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    Nigeria records 595 new cases of COVID-19, total jumps to 33,153

    COVID-19 updates by NCDC

    Nigeria has announced 575 new COVID-19 cases in the country as total infections from the virus rise to 33,153.

    The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) made this known on its official twitter handle on Monday .

    The NCDC said that the new confirmed cases as at July 13 was 595 while four deaths were recorded across the country.

    The agency said that no new state had reported a case in the last 24 hours.

    According to NCDC, till date, 33,153 cases have been confirmed, 13,671 cases have been discharged and 744 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

    It stated that the 594 new cases were reported from 20 states.

    The NCDC stated that 156of the new cases were reported in Lagos, 141 in Oyo, and 99 in the FCT.

    Others were Edo (47), Kaduna (27), Ondo (22), Rivers (20), Osun (17), Imo (13), Plateau (10), Nasarawa (8), Anambra (8), Kano (5), Benue (5), Borno (5), Ogun (4), Taraba (3), Gombe (3), Kebbi (1), and Cross River (1).

    The NCDC says Nigerians have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to all preventative measures.

    The agency added thatNigerians should also protect the vulnerable around them .

    It said that understanding the modes of transmission of a new virus was critical to defining response strategies.

    The centre said that an increasing evidence suggestedthe possibility of airborne transmission of COVID-19 could not be ruled out yet.

    Evidence on airborne transmission of COVID-19 reinforces need for strict adherence to preventive measures, such as avoidance of mass gatherings and the use of face masks.

    We will continue to adapt our guidelines as scientific evidence emerges, NCDC said.

    Source: NAN News

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    COVID-19: Osun govt. eases lockdown in 4 LGAs

    Gov. of Osun Goyega Oyetola

    By Victor Adeoti

    The Osun government has approved easing of lockdown imposed on four local government areas in the state to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    A statement by Mr Wole Oyebamiji, the Secretary to the State Government in Osogbo on Monday, said the ease would take effect from Monday midnight.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government had on July 7 announced a total lockdown in four local governments in the state to contain the spread of the virus.

    The affected local governments were Ilesha East, Ilesha West, Atakumosa East and Atakumosa West.

    Oyebamiji, said assurance received from traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society in the affected local government areas necessitated the ease of the lockdown.

    He said though the lockdown had been eased, physical meetings and mass gatherings in any form remain banned in that axis and indeed throughout the state till further notice.

    Notwithstanding the ease of the lockdown, enforcement of safety protocols, especially the use of nose mask in public places must be continued in the axis, and non-adherents will be sanctioned.

    The state government wishes to reiterate that any form of breakdown in adherence to the safety protocols against COVID-19 in the four local government areas shall force the government to impose the lockdown again, he said.

    Oyebamiji said government would continue to do everything necessary to protect the lives and properties of citizens.

    Source: NAN News

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    COVID-19: PTF conducts mid-term review of national response strategy
    By Abujah Racheal

    Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has conducted a mid-term review of National Response Strategy on the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.

    Mr Boss Mustapha, the PTF Chairman, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), made this known on Monday in Abuja.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mid-term review was attended by legislators, Chairmen of relevant Committees on Health in the Senate and House of Representatives, the Office of the Vice President, Ministers, Diplomatic Community and development partners.

    Mustapha said that the objectives were to review the PTFs achievements, challenges and opportunities for improvement of COVID-19 response efforts from its inception to June 30.

    He said that the med-review was also to engage key stakeholders in developing the way forward on COVID-19 in the PTFs response efforts.

    The SGF said it was expected that at the end of the two-day meeting, key resolutions would have been taken covering actions PTF intended to take in the areas like focussing on having enough oxygen nationwide as the numbers of hospitalised people increased.

    Establishing one sample collection centre per Local Government Area (LGA) and focussing on high burden LGAs with precision interventions, including increased risk communication.

    Increase community engagement, including religious leaders and state ownership by increasing state engagement and collaboration, as well as strengthening ownership at the state and local government levels.

