Sport

Osaka climbs to number 3, Azarenka returns to top 15 in rankings

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United States Open champion Naomi Osaka has climbed six spots to third in the latest WTA rankings released on Monday.


Also, Victoria Azarenka’s career revival gathered traction as the Flushing Meadows finalist returned to the top 15.

Australian Ash Barty and Simona Halep of Romania continued to occupy the number one and two spots in the rankings respectively.

This was in spite of their opting against travelling to New York for the Grand Slam.

The 22-year-old Osaka, who beat Azarenka in a thrilling final on Saturday for her second Grand Slam title in New York and third overall, was the only player in the top 10 to gain places.

Osaka also reached the final of the Western & Southern Open, which was held at Flushing Meadows this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she had to withdraw against Azarenka due to an injury.

Azarenka, also a former world number one, arrived in New York having not won a match this year and ranked 59.

But the two-times Australian Open champion went on to win the United States Open warm-up event and capped her spectacular comeback by reaching her first Grand Slam final in seven years.

It helped her climb to number 14 in the WTA rankings —- her highest since January 2017.

American Jennifer Brady, who lost to Osaka in the United States Open semi-finals, was also a big mover in the ladder and was ranked 25th, 16 places higher than her previous ranking.

STJ/

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/osaka-climbs-to-number-3-azarenka-returns-to-top-15-in-rankings/

Metro

Minister inaugurates committees on sales, distributions of agro-chemical inputs

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The FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, on Monday in Abuja inaugurated two committees – one for the distribution of grains, and the other for the sales of fertilisers and other agro-chemical inputs.


Aliyu, while inaugurating the committees, said that they would execute the administration’s mandate of ensuring that governance profited the people.

Represented by the Senior Special Assistant on Administration and Strategy, Prof. Muhammad Usman, Aliyu directed the fertiliser sales committees to determine available stock and work out modalities for the sales.

She also said that the committee would make preparations for the flag-off and subsequent sales of the fertilisers, pesticides and agro-chemicals in the FCT.

Aliyu charged the committee members to work diligently to ensure that the exercise met its objectives.

The minister advised the grains distribution committee to ensure that grains wre released from warehouses and made available to the residents of the territory in a manner that was free, fair and  transparent.

“As you are aware, the administration buys off excess harvest from our farmers to give them value for their efforts and labour at the end of the season.

“Before the new harvest, when prices are naturally on the increase because of dwindling supply, the administration releases the buffer stocks to ensure that prices are regulated if not drastically reduced, for the benefit of the residents of the territory.

“In the wisdom of the FCT administration, individuals have been carefully selected to be saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring that the exercise meet its objective.

“The grains released from the warehouses must be made available to the residents of the territory in a manner that is free, fair and transparent,” she said.

The minister said that the administration would be counting on the wisdom and the ability of the committee members to diligently discharge the responsibilities diligently.

Speaking on behalf of the two committees, Mr Abdul Agbade, who chairs the committee on grains distribution, promised to deliver on the mandates.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the Minister of State FCT for the confidence reposed in us. We will not toy with it.

“We will try as much as possible to discharge our responsibilities with the fear of God and in accordance with our terms of reference.

“Residents of the FCT need to be assisted in this trying times. We are just coming out of COVID-19 pandemic and everybody knows the food crisis we are facing.

“The prices of food items are going up in the market and the people need to be assisted. We will do our best to ensure that these grains are sold to the people in need,” he said.

https://nnn.ng/minister-inaugurates-committees-on-sales-distributions-of-agro-chemical-inputs/
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Defence/Security

NSCDC prevents thieves from diverting 1,100 litres of PMS across border

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The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has taken charge of 1,100 litres of Petroleum Mentholated Spirit ( PMS) meant to be taken away  from Nigeria to Benin Republic  through the  water ways by some oil thieves.


 

The Commandant of NSCDC, Lagos State, Mr Iskil Makinde, at the display of the exhibits in Lagos on Monday  said  that the thieves  were arrested in their boat while they were carting away the product to Benin Republic from Badagary where it was siphoned.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr  Makinde assumed duty in Lagos  on Aug. 24 following a posting order dated Aug. 17 from Commandant -General of the NSCDC, Abdullahi Mohammadu.

 

The Commandant said that  the incident  happened on Sept. 20 and that the products were stocked in polythene bags and kegs.

 

According to him at the parade,  all attempts to stop the culprits initially proved abortive.

 

“ However, a hot pursuit by the NSCDC marine corps of the thieves  made them abandoned the boat in which the products were loaded and jumped into the sea to escape,” he said.

 

Makinde  said that  other exhibits recovered at the scene include a wooden canoe which cracked in the course of bringing it to the shore.

 

“ Also recovered is a 740 HP Yamaha engine used to power the boat,” he said.

