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Security expert says hate speech, social media bills necessary in Nigeria

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“ln the absence of decorum, peace won’t reign. We should not throw the bills out because it has come to regulate the way we use the social media.

“The Bill is necessary, given how most Nigerian social media users throw caution to the wind, creating palpable tension and making decorum impossible in the society.

“What are the contents of the Bill? What is controversial about it?

“I would not be surprised if many of those who kick against it do not have an idea of what the bill is about,’’ the security expert said.

Mumuni, a former Lagos gubernatorial candidate of the defunct CPC, said that rather than condemn the Bills and their sponsors, Nigerians should have called for its regulation.

According to him, “what we should advocate for is the regulation of the bill so it will only cater for glaring cases of hate speech and not serve as a mechanism for witch-hunting perceived oppositions or eliminating critical engagements on public policy’’.

Speaking further, the security expert said that developed countries such as France, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy and a host of others also had legislation to regulate public communication.

Mumuni stressed that such legislation were essential to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people in the society.

He said that the use of the social media in Nigeria had actually become an outlet for cowards, stressing that freedom of speech did not give one the licence to cause crises, wreak havoc and make unfounded claims.

“People should understand that freedom of speech does not translate to causing crises and promoting falsehood.

“Doing such is unhealthy to our nascent democracy,’’ he said.

Mumuni advised the government to ensure that the punitive measures were in tandem with the offence.

“The punishment attached to the offence should not be different from the ones obtainable in other countries in order to rule out the possibility of any political mission.

“I support fines or jail terms for offenders, irrespective of their status in the society,’’ he said.

Allaying the public’s fears, Mumuni urged Nigerians to give maximum support to the Bill in as much as it was not to punish genuine critics.

He said that only those who abused the social media had cause to be afraid.

“As such, the guilty ones should not go unpunished to serve as deterrent to others,’’ Mumuni said.

Edited & Vetted By: Oluyinka Fadare/Wale Ojetimi
(NAN)

 

 

 

 

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Features

President Buhari’s UNGA75 National Statement

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STATEMENT DELIVERED

 

BY

 

HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI

PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC

OF NIGERIA

 

 

AT

     

THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE       75TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

 

 

22ND SEPTEMBER 2020

 

Ø Mr. President,

Ø Heads of State and Government,

Ø Secretary-General,

Ø Distinguished Delegates,

Ø Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me on behalf of the Government and good people of Nigeria, congratulate you on your well-deserved election as President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I would like to assure you of Nigeria’s readiness to avail the United Nations all necessary cooperation needed for the fulfillment of your mandate.

 

2.      I wish to also thank the General Assembly for the support accorded His Excellency, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande during his tenure as President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly.

 

3.      We acknowledge the accomplishments of the Assembly under his able leadership, particularly his efforts on attacking global poverty through the Global Coalition on Poverty Eradication.

 

4.      We also commend the tremendous efforts of His Excellency, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in steering the affairs of the organization during this challenging period of the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as his strong commitment to making the UN more efficient and responsive in its international responsibility.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

5.      It is my privilege to use this opportunity to congratulate Member States on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. Over the past seven decades, the United Nations, as the People’s Assembly, has helped to stabilize the global community.

6.      In addition to international peace and security, the UN has undertaken programmes on poverty eradication, women’s empowerment, youth development and humanitarian emergencies.

7.      The theme of this year’s General Assembly – “The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment To Multilateralism – Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action”, is indeed most appropriate and timely, as it captures our common desire for a renewed and revitalized organization in need of multilateral approaches to the many challenges facing the world.

 

THE FUTURE WE WANT

8.      As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realize that the peoples of the world not only look up to us: they count on us. If the United Nations system cannot mobilize the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the Coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in its core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.

Excellencies,

9.      The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of “Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm” must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds.

10.  In our quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for Nigerians, our administration has embarked on measures to ensure enhanced national resilience. We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development Plans for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030. We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria.

THE UNITED NATIONS WE NEED

11. Predicated on the values that inspired its creation, the United Nations we need has to remain an agent of progress, by giving expression to the tenets of multilateralism, solidarity and international cooperation. It is within the context of this rules-based multilateral order that the world can find solutions to its many problems.

CONFRONTING COVID-19 THROUGH EFFECTIVE MULTILATERAL  ACTIONS

12.    The world is currently in the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic. Regrettably, our communities and countries are losing lives. The Coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world economy and strained the capabilities of the health system of many countries, including our own country.

