Friday, September 22, 2017

‘Bottled water, sugar damage teeth’

BOTTLED WATER... Some of the most popular brands of bottled waters have dangerous pH levels and lack essential fluoride, which can cause cavities.

High consumption gives rise to dental treatment costs in billions
It is widely known that soda, beer and coffee are bad for your teeth. Bottled water, however, seems harmless. But dentists warn that is not always the case.

Some of the most popular brands of bottled waters have dangerous pH levels and lack essential fluoride, which can cause cavities.

Also, worldwide, people are eating far too much sugar. This has negative consequences for their teeth and for their purses: seen at the global level, the costs of dental treatment are currently running at around 172 billion US dollars (128 billion euros). In Germany alone, these amount to 17.2 billion euros (23 billion US dollars) a year.

These are the results of a joint study conducted by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG (BRAIN AG) published in the International Journal of Dental Research. The work was carried out within the strategic alliance NatLifE 2020 and was co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

For their work the researchers evaluated representative data on the prevalence of caries, inflammation of the gums (parodontitis) and tooth loss, corresponding costs of treatment and the disease burden, as well as data on sugar consumption, in 168 countries for the year 2010. On the basis of this data they calculated the share of total costs attributable to excessive consumption of sugar. In addition to white household sugar, the researchers also focused their attention, in the analysis, to "hidden" sugar that is contained in many processed products, such as soft drinks, ketchup, ice cream and frozen foods, as well as breads, cakes and pastries.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eunjung Jo of Astor Smile Dental in a report published in DailyMailUK Online warned that drinking acidic water will harm your teeth.

However, it is impossible to know from the label which ones are the safest - so we tested the pH levels of nine top brands to see which ones were the best and worst. The pH level can range from zero to 14. On that scale, seven is neutral, anything under that is acidic and anything higher is alkaline.

“We tested nine bottled water brands to see their pH levels. Brands with pH levels closer to zero are more acidic and can erode your tooth enamel. Brands with pH levels between seven and 14 are alkaline.”

“Our enamel starts to erode at a pH level of 5.5 so it's best to avoid any drinks with a pH that is lower than 5.5.”

Jo also said that the damage done to your teeth increases proportionately with the time you spend sipping on a drink so spending three hours drinking a coffee is more harmful than downing it in 30 minutes.

“The longer you sip and they stay in your mouth, [the] damage is bigger,” she said. The lack of fluoride - a healthy ion that is good for tooth enamel - in bottled water can also be harmful.

Tap water is regulated by the government, which makes sure it has accurate fluoride levels, but bottled water often lacks proper amounts of it.

Dr. Tema Starkman of High Line Dentistry said it is important to make sure you are always consuming fluoride.

She said that this is especially important for children between the ages of zero and five whose teeth are still developing.

If these children do not receive proper fluoride levels they can develop hypo-fluorosis, a condition that can leave white spots on their teeth, she said.

“If they are not drinking a significant amount of tap water and are only drinking filtered, bottled water without measured levels of fluoride, then they could developmentally have problems.”

Proponents of alkaline water say it can boost one's metabolism, neutralize acid in the bloodstream and help bodies absorb nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Some say that it can slow the aging process and help prevent diseases.

There is evidence that alkaline water can help prevent bone loss but the Mayo Clinic said that there is not sufficient proof that this effect will last in the long term.

She said there is evidence that drinking tap water is good for children's teeth.

“The studies say that during the developmental stage of growth for children, accurate fluoride levels in tap water could contribute to healthy enamel formation.”

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said children who live in communities with non-fluoridated tap water have more decayed teeth than their counterparts who live areas with fluoridated tap water.

The problem also affects adults, Starkman said. “If an adult has a cavity, which is a bacteria that's entered a part of the enamel that's weakened, if there is not a source of fluoride in their drinking water, then, definitely, that can contribute to more cavities.”

But she said that people drinking only bottled water can get fluoride from fluoridated toothpaste or rinses.

“Usually when you brush your teeth you're getting some fluoride from the water in the sink,” she said.

Starkman recommended a balance of bottled and tap water. She said even young children can have bottled water when they are on the go but tap water is good for them to have every day.

The American Dental Association said that drinkers of bottled water may be missing out on the benefits of fluoride.

“Drinking water with fluoride, often called ‘nature's cavity fighter', is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities,” the association said.

The sociology of kidnapping in Nigeria

PHOTO: YouTube

Growing up in Ibadan, parents left no stones unturned in warning us about the menace of kidnapers – called gbomogbomo in Yoruba. Everyday stories of lucky survivors were told to our hearing to all the more underscore the need for us to be conscious of strangers and danger. Prayers were specially offered in religious gatherings by parents entrusting their kids into God's hands lest one day any child got hypnotised by the diabolic touch of kidnappers and then led to their slaughter thickets for money-making rituals.

The kidnapper was more loathed than a villain in a gothic fiction. He, by reason of metaphor, was a paedophile who robbed children of their chaste innocence. No one compared with him in the love for filthy lucre. He was an epidemic whose morbidity rate was high among children.

