jigawa N36.02 billion, Kaduna N78.69 billion, Kano N107.75 billion, Katsina N66.16 billion, Kebbi N69.26 billion and Kogi N128.91 billion. Others are Kwara N62.89 billion, Nasarawa N60.99 billion, Niger N59.83 billion, Ogun N143.53, Ondo N65.29 billion, Osun N137.30 billion, Oyo N100.59 billion, Plateau N130.72 billion, Rivers N266.93 billion, Sokoto N47.74 billion, Taraba N81.26 billion, and Zamfara N70.84 billion as well as the FCT with N106.80 billion.” It was irresistible temptation that prompted the movement of Women in Lagos State Institutions for Good Governance [MOWLAS] to launch a rescue mission under the caption: “WOMEN MORE EQUIPPED FOR LEADERSHIP.” 

The twin attributes of empathy and resilience make women better leaders, according to a renowned university lecturer. This was the consensus at an international webinar hosted by the Movement of Women in Lagos State Institutions for Good Governance (MOWLAS) in Lagos during the week. Speaking at the summit with the theme ‘Leadership Paradigm Shift and Role of Women in the Realities of COVID-19’, Prof. Bolanle Iranloye, opined that the nation stood a better chance to weather the negative impacts of the ongoing pandemic by assigning women more leadership roles in critical sectors of its political economy. Specifically, the scholar argued that the myth of male superiority no longer holds water in view of the realities of the day. “Before now, it was often said that leadership was only for the male gender. But the outstanding performance of women in leadership has created an awakening in us that drives us towards a paradigm shift. Women in leadership positions are excelling, even in spite of limited opportunities. Women leadership will continue to evolve as more women rise through the ranks and break down barriers,” she said. Iranloye is a Professor of Physiology at the University of Lagos College of Medicine. The event, which drew 90 participants from Nigeria, Canada and the United States of America, was convened and moderated by former acting Vice Chancellor, and Director, Directorate of Advancement, Lagos State University, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello. Speaking further, Professor Iranloye identified women folk as the gender who can better multi-task even in stressful situations. She cited New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, China, Norway, Finland as countries where women folk have proved their leadership mettle during the Covid-19 challenge. She however lamented that the situation was different in Nigeria which has just one woman out of the 12 members of the presidential task force for COVID 19. 

Her words: “Women have proven to be master multi-taskers and highly collaborative. They possess certain leadership attributes such as empathy, resilience, intuition and sensitivity. Empathy and resilience make them great leaders.” She listed the Late Dr. Stella Adadevoh, late Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as worthy examples of those who have excelled in various sectors and concluded that in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, women are best positioned to lead their organisations out of the woods: “When there is crisis, call a woman; when there is need for efficient leadership, call a woman.” Long before the bubble burst following the arrest of Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of Nigeria’s EFCC [Economic and Financial Crimes Commission], Senator Shehu Sani had raised the alarm: “Contrary to the fa├žade you see from the outside, the EFCC is run by an inside cult called the Magu Boys or the Chairman’s Squad. They are a select cream (sic) of vicious officers who operate exclusively with impunity and only report directly to their boss.” As for the scholarly Professor Adebayo Williams who had just survived three months of lockdown in London on account of the CORONA-19 virus followed by fourteen days of self-isolation in Lagos, without providing any evidence that hydroxychloroquine had been forcefully forced down his throat at either locations, proceeded to deliver his call to insurrection (but you have to read between the lines !!). “In Nigeria, there are many culprits (“Hushpuppies” / swindlers and fraudsters) for this pandemic of rabid puppies that is about to swamp the entire nation and infect the international community in the process. They include a dysfunctional and kleptocratic political class, a thieving bureaucracy, a disoriented traditional institution, a disorderly military profession, a paralysed police force, an alienated and enfeebled citizenry and a corrupt and corrupting spiritual merchant class that preaches the virtue of prosperity without commensurate had work.” If that is not an invitation to troop into the streets to protest, we need to be told what else it would take to start the revolution!! 

As for “Vanguard newspaper, it set a new record in assertive and robust journalism by devoting almost its entire edition on July 11, 2020 to the investigation and detention of Ibrahim Magu, the recently deposed Acting Chairman of the EFCC [Economic And Financial Crimes Commission]. Front page healine: “MAGU SHUNS CELL, SLEEPS IN MOSQUE” • Police management team abandons him • Says, he should carry his cross • Buhari endorses his suspension, approves Umar as Acting Chairman • Magu to explain links with Bureau De Change over N336 billiion; U.S.$435 million; and 14 million Euros. • MAGU versus MALAMI (Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Of the Federation). • Real Reasons Behind Cold War. From another angle, it was more fire for the embattled erstwhile anticorruption czar. Headline: “EFCC UNDER MAGU WAS A CITADEL, A CESSPOOL, A CATHEDRAL AND CASTLE OF CORRUPTION” - Senator Shehu Sani “Senator Shehu Sani who represented Kaduna Central in the 8th Senate, first on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC and later the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP , said yesterday that with the arrest and probe of the embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, the 8th Senate has been Vindicated for not clearing him. In a statement yesterday, Senator Sani hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for arresting and probing Magu. He also commended steps taken by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN. The statement read, “The arrest of Magu, the embattled EFCC chairman and probe are a commendable step by the PMB administration and the AGF Malami. “It’s a vindication of the position of the 8th senate. Magu was a dubious and fake anti corruption Czar who was sustained by corrupt politicians within the ruling elite. He worked for them and for himself. EFCC under Magu was nothing but a private army for persecution and witch hunting. EFCC under Magu is a citadel, a cesspool, a cathedral and castle of corruption. 

Magu’s EFCC is a political consultancy outfit in the service of the corrupt. Magu was a Man looking for corruption in Ghana while sitting on Ghana Must Go (sic). Magu worked for some politicians in office and himself and deceived journalists and CSOs to believe him. Magu’s EFCC is a scoop of human faeces coated with a facade of vanilla ice cream.” Perhaps we are obliged to revert to Friedrich Nietzsche (Germany, 1844 – 1900) who in his book: “The Antichrist” declared “I despise the people I have been fated to call my contemporaries. I feel suffocated by their filthy breath.” According to the blurb on the book, “He believed that there is no such thing as moral truth. He despaired of mankind’s tendency towards behaving with a recognisable value system.” However, that does not absolve us from recognising the dog whistle by Professor Adebayo Williams: “After twenty-one years of post-military rule, Nigeria is nowhere near fashioning or evolving a set of core (moral) values. Rather than being a site for the aggregation of competing elite interests and the reconciliation of group differences, the Nigerian post-colonial state resembles an imperial Roman coliseum with political gladiators duelling on to death. That is why sixty years after independence, a civil war, several military upheavals, regional conflagrations, a subsisting religious insurgency that has lasted eleven years and a despondent climate of insecurity, Nigeria approximates a political jungle at best and a thriving bedlam at worst. There is a steady regression into the Hobbesian state of nature.” He was smart enough to exclude any reference to the Arab Spring. Before the day was over, Emily Thorne (1984) delivered a memorable verdict: 

“For the innocent, the past may hold a reward, but for the treacherous it’s only a matter of time before the past delivers what they truly deserve.” 

- Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former President of the Institute of the Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region. He is currently the Chairman, JK Randle Professional Services

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