13.    In the aftermath of Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritized vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.

14.    Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional 1 million Nigerians. Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 22 million households.

15.    I use this opportunity to commend the efforts of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in combating the Coronavirus pandemic.

16.    I note, with appreciation, the $2 Billion United States Dollars Global Humanitarian Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the Coronavirus response in the poorest countries of the world.

17.    I also commend his call for cease-fire in conflict areas, to enable humanitarian assistance reach groups vulnerable to Coronavirus .

Excellencies,

18.    I should also state that Nigeria is committed to working with other Member States in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being. Nigeria will continue to partner with the WHO and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing, as well as uninhibited supply of safe and effective Coronavirus vaccines to all.

POVERTY ERADICATION

19.    In order to mitigate its impact on Nigerians, our administration has commenced the disbursement of the sum of N10.9 Billion to households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives.

20.    In addition, we have established a five hundred billion (N500 billion) fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households, while our Central Bank has launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.

21. The international community will need to cooperate in addressing the scourge of poverty, particularly in developing countries. It is in this regard, that we commend the President of the 74th General Assembly for launching an Alliance for Poverty Eradication in June.

 

22.    We encourage global leaders, particularly leaders from the global North, to support the Alliance at this time when the COVID-19 pandemic is reversing gains made in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and is pushing an additional half a billion people into extreme poverty.

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

Mr. President,  

23.    As we mark the beginning of the UN Decade of Action for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Nigeria has made significant strides in domesticating the SDGs.

24.    There is an ongoing re-alignment of the National Statistical System (NSS) with the requirements and indicators of the SDGs. This is expected to ensure effective tracking and monitoring of the SDGs and guide SDG interventions across the country.

25.    Nigeria has also developed its home-grown Integrated Sustainable Development Goals model (iSDG Model) – an analytical framework for assessing how policy-making can better address the indivisible nature of the SDGs.

 

DISARMAMENT, INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

Excellencies,

26.  Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.

27.    We urge the international community to renew efforts to stem this traffic and promote the Arms Trade Treaty in order to codify accountability in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy.

 

TERRORISM

Excellencies,

28. The litany of sophisticated terrorist attacks across the globe is a harsh reality of the challenges the world is facing today. We must therefore redouble our efforts to ensure collective security.

29.    In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits. We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region.

30. We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North-East. The North-East Development Commission has been established for that purpose.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Mr. President,

31.    Nigeria is committed to universal nuclear non-proliferation. In this connection, we recall the adoption of the landmark Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which opened for signature on 20 September 2017. Nigeria participated actively in the processes leading to its adoption and was an early signatory and ratifier.

32.    With less than ten ratifications needed for the TPNW’s entry into force, we urge other member states who have not done so to quickly ratify the Treaty for the actualization of its important objective.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Excellencies,

 

33.    Climate Change is an environmental crisis which requires urgent action. Our Administration is conscious of the fact that the attainment of national development targets would be greatly impeded unless the consequences of climate change are addressed holistically in line with the Paris Agreement.

 

34.    To this end, Nigeria has intensified climate action through the upward review of reduction in greenhouse gas emission under the Nationally Determined Contributions, which are climate change targets under the Paris Agreement.

 

35.    Nigeria remains steadfast in our commitment to the revitalization of Lake Chad. We are convinced that recharging the Lake will improve the living conditions of our people in the area, promote inter-state cooperation, strengthen community resilience, and assist in addressing environmental and security challenges threatening the region and its resources.

 

36.    Let me, therefore, reiterate the call for international support for the sub-regional efforts to raise the $50 billion USD required to actualize this initiative.

 

MIGRATION

Excellencies,

37.    Nigeria experiences high internal and external migration due to the size of its population, economic situation and climate. We are therefore fully committed to migration management and prevention of irregular migration and human trafficking.

38.    I enjoin the international community to also communicate the positive contributions of migrants, particularly in countries of destination, in order to combat racial discrimination and xenophobic attacks, and facilitate the social integration and protection of migrants.

 

ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS

Mr. President,

39.    The global aspiration to recover from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will not be fully met without addressing existing structures that make it more difficult for countries to generate and retain their financial resources.

 

40.    It is in this regard that I thank the immediate past Presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande and Ambassador Mona Jul, respectively, for jointly launching the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr. President,

41.    In the area of human rights, Nigeria has passed a number of human rights-related bills into law. The bills include: the Anti-Torture Act, the Comprehensive Treatment and Care for Victims of Gun-Shot Act, as well as the National Senior Citizens Centre Act. In addition, Nigeria has launched a National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.