As I reminisce on the many cases of kidnapping that form a trope in my childhood narrative, a particular instance comes with vivid remembrance. My brother and I were, in the wee hours of a Saturday, woken by the cacophony of an angry mob pursuing a man. The only thing he had on was an unbuttoned shirt billowing like a flag to the aerial whims of the wind whilst he ran. He had nothing else on. I surmised he had been caught in the very act of adultery but hours later, I heard he was a kidnapper. When he was eventually caught in some neighbourhood farther afield, was roasted by the angry mob.

Kidnapping within the last decade took a more brazen dimension all across the federation. From the fluvial habitats of the Niger Delta to the hubs of Lagos, many Nigerians of proletariat and aristocratic backgrounds have been kidnapped either to be held hostage until ransomed by moneyed relatives or to be killed for some mysterious money-making rites in some obscure thickets. I've oftentimes tried to understand how human blood can mint money; the type that is common in Nollywood blockbusters; but always failed to piece it all together. However, this money ritual culture is generally believed to be real, especially in the South West. The nouveaux riche are even sometimes sceptically stereotyped as money ritualists for no just cause. So is the extent to which people believe that a very fast way to wealth is the sacrificing of human life to some greedy gods.

On a recent visit to my uncle's, I learnt that kidnapping has been taken to unprecedented heights in the city of Ibadan. People are said to be missing daily. In fact, my uncle had while I was travelling down called me repeatedly to tell me to take extra care in boarding any vehicle. On arrival he told stories upon stories of different persons saved in the nick of time before beheading for mammon. He spoke with a familial burden that proved something was indeed wrong in the society.

The question we perhaps should ask is: what has stoked the flames of kidnapping in the society today? What has destroyed the purported moral backdrop upon which our values are built? The simple answer is the love of money by the vast majority of the youngsters today. The fact is that the system has failed them and they think the only way around it is to resort to get-rich-quick schemes like kidnapping, cybercrime, robbery and other crimes, damning all consequences.

Nigeria has a culture that deifies the rich and so everyone is looking for quick wealth one way or another. Even in religious gatherings, people pray in stentorian tones to God, asking for money. There is a consensus among Pentecostal churches today that material riches serve as testament to God's blessings and if anyone is poor, it only means he or she is yet to grasp the intricacies of dealing with God. Everything in Nigeria tells you, you just have to be rich. Who better understands it more than kidnappers?

By any stretch, I do not support a culture that worships ill-gotten wealth. Neither do I say people shouldn't be rich. The undeniable truth is the dire need for value reorientation where the wealthy are not necessarily seen as the best among us; where money does not buy titles. Character should matter more than riches. For all the many things one can achieve with money, I believe, it cannot procure values. Our ethos as a people has been tinkered with a long time ago. Kidnapping is just a by-product of a faulty value system and should be addressed holistically. We may decry the stock-in-trade of Evans and his ilk but nothing changes if we do not decry the very culture that breeds them.

Olayemi is a poet and essayist. He wrote from Obafemi Awolowo University.

Youth rage and the Nigerian state - part 2

AFP PHOTO / PHILIP OJISUA

A nation plans to succeed. It maps out the path of its ambition in its detailed national development plan – social, economic and political. The plan is its road map. It spells out the development goals of the nation over a given period – five, ten or 15 years –and details what the nation needs to do to achieve something within that given period.

There is no magic in this. It is a set of challenges that must be tackled to move the nation forward in its process of development, no matter how slow it might be. More importantly, it is the product of hard-headed thinking cast on the marble of intellectualism. The importance of the national development plan is that it is about the nation's tomorrow. And this being so, it is primarily about the leaders of tomorrow, the young men and women on whom the mantle of leadership must necessarily fall – whether we, the old codgers, like it or not.

Young people need to know what the future holds for them. They are not supposed to discern this from the scattered promises of politicians but from an articulated road map that makes the future something they should look forward to with hope and confidence. Our country has had a surfeit of national development plans or development strategies since independence in 1960. Between 1962 and 1981, we had four national development plans. Our first national development plan was issued two years after independence in 1962. Eight years later we had the second national development plan, 1970 – 74; the third national development plan ran from 1975 to 1980; and the fourth national development plan from 1981 to 1985.

As is often the case with our country, the strategy for national development, the primary purpose of an articulated national development plan, soon became a matter of experiments and experimentation. We abandoned development strategies in search of a development formula. The first of these experiments, also called perspective planning by economists, was the introduction of the three-year rolling plan in 1990, repeated in 1998. The second major experiment was Vision 20-10, later rechristened Vision 20-20. You would think poor vision was our national affliction. The third was the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, famously known by its acronym, NEEDS. It went all the way down to the state and local government levels with the respective acronyms of SEEDS and LEEDS.

Perhaps, the best known of these national development plans was the second national development plan, 1970-74. And that, for two good reasons. Firstly, it was our first indigenous national development plan drawn up by Nigerians for Nigeria. The authors were our first eleven British-trained technocrats, who appreciated the problems of our country and offered informed perspectives on how best to approach or solve them in the context of the meaning of our national independence. Secondly, the plan was ambitious and comprehensive. It did not raise false hopes in a quick fix. It challenged Nigerians to take the destiny of their nation in their hands in all areas of human endeavour – in broad terms, social, political and economic.