    Institutionalise IPC policies in healthcare facilities and take step to increase compliance of non-pharmaceutical measures (use of face masks, hand sanitisers and physical distancing).

    Increase engagement with the private sector, industrial development as a gain from the pandemic and support local production of PPE and other critical supplies.

    Communicating that anyone above 60 years or persons with morbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancers etc.), should stay at home and avoid social events as they are at highest risk of infection and mortality.

    Government meetings/Board meetings should be conducted virtually until further notice and all unnecessary travels for meetings by government officials should be suspended till further notice, he said.

    Mustapha said that the task force would also develop an exit strategy beyond September 2020, the life of PTF.

    He said that an enhanced Risk Communication Strategy would be designed to educate the citizenry on the virulence of the virus, individual and collective roles, but more importantly, to tackle the deliberate mis-information being bandied around, especially in the social media.

    An enhanced Risk Communication strategy becomes inevitable when we realise that within the last 24 hours, the world witnessed the largest single day cases of 230,370, while in Nigeria, last week we recorded the highest weekly fatality of 70 deaths.

    The rising fatalities in Nigeria is not unconnected with denial and delay in seeking help, he said.

    The SGF supported the foregoing position with an insightful quote from Dr Michael Ryan, WHO Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programmes, on the rhetorics of denial and the need to take responsibility.

    Every person needs to look at your own risk. You need to be aware of what is the local transmission.

    You need to know what the transmission in your area is. We do this, everyday in our lives as human beings. We manage risks, we decide when we cross the road.

    We decide when we fly. We decide when we have an operation or not have an operation.

    Why we need is information to make those risk based decisions. We need to gain the knowledge to be able to make good decisions. We decide on our proximity to other individuals.

    We decide on the intensity of our social engagement. We decide on how long we stay in that environment.

    We can be advised by government. We can be advised by science, but in the end, it comes down to personal motivation and personal choice.

    But in the end, it comes down to individuals and it comes down to communities. If it does not feel safe, it is not safe for you, he said.

    Mustapha noted that PTF was also encouraged by the compliance messages that had gone viral on the social media.

    He said: One of those that caught attention gave three major reasons why COVID-19 is spreading fast.

    They are: My colleagues, So, I can speak without a Mask. They are my close friends, so I can speak without a Mask. They are my relations, so, I can speak without a masks.

    According to him, this message is so poignant that if we juxtapose it with the fact that crowded places and closed spaces create environment for the spread, we should behave more responsibly.

    He, however, thanked the author of the above and other related messages.

    Source: NAN News

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    Major shake-up in Nigerian Army as 37 Generals redeployed
    By Sumaila Ogbaje
    The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has approved new postings/deployment and appointments of 37 Generals and five Colonels to different formations and units in his effort to rekindle the spirit of professionalism in Nigerian Army (NA).

    The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

    Musa said that the posting which was approved by Buratai was a routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency.

    The major highlights of the postings include the postings and appointments of Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor from Defence Headquarters Department of Training and Operations to Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Minna as Commander.

    Maj.-Gen. FO Agugo was redeployed from 6 Division NA Port Harcourt to Headquarters NA Signal Corps Apapa Lagos as Corps Commander Signals, while Maj.-Gen. M Mohammed was moved from Signal Corps Apapa Lagos to Office of the COAS as Special Adviser NA University Biu.

    Also, Maj.-Gen. AM Dikko was moved from Administrative Staff College of Nigerian Badagry to NA Training Centre Kontagora as Commander, while Maj.-Gen. US Yakubu moves from Corps of Artillery Kontagora to Army Headquarters Abuja (AHQ) as Chief of Administration (Army).

    Maj.-Gen. BO Sawyer moves from AHQ Department of Policy and Plans to NA Armour School Bauchi as Commandant, Maj.-Gen. IO Uzamere was redeployed from NA College of Logistics Lagos to AHQ as Chief of Logistics (Army).