42.    This measure is designed to strengthen institutions, coordinate the prevention of violent extremism, enhance the rule of law, access to justice and human rights as well as engaging communities and building resilience and integrated strategic communication.

WOMEN PARITY

Mr. President,

43.    The United Nations has made progress in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through initiatives such as the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The creation of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), in July 2010, was an important milestone.

44.    Nigeria acknowledges the importance of gender equality and recognizes the critical role that women play in development. We also recognize that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and other internationally-agreed Development Agenda depend largely on the empowerment of women. Nigeria will sustain its affirmative stance through women empowerment initiatives.

QUALITY EDUCATION

Mr. President,

45.    Quality education for all is the cornerstone of sustainable development.

46.    In this connection, I am happy to announce that the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be hosting the        4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021.

47.    I invite you all to Nigeria to participate in the Conference which aims to advocate for the protection of education from attack as we work together towards the future we want.

UNITED NATIONS REFORM

 

Mr. President,

48.    As we urge and strive for inclusion within our societies, we must also ensure inclusion prevails in our collective action as members of the International Community. Nigeria supports the expansion of the UN Security Council to reflect the diversity and dynamics of the 21st Century. Africa deserves permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council.

CONCLUSION

Mr. President

49.    I will conclude by reaffirming Nigeria’s commitment to promoting international peace and security and sustainable development, as well as strengthening partnerships and cooperation with international and regional organisations.

          I thank you.

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Buhari’s address at Ministerial Performance Review Retreat

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ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE FIRST YEAR MINISTERIAL PERFROMANCE REVIEW RETREAT

STATE HOUSE CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA

7TH SEPTEMBER, 2020,

 

 

PROTOCOLS

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat. We are meeting a time that mankind is struggling to overcome the economic and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted life as we knew it. The consequences of the pandemic will no doubt influence our deliberations at this gathering, especially as we will have to adjust our policy approaches and methods of working going forward.

2.      I stressed at last year’s Retreat that the Nigerian people expect dedication and commitment by all of us in implementing policies, programmes and projects to improve the quality of their lives and set Nigeria on the path of prosperity. I also reiterated the resolve of this Administration to set the stage for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. Even today, these remain our overriding objectives.

 

3.    The priorities we set for ourselves were around nine inter-related and inter-connected areas, which are: stabilizing the economy; achieving agriculture and food security; attaining energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; improving transportation and other infrastructure; driving industrialization with a special focus on SMEs; expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; enhancing social inclusion by scaling up social investments; as well as building a system to fight corruption, improve governance and strengthen national security.

4.      In the course of the past year, Ministers have rendered reports to the Federal Executive Council on their activities and outputs related to the achievement of these objectives. Some of the notable achievements include:

i.  Economic recovery prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The economy recovered from a recession and we witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 0.8% in 2017 to 2.2% in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ii.   Implementation of a Willing Buyer, Willing Seller Policy for the power sector, has opened up opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to homes and industries. We are also executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, which will result in the transmission and distribution of a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023.

iii.  On transportation, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure. The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well. These include the 11.9 km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and 375 km Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Expressway. At the same time, we are actively extending and upgrading our railway networks, as well as our airports which are being raised to international standard with the provision of necessary equipment, to guarantee world class safety standard.

iv.                                         The Government has continued to support the Agricultural sector, the key to diversification of our economy, through schemes such as the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme.

v. The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has resulted in Nigeria moving up 39 places on the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking since 2015 and Nigeria is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries. We are confident that the on-going ease of doing business reforms would result in further improvement of this rating.

vi.  Nigeria’s Law Enforcement Agencies have significantly scaled up their footprint across the country. As part of the efforts towards strengthening our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police Affairs was created. Amongst others, we have increased investments in arms, weapons and other necessary equipment, expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen States of the Federation, and established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force. We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the Community Policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at boosting security nationwide[1] .

vii.  Efforts are also being made to empower the youth and provide for  poor and vulnerable groups by enhancing investments in our Social Investment Programmes.

5.      These accomplishments are a testament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future.

6.      Distinguished participants, when we met one year ago, little did we know that the world would be in a serious economic, social and health crisis that had left even the major economies in disarray, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Just as in other jurisdictions, the socio-economic landscape of Nigeria has experienced a severe shock.  Nearly 55,000 of our people have been infected with the virus while we have recorded 1,054 deaths by 4th September. The economy contracted by -6.1 per cent in the second quarter of this year; normal schooling has been disrupted; businesses are struggling and in certain instances completely closed; many people have lost their jobs and earning a living has been difficult. It has been a trying time for all of us and particularly for those in the informal sector who make their living from daily earnings.