Its philosophy reflected our national development ambition and rested on four pillars, namely, a strong and self-reliant nation; a just and egalitarian society; a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens and a free and democratic society.

To be sure, this lucid expression of hope did not constitute a development strategy as such. But it was important for the plan authors to underline the results they hoped the plan would achieve at the end of the day. Imagine what our country would be today if its objectives had been achieved.

At least two fundamental points can be made about these national development plans and development formulae. Firstly, their collective primary objective was to help lift our country from the bottom of the pack as an under-developed nation into a developed one, given its enormous natural and human resources. Each was intended to address those problems that hobbled us and free the country from them.

NEEDS, for instance, had the primary objective of wealth creation. Its most well-known ambition was to either eradicate poverty or, at least, reduce it. But the good money thrown at the bad problem neither eradicated poverty nor reduced it. Nigeria post NEEDS, SEEDS and LEEDS is clearly poorer than pre-the policy hailed by its authors and implementers as the father of all development strategies.

Secondly, each raised our hope in the country for a better, if not a glorious, tomorrow. I do not think we have realised the hope. Our aspiration still remains mired in one step-forward-two-steps-backward. And that is the wahala.

It leads us to raise the logical question: with at least six formidable national development plans and formulae, why is the country still playing catch up with the Asian tigers, none of which can boast of the degree of our mineral and agricultural resources?

I do not raise the question because I pretend to have the answer. But I believe we can all see that we have to pay a high price for our inability to make these development plans meet our national aspirations and turn the nation into a strong and self-reliant nation; a just and egalitarian society; a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens and a free and democratic society.

Some cogent reasons could be adduced for this. The first is the corruption of the system. Here I do not talk of financial corruption but rather the corruption of the system that tends to blind us to what is best for our country. The second is the mortality rate of our national policies and programmes. Each Nigerian leader believes his true legacy rides on his cynically ditching the policy or programme enunciated and pursued by his predecessor in office.

We are marching forward in disarray, development-wise. Our current development efforts are disarticulated. There are no linkages in our sectorial development. Education, the pivot of modern development, is in such a sorry state that it cannot drive, as indeed it should, our national developmental ambition. The managers of our national economy are trying to do the impossible with isolated sectorial development in the absurd hope that the nation could emerge from these disarticulated plans to rub shoulders with the celebrated Asian tigers.

The real price we pay is that we are unable to give our young men and women real hope in their own future and the future of our country. In the circumstances, youth rage is inevitable. When the opportunities are circumscribed by promises unfulfilled; when hope in a better or greater tomorrow withers on the bough of me-first leadership at critical levels; when the young man who tries to make a sense of his place in his own country butts his head against the granite of societal insouciance and when the state tends to look on askance while the people are lied to and exploited, you need not ask why it pours when it should only be raining.

I dare say no more.

Concluded.

FG/ASUU’s meeting ends in deadlock • Govt turns down lecturers’ request on TSA

Fidelis Soriwei, Eniola Akinkuotu and Adelani Adepegba

The Federal Government's efforts to make the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its nationwide strike failed on Thursday.

It was gathered that at a meeting with ASUU in Abuja, the Federal Government asked the lecturers to end their strike, but both parties did not agree on some issues.

ASUU consequently rejected the FG's request to call off the strike.

Our correspondents gathered that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the demand of the union that universities should be exempted from the Treasury Single Account.

ASUU had on Sunday called a nationwide strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 agreement between the two sides.

The ASUU president had, at a press conference on Monday, explained that the union decided on the strike after the FG failed to implement the 2009 agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding it signed with ASUU in 2013.

He listed the areas in dispute in the current industrial action to include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, fractionalisation and non-payment of salaries and the issue of universities' staff schools.

A source, who was present at the meeting, told The PUNCH that the Federal Government promised to honour all of ASUU's requests except the one regarding the TSA.

The source said the government admitted wrongdoing and appealed to the lecturers to call off the strike immediately, but the appeal was rejected by ASUU leaders, who pleaded for time to meet their members because of the TSA.

He said, “The meeting was straightforward. The government admitted wrongdoing and promised to honour its past promises. The only issue on which no agreement was reached was the TSA.

“The members of ASUU executive said they would meet with their members and give us a response next week.”

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Ngige stated that the government was expecting feedback from ASUU on the overtures made to it, adding that the union promised to return to the negotiation table within one week.

He explained that the government position was drafted by the Ministers of Education (Adamu Adamu); Labour and Employment (Ngige); Finance, (Kemi Adeosun); and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and was communicated to ASUU.

Ngige said, “Within the last 48 hours, the government has been working; the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation met and we have taken some government positions which we have communicated to ASUU leaders to take back to their members to see if that is adequate enough for them to call off the strike.”

“The major issue is that we want the strike called off so that our children in school can write their degree and promotion exams. ASUU leaders said they will come back to us on a date within the next one week. It will not be later than one week,” the minister said.

ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said he would not go into the specifics of the offers made by the government until he met with his members, adding that the union would not call off the strike.

He said, “Like the minister said, government has made offers on the issues we have raised, but we have to get back to our members for them to consider the offers and advise us. Based on their position, we will come back to government, hopefully within the next one week.”

Explaining why he could not call of the strike, Ogunyemi said the action was called by the union members, noting that they were the ones that would determine when it should be called off.

He said, “The offers are for our members and when we meet with them, we will come back and reveal all we agreed on.

“The leadership of the union did not call the strike, our members did, and they will decide when to suspend the strike.”

Strike didn't follow procedure –FG

Ngige, however, accused ASUU of not following the proper procedure before starting the strike.

The minister, who stated this in his opening remarks shortly before the meeting began around 3:45pm, explained that the union did not issue the mandatory 15-day notice as required by the Trade Dispute Act.

He expressed displeasure over the agreement brokered by the National Assembly, describing it as a political agreement.

He said, “If we want to apportion blame, certain things have been done by the government side that went for the negotiation in the National Assembly and made political agreement with them.”

He attributed the inability of the government to implement the 2009 agreement to “some trajectories.”

“One or two things happened and due to lapses in labour administration, there were some trajectories that made it impossible for some of the conditions to be fulfilled,” the minister said.

He said the Dr. Wale Babalakin-led renegotiation committee was working on various issues in the agreement signed by the government and ASUU.

ASUU president, however, denied allegations that the union failed to give notice of strike before embarking on the strike, adding that the union wrote five letters to relevant stakeholders after suspending the seven-day warning strike in November last year.

He said, “In the last 10 months, we have written five letters and tried to reach out to relevant stakeholder.”

Besides Ogunyemi, other members of the ASUU negotiation team included Vice President, ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, and a former ASUU president, Dr Dipo Fashina.

FG offers to pay ASUU N23bn

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, at a meeting with the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions on Thursday, said ASUU had earlier demanded that it should be paid N23bn, but the government insisted that it should account for N30bn earlier given to it.

Briefing the committee on the outcome of the meeting between the government and ASUU two days ago, Adamu said both government and the union had earlier agreed that the result of the audit of the N30bn would be presented in six months.

“The government had then offered to pay the union N1.5bn each month while we wait for the result. The grouse of ASUU is that the forensic audit promised by the Minister of Finance was not done and the money promised was not paid.

“But we have agreed that the union would be paid the balance of N23bn, while a forensic audit on the entire N53bn would be done.”

He said he wrote the Minister of Finance on Wednesday, adding that the minister had approved that the money be paid.

The minister said, “Probably, by Monday, they will be able to receive the cheque. There are other issues which we didn't agree on, especially their request to be taken out of TSA. I told them that it is not possible because this is a new policy and government is not going to change it for anyone.”

‘Varsities employ without approval'

The minister said many universities employed workers without approval, which resulted in the shortfall in lecturers' salaries.

He said, “Concerning salary shortfall, many universities employed workers without authorisation.

“For instance, a university can just decide to recruit 50 people and the IPPI (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information) will not be aware. So, the money they got last month will not be sufficient for the following months; and they will now spread it among the entire staff. We said institutions must stop employing without approval and ASUU accepted.

“I have written a letter formalising the meeting I had with ASUU. From the way they received it, I think it is possible that the strike will be called off within a week.”

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N’Assembly members are a bunch of unarmed robbers – Obasanjo

Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday in Ibadan said that the bogus earnings of National Assembly members portrayed them as a “bunch of unarmed robbers.”

Obasanjo, spoke at a public presentation of a book written by Prof. Mark Nwagwu, titled, ‘I am Kagara, I Weave the Sands of Sahara,' in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

He also called on the Federal Government to respect the agreement it signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, saying that the Federal Government put itself in a corner by entering into the agreement without full consultation.

He said, “Government allows itself to be stampeded into signing agreement particularly when one group or the other withdraws it services and goes on strike. After the agreement has been signed, without full consultation within government, implementation becomes an issue.

“But an agreement is an agreement whoever the agent is that signed that agreement on your behalf, you are bound by it. You may now have to renegotiate to have a new agreement but the agreement earlier signed remains an agreement.

“When the university teachers go on strike, there is an agreement; and when doctors go on strike, there will be a special agreement. And when the universities teachers see that the agreement reached with the doctors is different from theirs, they go on strike and this is bad for our economy.

“The way we are going about spending all our revenue to pay overheads, we will not develop. And we will have ourselves to blame. Ninety per cent of revenue is used to pay overheads, allowances, salaries and not much is left for capital development. In a situation like that, we have to rethink.

“It is even worse for the National Assembly. They will abuse me again but I will never stop talking about them. They are a bunch of unarmed robbers.

“They are one of the highest paid in the world where we have 75 per cent of our people living in abject poverty. They will abuse me tomorrow and if they don't, maybe they are sleeping. The behaviour and character of the National Assembly should be condemned and roundly condemned.”

At the event, a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, called for positive attitudinal changes for national development.