    Also, Maj.-Gen. JO Irefin has been redeployed from Headquarters 81 Division Lagos to Headquarters 6 Division Port Harcourt and appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC), while Maj.Gen. JO Akomolafe moves from Headquarters NA Armour Corps Bauchi to DHQ Abuja as Chief of Defence Standards and Evaluatmove

    Others according to Musa are Maj.-Gen. CO Ude from NA Resource Centre Abuja to DHQ as Chief of Defence Training and Operations, while Maj -Gen HR Momoh moves from Defence Space Administration Abuja to AHQ as Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans/ Director Special Duties, Policy and Plans.

    Maj.-Gen. AT Hamman has been moved from DHQ to AHQ Garrison as Commander, Maj.- Gen. OA Akinyemi moves from Administrative Staff College of Nigeria to Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre Oshodi Lagos as Deputy Commandant.

    Maj.-Gen. MH Magaji was redeployed from NA Amour School to Headquarters NA Armour Corps as Commander, while Maj.-Gen. MA Masanawa moves from DHQ to NA Ordinance School Lagos as Commandant.

    Maj.-Gen. JI Unuigbe has been redeployed from AHQ Department of Logistics to DHQ Chief of Defence Logistics, Maj.-Gen JGK Myam the erstwhile Commander AHQ Garrison Abuja is now the Commander NA Corps of Artillery.

    Also, Maj.-Gen. GA Umelo has been redeployed from AHQ Department of Training and Operations to Headquarters 81 Division as GOC, while Maj.-Gen. SE Udounwa moves from AHQ Department of Policy and Plans to Army War College Abuja as Commandant.

    Maj.-Gen. MO Enendu from Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre moves to NA College of Logistics as Commandant, while Maj.-Gen. GS Abdullahi moves from DHQ to Land Forces Simulation Centre Nigeria as Director General.

    Maj.-Gen. BN Salami has been redeployed from NA School of Supply and Transport to Headquarters NA Corps of Supply and Transport as Commander.

    Others affected are Maj.-Gen. FO Omoigui from AHQ Department of Training and Operations to Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE Maiduguri as Deputy Theater Commander, while Maj.-Gen. IO Ehiorobo moves from NA School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering to Headquarters NA as Commander, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

    Maj.-Gen. KI Mukhtar moves from AHQ Department of Administration to the Depot NA Zaria as Commandant, the erstwhile Commandant Army War College Nigeria, Maj.-Gen. C Ofoche has been redeployed to AHQ Department of Policy and Plans as Director Plans.

    Maj.-Gen. AB Ibrahim was moved from AHQ Department of Training and Operations to Defence Space Administration as Director Support Services, while Brig.-Gen. IO Adewa was appointed as Acting Managing Director at NA Properties Limited.

    Similarly, Brig.-Gen. KA Kazir has been posted from Headquarters NA Engineers to Headquarters 43 Engineers Brigade as Commander, while Brig.-Gen. MU Abdullahi moves from NA Intelligence and Cyber Warfare School to 58 Signal Brigade as Commander.

    Brig.-Gen. MB Dala moves from Army Resource Centre to Headquarters Training and Doctrine Command Minna as Director Exams, Brig.-Gen. BR Sinjen moves from Headquarters NA Corps of Artillery to AHQ Department of Training and Operations as Acting Director of Operations.

    Also, Brig.-Gen. SI Igbinomwanhia was redeployed from 7 Division Garrison Maiduguri to AHQ Department of Training and Operations as Acting Director Campaign Plan, while Brig.-Gen. HG Tafida moves from AHQ Department of Logistics to NA School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering as Acting Commandant.

    Brig.-Gen. AO Arogbofa moves from 102 Division Equipment Support to AHQ Department of Logistics as Acting Director Equipment Maintenance, Brig.-Gen. EC Lot from Land Forces Simulation Centre to Headquarters 52 Signal Brigade as Commander.

