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     NGO empowers FCT pupils with N1m learning materials
    Jessica Dogo

    An NGO, The Ray of Hope Empowerment Foundation, has empowered pupils of LEA Nursery and Primary School, Kado-Kuchi, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with learning materials.

    The NGO, carried out the exercise at the 7th edition of its Adopt A Child And Educate, empowerment programme for schools in communities across the country, on Wednesday.

    It provided the 393 pupils in the school with materials like exercise books, uniforms, sandals bags, pencil and biros, among other items.

    The National Coordinator, of the foundation, Christybelle Sylva-John, said that the gesture was aimed tlat improving the education of the disadvantaged children in various communities across Nigeria.

    Sylva-John said that the gesture would also build their self-esteem aand improve their academic performances.

    Our goal is to improve the educational growth of the disadvantaged children in various communities across Nigeria by providing the necessary tools needed for their academic pursuit.

    Our vision is to see that no child in Nigeria resumes school without the necessary school supplies needed to help him or her succeed.

    To make sure that no child drops out of school due to lack of school fees, she said.

    According to her, every child deserves to be educated, saying, education is the first early investment for every childs development.

    She said that for nations to develop, their govermemts needed to prioritise budgetary allocations to educational infrastructure.

    Sylva-John said that the gesture had been replicated in Benue, Enugu, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Imo states, as well as the FCT.

    The coordinator urged the Federal Government to do more educationally, and increase the budgettary allocation to schools in the country.

    Together, we can make a difference in the lives of the less privileged children in our society by empowering them to get quality education.

    Since the launch of this programme in 2015, with the support of individuals, organisations and corporate bodies, we have visited several schools in the country and still counting.

    The school is dilapidated. It is in need of toilets, chairs, teachers, more classrooms and the existing ones need to be renovated, she said.

    The Headmistress of the School, Mrs Arhanmhunde Edith, said that the gesture has put smiles on the faces pf both the pupils and teachers.

    She called on the Kado-Kuchi community to give its support by taking care of the facilities.

    The rain spoilt our school. The government can help us renovate the school because most of the buildings are dilapidated.

    We always welcome any organisation that is ready to come up with gestures like this. Our doors are always open for such, Edith said.

    Isaac Isola, a pupil of the school, thanked the foundation for sharing the learning materials. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

    Edited by Kadiri Abdulrahman/Bashir Rabe Mani

    Source: NAN News

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     African Law students plans exchange programme with European, American peers
    By Chimezie Anaso

    African Law students, under the aegis of Federation of African Law Students (FALAS), say they will explore opportunities for exchange programmes with their peers in other continents of the world.

    The Head, Diplomacy and External Affairs of the group, Mr Odira Ezeh, said this during an interactive session with newsmen in Awka on Tuesday.

    FALAS is the umbrella body of Law students and young lawyers across the continent.

    Ezeh, a student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam in Anambra, was elected at the just-concluded Second Annual Conference of the body held between Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

    He said the new leadership would manage the affairs of the federation for one year.

    Ezeh said the collaboration between the group and law students in other continents, like America, Europe and Asia, was aimed at acquainting themselves with new developments in their different legal environments and work towards convergence.

    He further said that the group would further explore scholarship opportunities for members.

    According to him, collaboration with our colleagues in other continents would engender greater cooperation among African law students and ensure continued unification of voices in Africa.

    As the head of Diplomacy and External Affairs of FALAS, I shall work towards better collaboration in the areas of intellectual exchange, sponsorship opportunities and law updates with students across the world, he said.

    Ezeh said that six other officers elected at the conference included Siaffa Kemokai from Liberia (President), Monica Tembo from Zimbabwe (Vice President) and Abigail Ampumuza from Uganda (General Secretary).

    Others were Justice Emeh, Nigerian (Deputy General Secretary), Gerald Uchem, Nigerian (Welfare Secretary) and Nokuthula Songo from South Africa, Director of Information and Protocol. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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    Edited by Sam Oditah

    Source: NAN News

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     2022 maritime cup competition fosters healthy living, recreation  Official
    By Chiazo Ogbolu

    Dr Bolaji Akinola, convener, Ships and Ports Maritime Football Cup Competition, on Tuesday, said that the competition was aimed at fostering health living and promote recreation in the industry.

    Akinola said this at the 2022 Ships and Ports Maritime Football Cup Competition in Lagos.

    According to Akinola, the competition which is the 12th edition is one of the two sporting event in the maritime industry; Ships and Ports Maritime Football cup competition and the Ships and Ports Table Tennis competition.

    This competition is about bringing together everybody in the maritime industry, government agencies, maritime practitioners in a social setting that is different from seminars and conferences that they are used to.

