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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Nigerian newspaper headlines Wednesday morning

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FG commences work on new National Devt Plan [Sun]

  • Says Nigeria not in recession yet

The Federal Government yesterday,  commenced preparatory work on a new National Development Planwith the constitution of 26 Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to work on the strategic themes for the development of credible plans.

Minister of State, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba who disclosed this in Abuja, during a three-day capacity building workshop towards the formulation of the new national development plan, also said that the planning process was  inclusive and participatory with the full involvement of the sub-national governments (states and local governments), the Organised Private Sector, the major political parties, the National Assembly, youth and women organisations; the physically-challenged, and other relevant stakeholders.  This way, we would have a truly Nigerian National Development Plan and not a federal government plan” he said. According to Agba, the  new plan being articulated are expected to address developmental challenges in all aspects of the country’s national life within the agreed timeframe. The Minister noted that in order to have a very robust outcome, the government thought it wise to build the capacity of the major drivers of the process as the roles of the TWGs Anchors and Heads of Secretariat are critical towards the development of the plans, especially in liaising with other stakeholders such as co-ordinators and deputy co-ordinators drawn from state and non-state actors.

Agba observed  that the history of development planning in Nigeria shows a general lack of co-ordination and harmonisation of programmes/policies which have  not benefited from a bottom-up approach.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Resident Representative of Konrad-Adenauer (KAS), Dr Vladimir Kreck had said that the COVID-19 pandemic had unleashed devastating effects on the country’s economy as statistics revealed that the second quarter GDP in real terms declined by 6.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

Meanwhile the Federal Government has said that Nigeria can only slip into another recession if it records a negative Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the next quarter.

Reacting to the negative -6.10 per cent GDP figure posted  by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Agba,  said that even if the economy plunges  into recession, government has programmed some buffers through financial institutions.

“There are other facilities or programmes that the government has created through financial institution even  if we are to go into recession. This is the first time we are having a negative GDP growth in a quarter in the last three years. So, we have had consecutive 12 quarters of positive growth. We are not in recession yet. We can only say we have slipped into recession if we have another quarter of negative growth” he explained.

 

FG issues flood alert for Nasarawa, Kebbi, Rivers, Anambra, 6 others [Sun]

  • 2 die, 1 missing, houses destroyed in Jigawa

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has advised Nigerians in 10 states to be prepared for flooding to avoid loss of lives and property.

Director General of NIHSA, Clement Onyeaso, gave the advice in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said Kebbi, Kogi, Rivers, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Bayelsa were likely to be affected.

Specifically, he advised states to identify communities bordering River Niger to make adequate plans for timely evacuation of people to safe and higher grounds in the event of flooding.

He said the flood levels at the hydrological stations monitored in Niamey (Niger Republic) and Malanville (Benin Republic) have got to the red alert zone.

He said latest information received by NIHSA from the regional Niger Basin Authority (NBA) headquarters in Niamey indicated that, as at Sunday August 23, the flood level was 6.60m, indicating a red alert zone.

“This current development portends some level of concern for Nigeria as there could be likelihood of flooding in the above mentioned states. This flood magnitude sighted in Niamey is expected to arrive Nigeria through Kebbi State around September 6,” he said.

He also confirmed that the management of Kainji and Jebba Dams have been alerted to take appropriate measures in the operation of the reservoirs.

Accordingly, Kainji Dam is now spilling water at the rate of 1,000 m3/s, which is 86.4 million cubic metres/day.

This, he said, means that communities downstream Kainji and Jebba Dams could be flooded. The Shiroro Dam on Kaduna River is still impounding, even though there is the possibility of spilling water in the weeks ahead, he warned.

He enjoined states and local governments, stakeholders, multinational companies, public-spirited individuals and philanthropists to save the country from the consequences of flood pandemic.

“The country still has many days of rainfall in the cause of the year. More floods are therefore still expected in the months of August, September and October.  In the event there’s release of excess water from the Dams in other countries upstream rivers Niger and Benue this year, this will have more negative impacts on Nigeria which is located downstream other countries in the Niger Basin,” he said.

He advised that blocked drainages and gutters should be cleared and River channels should be dredged and structures within the waterways and floodplains and flood paths pulled down.

According to the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) made public earlier in the year by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), the earliest cessation date for rainfall in the southern part of the country is December 28 while September 26 is the earliest cessation date for rainfall in the north.

Meanwhile,  Two children have been killed, one other person missing, while several houses and farmland washed away following two days of heavy downpour in Birninkudu Local Government Area of Jigawa.

Chairman of the local government, Alhaji Wada Faka, yesterday, said  one of the children, 10, died in a collapsed building in Kiyako village, while a seven-year-old girl died in a collapsed building in Masaya village.