 

The  NSCDC boss described the incident as very unfortunate, especially, when the country needed all resources to enable it stabilise after  the  COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The  commandant  said  that the corps would not condone any act of criminality in the state.

 

“The corps is also assuring  the residents of Lagos State  of peaceful environment as its personnel are  set of ridding the state  of all criminal elements,” he said

Edited By: Peter Dada
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/nscdc-prevents-thieves-from-diverting-1100-litres-of-pms-across-border/
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Science & Technology

NCC set to commence cost-based review of new rates for International voice calls services

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is set to commence a cost-based review to determine new pricing regime for mobile International Termination Rate (ITR) for inbound international voice calls in the country.


Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ITR is the rate paid to local operators by international operators to terminate calls in Nigeria.

Adinde said that as part of the process for the rate determination, the Commission has organised a virtual stakeholders’ engagement forum with relevant industry stakeholders.

He said that the meeting was to intimate them about the ongoing cost-based study and the need to cooperate with Messrs Payday Advance and Support Services Limited, the consultants engaged to carry out the study.

Addressing the stakeholders, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the study had become imperative following the various implementation constraints arising from contending industry and market dynamics that met previous efforts at finding an optimum price for the termination of international voice services in Nigeria.

Danbatta, said through the new ITR pricing, the Commission would be able to balance the competing objectives of economic efficiency and allowing operators the latitude to generate reasonable revenue.

He, however, explained that in 2013, the Commission issued a determination stating that Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) were the same irrespective of where the call originated from, adding that it was largely misconstrued by operators at that time that ITR should be the same rate as the MTR.

He said this led to operators ignoring the international cost portion, where ITRs were agreed at MTR level without a positive residual to cover the costs of the international leg for local operators.

“As a result of this, the ITRs continued to decline, in line with the MTR glide path and as the ITR was set in naira, it suffered a further downward slide in dollar terms following the currency devaluation.

“Ironically, the Nigerian operators paid the international operators in dollars to deliver international calls which created an imbalance of payments as the ITR in Nigeria declined,” he said.

Danbatta said Nigerian operators’ profitability and commercial results were negatively affected putting Nigeria’s ITR below that of most countries with which it made and received the most calls, thereby making Nigerian operators perpetual net payers.

“According to him, this has, therefore, led to undue pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves, which continued to get depleted by associated net transfers to foreign operators on account of this lop-sidedness.

“Hence the need for Nigeria, with volatile a currency to regulate the ITR to prevent or mitigate the imbalance of payments with international operators.

“Where ITR is not properly regulated, it tends to have negative effect on a market like Nigeria with major supply side challenges and associated socio-economic implications. So, setting a rate substantially above the MTR has resulted in a number of repercussions.

“One of such is the consumer shift to online channels as calls are increasingly made through Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies such as Skype and WhatsApp because of high international call prices.

“To this end, an economically-efficient ITR that is cost-based will maximise economic benefits to all stakeholders,” he said.

Earlier in her remarks,NCC Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, said the forum was aimed at formally engaging with and sharing the perspectives and insights of industry stakeholders.

Akinloye said that it was also for ultimately enlisting their collective support in relation to the inputs and requirements towards the determination of a mutually- realistic ITR in Nigeria.

She noted that the project commenced on March 10, with a kick-off meeting but was stalled by the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating the need to explore emerging channels of engagement to move forward and ensure the completion of the project.

Akinloye reiterated the Commission’s commitment to continuously provide a conducive environment and level-playing field for the effective interplay of factors that would sustain market development and growth.

“This is addition to ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications regulatory services for the benefit of consumers and licensees,” she said.

Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
Source: NAN

 

https://nnn.ng/ncc-set-to-commence-cost-based-review-of-new-rates-for-international-voice-calls-services/
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COVID-19

NCDC, NIMR, partners to conduct COVID-19 antibody tests in 4 states

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COVID-19

Abuja, Sept. 21, The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting anti-bodies household surveys in four states in Nigeria.

Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday in Abuja, the Director general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu ​​​​​​said the tests are being conducted to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.

“These seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos states would provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the country.

“The seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease.

“This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states.

“For Nigeria’s COVID-19 seroprevalence survey, household members will answer a brief questionnaire, be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, as well as for acute COVID-19, if they consent.

“In addition to this, study participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive,” he said.

Ihekweazu, said, this is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as part of ongoing public health research activities.

“The surveys will increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission patterns, the burden of infection in the population, and the age groups most affected.

“This information will help inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Government of Nigeria and partners as part of measures towards ending the pandemic.

” The surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms, that is asymptomatic.

“Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households,” he explained.

By administering rapid malaria tests, he said, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The results from the surveys, he added, will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.

He also stated that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting the NCDC and NIMR in implementing these surveys.

He also said that while the United States CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), would also support the State Ministries of Health with implementation.

The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN

https://nnn.ng/ncdc-nimr-partners-to-conduct-covid-19-antibody-tests-in-4-states/

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