She said the book would serve as a tool for the country to examine the extent to which it had lost her values and culture.

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Only Buhari, Osinbajo fighting corruption – Presidential aide

Eniola Akinkuotu and Olaleye Aluko

The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, has accused Nigerians of refusing to support the anti-graft crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The presidential aide spoke on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Thursday.

Reacting to the Nigerian Corruption Survey 2017 published by the National Bureau for Statistics, which states that Nigerians paid bribes to the tune of N400bn between 2015 and 2016, Obono-Obla said, “It is chilling, daunting, outrageous and shocking but I am not surprised because corruption has become pandemic and endemic. Most Nigerians are pathologically corrupt.

“This government wants to fight corruption but what is the challenge? Nigerians do not want to support the fight against corruption; the judiciary and the legislature do not want to support the fight against corruption. It is as if only the President and the Vice-President are in support of the war against corruption.”

Obono-Obla said Nigeria had laws that could be used in jailing corrupt people but past governments were not brave enough to take the bull by the horn.

He said the Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act Cap R4 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had existed since 1983 but had never been used by any government to tackle corruption.

The presidential aide added, “The law we are using to fight corruption now has been in effect since 1983 but that law has not been used by successive governments because these successive administrations did not have the will, did not have the commitment or dedication to fight corruption and this government has gone into the archives to exhume that law to fight corruption and the law is very strict and maybe that is why successive administrations did not use that law in fighting corruption. That law predates the EFCC and ICPC Act.”

Also in an interview with one of our correspondents, Obono-Obla scolded ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for claiming he fought corruption, saying his administration was “scandalously corrupt.”

“Why is this man blowing hot and cold? Anyone blowing hot and cold is not a man of integrity. Anyone who doesn't speak the truth is not a man of integrity. More than N500bn was stolen by officials of his government. That was why Nigeria went bankrupt. That was why more than $48bn that was left by the Musa Yar'Adua's government was squandered.

“If $48bn was intact, we would not be looking for money to do railway from Lagos to Calabar and from Lagos to Kano and so on and so forth. The stolen money would have been used to cushion the effects of the drastic fall in oil prices, which is the mainstay of our economy.

“We know that his government was chronologically and scandalously corrupt. There is no doubt about it. The evidence is in Jonathan's Petroleum minister and the few billions of naira we have seized from her property. That property is more than the budgets of the northern states put together in four years. So, what is he talking about? There was unemployment, fuel scarcity and a lot of money was stolen under his watch,” he said.

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Lagos ranked 2nd world’s least liveable city

Afeez Hanafi with agency report

Lagos State, Nigeria's commercial capital, has been ranked as second world's least liveable city.

It ranked second behind Damascus in an annual report by The Economist, which placed Melbrourne, Australia, as the world's most liveable city for the seventh year running.

The Lagos rating was a fall from the third position from the bottom as contained in the 2016 report.

The 2017 ‘Global Liveability Report', which was released on Wednesday by The Economist's Intelligence Unit, stated that terrorism and diplomatic tensions were eroding living conditions worldwide.

The report was premised on the criteria of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The “overall rating” of Lagos State stood at 36 per cent with stability, pegged at 10 per cent; healthcare, 37.5 per cent; culture and environment, 53.5 per cent; education, 33.3 per cent and infrastructure, 46.4 per cent.

Agence France Presse reports that conflict and terrorism were the major factors responsible for those cities finishing on the bottom of the survey.

“Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.

“While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent,” the report added.

Melbrourne, the Australian city was ranked number one out of 140 cities, slightly ahead of the Austrian capital Vienna, with the Canadian trio of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary completing the top five.

The survey revealed that medium-sized cities in wealthy countries fared best.

“These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” the report said.

Major hubs like New York, London, Paris and Tokyo which were hives of activity reportedly lost points due to high levels of crime and overcrowded public transport.

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UNILAG student allegedly defiles 16-year-old female colleague

Afeez Hanafi

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested a 400-level student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Oluwaseyi Anyiam, for alleged defilement of a female student of the institution.

The 22-year-old suspect in the Department of Actuarial Sciences was also accused of taking the picture of the victim, after allegedly dipping his finger into her private parts.

The duo were said to be friends.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Anyiam had invited the victim, Tolu (pseudonym), to an eatery in the Alagomeji area of the state.

After the meal, the suspect reportedly told the 16-year-old that he wanted to pick something he left at home and begged her to accompany him to pick it.

The girl told the police that Anyiam, on arrival at his apartment, started making advances to her, and went berserk when she resisted the amorous moves.

A source said, “The sexual assault occurred on August 3, 2017. The survivor said on that day, she went to visit Anyiam at an eatery. Thereafter, he told her that he wanted to pick up something from the house and go back to school afterwards.

“On her arrival at his house, she saw only his friend, who was sitting in the living room, playing music really loud.

“The survivor alleged that Anyiam urged her to go into the room with him. She said he stole a kiss from her and she told him to stop, but he refused. He then forcefully inserted his finger into her private parts and performed oral sex on her.