He said  a 40-year-old-man in Samamiya village, one of the flooded areas, has been missing since the early hours of Monday while several other persons sustained various degrees of injuries while thousands of farmland and livestock where washed away and killed.

According to him, houses and farmlands were also destroyed in Malamawar Gangaran, Babaldu, Wurno, Kiyako and Samamiya villages.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had on August 19, held a stakeholders’ meeting and awareness campaign in Dutse, on the implications of the 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction. NEMA Coordinator, Kano Territorial Office, Mr. Sunusi Ado, had at the meeting, urged communities in the state to take steps towards effective flood prevention and control.

Represented by Mr. Aminu Boyi, an Assistant Director in the agency, Ado said there was need for communities to brace up with the realities of flooding. Ado had said that the Nigeria Hydrological Agency (NIHSA) 2020 Annual Flood Outlook had already listed 12 local government areas in the state as flood prone areas.

The NIHSA report listed Kaugama, Taura, Guri, Gwaram, Dutse, Auyo, Miga, Malam Madori, Ringim, Birniwa, Jahun and Kafin Hausa as probable flood risk areas.

 

Igbo coalition set up committee to shop for Igbo president in 2023 [Sun]

  • Urges Tinubu, Atiku to drop ambition

A Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), yesterday, set up a committee, known as Igbo Presidential Actualisation Committee (IPAC), to shop for a suitable presidential candidate in 2023.

COSEYL President General, Goodluck Egwu and the Secretary General, Kanice Igwe respectively, in a statement, said the candidates will be men and women of proven integrity and hard work.

According to the group, adequate arrangements have been made for the committee to move round the entire zone in search for suitable aspirants.

The group further explained that IPAC, as a purely non-partisan committee, will ensure the South East present its best for the office of the president.

“South East has prominent sons and daughters who, before now, have proven themselves in their various fields of endeavours. We shall leave no stone unturned to actualise Igbo presidency in 2023.

“The time is ripe for us to come together and make it real. In a matter of days, we shall establish contact with governors from South East and prominent groups. All hands must be on deck. The committee will equally reach out to prominent politicians across other regions,” the group said in the statement.

Also, the group has concluded plans to write Bola Tinubu, Aminu Tambuwal, Atiku Abubakar, Nasir El-Rufai and the President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Shettima Yerima, who may be eyeing the seat to drop their ambitions and support the Igbo presidential project.

The Igbo youth leaders have also promised to come up with names of before Nigeria’s 60th independent anniversary.

 

CBN, banks to save jobs in aviation, media sectors [Nation]

  • Apex bank goes tough on exporters over forex non-repatriation

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee would extend special stimulus package to Nigerian-registered airlines and the media industry, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said on Tuesday.

The Bankers’ Committee said the gesture will mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on the sectors and to save jobs.

Addressing the chief executives of the banks during the bi-monthly virtual meeting of the Bankers’ Committee, Emefiele urged them to  support the airlines.

He noted: “Such support is critical to helping the industry recover from the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The apex bank chief also urged the banks to support the efforts of the media industry to cope with the lingering pandemic.

According to him, supporting the media would go a long way in averting massive job losses in the industry.

The CBN had in the advent of COVID-19 in Nigeria, announced a N1.2 trillion intervention fund to support critical sectors of the economy, N1 trillion of which was to support local manufacturing sector and to boost import substitution.

Out of the fund, N100 billion was to support the health sector in equipping laboratories and enhancing research to produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria.

Also in March, the bank unveiled guidelines for the implementation of a N100 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) as a stimulus package to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic.

With the expected support for the media, many operators would be able to weather the storm triggered by the pandemic.

The Committee also moved to boost foreign exchange (forex) liquidity as the CBN directed all banks in to submit the names, addresses and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) of exporters that have defaulted in repatriating their export proceeds, for further action.

The directive by the CBN Governor came barely 24 hours after the apex bank announced the abolition of third-party “Forms M” payment.

It also followed the adoption of the strategy to discourage over-invoicing, which some businesses have allegedly used to divert foreign exchange from the country, through the opening of “Forms M” for which payment are routed through a buying company, agent, or other third parties.

In a statement, the Bank’s Director of Trade and Exchange, Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, explained that the directive was aimed at ensuring prudent use of Nigeria’s foreign exchange resources and the elimination of incidences of over-invoicing, transfer pricing, double handling charges and avoidable costs that are ultimately passed to the average Nigerian consumer.

In the past, the CBN warned exporters conducting export activity against diverting foreign exchange from the export proceeds, instead of repatriating same home.

The CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, threatened heavy sanctions against exporters who failed to repatriate foreign exchange proceeds from their international business.