    Apart from bringing the industry together, this encourages recreation and of course, we know the importance of sports and exercise in healthy living. This is what the tournament is all about, he said.

    He noted that due to COVID-19, the competition did not hold in 2020 and 2021.

    Dr Vicky Haastrup, Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), noted that the competition was good for industry operators mental health.

    Haastrup congratulated Ships and Ports for keeping the competition alive, despite the challenging time, particularly COVID-19.

    This is really important for our mental health, it instill unity within the sector; we are a family, everyone in the shipping sector, so it is really so great for all of us to participate.

    Like the previous competition, this is going to be a huge success. The winner will carry the cup and its ENL that will carry the cup because I know my boys are up to the task.

    This is good for the industry and this championship has come to stay. I say a big thank you to Akinola and I wish everyone best of luck, he said.

    Also, Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, Chief Executive Officer, Morbod Fisheries Ltd., said the large turn-out showed that they were there to promote friendship.

    This is a competition, so there will be losers and winners. However, you are all winners because you will make new friends and this is what Akinola is doing in the industry. Good luck and may the best team win, she said.

    Mr Ahmad Umar, General Manager, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), wished the players the best and hoped that there would be no casualties.

    It gladdens my heart to see young men filed out today. We appreciate Akinola, the organiser of this event for doing it every single year.

    I wish everyone good luck, but there is no work without hard work, as you people must have prepared yourselves very well for this competition. You should know that the NPA is going home with this cup, he said.

    Umar urged the young men to understand that this was exactly what they should be doing, engaging themselves in sports as it is good.

    The highlight of the event witnessed the opening match between ENL Consortium and Higher Pacific International (HPI).

    At the end of the opening match, ENL Consortium won by four goals to one from HPI.

    The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the Maritime Cup Football Competition was created by Ships and Ports in 2009.

    It is to encourage recreation and camaraderie among employees of government agencies, private sector operators, and regulators in the maritime industry.

    The competition officiated by approved FIFA-badge referees, has eight teams battle for honours and they are: Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service, ENL Consortium, Josepdam Port Services and the Nigerian Navy.

    The other teams are the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), HPI Nigeria and Dynesty Ocean Shipping. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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    Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa

    Source: NAN News

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     Scale of oil theft has significantly reduced in Niger Delta region  Kyari
    By Emmanuella Anokam

    The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd), says the cooperation with Nigerian security has significantly reduced the scale of oil theft in the Niger Delta Region, following the discovery of several illegal pipes.

    The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari made this known on Tuesday in Abuja at the ongoing Energy and Labour Summit 2022 organised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

    Kyari, in a keynote address, spoke on Energy Transition: Positioning the Nigeria Energy Industry for the Future(Government Perspective).

    The GCEO while speaking on a wide-range of industry issues such as Energy Transition, Petroleum Industry Act 2021, a brand new NNPCLtd, tackling crude oil theft, he underscored the need for collaboration to halt the crude oil theft to spur economic growth.

    The situation of vandals action on our pipelines and generality of crude oil theft has reach to the point that it needs all to react. The government security and regulatory agencies, whether service or operating are on the table today, he said.

    Kyari, while expressing optimism that the country will have access to more crude and revenue in the coming weeks said the PIA passage had made the industry competitive, bringing companies back for investments while business decisions were being made.

    Also speaking, Mr Gbenga Komolafe, Commission Chief Executive (CCE), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) commended PENGASSAN for organising the event which dwelt on Energy Transition and its Effect on Workforce in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector.

    Komolafe lauded PENGASSAN on its constructive roles in ensuring industrial peace and harmony, even as the industry was challenged by global and domestic factors like energy transition, climate change, paucity of financing, crude oil theft and a host of other constraints.

    The CCE said remarkably, the oil and gas industry in Nigeria had contributed immensely to the economic growth of Nigeria for over five decades.

    Through this period, he said the industry metamorphosed from one dominated solely by international Operators, to an industry with many indigenous players pulling their weight positively across operations in the petroleum value chain.

    He said the success and growth witnessed in the industry over this period could be hinged on robust government policies such as Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act and PIA 2021 and other regulations, Investments and competent workforce.

    Nigeria could further strengthen the resilience of our resources by considering initiatives to decarbonise existing oil and gas operations and continue to encourage investment in lower-carbon energy infrastructure such as gas pipelines.

    It is expected that gas reserves would be a more resilient energy source under a range of energy transition scenarios, said the CCE.

    He further listed some robust regulatory enablers to facilitate these energy resilience approaches that would make our hydrocarbon projects low carbon emitters and more attractive to investors to include the National Policy on Decade of Gas which is hinged on the Natural Gas Expansion Programme.

    Others, according to him are Natural Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, Natural Gas Flare Elimination and Monetisation Plan in line with Section 110 of the PIA, 2021.