    Others appointments according to Army spokesperson are, Col. B Sarki from Defence Intelligence College to 6 Military Intelligence Brigade as Acting Commander, while Col. KO Ogunsoya moves from DHQ to Headquarters Directorate of Army Public Relations as Chief of Staff.

    While the erstwhile spokesperson for Multinational Joint Task Force Ndjamena, Col. Timothy Antigha moves to Defence Headquarters as Acting Executive Director Armed Forces Radio, Col. Mohammed Dole moves from Headquarters Directorate of Army Public Relations to Headquarters Multinational Joint Task Force Ndjamena as Military Public Information Officer.

    Also, Col. AF Maimagani remains in Headquarters Directorate of Chaplain Services (Roman Catholic) as Acting Director Chaplain.

    According Musa, all the postings and appointments take effect from July 20, 2020.

    While wishing all the officers well in their respective appointments, the Chief of Army Staff enjoins them to take their new responsibilities/appointments seriously and discharge all duties professionally with utmost loyalty to the Nation and the Service, he said.

    Source: NAN News

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    Senate passes Criminal Code Bill, maintains gender neutrality for rape

    The red Chamber

    By Kingsley Okoye

    The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act 2004.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that the passage of the bill followed consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

    The bill if assented into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, would broaden the definition of rape and sexual offences.

    Amendment to Section 357 of the principal Act, specifically substitutes the words woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, with the words, any person, without consent, or with consent.

    The bill also seeks to protect mentally challenged persons from sexual defilement and rape through an amendment to section 221 of the principal Act.

    An attempt by Sen.Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central) to effect an amendment to section 357 to define persons susceptible to rape to accommodate married and unmarried persons was rejected by the lawmakers during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

    The upper chamber while retaining the provision of Section 364 of the principal Act, however, expunged the gender specific term him and substituted same with such person in defining the punishment for the offence of kidnapping.

    Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), in his lead debate said the piece of legislation would address the lingering issues of status of limitation in the prosecution of rape.

    Also in defilement cases and the incessant kidnapping menace, which are on the rise, in recent times.

    According to him,contrary to views by those opposing the passage of the bill by the National Assembly, on ground that its passage would usurp the powers of the states to legislate on the subject matter, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act of 1916 and not Criminal Code of the States.(NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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    Customs impounds contraband worth N351m in Edo

    Hameed Ali, NCS Boss

    By Deborah Coker

    The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone C of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) said it impounded contraband goods valued at N351.4 million.

    The Comptroller in charge of the zone, Mr Kayode Olusemire, announced this to newsmen in Benin, on Tuesday.

    According to Olusemire, the contrabands impounded include one 40 feet container loaded with 4,043 pieces of used tyres with a DPV of N91.72 million, one 40 feet container carrying 205 bales of second hand clothing and 60 sacks of second hand women handbags with DPV of N37.86 million.

    Also impounded are 711 cartons of rubber foot-wears with DPV value of N44.79 million, 29 bales of second hand clothing with DPV value of N580,000 and 2,960 pieces of used tyres valued of N 24.86 million.

    We also impounded two Toyota Hilux, 2019 model worth N24.97 million each, a Toyota Corolla 2015 model, with DPV of N5.40 million and a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2017 model with DPV of N30.37 million.

    Toyota Rav-4, 2017 model value at N11.74 million, Toyota Avalon 2015, with DPV of N76.48 million, Toyota Corolla 2012 model with worth N4.59 million, Toyota Camry 2015 model with DPV of N7.83 million and Toyota Corolla 2019 model with valued at N14.85 million were also impounded.

    He said the seizures were made from March till date in the Benin axis of the zone.

    The zone C controller said that Nigerians should be stakeholders in the Nigerian project by indulging only in those things that would grow the nations economy and not things inimical to the wellbeing of Nigerians.

    He said that Nigerians have no reasons to go for illegal second hand goods, while the government had put in place policies to boost medium scale enterprises.