“She alleged that Anyiam asked her to do the same to him, but she refused and pleaded with him. She said Anyiam threatened to blackmail her and call his friends to gang-rape her. She said while begging and crying, he took a picture of her, which was later deleted. He was about having sex with her when she managed to push him away.”

Our correspondent learnt that the incident was brought to the notice of the school authorities, which reported same to the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.

The DSVRT Coordinator, Mrs. Lola Vivour-Adeniyi, said a team went to the university on August 9 to get the perpetrator, but was told that the case had been transferred to the Sabo Police Station.

She said, “We went to the police station, but we were told the parties had ‘resolved the issues.' The following day, DSVRT met with the survivor and her parents. They said they wanted to prosecute but they were told that they were going to be stigmatised if they did so and that the survivor's education would be affected.

“Afterwards, the family was counselled and made to realise that there is no stigma in reporting a crime. The case file was thereafter transferred to the Lagos State Police Command Gender Unit and the perpetrator was taken into custody.”

The suspect was consequently arraigned in the Ikeja Magistrates' Court on one count of sexual assault to which he pleaded not guilty.

The charge read, “That you, Oluwaseyi Anyiam, on August 3, 2017, at about 2pm, at Alagomeji, Ebute Meta, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did sexually assault a 16-year-old girl by penetrating into her private parts, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 259 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”

The presiding magistrate, Mrs. B.O. Osusanmi, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties each in like sum.

The magistrate said the sureties must be gainfully employed, provide evidence of two years' tax payment, and present their residential addresses for verification.

Adjourning the matter till October 19, 2017, Osusanmi directed that the duplicate case file should be forwarded to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.

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Obasanjo writes to Agbakoba, says offer yourself for leadership

Oladimeji Ramon

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has offered to personally mentor and guide a prominent Igbo lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), if he would “step forward and develop a mobilisation framework that seeks to rearrange Nigeria.”

The former President said it was time for Agbakoba, who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, to “jump down from the fence and siddon look corner,” noting that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe were younger than Agbakoba when they assumed the mantle of leadership in public offices.

Reminding Agbakoba that Nigeria is his fatherland too, Obasanjo charged the SAN to “take the hard road,” rather than sit on the sidelines.

The former President said this in a July 28, 2017 letter which he wrote to Agbakoba.

It was his reply to a July 20, 2017 letter, written to him by Agbakoba, seeking the ex-President's intervention in facilitating the emergence of a youth as Nigerian leader, as was seen in France and Canada.

Agbakoba had, in his letter, expressed concern about how the youths were not given the opportunity to assume leadership positions, while the old generation of politicians kept recycling themselves in power.

But Obasanjo, in his reply, said though he shared Agbakoba's sentiments, he had discovered that majority of Nigerian youths were not venturesome but were “mostly contented with waiting for dead men's shoes and are unwilling to beat an alternative path to leadership.”

He said even some young men that he and others recently threw their weight behind to assume leadership positions, only turned out to be a disappointment as they pushed down the drain the infrastructural development that the old generation of leaders struggled to put in place.

Obasanjo told Agbakoba, “You should know that some of these young people, whose interest we canvass, have, in the recent past, been a complete disappointment and failures in their various appointed or elected positions. Some of these young people, in public and private sectors, have frittered the prospect of being at the vanguard of sustainable development of what some of us, the earlier generation of leaders, pioneered on the altar of their crass materialism, self-centredness and opportunism.”

The ex-President said while those youths who turned out to be a disappointment should, however, not be a disincentive for his generation to support other youths, he still held the belief that the old people should still not be excluded from leadership.

“For me, if I find men and women who have shown profound commitment and exemplary integrity in their various chosen careers or profession as well as zeal for the service of our fatherland, I will, of course, give such both my support and inspiration, notwithstanding their age, circumstances and place of birth.

“I ask you, dear Olisa, you are at a point where you should step forward and develop a mobilisation framework that seeks to rearrange Nigeria on a different basis of legitimacy,” Obasanjo said.

He said the youths should not expect power to fall on their laps but must fight for it, noting that they had an advantage “since politics is a game of number and the youths are in the majority.”

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NIS arrests senior officers for job racketeering

Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

The Nigeria Immigration Service said it had arrested some senior officers, including an Assistant Comptroller, Luka Mutum, for alleged involvement in job racketeering and scam recruitment.

It explained that Mutum was facing a disciplinary action for allegedly defrauding innocent citizens, including lecturers and family members in Jos.

The NIS spokesperson, Sunday James, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, expressed concern that desperate members of the public still fall prey to fraudsters' nefarious activities in spite of several warnings from the service.

He said, “The service has started swooping down on and arresting these dubious elements who unfortunately include an Assistant Comptroller of Immigration, Luka Mutum.

“The ACI allegedly defrauded innocent citizens, including lecturers and family members in Jos. He is currently facing a disciplinary action.”

James urged members of the public to disregard any request for payment for employment and report any such request to the NIS headquarters.“They should report any case of extortion in the guise of securing employment in NIS to: nis.servicom@nigeriaimmigration.gov.ng and nis.servicom@nigeriaimmigration.gov.ng. or call 07080607900 ,” he said.

