9 coronavirus vaccine makers pledge to ‘stand with science’



Nine pharmaceutical companies pledged on Tuesday to “uphold the integrity of the scientific process” as they face pressure to quickly produce a coronavirus vaccine.

In a joint statement, the drugmakers said they would only submit the vaccines for approval after demonstrating safety and efficacy through “large, high quality clinical trials.”

They promised to “always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority.”

The pledge is signed by the chief executives of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi.

“We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” they said.

The unusual move comes amid concerns that political pressure to quickly roll out inoculations could undermine public trust in them, potentially deterring people from taking a vaccine.

United States President Donald Trump has been touting the possibility of having a vaccine before the November presidential election, but it is unclear if scientists will be confident in the efficacy and safety of the doses by then.

Companies around the world have accelerated their research efforts for vaccines, with many reporting progress.

Governments are eager to curb the coronavirus pandemic and allow life to return to normal after lockdowns and social-distancing measures affected billions of people.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
Source: NAN

General news

NCAT Zaria to open additional schools for pilots, aviation security personnel – Rector



The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria, says it will open Airport Emergency Training School and another school for training of aviation security personnel.

This it said would  enhance its training capacity and assert its position as regional center of excellence.

Capt. AbdulSalam Mohammed, the Rector of the College, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Zaria.

Mohammed said as part of the requirements to be certified as regional center of excellence, the college was required to developed standard training packages by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

He said the college had developed ICAO standard training packages in 2017 for the certification, and since then, had increased the number of standardised  training packages from three to seven.

“We are in the process of opening a new school called the airport emergency training school that is where we will be training airport rescue and firefighting personnel.

“That is where we are installing fully automatic fire simulator. We are also in the process of establishing the school for training aviation security personnel,’’ he said.

According to the rector, the college is in the process of developing ICAO training packages for online delivery of courses, instead of in the classrooms.

He noted that COVID-19 had changed the way of doing business in the world which had greatly affected NCAT training, adding that throughout the COVID-19 lockdown the college introduced virtual classrooms for its students.

The rector said the college also introduced new courses in the flying school such as the Airline Transport Pilot License, which was like a masters degree for the pilots.

He added that the college also introduced Multi Crew Coordination Course (MCC) for pilots and Jet Orientation for pilots.

“These two courses were aimed at preparing the newly graduated pilots from flying school to prepare them for work in the commercial airline industries,’’ he said.

Mohammed said the college embarked on re-fleeting of its training aircrafts to upgrade the equipment, so that the training aircrafts would be fleeted with modern electronic flight instrument systems which came in a modern aircraft.

He added that the college had purchased seven Diamond Aircrafts out of the 20 aircrafts which it  planned  to buy, stressing that the re-fleeting would enable the college train more pilots.

He said: “the Diamond Aircrafts use Jet A1 which is the fuel the big commercial passenger jets use and it is readily available and it costs one quarter of what we paid for the Avgas.’’

Mohammed the said the amendment of the College Establishment Act had commenced, adding that the exercise would enable it to access Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) grants.

“To that effect, the bill was sent by the President to the National Assembly earlier this year and it has already passed the first and second readings, it is now waiting for public hearing.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions has caused delay for the public hearing, but I understand that the national assembly is making arrangement to have the public hearing very soon.

“Once the bill is passed into law,, the college will be recognised as a tertiary institution,’’ he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed
Source: NAN
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COVID-19 palliatives: LGA distributes food items to 1,690 households in Kebbi



The Kalgo Local Government Area of Kebbi, says it has distributed relief materials to over 1,690 households in 10 wards in the area to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairman of the council, Alhaji Shamsu Umar-Kalgo, while distributing the relief materials to the beneficiaries in Kalgo on Sunday, commended the distribution committee for adhering to the guidelines attached to the directive.

He said that it was the wish of the council that the food items would alleviate the sufferings of the beneficiaries in the various communities.

“This support is to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, hence we are expecting that this distribution, at the end of the day, will assist our people,” he said.

He said that the food items included,  1,899 bags of sugar, 1,899 cartons of spaghetti and macroni, 88 bags of salt, bags of maize flour and 3,890 packets of noodles, among others.

“A committee was set up comprising, ward heads, political party leaders, women leaders and security personnel.

“We will closely monitor and supervise the distribution in order to ensure that the food items reached the under- listed households,” Umar-Kalgo said.

The chairman also commended Gov. Atiku Bagudu for the support he had given  to the council ,while calling on well-to-do individuals to assist the vulnerable people.

Earlier, Alhaji  Bawa Kukah, member representing Kalgo constituency in the state House of Assembly, advised the chairman to ensure proper monitoring and supervision of the distribution.

