Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River.
By Christian Njoku
Mr Castro Ezama, the Special Adviser to Gov. Ben Ayade on Education, says Cross River is equal to the task as it concerns the Federal Governments guidelines on school resumption.
Ezama expressed the readiness of the state to implement the guidelines, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Calabar.
Federal government recently released new guidelines for resumption of schools.
The guidelines include that schools must implement safe distancing measures that minimise and isolate risks and ensure fumigation and disinfection of schools, before resumption.
The special adviser said that the state government meant well for the children of the state in both public and private schools.
If the federal government has come up with such guidelines, you can trust that Cross River that is usually ahead on such matters will be equal to the task.
We are in top gear but will just follow the directive of the federal government.
However, next week, there will be a formal statement from the state Ministry of Education on what it is doing concerning the resumption, he said.
NAN recalled that the state had on June 16 deferred its earlier planned resumption of academic activities by West African Peoples Institute, Calabar; Government Secondary School, Ikom; and Government Secondary School, Igoli, Ogoja. (NAN)
Source: NAN News
Lagos plants 7.5 million trees in 9 years
By Oluwatope Lawanson/Florence Onuegbu
The Lagos State Government says it has planted over 7.5 million trees in the last nine years, toward a sustainable environment.
Mr Tunji Bello, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources made this known on Tuesday, during the Year 2020 Lagos State Tree Planting Day programme at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.
Bello said that in 2008, under the administration of Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Government declared every July 14 as Lagos State Tree Planting Day.
He said that this was further established as a statutory responsibility of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) in its Law of 2011 Section 20(1).
Till date, over 7.5 million trees have been planted since LASPARK was established in 2011.
In addition to this, Tree Planting has contributed in no small measure to the present administrations goal to achieve a Healthy and Sustainable Environment, which is a key component of its T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.
Trees constitute life and tree planting is one of the deliberate climate change measures of the present administration in Lagos State Government to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #13 one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to combat climate change and its impacts.
Lagos State features in a network of 100 cities in the world that are working toward strengthening the worlds ecosystem resilience.
This forms a major bulwark of the importance attached to massive tree planting, the commissioner said.
According to him, massive tree planting is considered a major potent weapon against desertification, control of the menace of erosion and a mitigating factor against climate change and mans natural endowment.
He said that the theme for Year 2020 Lagos State Tree Planting Day Trees for Life was very instructive.
Bello said that year 2020 started like every other year with very high expectations, and no one anticipated that it would herald COVID-19 a disease that had become a pandemic and was in no hurry to loosen its grip on mankind.
He noted that the interdependence of man and the environment in which humans exist was becoming increasingly clearer.
This is what informed the choice of Trees for Life, Bello said.
He said that the state had adopted four of its major isolation centres as ceremonial sites for this years tree planting day celebration.
According to him, planting at these locations is very significant in view of this years theme, hoping that the trees being planted will outlive the people.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Lagos State Government dedicated the 2020 Tree Planting Day to COVID-19 frontline health workers.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recognised that nations looked at the issue of health holistically.
Abayomi said that the health of human beings was intertwined with the health of the environment and the health of the food people eat.
He expressed gratitude that this years tree planting session was dedicated to the frontline health workers.
According to him, COVID-19 is a phenomenon and it represents that we have not clearly understood the synergy between environment and health.
The destruction of the environment is what is responsible for all the zoonotic infectious diseases that we are seeing around the world, he said.
The General Manager, LASPARK, Mrs Adetoun Poopola, lauded the frontline health workers for their sacrifice and dedication through the challenging times.
Just like the trees, you give us hope and courage to persevere, even in the harshest condition, Poopola said.
She commended the staff members of LASPARK for ensuring a greener and healthier environment for future generations of Lagos State, urging that they continue to plant trees for life. (NAN)
Source: NAN News
By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, has given the assurance that banditry in the North West and Central region would soon be a thing of the past.
He gave the assurance when he visited the troops of Exercise Sahel Sanity (ExSS) at the Special Army Super Camp 4, Faskari in Katsina State on Monday.
Olonisaki said the launch of ExSS by Nigerian Army was a testimony of their commitment to address all security challenges facing the country.
He said that the exercise was a real time exercise that would transit into operation aimed at attacking banditry in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto as well as Kaduna and Niger States.