It stressed that its Foreign Exchange Manual provided that all exporters should repatriate export proceeds back to the country to support the local currency and boost the economy.

A number of punitive options open to the apex bank, include, but not limited to, barring the exporters from the foreign exchange market and other banking services.

Emefiele plans to meet the Chief Executives of multinational companies to discuss how to revamp exports.

Emefiele noted: “The CBN was ready to encourage the revamp of Nigeria’s export sector through deliberate policies that would boost investment and job creation.”

Decrying the situation where many Nigerian produce of export quality were waiting to be tapped, Emefiele said the CBN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, would ensure the facilitation of a reboot of the Nigerian export market.

Alluding to President Muhammadu Buhari’s charge for Nigerians to produce what they eat and eat what they produce, the CBN boss reiterated that the country had no choice but to diversify its economy from heavy reliance on crude oil.

The meeting is expected to come up with a roadmap on how best to revitalise the export sector in order to earn foreign exchange (forex) for the country, as well as generate jobs for millions of Nigerians.

Emefiele had earlier initiated a campaign, tagged: “Produce, Add Value and Export (PAVE)”, especially for the agricultural produce.

 

Governor: foreigners paying for gold with arms [Nation]

THE availability of small arms in large quantities in Zamfara State is partly as a result of the exchange of arms for gold, Governor Bello Matawalle said on Tuesday.

According to him, this action by foreigners dealing in illegal gold mining has escalated the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the state.

Bandits’ activities are prevalent in Zamfara and other states in the Northwest.

The governor spoke after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at his residence at the State House, Abuja on Monday.

Matawalle said he visited the President to seek his advice and help to tackle the menace of illegal gold mining and insecurity in the state.

The governor said “foreign gold poachers” enter the state “to buy gold and other precious stones and sometimes, instead of paying people (with money), they pay back with arms. I did some investigations.”

He, however, noted that with the recently launched Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI), the state and Federal Government would curb illegal gold mining as well as the security implications.

“I came to brief him about the so many issues that are worrying my state, particularly the issue of illegal mining that is taking place everyday. Like three days ago, we discovered large deposit of gold in a part of our state, where the locals are trooping to in thousands to do illegal mining.

“So, I came to seek his advice on how best we are going to tackle the issue of illegal mining, which we discussed and he gave me all the support and in a few days, people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes, especially in the mining sector.

“First, we want to strengthen local miners, identify them and make them form something like a Cooperative Society so that they can be benefiting from mining. The President understood our plight and we now have PAGMDI. It is already operational in some states.

“Zamfara State is going to benefit from this PAGMI programme very soon. When I go back, we will set up a committee on PAGMDI so that they can go round and the government and CBN will be buying from us directly. It is better they are selling it very cheap in the mining areas, the federal government, CBN and state can come in  and be buying from this small scale miners

“It is very important to us as a government, particularly the issue of insecurity, to know the root cause of insecurity. Zamfara state is blessed with many minerals resources and

“So the state government will be buying some of these minerals so that we can block that chain. So now that the state government is engaging the miners, we will be buying some of this gold from them with the limited resources we have.”

The governor said the President is happy with the initiatives of his government.

“We now have gold refinery in the state, which is mounted in Baka Lori Dam. Another equipment is coming. We want to make Zamfara a model in terms of solid minerals and I assure the people of the state that within two to three months, we will go into full scale mining”, he added.

On security, he said the situation in the state had been brought under control, adding that calls for the sack of service chiefs in recent times were unnecessary.

According to him, rather than calling for sack of service chiefs, state governments and Nigerians should work with them.

“As you must have been hearing before, now the narration has changed, you won’t be hearing of mass killings in the state because security men are doing their best.

“Let us support the security and we as the governors we have a big role to play, we just have to support the security agencies no matter what, if the governors are not serious, they can’t be able to achieve what they want.

“I advised the President that rather than calling for the sack of the security chiefs, people should think of the best way to support them to perform better instead of sacking them. Even if you sack them, you are bringing other ones, Let us use the ones that we have.

”We have more than 3,000 policemen going round to protect the mining sites. We have the security, It’s just for us as leaders to support them. I believe we will see a lot of changes in terms of security in this country”, he said.

Matawalle said the President advised him to “look for serious investors that will come to the state, urging us to liaise with South African and Russian mining companies to achieve much more.

“I assure you, within a limited period time, once the ban is lifted, I will travel to South Africa to see some companies and make some assessments and they will come back with me to see what Zamfara has. He also advised me to see a lot of people. He gave me a fatherly advice and I am happy with the advice he gave me”

 

Chinese loans: Row grows in House over investigation [Nation]

  • Lawmakers protest to Gbajabiamila
  • Committee chair justifies action

THE row generated in the House of Representatives following the probe of the Chinese loans taken by the Federal Government for infrastructure development has deepened.