 7.      It has not been any easier for Governments, Federal and State alike. As a result of the poor fortunes of the oil sector, our revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen drastically. Our revenues have fallen by almost 60%. Yet we have had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects. We acted to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan but we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down.

8.      The N2.3 Trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP),  consists of fiscal, monetary and sectoral measures to enhance local production, support businesses, retain and create jobs and provide succour to Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.  In addition to improving the health sector, the ESP lays emphasis on labour-intensive interventions in agriculture, light manufacturing, housing, and facilities management. It also complements on-going major infrastructural projects in power, road and rail by prioritising the building of rural roads, information and telecommunications technologies as well as providing solar power to homes which were not hitherto connected to the National Grid.

9.      Alongside interventions in these critical areas, including agriculture and food security, affordable housing, technology, health, and providing jobs for youths and women post-COVID; the ESP will also provide different avenues whereby Government will support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them respond to the economic challenges of COVID-19.

This includes safeguarding about 300,000 jobs in 100,000 MSMEs by guaranteeing off-take of priority products; and Survival Fund to support vulnerable SMEs in designated vulnerable sectors in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguarding jobs from the shock of COVID-19.

10.    Under the ESP MSMEs component, both the Survival Fund (Payroll support), and the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, GoS, are to impact about 1.7 million individuals within a three to five months timeline. Also, 45 per cent of total business beneficiaries will be female owned; and 5 per cent of total business beneficiaries will be dedicated to special needs business owners.[2] 

 11.     In addition, under the Survival Fund (payroll support) scheme; 250,000 new business names are to be registered at a discounted rate of N6,000 by the CAC, but this will be free for the MSMEs; while 330,000 transport workers and artisans will get one-time grants of N30,000 each.

 12.    Following an MOU to be signed by BOI and the FG, the total beneficiaries for Survival Fund Scheme tracks are about 33,000 beneficiaries per State; with a minimum payroll support at N30,000 and maximum support is N50,000.

 13.   The COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a severe downturn in the funds available to finance our budget and has severely hampered our capacity to ..one of the steps we took at the beginning of the crisis in March when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown, was the deregulation of  the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) such that the benefit of lower prices at that time  was passed to consumers.

This was welcome by all and sundry. The effect of deregulation though is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover we would see some increases in PMS prices.  This is what has happened now. When global prices rose, it meant that the price of petrol locally will go up.

 14.    There are several negative consequences if Government should even attaempt to go back to the   business of fixing or subsidizing PMS prices.  First of all, it would mean a return to the costly subsidy regime . Today we have  60% less revenues, we just  cannot afford the cost.

The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this administration. Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices. Also, as I hinted earlier, there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services.[3]   We now simply have no choice.

Nevertheless, I want to assure our compatriots that Government is extremely mindful of the pains that higher prices mean at this time, and we do not take the sacrifices that all Nigerians have to make for granted.

We will continue to seek ways and means of cushioning pains especially for the most vulnerable in our midst. We will also remain alert to our responsibilities to ensure that marketers do not exploit citizens by   raising pump price arbitrarily .

This is the role that government must now play through the PPPRA. This explains why the PPPRA made the announcement a few days ago setting the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers. The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will be keep coming down.

 15.    The recent service based  tariff adjustment by the Discos  has also been a source of concern for many of us. Let me say frankly that like many Nigerians I have been very unhappy about the quality of service given by the Discos, but there are many constraints including poor transmission capacity and distribution capacity.

I have already signed off on the first phase of the Siemens project to address many of these issues. Because of the problems with the privatization exercise government has had to keep supporting the largely privatized electricity industry .

So far to keep the industry going we have spent almost 1.7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls. We do not have the resources at this point to continue in this way and it will be grossly irresponsible to borrow to subsidize a generation and distribution which are both privatized.

But we also have a duty to ensure that the large majority of those who cannot afford to pay cost reflective tariffs are protected from increases. NERC the industry regulator therefore approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.

Under this new arrangement only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply, or the Band D and E Customers MUST be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase.

Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing.  Accordingly, a mass metering program is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers – creating thousands of jobs in the process.

NERC has also committed  to strictly enforcing  the capping regulation which will ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood.