From the briefs I have received and what I have seen here today, there is no doubt in my mind that the scourge of the banditry will soon be a thing of the past and all law abiding citizens would be able to resume their normal lives.
The past five years of our fight against insurgency, banditry and other criminalities in our nation, the armed forces of Nigeria constantly re-strategise and develop models and approaches as well as restructuring to better position her to address our national security challenges.
The super Camp concept of the Nigerian Army is one of this effort aimed at repositioning the Nigerian army to better contain these challenges.
It therefore gladdens my heart to witness ExSS which is already achieving the much desired result put together by Nigerian army from its super Camp in Faskari, he said.
Olonisaki, however, assured the Chief of Army Staff of the support of the Defence Headquarter towards achieving the objectives of the exercise.
He commended the Nigerian Army for its innovative approaches to the myriad of security challenges across the country with support of other security agencies.
According to him, providing this much needed secured environment, we must continue to strengthen the existing synergy with the services and other security and intelligence agencies to prevent any gaps that could be exploited by these criminals.
I must commend the resilience and relentless spirit of all the personnel taking part in this important exercise and all other operations across the country to ensure peace and security for our people as well as protect the territorial integrity of our father land.
I urge you all not to relent in your efforts as you are the last line of defence in our bid to ensure a stable peaceful country.
Remember that the nation counts on all of us and I have no doubt that the Nigerian Army will acquaint itself creditably by routing all forms of banditry during the ongoing exercise, he added.
Olonisakin congratulated the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, officers and soldiers of Nigerian army on the successful conduct of Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2020.
He also congratulated Buratai for his fifth year anniversary as the Nations Chief of Army Staff.
Earlier, Buratai said that tremendous successes had been achieved within the few days that ExSS commenced, adding that a number of bandits had either been arrested or eliminated.
According to him, there have been clearing of bandits, recovery of rustled cattle, recovery of arms, kidnapped victims being rescued and host of other criminal activities that have been stopped.
We have also reduced or arrested quite a number of the informants and logistics suppliers of these bandits and their collaborators in the cities and villages here in the North West.
We are just beginning and we want to assure Nigerians that this operation that is ongoing will bring about very reasonable state of security in the North West.
We are not only restricting ourselves to the North West, concurrently , we are carrying out operations in the North Central especially Kaduna and Niger States.
It is very important that we take note and we will continue to carry out our responsibilities diligently, he said.
Buratai also disclosed that today being July 13 marked the fifth year of their appointment as service chiefs and congratulated Olonisakin for their successes so far.
Source: NAN News
President Muhammadu Buhari
By Edith Ike-Eboh
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the newly reconstituted board of Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas(NLNG) and Bonny Gas Transport Limited ( BGT).
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, made the disclosure in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the current board members had been in office since 2005, hence the need for new people to bring new ideas in the system.
According to him, the new board members for the NLNG include Dr Edmund Daukoru as Chaiman, Mr Henry lkem-Obih as a Member and Dr Rabiu Sulaiman as a Member.
Other Members include the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr Bitrus Nabasu.
He also said that Daukoru was also approved as the President of the Board of BST while Doyin Akinyanju and Abdul Abba are members.
The minister noted that Kyari and Nabasu were also members of the board.
I will like to use this opportunity to thank the chairman and other outgoing board members of NLNG for steering the companies to record successes, particularly the Train 7 FID.
l wish the exiting members good health and more successes in their future endeavors.
To the incoming members of the board, I congratulate you on this appointment; your selection is based on your experience, integrity and expertise.
I, therefore,urge you to bring all these to bear in the discharge of your responsibilities in line with the progressive agenda of Mr President, he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that some of the new board members had worked in the industry in the past.
Daukoru was a former Minister of State for Energy and also Secretary General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2006.
He became the Amayanabo, or traditional ruler, of Nembe Kingdom in 2008.
Also, Ikem-Obih was a former Chief Operating Officer, Downstream of the NNPC and Rabiu a former Group Executive Director at the corporation.(NAN)
Source: NAN News
Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources
By Edith Ike-Eboh
Saudi Arabia and Nigeria have reiterated their firm commitment to the Organisation of Petroleum Export Countries and its allies known as OPEC agreement.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipriye Sylva, who disclosed in Abuja on Monday, said that the countries also reiterated commitment to the level of production cuts to reduce output.