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Baldness is not a lifelong condition

Ayo Otubanjo

Being bald can have devastating psychological effects on both men and women, which is often compounded by a sense of impotence and hopelessness at the condition. But with advances in medical science, this should not be the case, and baldness should not be considered a lifelong condition.

Human beings have been experiencing baldness since the beginning of time. One of my favourite biblical stories is the one described in 2 Kings 2 verses 23 to 24 about the prophet Elisha.

“And he went up from thence unto Bethel and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him. Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head! And he turned back, and looked at them and cursed them in the name of the Lord.”

Many balding young men even in this present age face similar insults as a result of their baldness.

However, pattern hair loss, which is genetic in nature, affects about 50 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women by the age of 50. Male pattern hair loss is believed to be caused by a combination of genetics and the male hormone dihydrotestosterone. The cause of female pattern hair loss is less known.

The likelihood of developing male pattern baldness can be easily established by looking closely at other male and indeed some female members of one's family for signs of baldness.

Usually, a sibling or parent who started showing signs of hair loss and while there is no certainty that balding genes are uniform within the same family unit, there is usually a predisposition to baldness.

The first signs of baldness usually are the thinning hairs at the frontal and crown regions. The hair texture in these regions becomes finer and softer than those at the temporal, parietal and occipital regions of the scalp. At this stage of the balding process; all hope all is not lost because with a combination of treatments, the process can be stopped and thinning can be reversed. Early diagnosis is the key to preventing hair loss.

While baldness can be prevented, it is also not a life sentence once it has happened. There are cosmetic and surgical solutions available to restore your looks and give you back your self-esteem and confidence. The most popular and the most guaranteed hair restoration solution is the hair transplant surgery.

Hair transplant surgery

There are basically two methods of transplanting hair follicles; these are follicular unit transplantation, or strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction. The former is the most popular and arguably the most effective method for African hair. A follicular unit “FU” is a basic unit of hair containing between one and four hairs as well as associated blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues.

The extraction of an FU from a section of the head that contains permanent donor hair is the first step in modern transplantation procedures. The surgery is relatively minor and performed under local anaesthesia and on a day patient basis. It is fairly time consuming with patients spending an average of between eight to 10 hours in the operating suite, although half of that period is spent waiting for the required number of grafts or FUs to be prepared by the surgical team prior to implantation.

Apart from some soreness immediately after the procedure, there are usually no side effects if the patient follows the post-surgical instructions. The first two weeks after the procedure are the most critical. During the first five days, patients will experience swelling of the forehead and at the back of the head, which is the donor area.

After only a few days, the donor area is no longer tender. The skin may also look red in the areas where all the tiny incisions were made for the newly transplanted hairs. This redness usually resolves after the first week or two.

In the second week patients no longer experience any swelling and the redness should only be faint or completely gone. For each FU transplanted, a “crust” will form where the attached skin layer is drying out and this need to be carefully cleaned off.

From the second to the third week post surgery, the transplanted hairs will start to shed at this point, and by the end of the third and fourth week, most will be gone. This is a normal part of the healing process and is totally expected.

The newly transplanted hairs go through a shedding process as the actual hair shaft is released, but the actual follicular unit and bulb are totally intact starting to grow a new hair shaft. This is a normal course of the hair growth cycle.

Within a year of the surgery, the patient would have achieved about 80 per cent growth from the transplanted hairs. It is usually in the second year that the patient would be expected to appreciate the final appearance of the transplanted hair.

Most people experiencing hair loss are usually in a hurry to have their full hair back after a transplant procedure but the medical facts are that hair grows at the rate of half an inch every four weeks, so a bit of patience is required before they can really start appreciating the full appearance of the transplanted hairs.

More details on hair loss can be found on www.vincihairclinic.com or e-mail: Nigeria@vincihairclinic.com.

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Bad habits for your heart

Everyone wants to have a healthy heart. Still, cardiovascular disease affects more than one in three adults globally. The good news is that some simple, everyday habits can make a big difference in your ability to live a healthy lifestyle.

Watching TV

Sitting for hours on end increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, even if you exercise regularly.

“Intermittent exercise doesn't compensate for the time you sit,” says Harmony R. Reynolds, MD, associate director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City.Why? The lack of movement may affect blood levels of fats and sugars.

Dr. Reynolds advises walking around periodically and, if you're at work, standing up to talk on the phone.

Leaving depression unchecked

Are you feeling stressed, hostile, or depressed? It can take a toll on your heart.While everyone feels this way some of the time, how you handle these emotions can affect your heart health. “Those likely to internalize stress are in greater danger; research has shown a benefit to laughter and social support,” Dr. Reynolds says. “And it's helpful to be able to go to someone and talk about your problems.”

Ignoring the snoring

More than a minor annoyance, snoring can be a sign of something more serious: obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder, marked by breathing that is interrupted during sleep, can cause blood pressure to skyrocket.More than 180 million adults have sleep apnea, which increases the risk of heart disease. People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for sleep apnea, but slim people can have it too.