Many House members have protested to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on the activities of the Chairman of the Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreement Ossani Nicholas Ossai (PDP Delta).

He has been accused of manipulating the committee to push the agenda of the opposition.

Besides, lawmakers noted that Ossai ignored the resolution of the House passed on May 12 on the probe.

The Ossai committee began the investigation on August 17 with a face off with Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi.

Amaechi was requested to submit documents relating to the loans.

But committee was adjourned for one week to study the document from the minister.

The leadership of the House has suspended sittings of all committees until the return of the House from recess next month.

The House resolution mandated three committees to “review and renegotiate existing China/ Nigeria loan agreements.”

The three committees are Treaties, Protocols and Agreements; Finance; and Aids, Loans and Debt Management.

The chairmen of the three committees are Treaties (Ossai); Finance (James Faleke); and Aids, Loans and Debt Management (Safana Dayyabu).

In a memo to Ossai on May 13 by the Acting Clerk, House of Representatives, the list of committees involved in the investigation was attached.

The memo was titled: “Need review and renegotiate existing China/Nigeria loan agreements”, said: “The House of Representatives on Tuesday, 12 May. 2020 deliberated on the. above subject matter: and resolved to mandate the committees on Treaties, Protocols and Agreement; Finance; and Aids, Loans and Debt Management to liaise with  the Ministry of Finance, and the Debt Management Office to seek for the  review or outright cancellation of the latest China loans to Nigeria on the principle of force majeure in the light of CO VID-19.

“The purpose of this letter is to convey the Resolutions of the House to you for further necessary action. A copy of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 12 May, 2020 is attached to this letter for your guidance.”

A ranking member of the House, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have issues over the ongoing review of loans from China. Some members of the committees, who ought to be part of the investigation, have complained of being sidelined.

“Some members of the House, from all the parties, have protested to the Speaker on the conduct of the Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreement. They asked the House leadership to look into the infractions of the committee.

“Nicholas Ossai, who is leading the House Committee on Treaties, disobeyed the resolution of the House by conducting the investigation of China Loan without the two other committees.

“Why did Ossai Committee proceed with the hearing in disobedience to the House resolution which gave the assignment to Joint House Committees?”

It was also learnt that some APC members in the House were unhappy that the committee has been hijacked by the opposition PDP to ridicule the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

A principal officer said: “Some APC members who protested to the speaker said the proceedings of the Ossai-led Committee on Treaties were skewed as if the present administration took fresh loans from China when the railway loan agreements in question were signed by the PDP Government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

“They asked the House leadership to allow all the three committees given the assignment by the House to be involved in the probe henceforth when the House resumes from recess.

“They did not ask for the stoppage of the probe but they are demanding that the investigating committees should keep to the mandate of the House.”

But some PDP members are insisting that the probe must not be stopped under any guise. They are suspicious of the issues being raised by the APC members’ latter day complaints.

“The House leadership is looking at the presentations of all sides which have been made available to the speaker. It is a normal parliamentary jaw-jaw.”

Ossai insisted yesterday that he complied with the House resolution.

According to him, the assignment is aimed at protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria and the future of unborn children.

He criticised Rep Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) who faulted the investigative hearing on the bilateral agreements between Nigeria and China, alleging “that the committee was functioning outside of its mandate”.

Ossai said his committee “considers  Oke’s statement to be false in its entirety, unparliamentary, unpatriotic and does not in any way reflect the trueness of the committee’s mandate and productive outcomes the House Committee have recorded through its legislative oversight engagements on the subject matter.

“The committee will like to clarify that Hon. Wole  Oke is not a member of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements; and thus may not be well acquainted with the mandate of the committee with respect to the on-going public hearing on the bilateral agreements between Nigeria and China including the unique oversight technique adopted by the committee to achieve its goals.

“Contrary to the Honourable member’s claims, the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements is a statutory Standing Committee of the House of Representatives, established in the spirit of sections 62(1) and 12 of the 1999 Constitution of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), with powers as prescribed in Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution, guided by the mandate/jurisdiction as provided in the  Standing Order of the House of Representatives especially Order 18(B), Rule 93.

He said he was humbled by the torrents of solidarity and prayers of many his colleagues, Nigerian people and plead with those who are politicising  the Committee’s work to hold their peace in the spirit of national interest and national security, saying “the territorial integrity of the Nigerian Republic must be protected and the future of our unborn children must be secured for posterity.”

It was gathered that the House leadership was considering two steps to save the chamber from embarrassment being caused by some committees.