    Olumisere advised Nigerians to stop buying used tyres as 44 per cent of road traffic crashes were caused by used tyres.

    He also advised Nigerians to do the right thing, pay their duty at the ports and declare the right content of their importation. (NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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    Osinbajo rallies Africa to curb secret ownership of corporate businesses

    Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

    By Chijioke Okronkwo

    Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is need for stakeholders in Africa including governments to collaborate in curbing the adverse effect of secret and beneficial ownership of corporate businesses on economies across the continent.

    Osinbajo expressed this view in his virtual address at the 20Anniversary of Africa Regional Webinar of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Tuesday in Abuja.

    The theme of the webinar is Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows: New Measure and Strategies.

    One more matter of concern that the international community must work together to solve is the matter of secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership.

    For us in the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment.

    Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, nevertheless secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption.

    Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.

    The Vice President said that at the May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit, President Muhammadu Buhari made a commitment to establish a public register of the beneficial owners of all companies operating in Nigeria.

    He said that following that commitment, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in December 2016 and subsequently submitted a National Action Plan prioritising the establishment of an all-encompassing and publicly accessible register.

    According to him, Nigeria is in the process of amending its corporate law to implement these measures and mandate the disclosure of beneficial interest in a companys shares and prescribe punitive measures for failure to disclose.

    We are mindful of the challenges dogging advocacy for stemming Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), promotion of asset recovery and return to victim countries, and enforcement of beneficial ownership disclosure not just in our country but globally.

    We note for example, the resistance of some countries to IFFs, curbing tax evasion and support asset return to countries of origin.

    We note that laws passed in some developed countries to mandate beneficial ownership disclosure do not set examples for best practice as they do not cover territories and dependencies where most of the stolen assets from developed countries end up.

    I sincerely hope this regional webinar will advance the advocacy further and bring up innovative solutions to these internationally shared concerns.

    Osinbajo said there was no magic bullet to ending corruption, stemming IFFs or promoting asset recovery and asset return.

    He said that everybody must work hard at it and be determined to succeed.

    The vice president said that corruption must be made expensive for those who engage in it and send the unequivocal message that corruption simply did not pay.

    We must also make all members of the international community see the benefit of shared prosperity and inclusive growth and development.

    It is the unenviable but noble task of ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies to make corruption unattractive to its disciples and facilitate new approaches to stemming IFFS and promoting asset recovery and return.

    As you ruminate on the key issues to dominate the UN General Assembly Special Session on Corruption in 2021, I urge you to come up with concrete proposals for Nigeria to take to the UN.

    Also, for all of our colleagues in the region, to take to the UN in order to begin to positively shape policy in a way and manner that best promotes the interest of our country and region,he said.

    He said that the fight against corruption must be democratised as many citizens were interested in the fight against grand corruption which crippled the economy.

    The vice added that whistle-blowers persons who come forward with information against corruptionmust be protected.

    The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward kallon, members of the National Assembly among others joined the webinar. (NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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    Research report tasks investors on investment risk

    Coronation Merchant Bank

    By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

    Coronation Asset Management has published a report on the Nigerian investment landscape which stressed the need for investors to increase their understanding of invesment risks to enhance returns.

    Mr Guy Czartoryski, the Head of Research at Coronation Asset Management, said this at a virtual meeting.

    He said that investors needed to increase their understanding of investment risks to enhance returns.

    Czartoryski said the revolutionary report titled Navigating the Capital Market: The Investors Delimma studied the Nigerian investment scene over a 10-year period.

    According to him, Nigerian investors are faced with difficult investment choices following the unprecedented crash in interest rates.

    He said that investors were left with the alternative of either waiting for rates to rise again in future or to accept more risk in order to increase returns.

    Navigating the capital market takes a new approach to setting investment return benchmarks. Instead of targeting inflation which is the conventional benchmark.