Sylva said that he had a phone discussion with Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi Minister for Energy.
According to him, the discussion focused on developments in the global oil markets, the improvement in demand for oil and progress toward full implementation of the OPEC agreement.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Chairman, Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee of OPEC , emphasised the importance for all OPEC participants of meeting, their production stated in the agreement, in order to accelerate the rebalancing of the global oil market, he said.
Sylva further confirmed the commitment of Nigeria to the OPEC agreement and clarified that the country had not yet met the terms of agreement and was currently below the level of the agreed cuts.
He also confirmed that Nigeria would raise its level of conformity to 100 per cent and would compensate, during the months of July, August and September, for the over-production in May and June.
He noted that at the end of the call, the two ministers stressed that efforts by OPEC countries toward meeting production cuts as stated in the agreement would enhance oil market stability.
The minister added that it would also help accelerate the rebalancing of global oil markets.(NAN)
Source: NAN News
By Abujah Racheal
The Federal Government has added ThisDay Dome Treatment Centre to the list of testing centres for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The centre will be open for treatment soon.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Monday in Abuja.
Ehanire added that renovation of Agura Hotel would also begin soon as an additional observation centre for Level 1 and selected Level 2 cases.
He hoped that these would considerably increase the capacity of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in responding to the pandemic.
The minister said that Nigeria had carried out 183,294 COVID-19 tests, 28,296 of them within the week, adding that 32,558 people had been confirmed positive.
He said that the high figures within the past week, compared to that of the previous week, suggested an increase in the pace of testing and infection.
Ehanire said that, from reports of the activation of sample collection sites in the FCT, laboratory throughput would increase, as well as the number of positive cases until the curve would flatten at a time yet to be known.
The minister, however, said that the expected increase in positive cases would not be so dramatic, if there would be better adherence by citizens to all advisories.
He also said that COVID-19 curve would flatten if the citizens would determine to take responsibility for reducing the spread of this disease.
He said that conscientious wearing of masks was being confirmed in various studies as the easiest, cheapest and most reliable way to check the rate of spread.
Some countries have made it mandatory by law and imposed a fine for non compliance.
Regular washing of hands, avoiding crowds, social distancing and use of minimum of 65 per cent alcohol-based hand sanitiser remain as relevant as at the beginning, he said.
According to him, 13,447 COVID-19 cases have so far been successfully treated and discharged in Nigeria while 740 fatalities have been recorded.
Our aim is to further reduce the fatalities by ensuring that those defined as vulnerable are protected with non pharmaceutical measures and prioritised for admission to observation or treatment centres, even if they do not yet have symptoms.
On Saturday, we were at the Premier Medical Warehouse, Jabi, Abuja, on the invitation of the Director-General of the West African Health Organization, (WAHO), the President of the ECOWAS Commission and the German Government, to receive a donation of medical equipment and supplies to the Government and people of Nigeria, courtesy of WAHO to support our efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donations include ventilators, test kits, personal protective equipment and face masks all critical items in our COVID-19 response strategy.
I wish to, once again, thank WAHO and ECOWAS for the kind donation, and the German Government for facilitating it, he said.
He disclosed that the 17-man team of the Federal Ministry of Health deployed to Calabar to engage the Cross River Government in setting up its COVID-19 response and aligning it with the national response, had returned to Abuja after a successful mission.
According to him, the team was led by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
They had useful interactions with the Cross Rivers State Government and were able to address all areas of concern and interest to the Federal Government and also to the Cross River State Government.
The Federal Ministry of Health will encourage and prioritise patronage of locally-made commodities which meet the minimum specification, he said.
He said that Cross River State had begun to align with the Federal Ministry of Health COVID-19 response and had started reporting on the national dashboard.
We have activated the GeneExpert machine at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital to increase testing capacity in the state, and NCDC has resumed deployment of rapid response teams to provide technical assistance to to strengthen the states incident management system.
Following the intervention of the ministerial team with the Cross River State Branch of the Nigeria Medical Association officials, issues that led to the withdrawal of medical services by doctors in the state were resolved and strike called-of.
We plan to replicate this success in other states where the need for policy alignment is found wanting, he said.
He added that news of the local development of RNA extraction kits and their validation had been relayed to him.