According to another principal officer, “the solutions being out in place are a likely restructuring of the House committee system and proposed committee guidelines which will be like a Rule Book on committee activities.

“Definitely, there will be a reform of the committee system. Not in terms of swapping or dropping of the chairmen of committee.”

The House may develop a Rule Book on committee activities.

 

States to spend security bailout on COVID-19 pay, Amotekun, troops [Punch]

  • Coronavirus hardship necessitates security bailout – Ekiti commissioner
  • Zamfara government taking care of 8,000 soldiers deployed against bandits
  • Lockdown: N’West state spent N60m weekly on FG security agencies

There are indications that state governments will fund their various security outfits with the security bailout they are demanding from the Federal Government, The PUNCH has learnt.

It was also gathered on Tuesday that states were seeking reimbursements for their expenses on the police and other security agencies during the COVID-19 lockdown.

To complement the Federal Government’s efforts,  some state governments have established their own security outfits.

It was, however, learnt the poor state of the economy and the outbreak of COVID-19  had made it difficult for many of them to effectively fund the security outfits.

State governors had, at their meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on August 11,  sought security bailout to enable them to finance the fight against growing spate of insecurity in their states.

Before the meeting, some state governments had set up security outfits to tackle killings and other crimes in their areas.

For example, in January, the South-West states inaugurated the Western Security outfit, codenamed Amotekun.

Also, at their meeting in Enugu on February 9, the South-East governors decided to establish  Forest Guards to tackle attacks by herdsmen.

Some state governments, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, emphasised the need for the Federal Government’s assistance.

Bailout will assist in funding Amotekun, says Ogun gov’s aide

The Ogun State Government said the security bailout would assist in funding Amotekun and other security initiatives in the state.

The Special Adviser to the state governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said so far, the state government had not detached itself from the governors’ forum demand for security bailout.

He said, “The Ogun State Government has not particularly made any categorical statement, but I  want to take it for granted that if the governors’ forum is saying that,  Ogun State is part of that governors’ forum, until the executive governor says otherwise.

“The governor of Ogun State is part of the forum. Unless the governor expressly says he is not part of it, we will  take it for granted that all the governors said it.”

On the need for the bailout, Hazzan said, “It has been discovered over time that funding from the federal purse is grossly inadequate. There is virtually no state that does not have a support system for policing both for regular police and their own security initiatives.

“So, that is essentially why you see all these states have different security initiatives.  Lagos has Rapid Respond Squad. Ogun has Quick Respond Squad. All those security initiatives are fully funded by the various states.

“With what is going on in the states, especially the activities of kidnappers, bandits and insurgents,  all these security initiatives are already being overwhelmed. That is why you will see further security initiatives such as  Amotekun of the South- West coming up. All of these call for more funding if they will see the light of the day.

“If states will keep their head above the water, whatever help they can get outside of the current  system  is required.”

On the difference between security vote and security bailout, Hazzan said, “The security vote is what the state has already appropriated to spend on  the security architecture of the state and the security bailout is the help they are asking the Federal Government to assist  in all the initiatives they are bringing out.”

A governor in the  North-West, who confided in one of our correspondents, in Abuja on Tuesday, said states could no more bear the burden of funding the  Federal Government’s security agencies, particularly the police.

He said, “The truth of the matter is that the cost of maintaining security in our various states has become an unbearable burden. What comes from the federation account has shrunk. What is set aside as a security vote now has also gone down. Imagine, during the lockdown, we had to pay out about N60m weekly to various security agencies as allowances for enforcement of the lockdown.

“We couldn’t generate much internally because there was literally no economic activity during that time.”

On his part,  the Special Adviser to the Zamfara State Governor on Media,  Alhaji Zailani Baffa,  backed the NGF’s demand for security bailout, saying it was a collective request by governors.

Baffa said although the state Governor, Bello Matawalle, did not personally request the fund, he was in need of it more than any other governor.

He said the state was  hosting about 8,000 soldiers, adding, “They are being taken care of with the security vote of the state which according to him is grossly inadequate.”

Baffa said the security vote was quite different from the security bailout He said, “The security vote is a certain amount of money deducted by each governor from the monthly  allocation of his state which is kept for security purposes, while on the other hand the security bailout is an additional money given by the Federal Government to fight insecurity.”

Also, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, said that the hardship imposed on the states by COVID-19, especially in the area of finances, had necessitated the need for the bailout.

Olumilua said, “With the issue of COVID-19, some states can hardly stay afloat because their finances have been adversely affected by the economic downturn, so definitely, they might need some help from the Federal Government for them to be back on their feet.”

T he  Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, supported the NGF’s decision.