    He also included Guideline for Management of Fugitive Methane and Greenhouse Gases Emissions in the Upstream Oil and Gas Operations in Nigeria and the inclusion of Gas Infrastructure Fund in PIA.

    He underscored the need to begin to develop local innovative financing solutions to develop our huge gas resources as the number of international traditional investors have dropped drastically.

    To this end, he said the Africa Export Import bank (Afrexim) and Africa Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) had decided to set up an Africa Energy Bank to provide capital for oil and gas projects in Africa. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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    Edited by Sadiya Hamza

    Source: NAN News

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     Army launches new exercise in Kogi, vows to smoke out criminals

    By Stephen Adeleye

    The Command Army Records (CAR), Lokoja, on Tuesday, launched an exercise aimed at fishing out criminals from their hideouts in Kogi, tagged: Exercise Enduring Peace ll.

    Speaking at the official inauguration in Okene, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, said the exercise was designed to be conducted in the last quarter of the year to checkmate all forms of criminality as the yuletide season approaches.

    According to him, the exercise is a result of the prevailing security challenges across the country, as similar exercises are also ongoing in other parts of the country under different names depending on the peculiarity of each region.

    The COAS, who was represented by the Commander, Command Army Records (CAR), Maj. Gen. Sunday Igbinomwanhia, said exercise enduring peace II would hold from Oct. 18 to Dec. 22, 2022.

    He explained that the exercise would involve stages of operational activities, including patrols, ambushes and raids of criminal hideouts.

    He added that it would involve some non kinetic activities in form of Civil-Military Cooperation programme, such as free medical outreaches in some selected communities among others.

    Our choice of medical outreach in support of the exercise is deeply rooted in our belief that the support of the host communities is key to the success of the entire operations.

    He stressed that the medical outreaches would ameliorate the existing health challenges within the targeted communities, and foster existing cordial relationship between CAR and host communities.

    The COAS further disclosed that the exercise is a joint venture involving all security agencies in Kogi as well as Vigilante Group to ensure peace across the state.

    Yahaya emphasised that the decision to make it a joint exercise was in line with his vision to have a professional Nigerian Army, ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment in defence of Nigeria.

    Therefore, we must work together to achieve the common goals of safeguarding the lives and properties of Nigerians everywhere, he said.

    The COAS commended Gov. Yahaya Bello for providing the enabling environment for them, while appreciating heads of security agencies for their continuous support and collaborations

    Speaking in his own capacity, Igbinomwanhia appreciated the COAS for providing the resources for the free medical outreaches and the entire exercise.

    Kogi is a peaceful place and very strategic and important to our nation. We must keep Kogi very safe and habitable for residents and passersby.

    We promise that wherever the criminals are, we will make Kogi unconformable for the criminals in whatsoever, he said.

    In his remarks, Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who flagged off the exercise, thanked the COAS for organising the wonderful exercise to keep criminals out of the state and Nigeria at large.

    Bello assured the COAS of the full support of the State Government, saying the exercise was timely especially coming towards the 2023 general elections.

    He urged all the Local Government Chairmen and the traditional rulers and the entire people of the state to continue to cooperate with the State Government as well as the security agencies.

    He assured that Kogi would remain a peaceful and secure state as far as Nigeria is concerned, saying, if Kogi is in turmoil, the nation would be in turmoil being bordered by nine States, including the FCT.

    Bello, therefore, warned that anyone no matter how highly placed in the society who got himself or herself involved in any criminal activity would face the wrath of the law.

    I will continue to lead this exercise from the front to ensure enduring peace for the people of Kogi. We cone in peace and we mean business, Bello said.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Attah Igala, Mathew Opaluwa, and other royal fathers were present at the occasion.

    The Attah Igala, who is the President of Kogi State Traditional Councils, commended the COAS for the exercise, and assured of the continuous support from the traditional institution for the security agencies and the state government. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

    Edited by Vincent Obi

    Source: NAN News

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     Coalition defends military on destruction of oil bunkering vessel
    By Sumaila Ogbaje

    Our Habitat, an Environment Protection Coalition, has thrown its weight behind the Armed Forces of Nigeria over the destruction of illegal oil bunkering vessels in the Niger Delta.

    The coalition in a statement by the Convener, Davidson Wariboko, on Tuesday, also faulted the call for the sack of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor by a human rights lawyer.

    Wariboko said that investigations by the coalition had revealed that some of those condemning the burning of the vessel were collaborators of oil thieves in the region.

    According to him, the CDS had defended the destruction of the vessel, saying there was nothing sinister about the swift destruction of an oil bunkering vessel by security operatives.

    Irabor has explained that there were various approaches, various solutions to a problem and at any time based on certain factors, certain considerations, available to those that are at the frontline, actions were taken based on the directive which are contained in the rules of engagement.