In his remarks, the District Head of Kalgo, Alhaji Haruna Bashar, commended the state government and the local council for the gesture, and urged the beneficiaries to use the items for the purpose it was meant for.

Also, the District Head of Diggi, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, thanked the council and state government for the intervention.

“You should use the items to support your families and no one should attempt to sale it as you and your  families are in dire need of the support in this trying time of COVID-19 and flood in the state,” he said.

One of the beneficiaries, Malam Shehu Kalgo, commended the council chairman for the gesture and promised that the materials would be judiciously utilised. .

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/ Maharazu Ahmed
Source: NAN
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Why FG is investing massively in railways, seaports — Amaechi



The Federal Government’s focus on railway and seaport development is a necessity to drive the nation’s economy, according to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.

Amaechi stated this at the virtual 15th Annual Kaleidoscope Global Business Conference hosted by the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York on Sunday.

“Many Nigerians have asked why the construction of railways.

“Eighty per cent of the cargoes we have in Nigeria are mostly imported, because the Nigerian economy is yet to generate enough production.

“However, the president is of the view that if we must produce, we must have infrastructure that enables that production, hence the focus on transportation, power and works,” he said.

The minister said although the railway project had started before the President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s seaports were not included in the design.

He stated that one of the first things the administration did was to rework the plan to link the rail network to seaports across the country.

“So, we started with the Apapa seaport. We are working there now and I believe by December, we should conclude the Lagos-Ibadan rail line extension into the port.

“We then added the Warri Seaport, the Calabar seaport and Tin Can Island. We are making sure that all of them include seaports,” Amaechi said.

According to him, contract for the 386km rail line from Kano to Maradi in the Republic of Niger will be awarded on Wednesday.

He added contract award for the 1,500km eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri would follow on Sept. 30.

The minister highlighted other rail line projects in the country, including Abuja to Itakpe, and Itakpe to Warri, which he said had been completed

He said the Warri line would also be extended to the Warri seaport being developed by the federal government.

Amaechi also highlighted the government’s seaport digitalisation programme, which he said would be completed in 2021.

Mr Gurjit Singh, former Indian Ambassador to Germany, Indonesia and the African, described Nigeria as the giant of Africa.

Singh, who is the Chairman of the CII Task Force on Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, said the Nigerian rail sector had the potential to drive the nation’s development as was the case in India.

He urged Nigeria to take advantage of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor initiative to access public private partnership funding for its infrastructure projects.

Organised by United States-based Kaleidoscope Business Project, the event brought together Nigerian state governors, ministers, business executives and prospective foreign investors.

The participants included Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Samuel Ortom of Benue and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara,

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and the Minister of State for of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Uchechukwu Ogah, also participated.

They took turns to highlight the investment opportunities that abound in their respective states and sectors in addition to the invest facilitation and security measures in place.

Welcoming the participants, the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, said the conference was part of the government’s efforts to open more windows of business opportunities in Nigeria to the world.

“With the opportunities that abound in Nigeria, this Conference aims at identifying those investors that are able, willing and committed to long term direct investment into the Nigerian economy.

“And it goes without saying that those from the Nigerian side are as desirous to meet investors in order to establish mutually beneficial relationships.

“Let me emphasise the need for us to jointly work together to enhance NIgeria economic growth and industrialization on our shared values and sound principles of mutually beneficial partnership and on a win-win business matrix,” Okoyen said.


Edited By: Felix Ajide
Source: NAN
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Schools reopening: Gov. Ganduje lauds FG’s level of preparation



Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has commended the Federal Government for progress recorded and measures taken toward reopening of schools in the country.

Hassan Fage,  Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, said this in a statement on Sunday in Kano.

The governor described the federal government’s policies and programmes in education as veritable tools to national development.

He said: “the progress recorded and measures taken by Buhari led administration in reopening of Schools in the country is commendable.

“I wish to acknowledge the commitment of the federal government in the education sector, particularly at this time when schools are about to be reopened,” he said.

Represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Nasiru Gawuna, Ganduje  made the assertion while receiving the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who visited him in his office.

Ganduje also said the state government was committed to prioritising  the education sector in view of its importance.

Hr said fumigation had been conducted with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided to the schools across the state.

“As part of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols for ensuring  safety and protection of the teaching staff and the students ahead of the reopening of schools, fumigation has been conducted with PPE provided to the schools across the state.

“The state government  recently released the sum of N880 million for the renovation of some schools across the State, ” he said.

The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said he was in Kano for the North West Stakeholders meeting to review the guidelines and protocols for reopening of schools.

He further said during the visit that he would also assess the facilities in the schools with a view to making them functional.

The minister also commended the efforts of the Kano government for its laudable initiatives in promoting education, which he described as worthy of emulation by other states.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide
Source: NAN
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