    It recommends that investors should aim to beat the effects of naira devaluation against the U.S dollar and obtain the risk-free return they would have in U.S dollars.

    This suggests that they should ask for naira risk-free fixed-income (or Treasury bill) return of 14.7 per cent per annum over the long term.

    When it comes to equities, Coronation Research calculates that Nigerian investors should demand a return of 20.5 per cent per annum, Czartoryski said.

    He said that these were high benchmarks, but showed what was necessary to preserve the value of investors hard-earned money.

    He said that coronation research investor feedback showed that Nigerian investors had two concerns.

    The first is inflation, the second is not to lose money in investment schemes.

    And with fixed-income and bank deposit rates at record lows and far below the rate of inflation at 12.4 per cent, investors are being tempted to take risks again, he said.

    According to him, the priority remains how to understand what those risks are and how they can be managed.

    He said that by navigating the capital market, the report would enhance investors knowledge of risks in a challenging times.

    The revolutionary report studies the Nigerian investment scene over a 10-year period and finds how people have managed to preserve their capital over the long term.

    Some of the conclusions are surprising. For example, it has been remarkably easy to beat inflation over the last 10-years by buying Federal Government Treasury Bills.

    However, with the crash in interest rates in the first half of the year, this era has come to an abrupt end.

    By contrast, equity market returns have not preserved capital for investors over the long term, even when adding back the generous dividends paid to investors.

    Coronation Asset Management Limited, incorporated on Oct. 2, 2015, is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide funds and portfolio management services to institutions and individuals.

    It offers full-fledged investment services across various asset classes to the entire spectrum of investors major institutions, smaller niche institutions and corporates, public sector family offices, cooperatives and rich individuals.

    Its services include fund solutions (money market fund, fixed income fund and balanced fund), portfolio management, advisory services as well as fund administration and trustee services offered through its subsidiary, Coronation Trustees Limited. (NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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    Striking doctors call for robust engagement with LASG

    File Photo: Doctors,

    By Oluwafunke Ishola

    The Medical Guild has appealed to the Lagos State Government to ensure proper engagement with doctors toward resolving the issues that led their three days warning strike.

    Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, the Guild Chairman, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

    We still remain committed to peaceful resolution of issues that we have raised with the state government.

    Our position is that there is a need for proper engagement, negotiations and implementation of agreements, in order to make progress in the states health sector, Sodipo said.

    According to him, part of the challenges that led to the present situation is the refusal of some government officials to engage the Guild, in spite of its concerted efforts to engage them.

    On the state government position on the Guilds grievances, Sodipo said that some of the issues referred to in the governments statement were not correct.

    We feel that the statement was not in the spirit of the efforts of the Medical Guild to deescalate the situation, and get solution to the critical issues raised, Sodipo said.

    He affirmed that the meeting held with the state government on July 12, ought to have taken place before then to avert the current situation.

    There was an acknowledgment from the state government side during the meeting that there ought to have been more engagements with the Guild to avert the strike.

    We had an agreement after the meeting with the government to take the resolution to the Guild Council, we intend to hold a meeting on July 14.

    However, members of the Guild are worried that government was not ready to discuss some of the critical issues raised by the Guild, and unfortunately that was the picture painted in the press release, he said.

    Sodipo expressed optimism that the critical issues raised by the Guild would be discussed with the relevant officials, negotiated and communicated to the state Governor with the hope of resolving the impasse.

    He, therefore, appealed to the state government to shift ground on pending critical issues that affects health workers, citizens and development of the health sector.

    NAN recalled that doctors under the aegis of the Medical Guild had on July 13 commenced a three-day warning strike that would end on July 16 over issues that affects their safety and welfare.

    The Guild, however, exempted its members working in the states COVID-19 isolation centres from the strike.

    Reacting to the warning strike, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, had urged the doctors to suspend the warning strike and return to work.

    Omotoso said that the state government was disappointed at the warning strike embarked upon by the Guild.