    He quoted Irabor as saying, the burning of the vessel, it is because the thief was caught in the act and the procedure, if you are caught in the act, is that everything you are using to undertake that criminal activity should be destroyed and that was done.

    What investigation do you need that you find somebody who decided to deplore several pumping machines and has several hoses that are deployed to a dug out pit where crude oil is stored over a period?

    It was caught in the act. So, the instrument of operation was what was destroyed. I think it is straightforward. Whether that is the best is a different matter entirely but did they act in line with the rules of engagement? Yes, they did.

    The coalition leader said that the armed forces had shown strong determination and courage to tackle oil bunkering more than ever in recent times.

    He said that oil thieves had caused terrible environmental damage to oil producing areas, adding that decisive actions against them was justified.

    According to him, they are causing the country a huge economic losses and at the same time causing environmental degradation in oil producing areas.

    Calling for the sack of the CDS show the oil thieves are fighting back.

    They are hiding behind the law to condemn the destruction of the vessel, while at the same time causing serious environment degradation in the cause of their criminal activities.

    Since assumption of office as the CDS, Gen. Irabor has met stakeholders in the oil sector, security, traditional rulers and others in a bid to tackle the stealing of our common wealth.

    At no time in the history of Nigeria like now, has the leadership of the Armed Forces shown determination and courage to face the economic saboteurs headlong. It seems they are now fighting back, he said.

    The coalition urged residents of the oil producing areas and other stakeholders to cooperate with the military to tackle the criminals and make their environment better. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

    Edited by Isaac Aregbesola

    Source: NAN News

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     Engaging politicians on health financing to achieve UHC
    This is because, it is only when one is well and healthy that he/she will begin to think of any economic, political or social activity.

    However, this has not been the case as ethnicity, religion and other issues have remained on the front burner, forgettingthe popular
    saying that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.

    This maxim makes it imperative for political office aspirants to articulate a comprehensive health financing mechanism to achieve Universal
    Health Coverage (UHC), where all individuals and communities receive health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

    And to achieve UHC and more, Nigeria Health Watch organised a conference on the Future of Health in Nigeria to remind politicians vying
    for offices in the 2023 general elections to take note, key in and make provisions toward ensuring good health for all Nigerians.

    At one of the events which took place in Abuja, the Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, said in a few
    months, Nigerians will be going to the polls to decide on the new leadership that will drive all sectors of the economy for the next four years.

    In spite of the health sector being a critical driver of the economy across the globe, it has not received optimum attention across different leaderships.

    Achieving UHC requires strong political will at different levels of governance, including the national and sub-national level.

    Ihekweazu said at the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) roundtable organised by Nigeria Health Watch in collaboration with Centre for Universal Health that as
    political parties begin their campaigns, it is important that CSOs and the media engage their candidates as well as citizens.

    For the candidates, this engagement will put into perspective, the challenges in the health sector and the required policy interventions that will
    change the narrative.

    According to her, the media as agenda setters should work toward making politicians commit to public health financing a key part of their manifestoes.

    Ihekweazusposition was buttressed by Robert Yates, Executive Director, Centre for Universal Health when he said as media, how can you change the political
    discourse, you can do it, and it does happen, if the politicians and individuals emerge, they will get it.

    This will involve sensational reporting of people dying in the hospitals as they need to be catered for, put your heads together and identify the leaders who are willing.

    Dr Grafar Alawode, the Programme Director, DGI Consult, shared and reviewed the work done by the UHC2023 Forum on Citizen-led Health Agenda.

    He said that Nigeria had made some progress in terms of fighting child and infant mortality, adding that maternal health care required more health system strengthening of having health care workers and facilities in place.

    Alawode, therefore, called for the incorporation of the role of other sectors in health design and implementation.

    He also called for leveraging Human Capital Development as springboard for multi-sectoral and coordinated actions that include health, education, nutrition, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and livelihood sectors.

    Also, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, the Managing Director, Society for Family Health, said it is critical to take UHC to the states level because I see situations where a lot of fundamentals at the federal level are soon coming together, some of the laws are in place and how this work will be determined at the state level.

    Ifeyinwa Yusuf, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Nigeria Health Watch, said there is need to do more in exploring other internal local resources to increase and pool public financing for health.

    She said a human capital development approach should be employed in communication to the government for increased funds allocation and release for health.

    We have to do things differently, by contextualising our interventions and communication to identify influential people/individuals who can bring a change in the health space,
    engage with each other more, the media and CSOs.

    Meanwhile, Prof. Ben Akabueze, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, says health investment service is a catalyst for economic growth.