I am very proud of this development, which I have asked NCDC to evaluate, because it will be a further step in reducing dependence on imported commodities.
I hope our researchers continue with this trend.
NIPRID has also applied for financial support to continue its research on the efficacy of Artemisia annua combination in the treatment of COVID-19, which I hope will resonate with sponsors, he added.(NAN)
Source: NAN News
COVID-19 updates by NCDC
The number of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients discharged in the country is now 13,447 following 344 new successfully treated cases.
This is according to the new data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on its official twitter account on Sunday.
The NCDC had also recorded 571 new COVID-19 cases in 20 states, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 32,558.
The health agency said that no new state had reported a case in the last 24 hours.
It added that till date, 32,558 cases had been confirmed while 740 deaths had been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
NCDC stated that the 571 new cases reported were from Lagos(152), Ebonyi(108), Edo(53), Ondo(46), FCT(38), Oyo(20), Kwara(19), Plateau(17), Osun(14), Bayelsa(14), Ekiti(14), Katsina(14), Akwa Ibom(11), Kaduna(11), Rivers(11), Niger(10), Ogun(7), Kano(6), Cross River(4) and Bauchi(2).
The public health institute said that there were 16 new COVID-19 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours across Nigeria with the death toll in the country rising to 740.
It also said COVID-19 cases were still rising, adding that reduction depended on collective efforts and adherence to the recommended measures.
The NCDC canvassed for more efforts other than that of the agency to send the right message to Nigerians.
The health agency said that the COVID-19 pandemic was a test of global solidarity and global leadership.
The virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite, it said.
Source: NAN News
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State
By Ifeanyi Olannye
Delta Government has denied reports insinuating that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa directed his aides and civil servants to undergo COVID-19 tests.
Mr Olisa Ifeajika, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, gave the clarification in a statement on Sunday in Asaba.
Ifeajika challenged the peddlers to provide evidence of the memo or statement issued by government in that regard.
He said that contrary to reports in the social media, the governors position since the global pandemic spread to Delta, had always been for citizens to adhere to the protocols prescribed by NCDC to stem the spread of the virus.
Ifeajika said the governor had also advised that anyone feeling unwell should go to any of the COVID-19 centres across the state for proper check and treatment.
According to him, there was no time that the governor gave any directive, either by internal memo or any press release that government officials should go for test for any disease, including COVID-19.
The governors spokesman also distanced his office and the government from another social media report to the effect that the entire media team to the governor tested positive for COVID-19, culminating into shutdown of the Press Unit.
All the reports are deliberate falsehood, and the purveyors are hereby challenged to publish the alleged internal memo and the signatory.
The concocted stories, especially the one on no fewer than 43 members of Government House press crew testing positive for COVID-19, only existed in the imagination of the authors as I never spoke to any journalist on the matter.
For clarity and emphasis, the Chief Press Secretary did not address journalists on Wednesday or any other day recently, not the least, the author of the falsehood, he said.
According to him, the authors action is anything but irresponsible and yellow journalism, a misnomer that is acidic and seriously abhorred in the profession.
As a government, we have our authorised sources of information and anything not released from such sources is fake news and should be discountenanced by members of the public.
At every point in time, and with every development on COVID-19, we give updates as demonstrated when principal officers in the government tested positive for COVID 19 and we promptly brought it to public knowledge, he said.
Ifeajika said the government would promptly announce any development in the management of the pandemic in the state through its official channels.
He advised newsmen to always seek clarifications on issues through his office at any given time.
Source: NAN News
By Ishaq Zaki
Troops of the Nigerian Army under Operation Sahel Sanity have rescued eight kidnapped victims and recovered weapons in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kastina States.
The Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Brig.-Gen. Benard Onyeuko, disclosed this at a press briefing on Sunday in Faskari, Kastina State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had on July 6 flagged off the Operation Sahel Sanity at Special Army Super Camp in Faskari as part of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration.
Onyeuko said the Chief of Army Staff flagged off the exercise to flush out armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and other criminal elements from the North West Zone.
The troops quickly moblised to the area and engaged the criminals, neutralising scores in the process.
The situation was quickly brought under control and the troops subsequently dominated the area with patrols denying criminal elements freedom of action, he said.
