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Nigeria votes: Polls open amid security fears in northern states | Elections 2018 News

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Abuja, Nigeria – Explosions have rocked Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state, two hours before polls were to open in presidential and legislative elections after a week-long delay.

The explosions, which occurred at 05:00 GMT on Saturday, sent residents of Maiduguri scampering for safety, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

“Shortly after prayers, we heard seven blasts. Nobody knows what is going on. This is really unfortunate because it will make some people not go out today to vote,” Jubril Abdulrahman said. “We are all in our homes and waiting to find out what exactly is going on,” Abdulrahman said.

About 120,000 polling stations opened at 07:00 GMT across Africa’s most populous nation and leading oil producer for four years. Results are expected from early next week.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from a polling station in Maiduguri, said armed group Boko Haram had vowed to disrupt the elections.

“This is what foreign embassies in Nigeria warned their citizens about long before this election. This morning we woke up to the sound of explosions here in Maiduguri, some are talking about at least a dozen explosions.

“The fighting, or the explosions we have heard so far, has not deterred some of the voters who are eager to cast their ballots in the election,” Idris added.

“Since the break of dawn, people were on the road, trying to access polling stations, trying to exercise their rights as citizens of this country. But of course the delay has discouraged at least some people who had to travel long distances.”





 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Saturday announced a one-week delay to the election, just hours before it was due to get under way.

That angered voters who had already travelled to their home towns and villages to participate, and saw the main parties accuse the other of conspiring with INEC to rig the result.

While the INEC has promised safety for voters in Saturday’s polls, many in the restive north have said they would not venture out of their homes to vote.

“I will remain indoor with my children. I don’t think I will go out to vote because anything can happen,” Hadiza Idris, another Maiduguri resident, told Al Jazeera.

Suspected members of Boko Haram on Saturday have also attacked Geidam city in neighboring Yobe state, where residents were forced to flee their homes and hide in the bush.

The attacks in the northeast come on the back of an ambush against a convoy of Borno state governor Kashim Shetima, on his way to a campaign rally in Gamboru Ngala.

The attack left scores dead and several people abducted by suspected Boko Haram fighters.

Northeast Nigeria has been hit by the decade-long Boko Haram campaign with attacks in recent months carried out by the offshoot Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in West Africa Province. More than 20,000 people have been killed by the group.

In a crowded field of 73 presidential hopefuls, the two frontrunners – incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, 76, and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, 72 – are expected to vote in their home towns.

Electors are also choosing 360 members of the House of Representatives and 109 senators from a choice of 6,500 candidates.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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