    Akabueze said this at the 8th Future of Health Conference with the theme The Political Economy of Health: Investing on the Future of Nigeria, organised by Nigeria Health Watch
    was germane because it would provide the opportunity to discuss the determinants of health outcomes in various options available for sustainable healthcare financing in Nigeria.

    Akabueze, who was represented by Prof. Olumide Ayodele, the Technical Assistant to the director-general, Budget Office of the Federation, said the event also created an avenue to discuss measures for effective healthcare delivery across the country.

    Akabueze, who gave keynote address on financing healthcare sustainably in Nigeria, said the importance of improved healthcare services for economic growth and development could not be overemphasised.

    According to him, health investment service is a catalyst for economic growth through higher labour force, higher labour productivity, innovations and improved well-being of the population.

    He added that it is generally said that health is wealth; a healthy population engenders economic prosperity.

    It is, therefore, imperative to ensure significant investment in health, effective delivery of healthcare services and equitable access to healthcare services.

    Health is high on Nigerias development agenda; inview of social economic returns of healthcare investment, a key objective of the National Development
    Plan 2021- 2025 is to enable a healthy population.

    Akabueze, who said there was need for primary healthcare to be funded at the local government level, urged stakeholders to be involved to reduce
    mortality rate and enhance workforce.

    He urged government, CSOs and business associates to shape and monitor health interventions to ensure the desired impact.

    He also commended the consistency of the Nigeria Health Watch for organising health conferences focusing on topical issues.

    Also, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), said it was discovered that the first law establishing
    Health Insurance scheme was not able to take Nigerians closer to UHC.

    He explained that health insurance everywhere in the world is to ensure that everyone is covered, adding that in Nigeria,
    successive administrations have tried to amend the NHIS law for 23 years but not able to get that done.

    However, on May 19 this year, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act was repealed and the National Health Insurance Authority Law was enacted.

    The implication of the new law is that health insurance will now be for every Nigerian and every resident in Nigeria.

    The law has also made provision for the coverage of vulnerable population. Health Insurance is normally not a free healthcare as somebody has to pay.

    As someone who is not employed has no means of payment because of his economic status, someone has to pay for him or her.

    That is why in this new law, there is Vulnerable Group Fund provision with various innovative financing mechanism employed to ensure that
    vulnerable people receive health services.

    He, therefore, said that funding should come from innovative financing mechanism to bring money into the healthcare delivery system as no country had been able to achieve UHC without public financing.

    On her part, Dr Sarah Alade, the pecial Adviser to the President on Finance and Economy, said discussions on healthcare are ongoing because of its importance, noting, however, that when people are poor, health spending is least because they have to feed first.

    At the same time, however, we cannot have sustainable development without health.

    Also, Dr Obi Ikechukwu, the Commissioner for Health, Enugu State, who spoke on political leadership in health, said that health system governance must be strengthened for accountability.

    Health system governance means strategic frameworks that existed and combined with effective oversight, coalition building, regulation, attention to system design and accountability.

    He explained that strong governance in health systems must be guided by competent leaders with clear vision and the ability to motivate and mobilise other health system stakeholders.

    He called for political leaders who would ensure a complete state of physical, social and mental wellbeing and not just the absence of disease.

    Ikechukwu also said there should be a continuous state of adjustment of physical, social, mental and environmental stimulus.

    He added that there should be a commitment to determination of the cost of healthcare which would drive efficient health benefits package at all levels.

    Dr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the Chairman, Metis Capital Partners in his opening presentation, said there is need to look into how the government economy is being
    run as a whole and what the money is spent on.

    He said ensure those contesting for 2023 elections have interest in our economy. Health is a priority and it should be health and health.

    Public healthcare is crucial, sanitation is crucial as good sanitation goes far in health.

    During panel discussion on the Economy of Health, Dr Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, Health Population and Nutrition, World Bank, said without public health financing, achieving UHC would be difficult.

    He explained that for livelihood to improve, the economy must get better as faster growth is needed to create greater opportunities.

    He said if you can reduce petroleum subsidy, you can finance health, education, among others.

    Okunola expressed concern on how local government spending would be accounted for, now that they have autonomy, saying will
    local councils spend on health? How do you ensure more than 95 million Nigerians are able to survive?, he asked.

    He, therefore, said there is need to establish strong foundation for a diversified economy and investing in physical, financial, digital and innovation infrastructure.

    There is need to build solid framework and enhance capacities to strengthen security and ensure good governance and enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace.

    Prominence should be accorded to human capital development especially health, education and social protection in resource allocation.

    Another panelist, Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe, Lancet Nigeria Commissioner, said public health is known for at least two decades that good health can be achieved at low cost if the right policies are
    in place.

    We know this from comparative studies of countries at the same level of economic development that revealed striking differences in health outcomes.