He said, “I have yet to get details of it from my principal but he is with the decision of Nigeria Governors’ Forum on the matter.”

The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Christian Ita, in a chat with The PUNCH, said, “The governors asking for security bailout are the ones wearing the shoes and they know where they pinch.”

Also, The PUNCH learnt on  Tuesday that details of the security bailout being sought by governors were still being worked out.

These, one of our correspondents gathered, included amount each state would get and the criteria for the payment

A source privy to the development said,  “The cost of security is not something states alone can bear under the current federal system. The Federal Government budgets for the police and other security agencies annually, but the states still augment this by providing vehicles, allowances and other expenses.”

The Spokesman for the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, could not be reached for comments as calls to his mobile telephone indicated that he could not be reached.

Doctors’ exodus looms as international flights resume this week [Punch]

A large number of doctors are set to exit Nigeria once the ban on international flights is lifted this week, The PUNCH has learnt.

This is just as The PUNCH observed from data provided by the United Kingdom’s Medical Council that the number of Nigerian doctors migrating to the UK increased by almost 100 between July and August despite the restriction on international flights.

Recall that the Nigeria Immigration Service had in July prevented 58 Nigerian doctors from migrating to the UK because they didn’t have visas.

It was, however, learnt that following the re-opening of the British High Commission a month ago, many of these doctors had obtained visas and had left even though the restriction on international flights had not been lifted.

International flights will resume in the country on Saturday.

The UK recently introduced a ‘Health and Care Visa’ policy, which aims to make it cheaper, quicker and easier for healthcare professionals to migrate to the UK.

“I cannot say for sure how many of us have left but I am currently in the UK and many of us who were turned back that day have also departed Nigeria,” one of the 58 doctors told The PUNCH.

The 58 Nigerian doctors, who were prevented by immigration from travelling to the UK were expected to earn between £51,384 (N25.1m) and £98,112 (N47.9m) per year depending on the experience they have, according to NES Health Care, a UK-based firm that helps over 150 private hospitals to recruit doctors from all over the world.

Other destinations of choice include Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and the United States which recently approved

Speaking with our correspondent, the First Vice-President, National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Julian Ojebo, said 4,000 doctors might leave Nigeria between August and December.

He said the poor treatment of doctors and the hostile working environment had made migration almost inevitable.

Ojebo said, “One of the anaesthetists involved in transplant in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has relocated to Saudi Arabia. One of the best brains in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital has been offered a job for $10,000 in Saudi Arabia. He is leaving immediately after the lockdown.

“A lot of resident doctors are leaving. They have all got jobs in Saudi. The only thing stopping them is the COVID-19 and the flight ban… We are going to have over 4,000 doctors leaving between now and December.

“Out of the 33,000 registered doctors in Nigeria, the ones we have practising in Nigeria are less than 20,000. Over 13,000 are all around the world. Our problem is not education because when we go to saner climes we adapt so well and even do better than those who were trained abroad.”

Ojebo said the condition in Nigeria had deteriorated to the extent that doctors had begun migrating to even poorer countries because they pay physicians better and invest more in their health sector.

“Let me shock you Nigerian doctors go to Namibia, The Gambia and even Somalia. I have a classmate who is currently working in Somalia,” he said.

He said there was a need for the government to invest in the health sector.

Ojebo said a lot of the medical facilities being set up to tackle COVID-19 were makeshift.

He added, “Nigeria post-COVID does not know how to manage any other infectious disease should it come again. All we have are tents in Lagos and Abuja. Why are we not saying we want to build an infectious disease hospital in each geopolitical zone in case of a pandemic or epidemic in the future?

“Why can’t we build hospitals that will do transplants in every geopolitical zone? Aminu Kano does transplants especially liver and kidney. Why can’t they fund it? LASUTH does a lot of cardiac procedures. Why are they not putting money in LASUTH?”

The Deputy Director, Human Resources at the Federal Ministry of Health, Shakuri Kadiri, had revealed at the launch of the Nigeria Health Workforce Country profile in March that the Nigerian health sector recorded an increase in the number of doctors seeking migration from 656 in 2014 to 1551 in 2018.    ,,

 

Fani-Kayode adamant as Nigerians knock ex-minister for calling reporter stupid [Punch]

A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has come under heavy criticism for calling a journalist, Eyo Charles, “stupid” during a press conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

In a video, which has since gone viral on the social media, Fani-Kayode was seen giving the Daily Trust reporter a dressing down for asking him a “stupid question.”

The journalist was said to have asked Fani-Kayode who bankrolled his recent tour of some southern states.

The former minister, who was infuriated by the question, said the journalist was stupid.