He said on July 9 while responding to a distress call, troops deployed at Gidan Baure in Jibiya Local Government Area of Katsina State rescued three young girls kidnapped by armed bandits at Sayau village.
Onyeuko said on the same day, troops also rescued three kidnapped victims in Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
Two other kidnap victims who were kidnapped on June 1, 2020 at Yayi village in Sabon Birni LGA of Sokoto State have been rescued by the troops.
All the victims have been handed over to Katsina and Sokoto State Government officials for further action.
Receiving a credible intelligence, the troops sprang an ambush at Gidan Jaja in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara, the bandits fled with heavy gunshot wounds, abandoning one AK 47 rifle in the process.
While on aggressive mobile patrol, our troops intercepted three armed bandits who opened fire on troops.
During the fire fight, one of the bandits was neutralised while others fled in disarray, one AK 47 rifle and one motorcycle were recovered, he said.
Onyeuko also said on Saturday, July 11, troops laid ambush between Daki Takwas and Tashar Kuturu villages of Anka and Talata Mafara Local Government Areas of Zamfara.
He said troops made contact with the bandits who escaped with various degrees of gunshot wounds in the cover of darkness.
Onyeuko said troops had continued to dominate the area as a means of confidence building for the residents and farmers to continue their agricultural activities.
He added that items recovered included one motorcycle, 10 dane guns, one catarpult and one knife.
Others, he said, were one saw, 16 plugs, one axe and three cell phones.
Onyeuko, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, commended the troops for their gallantry, successes and the professionalism exhibited within the short period of the operation and urged them not to rest on their oars.
He reassured the people of the North-West Zone of the armys commitment to restoring peace in the region. (NAN)
Source: NAN News
Customs FOU Ikeja generates N17bn from importers, contraband in 6 months
By Chiazo Ogbolu
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has raised Debit Notes on imports worth N17 billion between January and June 2020.
The Acting Customs Area Controller of the unit, Usman Yahaya, made this known in a statement.
According to Yahaya, N15.6 billion was generated from contraband seized from smugglers while N1.4 billion were raised from wrong classification, transfer of value and false declaration of cargoes.
He added that contraband intercepted by the unit were from smugglers terrorising the South Western states of the country and it include used vehicles, pharmaceuticals, textiles, foreign parboiled rice, tomato paste, second hand clothing, among others.
He noted that the Debit Notes were raised on importers who under-declared their cargoes for lesser Customs duty.
The total Duty Paid Value of N15.6 billion were premised on seized contraband while the N1.3 billion were revenue from the unit interventions arising from wrong classifications, transfer of value and false declarations by importers.
So, a total of N17 billion was recovered for the Federal Government in the period under review, Yahaya said.
He noted that the unit also intercepted a truck load of banned textile materials worth N565 million imported from Benin Republic.
He said that 18,760 bags of foreign parboiled rice were smuggled into the country from Benin Republic and 64 units of exotic vehicles were intercepted and detained for duty evasion and under payment.
From Jan. 7, 64 exotic vehicles including two bullet proofs cars, 18,760 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice valued at N469million; 1,338kg of Indian hemp worth N201million and 147 sacks (9,504kg) of Pangolin scales worth N10.4billion.
Others are 3,059 cartons of tomato paste, 10,653 cartons of frozen poultry products, 5,423 kegs of 25 litres each of vegetable oil, 56,472 bundles of Printed Textiles valued at N565million, 66 packs of Tramadol, 872 bales of Second hand clothing worth N61million and 11,077 cartons of frozen products worth N177 million.
Also intercepted are 5,423 kegs of vegetable oil valued at N87 million, 7,549 jerry cans of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) valued at N27million, five containers of pharmaceutical valued at N2.9 billion, 64 units of motorcycles used for smuggling valued at N565million, among others, Yahaya said.
He, however, warned smugglers to embrace legitimate business as the unit was ready to send them out of illegitimate business.
He also disclosed that the seizure was borne out of intelligence and hard work of eagle-eye officers of the unit.
My message to smugglers is that they should stop smuggling and embrace legitimate business because the unit is ready to run them out of business and we are always a step ahead of them through intelligence gathering and steadfastness.
We will not get tired until the service suppressed smuggling finally from the South-West, Yahaya said. (NAN)
Source: NAN News