    According to the studies, factors that contribute to good health at low cost include a commitment to equity, effective governance systems, and context-specific programmes that address the wider social and environmental determinants of health.

    An ability to innovate is also important. Above all, government needs to be committed.

    Another panelist, Dr Onoriode Ezire, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, who noted that Nigerias health sector is still largely underfunded, said investment in health is
    directly related to the growth of the economy.

    Ezire said the indexes are still poor, adding that productivity of the country is a function of the state and status of the health of the people in the country.

    According to him, investment in health contributes to achieving other developmental goals like reduction in equity and promoting shared prosperity.

    Government at all levels must prioritise health as lessons from COVID-19 are still fresh in our minds. Government may use a mix of method to prioritise health funding.

    Civil society and health promoters have a role to play. Advocate as may be necessary, provide the relevant evidences and data, improve the quality and timeliness of our data, Onoriode advised.(NANFeatures)

    Source: NAN News

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     Oscars selection: Directors guild advises filmmakers on improved movie production
    By Taiye Olayemi

    The Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) has advised Nollywood actors on improved film production and jettison all forms of internal conflicts capable of distracting them from submitting qualitative movies for subsequent Oscars awards.

    Mr Victor Okhai, the DGN National President, gave the advice in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.

    Okhai gave the advice against the backdrop of the recent media exchanges between the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) and Nollywood filmmakers.

    He said this had generated concern among Nigerians over the countrys lack of representation at the 2023 Oscars.

    He noted that rather than allow this to cause internal rancour, Nollywood actors should remain focused on production of qualitative films.

    Nigerian filmmakers approach their craft differently because they are all driven by the desire to win the Oscars.

    They do this, rather than by the need to ensure that the films they are submitting to the International Feature Film (IFF) category of the Academy Awards are technically and artistically up to par, he said.

    Okhai noted that that Nigerian films were not eligible for submission at the awards ceremony due to a number of factors.

    He said some of the factors included lack of funding for collaborations and technical support from foreign institutions.

    He explained that meeting minimum tech specs and strict adherence to the requirements for qualification and submission instead of whipping up sentiments remained a basic challenge.

    He said prior to the establishment of the Nigerian Oscar Committee in 2013, Nollywood productions frequently failed to meet the technical requirements of a cinema film due to the emphasis on home videos.

    With the emergence of multiple streaming platforms, they appear to be more promising, but it remains to be seen how far and sustainable the current trend will last.

    The Nigerian film industry is attempting to demonstrate that it can compete favourably with other developing film nations throughout the world.

    Even if the quality of Nollywood productions improve, an Oscar nomination or win is not certain as we continue to drag ourselves out there, especially when the Oscars are coming up.

    The Oscars are merely a marketing game in which anyone who can attract attention can win, the quality of films at the Oscars will not depreciate, as good films will always stand out.

    National interests should take precedence over personal interests, as the Oscar is not the beginning and end of the world, Nigerian filmmakers should focus on making good films and avoid dragging ourselves before the Oscars, he said.

    According to him, to be eligible for the Acad emy Awards, a film must also meet a number of additional requirements, such as being dominated by the native language of the country it represents.

    Another requirement is that the film must be released during the calendar period mandated by the Oscars, having appropriate English subtitles, he said.

    He added that the film must have been seen in cinemas or theatres for at least seven days in the nation it represents before being shown on streamers like Netflix, Amazon, and terrestrial television.

    In 2019, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences caused a stir by disqualifying the first Oscar entry from Nigerias massive film industry.

    The submission of the film was seen as a watershed moment for the countrys film industry, a film called Lionheart, which is Genevieve Nnajis first directing debut that met every other requirement.

    And it was disqualified from the International Feature category because the 95-minute film, Lionheart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo language.

    The decision prompted widespread outrage and criticism in the Nigerian, British, and American film industries, with many blaming colonialism rather than Nigerian filmmakers.

    Nigerians expectations were dashed once more when The Milkmaid, a Hausa language insurgency thriller, produced and directed by Desmond Ovbiagele, failed to make the first shortlist of the 15 foreign films chosen for the International Feature Film category in December 2020, he said.

    Okhai noted that in nearly 75 years, just three African films had won the Oscars for best foreign feature.

    He said in spite the enormity of Bollywoods film industry, India had never won the award for best international film as the category had been dominated by Europe.

    Can we begin by winning top film festivals, where we can compete on the global stage with the best, can we focus solely on winning our own top film festivals?

    The world, like our colleagues in music, accepted and applauded our stars before the Grammys, quality comes first, followed by recognition.

    With the kind of production that has been coming out of the business in recent times, we are well on our way.