He said, “I am saying this on live TV. What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any questions from this man. What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything? Who do you think you are talking to? Go and report yourself to your publisher? Please don’t insult me here. I don’t want to take any questions from this man.

“I could see from your face before you got here; how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you’re talking to? Bankroll who? You think I am one of those ones you… from who, when, how? You have a small mind, very small mind. Don’t judge me by your own standards.”

The viral video has been trending on social media for several hours with many condemning Fani-Kayode’s outburst.

However, some people defended Fani-Kayode’s response, insisting that the question was insulting.

But the Nigeria Union of Journalists condemned the former minister.

The NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, said in a statement on Tuesday, that the former minister assaulted the journalist and threatened him for asking a question.

Isiguzo said the question posed to Fani-Kayode was appropriate because the former minister had been touring several states without revealing his true intention.

He said, “By denigrating the journalist, Fani-Kayode has exposed himself the more as an intolerant person who will not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.

“It is instructive to remind the likes of Fani-Kayode that it is the constitutional right of journalists to monitor and keep a check on people and institutions in power. By delving into politics and holding political office, Fani-Kayode is very conversant with the watchdog role of the media.”

The NUJ President said it was ironic that Fani-Kayode who was highly critical of the government could take issue with simple questions.

“We are more shocked that the same Fani-Kayode who had in recent times, used his social media handles to call leaders to account is at the same time attacking a journalist for a simple demand for him to unmask those behind his nationwide tour. He had already visited six states. This is indeed, terribly disappointing,” he said.

However, Fani-Kayode said he had no apology for his conduct.

The former minister said on the contrary, the journalist involved had apologised to him.

The former minister said, “During my tour of the South and after a long and successful press conference in Calabar, Cross River state, a journalist put up his hand for the last question and said, ‘well we do not know who is bankrolling you’. This is not a question but an assertion and an insult.

“And if this insulting assertion were made before (Donald) Trump or OBJ (Olusegun Obasanjo) I know how they would have reacted…I have no apology to offer for it. The young man apologised to me during the press conference and sent his apologies to me after the conference. I have accepted his apologies in good faith and moved on.

 

We Will Defeat COVID-19 Like Polio – PMB [Leadership]

President Muhammadu Buhari declared yesterday that he was optimistic of African countries defeating the COVID-19 the same way it eradicated the Wild Polio Virus from the continent.

He spoke at the formal certification of the Wild Polio Virus eradication in the African region during the virtual session of the 70th World Health Organisation (WHO) regional committee for Africa.

Buhari said, “I recall that shortly after assuming office in May 2015, I made a pledge to Nigerians that I would not bequeath a polio-endemic country to my successor. This certification is, therefore, a personal fulfillment of that pledge to not only Nigerians, but to all Africans.

“At a time when the global community is battling the CO- VID-19 pandemic, this achievement strengthens my conviction that with the requisite political will, investments and strategies, as well as citizens’ commitment, we will flatten the epidemic curve. I can affirm the commitment of all African leaders to this course of action”.

Celebrating the historic feat, the president assured the global community that Nigeria will sustain the momentum and leverage on the lessons learnt from polio eradication to strengthen her health system, especially primary healthcare, and prioritize health security.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, also quoted President Buhari as saying Nigeria used data systems, community engagement and innovative technology to monitor and predict the occurrence of polio outbreaks, adding that these same skills and tools are being used to fight COVID-19 and the multi-country outbreaks of Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses.

President Buhari who described the achievement as a truly historic moment, commended his South African counterpart and chairman of the African Union (AU), President Cyril Ramaphosa, under whose leadership Africa crossed the finishing line.

He recalled that the journey to eradicate the virus dates back to 1996 when Nelson Mande- la of blessed memory launched the Kick Polio out of Africa campaign.

The Nigerian leader also congratulated Dr Matshidiso Moeti and the WHO Regional committee for Africa on their untiring efforts, contributions and leadership towards polio eradication in Africa.

He said, “We must guard this achievement of the eradication of Wild Polio Virus in Africa jealously and ensure that we take all necessary steps to prevent a resurgence of this dreaded disease.

“ This will require maintaining the highest quality of surveillance and sustaining population immunity through increasing routine immunization coverage and supplemental immunization activities.

“It is heartwarming to note how the strong partnership between the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Governments of African countries worked tirelessly and collaboratively to deliver this success”.

The President further commended the decades of hard work and resilience of health workers and volunteers across the region, ministers of Health and other stakeholders such as political, traditional, religious and community leaders who provided the required support and leadership.

He noted: “I would also like to appreciate the invaluable support of our donors, development and local partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, GAVI, USAID, European Union, Emeka Offor Foundation, the Japanese and German Governments, numerous NGOs and faith-based organizations.