If you snore and often wake up feeling tired, talk with your doctor; there are easy ways to screen for apnea, says Robert Ostfeld, MD, s cardiologist and director of preventive cardiology at Montefiore Health System, in New York City.

Withdrawing from the world

It's no secret that on some days, other human beings can seem annoying, irritating, and just plain difficult to get along with. However, it makes sense to strengthen your connections to the ones you actually like. People with stronger connections to family, friends, and society in general tend to live longer, healthier lives. Everyone needs alone time, but you should still reach out to others and keep in touch whenever you can.

Eating red meat

It's best to think of red meat as an occasional treat rather than the foundation of a daily diet. Red meat is high in saturated fat, and there's also evidence that processed meat, such as bacon and hot dogs, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Ideally, less than 10 per cent of your diet should come from animals and animal products, Dr. Ostfeld advises.

Can't part with the beef? Choose a lean cut of red meat and limit your intake. “People have to know that if you want a steak a few times a month, it's OK,” Dr. Hochman says. “It's what you're eating three times a day that's the issue. Be in it for the long haul. Eat a balanced diet.”

Being a health procrastinator

Check in with an MD so that you know your numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. If these are elevated, you're at risk for silent killers like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

One thought: The lifetime risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure, for adults in their mid-50s is approximately 90 per cent, even with those who never had a problem before. “The general point is that just because you didn't have it at 24 doesn't mean you don't have it at 54,” Dr. Ostfeld says.

No mysterious disease in Kwara, says commissioner

Dr Atolagbe Alege, the Commissioner for Health in Kwara, says no outbreak of a mysterious disease had been recorded in the state.

Leading Republican senator joins criticism of Trump

A top Republican senator joined other members of his party in criticizing US President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying he had not displayed the stability or competence needed to lead the country and risks putting it in “great peril.”

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the latest member of Trump's Republican Party to slam the president over his response to weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I do think there need to be some radical changes,” Corker told reporters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Video of the exchange was posted on the news site Nooga.com.

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker said.

“And we need for him to be successful,” he said. “Our nation needs for him to be successful. It doesn't matter whether you're Republican or a Democrat.”

Corker said Trump “has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today.

“And without the things that I just mentioned happening our nation is going to go through great peril,” he said.

A woman was killed and 19 people injured in Charlottesville on Saturday when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter-demonstrators.

Trump has come under fire for saying the anti-racism protestors were equally to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalist groups held a rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

“I don't think that the president has appropriately spoken to the nation on this issue,” Corker said.

“I would ask that he take stock of who he is as president of all the people in our nation and that he condemn those things that separate us.

“Helping inspire divisions because it generates support from your political base is not a formula for causing our nation to advance,” he said.

Corker also defended a fellow Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has been a target of attacks by the president.

Trump attacked Flake on Twitter on Thursday and also lashed out at another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been critical of his response to the Charlottesville events.

AFP

Barcelona attack: What we know

A driver deliberately rammed a van into pedestrians on one of Barcelona's most popular boulevards on Thursday, killing at least 13 people in what Spanish police called a “terrorist attack”.

– What happened? –

Around 5:00 pm (1500 GMT), a vehicle slammed into a crowd of pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas boulevard.

The promenade in the heart of the city centre is one of the city's busiest streets, normally thronged with tourists and street performers until well into the night.

Witnesses described scenes of chaos and panic, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fled for their lives.

Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas said he saw the van speeding along the boulevard.

“It wasn't slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC radio, referring to the pedestrianised area.

– Who are the victims? –

Regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said at least 13 people had died and more than 50 were injured in the attack.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter a Belgian national was among those killed in Barcelona. He told Belgian media the victim was a woman.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that three Dutch citizens had been injured in the attack and were “in contact with their relatives”.

“They are out of danger and have been taken to a hospital,” the ministry said.

A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been injured — a woman and her two children.

– Who is behind it? –

Police in the Spanish region of Catalonia where Barcelona is located said they have arrested two men and are treating the incident as a “terrorist attack”.

One of the suspects was named by the police union as Driss Oukabir.

Police gave no further details about the suspect and denied earlier reports a perpetrator had been holed up in a bar.

Catalonia's regional president said police later arrested a second suspect.

The Islamic State's propaganda agency Amaq claimed that “soldiers” from the jihadist group carried out the attack, according to the Site Intelligence Group which monitors Islamist websites.

“The executors of the Barcelona attack were soldiers of the Islamic State,” the Amaq outlet said, quoted by SITE Intelligence Group.

– How did authorities respond? –

Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene and cordoned off the area, with several ambulances and police vehicles responding.

The city also closed down metro stations in the area, with authorities telling people to stay away from the area.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he was in contact with the local authorities, saying the priority was to help the victims and facilitate the work of security forces.

Police appealed to people to stay in their homes and avoid unnecessary trips.

– Previous attacks in Spain –

Spain was hit by what is still Europe's deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

In July 2015, a hooded attacker opened fire outside a hotel in downtown Barcelona near Las Ramblas boulevard, leaving two people injured, police said.

No suspected motive for that attack was given.

AFP

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