    The Oscars will find us at the right time if we focus more on the work that we do, the recognition that we get from the work that we do is far more valuable than any validation that will come from any external source, he said. (NAN) (nannews.ng)

    Edited by Folasade Adeniran

    Source: NAN News

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     Sheraton workers protest over severance package
    By Lucy Ogalue

    Workers of Sheraton Hotel Abuja, on Tuesday embarked on a peaceful protest within the hotel premises over nonpayment of severance package.

    The aggrieved workers, under the auspices of the National Union of Hotels, Personal Services Workers (NUHPSA), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that it would be unfair for the management to ask them to quit their jobs without paying them off.

    Mr Leke Success, the General-Secretary of the Union said, the protest is to ensure Marriott International pay the money that we jointly agreed to be paid as severance package in view of the new owner shutting down this place today.

    We just heard about a week ago that the new owner, NIPCO, who just acquired this place, decided that they will short it down and commence renovations.

    We tried to persuade them from shutting down based on the short notice, but that could not fly.

    So we sat down as a responsible union to negotiate severance pay for our members and the agreement stipulated that before the close of business on Oct.17, the money will be paid.

    But up until now, the management is still dilly-dallying and very soon they will lower the banner and shut this place.

    So we cannot risk that happening. It is because the money was not paid that we are here to protest peacefully that this money should be paid or we will not leave this place.

    Agreement is agreement, if the money is not paid, we will not leave. Each day that passes we will change our demands, after today we will demand for damages because they have breached the agreement.

    Our mission is to be paid our money, we have end of year bonus and hampers which members enjoy and the general manager just said they will not pay.

    The action is for both Marriott and the new owner who are here to wind up this place, to come out and tell us why our members should not be paid.

    The unionists also demanded that some workers termed casual staff who were excluded by the management from the payment be treated equally as other staff.

    Whoever works here deserves to be paid because they are workers. No condition of employment will make them (casual workers) not to get their pay, Success said.

    Meanwhile, some of the casual workers while expressing their grievances told NAN that the news came as a shock and if they dont get paid, their families would suffer.

    Mrs Blessing Moses, who said she is a mother of four children said, they did not have prior notice of the new development until two days ago.

    According to her, they call us casual, yet they dont want to give us our money. They chased us out since yesterday but we are still working, you can see I am still in my apron.

    By casuals, does that mean we are not human beings? we have families, we have children to take care of. So they should pay us, so that as we are going, we will go with joy and look for work in another place.

    We cannot go and sit for six months without doing anything, what are we going to use in taking care of our children.

    Similarly, Mr Vincent Ajiji, a university graduate who also works as a casual staff at the kitchen department, reiterated the importance for casual staff to equally be paid as regular staff.

    Graduates in this country that are casual staff are being used as tools, we are being maltreated here, and that is why we are asking that they pay us our money.

    When it comes to work we are all staff but when it comes to payment, we are called casual staff.

    I want my money, I want my entitlements, they should take good care of me before I go home. I have been here since 2021 and still referred to as casual, it is paining me, Ajiji said.

    Meanwhile, a Senior Staff of Sheraton who spoke under condition of anonymity said the Corporate Affairs Unit of the hotel would soon release the respond of the management in due course.

    NAN recalls that Capital Hotel Plc bought majority shares in Sheraton from the Federal Government over 30 years ago and engaged the services of Marriot International in the management of Sheraton.

    Its new owners, NIPCO, which bought 51 per cent majority shares in Sheraton, had planned to shut down the hotel in order to carry out a holistic renovation and repositioning of the hotel.

    As at the time of filing this report, the leaders of the union and the management of Marriot International were holding a closed door meeting. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

    Edited by Ese E. Eniola Williams

    Source: NAN News

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     Rivers maintains top overall fiscal performance position  BudgIT report
    By Abujah Racheal

    BudgIT, a civic-tech organisation leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in Nigeria, said Rivers State maintained its overall fiscal performance position, ranking first, just as in 2020 and 2021.

    Mr Iniobong Usen, BudgITs Research and Policy Advisory lead, said this at the presentation of the State of States report for 2022, with the theme, Sustainable Governance Reforms for a New Era, on Thursday in Abuja.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report assesses and ranks the fiscal performance of all 36 states, from the most sustainable to the least sustainable.

    Usen said for the 2022 edition, all 36 states were ranked using five metrics.

    Index A examines states ability to meet Operating Expenses (Recurrent Expenditure) with only their Internally Generated Revenue; Index A1 looks at the percentage year-on-year growth of each states Internally Generated Revenue.

    Index B reviews states ability to cover all operating expenses and loan repayment obligations with their Total Revenue (Internally Generated Revenue Statutory Transfers Aids and Grants) without resorting to borrowing.

    Index C estimates the debt sustainability of the states using four major Indicators: A. Debt as a per cent of GDP, B. Debt as a per cent of Revenue, C. Debt service as a per cent of Revenue and D. Personnel Cost as a per cent of Revenue.