“These are truly the heroes and heroines of many battles that have made us triumphant in the war against polio”.

 

PSN Calls For Dedicated Forex Allocation To Pharmaceutical Industry [Leadership]

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) yesterday called for dedicated allocation of forex to the country’s health- care and pharmaceutical industry.

It said although the applications of some healthcare/pharmaceutical companies that applied for the special N100billion CBN facility have been granted, majority of the applicants are yet to be successful.

Accordingly, PSN’s president, Pharm Sam Ohuabunwa, implored the federal government to expedite the review and approval of many of the outstanding applications so that the overall impact on industrial capacity, capability and output will be significantly enhanced in line with the noble objectives of the facility.

Ohuabunwa stressed that the call became necessary, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic subsists, even as there was need for self-sufficiency in local drug production persists.

In a statement he issued yesterday, the PSN president said, “Again, the feedback we receive is that many of the beneficiary companies are experiencing tremendous difficulties in accessing foreign exchange to pay for the machinery and equipment in order.

Many are compelled to source forex from sundry sources at much higher rates than the official CBN rate.

“The impact of this portends grave danger and may undermine the noble objectives. First the longer it takes to get the machines and equipment in, the longer it will be for Nigeria to begin to see an enhanced local production.

“Second, the longer it takes, the more difficult it will be for the benefitting companies to begin production and generate cash flow to meet the interest and repayment obligation, as the moratorium is fast depleting.

“Third is that with forex at rates higher than the planned or forecasted rates in the business plan, the money received in Naira may no longer be sufficient to meet the stated needs.

“And fourth is that the longer the Naira is left in the Banks awaiting piecemeal allocation of Forex, the faster the value depreciates by growing inflation and the fewer the number of machinery and equipment or even raw materials that can be bought.

“All these will put an additional burden on the beneficiary companies when it comes to servicing the loans in a timeous manner.”

Ohuabunwa said the PSN was making a special appeal to the CBN to consider making the special and dedicated allocation of foreign exchange to the beneficiary companies so that they can procure their machinery/ equipment and raw materials in a timely manner.

 

GenCos Demand Settlement Of N1trn NBET Debt [Leadership]

…….as CBN orders banks to take over electricity bills’ collection

Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos) in the country are demanding for immediate settlement of over N1trillion owed by Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).

The Association of Power Generation Companies described the debt as a huge burden which significantly threatens the viability of the GenCos, thereby undermining their ability to make further investments.

The executive secretary of the association, Joy Ogaji, told LEADERSHIP that the deal between NBET and the GenCos is such that NBET buys the electricity in bulk straight from the GenCos through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

She said electricity is sold through vesting contracts to the DisCos which then supply same to the consumers.

Ogaji, however, expressed displeasure and fear about the survival of the industry, saying since 2013 NBET had accumulated enormous debt.

Her reaction is coming on the heels of a circular by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) asking banks to take responsibility for collecting electricity bill payments.

Ogaji said the association was still studying the development and would make its position on the issue public soon.

In a circular dated August 21, CBN’s director of banking supervision, Bello Hassan, said taking over of bills’ collection from electricity distribution companies would improve payment discipline in the industry.

The CBN’s circular stated: “The payment or settlement for all NESI related goods or services shall be made through the Nigerian banking system.

“Consequently, all collections for the payments of NESI regulated goods and services provided by a DisCo shall be paid into a designated account such that collections arising from services rendered by the DisCo shall be paid into an account in the sole name of the DisCo; collections arising from services rendered by a third party/parties on behalf of the DisCo shall be paid into an account in the joint name of the DisCo and the third-party vendor(s).

“All energy and non-energy collections of DisCos, whether cash or cashless, shall only be performed by deposit money banks (DMBs). No entity shall be permitted to collect revenues for DisCos except if that entity is so authorised by a DMB in line with the relevant CBN guidelines for agent banking and agent banking relationships.

“Therefore, the DMB shall be permitted to authorise its agents to collect energy and non-energy payments on its behalf for any DisCo; the actions or inactions of the agent shall be the responsibility of the authorizing DMB.

Any DMB found to be maintaining any account(s) for any entity collecting payments on behalf of any DisCo without the appropriate authorization shall have regulatory actions imposed on it.”

The apex bank also directed banks providing bank guarantees to Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) on behalf of DisCos, to take full responsibility for the collection and the remittances of the DisCos to both NBET and TCN.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no DMB is permitted to open or continue to maintain a collection account for a DisCo without the express no-objection of the DMB that guaranteed its exposure to NBET or TCN,” CBN stated.

According to the latest quarterly report of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the collection efficiency by the DisCos is low and has continued to adversely impact the financial liquidity of the industry.

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