    He said that most issues raised by the Guild had been resolved, while unresolved issues were still being deliberated upon. (NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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    Senate urges FG to prioritise rehabilitation of Eastern rail line

    Rail Line ( File Photo)

    By Naomi Sharang

    The Senate has urged the Federal Government to prioritise the rehabilitation and concession agreement for the Eastern rail line.

    This, according to the upper chamber was in recognition of its huge revenue potentials to the national economy and for movement of people to reduce the burden on dilapidated roads in the axis.

    The resolution was sequel to a motion on Urgent Need to resuscitate and Re-activate the Rehabilitation and Concession of the Eastern Rail line Project.

    The motion was sponsored by Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu (APC-Abia) and co-sponsored by 101 senators during plenary.

    The upper chamber also mandated its Committee on Land Transport to interface with the relevant ministry and agencies of the Executive to facilitate the commencement of the Eastern corridor.

    It also mandated its Committee on Compliance to ensure compliance and report back to the Senate in three weeks for further legislative action.

    Moving the motion, Kalu said that one of the greatest challenges facing the nation as an emerging economy was poor infrastructural development.

    Specifically, the movement of goods and persons from one point to another is becoming very cumbersome, if not hazardous, he said.

    The lawmaker further noted that the Federal Government in recognition of the fact that there was dire need for transformation of the Nigerian Railway system into a more dynamic and functional one, encouraged the use of rail to reduce road traffic congestion problems.

    The Federal Government in 2017 entered into an agreement with General Electric, a Boston, United States based company, under the Rehabilitation and Concession of Western and Eastern Railway lines to connect Abia, Rivers, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Kaduna, Katsina, Enugu, Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, Borno,Yobe and Kano.

    While the Western lines of 1,126 Km are from Lagos to Kano and to Nguru 230 km, Funtua 100km and Kaura Namoda 121 km, the Eastern lines are from Port Harcourt to Kaduna 915km, Maiduguri 706 km, Jos 35 km, he said.

    He further said that in spite of the fact that the railways were more efficient in haulage of bulk loads over long distances in environmental and economic ease including cargoes and petroleum products, the sector suffered neglect especially the Eastern rail line.

    He, however, raised concerns that the Eastern rail line had been denied a similar attention given to Lagos-Kano (Western) rail line in spite of the fact that investigations revealed that the Eastern rail line remained the most lucrative route in Nigeria.

    In spite of being the most lucrative route in Nigeria and a distance of about 1, 402 km having passed through Aba in Abia, the commercial nerve center of the South East is regrettably left in a comatose condition.

    This has resulted in Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), losing at least N10. 4 billion each year since 2014 totaling N63.2 billion in the past six years.

    In spite this colossal loss of revenue in this corridor and the attendant economic benefits that would be accrued, the commencement of the rehabilitation and concession of the Eastern Rail lines as entered by the Executive has not taken off like that of the Western corridor with two to three different companies.

    The Federal Executive Council is yet to give approval for the commencement which leaves not just the government as losers, but all host communities to the rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Kalu added.

    Supporting the motion, Sen. Rochas Okorocha (APC-Imo) said that such great projects or programmes like the railway shouldnt be such that this nation has to be reminded of where it should go or where it should not go because the benefit to one part of this nation is a benefit to all.

    Abia, South-East is not on its own without the others parts of this nation and what that means, Mr President is that once this rail passes through Abia, it will not be used only by the Igbos or the South-East; it is for the entire Nigeria, Okorocha said.

    Similarly, Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice said that the development of the Eastern Corridor would solve so many problems including easing the problems of transportation.

    He said that the project, if carried out by the government would reduce the incident of accidents on roads.

    The incidence of accidents in the eastern part of the country is so dangerous, this axis of rail system is going to reduce the incident of accidents on the roads.

    Movements of goods and services by rail will also reduce the incidents of armed robbery, he said.

    The prayers of the motion were unanimously adopted by the senators after a voice vote by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan. (NAN)

    Source: NAN News

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