    Index D evaluates the degree to which each State is prioritising capital expenditure concerning their operating expenses (recurrent expenditure), he explained.

    He said Rivers maintained its overall fiscal performance position, ranking first, just like it did in 2020 and 2021.

    According to him, two states, Kaduna and Cross River, made it to the top five on the overall fiscal performance ranking; Yobe dropped to the bottom five having fallen 13 places from 21st in 2021 to 34th position in 2022.

    Usen said on Index A, two states (Lagos and Rivers) generated enough revenues internally to take care of their operating expenses.

    Comparatively, the operating expenses of Yobe and Bayelsa (the least ranked states on index A) were more than seven times the revenues generated by both states internally, reinforcing the heavy reliance on federal transfers and budget support to fund their budgets.

    On index A1, save for three states, which ranked the least Anambra, Kogi and Kebbi 33 states experienced an increase in their IGR from the previous year, with 13 states growing their IGR by more than 50 per cent.

    Jigawa, Delta, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Nasarawa ranked first to fifth respectively on Index C, which assessed the debt sustainability of the 36 states, he explained.

    Furthermore, Usen said Cross River, Ogun, Imo, Osun, and Plateau were the bottom five states on Index C.

    Lagos State, with a capital importation of 31.78 billion dollars between 2019 and 2021, received 99.19 per cent of the cumulative capital importation for 36 states of the federation.

    Interestingly, 11 states received no capital importation between 2019 and 2021, he said.

    Speaking on debt sustainability, Usen said the cumulative debt stock of the 36 states grew by 8.68 per cent from N5.86 trillion in 2020 to N6.37 trillion in 2021.

    A more disaggregated view of the subnational debt shows that 11 states reduced their total debt liability, with Delta having the most impressive decline of 33.84 per cent.

    Four states Oyo, Yobe, Ogun and Sokoto grew their total debt stock by more than 40 per cent from 2020, he said.

    He added that the five most indebted states: Lagos, Kaduna, Rivers, Ogun, and Cross River were responsible for 37.09 per cent of total subnational debt.

    Kogi, with a foreign debt year-on-year growth of 85.65 per cent ranked first among the 17 States that grew foreign debt in 2021.

    The four states with the highest dollar-denominated debt (250 million dollars and above) Lagos, Kaduna, Cross River and Edo are the most susceptible to exchange rate volatility, he explained.

    He said the cumulative expenditure of the 36 states increased by 27 per cent from N5.23 trillion in 2020 to N6.64 trillion in 2021.

    Notwithstanding, while 31 states increased their total expenditure from the previous year, five states reduced their expenditure with Zamfara having the highest decline of 15.59 per cent.

    However, the cumulative personnel cost of the 36 states grew by 5.38 per cent from N1.46 trillion in 2020 to N1.54 trillion in 2021.

    Interestingly, nine states reduced their overhead cost from the previous year, signalling a reduction in the cost of governance.

    Conversely, 11 states increased their overhead cost from the previous year by more than 40 per cent with Akwa Ibom having the highest growth, he said.

    He said commendably, cumulative spending on capital expenditure by the 36 states grew by 52.52 per cent from N1.77 trillion in 2020 to N2.70 trillion in 2021.

    Eight states increased their capital expenditure year-on-year by more than 100 per cent.

    However, just five states including Anambra, Ebonyi, Cross River, Kaduna, Rivers prioritised capital expenditure over operation expenses, signalling the prioritisation of investments in infrastructure, job creation and human capital development.

    On fiscal transparency, the 36 states of the federation currently publish promptly their proposed budgets, approved budgets, budget implementation reports, and audited financial statements for both the States and the Local Governments.

    In the same vein, many states have enacted an Audit Law that grants operational and financial autonomy to the Offices of Auditors-General of the State and Local Governments, thereby empowering their supreme audit institutions to effectively hold governments accountable, he said.

    He stated that 35 states, excluding Taraba, had captured the biometric and BVN data of at least 70 per cent of the civil servants and pensioners on their payroll, and linked the captured data to their payroll management system.

    Cumulatively, 35 states (excluding Taraba), have a total of 848,483 civil servants and 498,097 pensioners on their payroll. As a result, at least 15,397 ghost workers have been identified and eliminated in 13 states across the federation.

    On the flip side, only a few states have been able to establish and operationalise a state-level functional Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure that it covers at least 70 per cent of all its finance, he said.

    Similarly, he stated that some states were yet to ensure that all the schedules of contracts awarded for the year were published online as required under the Open Contracting Data Standards and in line with the procurement laws/guidelines. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

    Edited by Salif Atojoko

    Source: NAN News

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