 17.    In addressing the power problems we must not forget that most Nigerians are not even connected to electricity at all. So as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, we are providing Solar home systems to  5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.

We have already begun the process of providing financing support through the CBN for manufacturers and retailers of Off Grid Solar Home Systems and Mini-Grids who are to provide the systems . The Five million systems under the ESP’s Solar Power Strategy will produce 250,000  jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation [4] This means that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

 18.    The support to Solar Home System manufacturers and the bulk procurement of local meters will create over 300,000 local jobs while ensuring that we set Nigeria on a path to full electrification. The tariff review is not about the increase, which will only affect the top electricity consumers, but establishing a system which will definitely lead to improved service for all at a fair and reasonable price. [5]

 19.    There has been some concern expressed about the timing of these two necessary adjustments.  It is important to stress that it is a mere coincidence in the sense that the deregulation of PMS prices happened quite some time ago, it was announced on 18 March 2020 and the price moderation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

Similarly, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July but was put on hold to enable further studies and proper arrangements to be made.  This government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people  are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation, and we certainly will not inflict hardship on our people.

But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans brighter more prosperous days will come soon.  Ministers and senior officials must accordingly ensure the vigorous and prompt implementation of the ESP programmes, which will give succour to Nigerians.

 20.   In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has created credit facilities (of up to N100B) for the Healthcare (N100 Billion) and Manufacturing (N1 Trillion) sectors. From January, 2020 to date, over N191.87B has already been disbursed for 76 real sectors projects under the N1TRN Real Sector Scheme; while 34 Healthcare projects have been funded to a tune of N37.159B under the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility.

The facilities are meant to address some of the infrastructural gap in the healthcare and manufacturing sector as a fall out to the COVID-19 pandemic and to facilitate the attainment of the Governors 5-year strategic plan.[6]

21.    Distinguished participants, to address our current economic challenges, and consolidate on our achievements over the past year, this retreat has been designed to:

                    Review the performance of each Minister in delivering the priority mandates, including programmes and projects assigned to them upon their appointment in 2019;

                    Identify key impediments to implementation; and

                    Re-strategize on how to accelerate delivery of results, given the current economic situation.

22.    The retreat would also provide the opportunity to effectively evaluate the activities of the Ministries over the last twelve months with regard to the delivery of our agenda and promise to Nigerians.

23.    The Ministers are urged to work closely with the Permanent Secretaries to ensure accelerated and effective delivery of the policies, programmes and projects in the priority areas. I have also directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to intensify efforts at deepening the work of the Delivery Unit under his coordination towards ensuring effective delivery of Government Policies, Programmes and Projects in the coming years. It is also my expectation that progress on performance of the implementation of the 9 priority areas will be reported on a regular basis.

24.    In closing, I encourage optimal participation and contribution by all participants, while observing all the necessary safety protocols and compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.

25.    On this note, it is my pleasure to formally declare this Retreat open. I look forward to a very fruitful session and stimulating exchange of views.

26.    Thank you.

27.    God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Expert says COVID-19 provides Nigeria opportunity to invest, improve health sector financing

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A Development Finance Specialist, Mr Princewill Eziukwu, on Tuesday said Coronavirus (COVID-19) was an opportunity for Nigeria to invest and improve its health sector financing.


Eziukwu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that the pandemic had exposed countries that failed to critically invest in their respective health sectors.

He said that for over a decade Nigeria had invested less than five per cent of its annual budget to the health sector.

The financial expert said that with improved health sector financing, strengthening accountability mechanisms and public-private partnerships, Nigeria would be better prepared for future emergencies.

“Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with an avenue to evaluate the way we have been doing things.

”It has also provided us with an opportunity to re-assess the government’s preparedness to address future pandemics,” he said.

Eziukwu said it was imperative that health policymakers took advantage of the pandemic to improve health financing mechanisms, correlation between health and economic growth and increased attention to disease prevention.

He said  larger impact of the pandemic could be broadly grouped a national health emergency.

He said that this was because of its rate of spread and the diversion of human and financial resources from other critical health challenges such as Ebola, Malaria and .

Eziukwu said that coronavirus could overwhelm the health system in little time as was currently the case in Nigeria and other affected countries.

He further said that the neglect of other health challenges could  lead to  loss of already gained grounds in the fight against them.

He said that the economic challenge presented by the pandemic could be quite devastating particularly for emerging economies in Africa.

“As at June 2, Africa had about 108,121 confirmed cases with a death rate lower than the rest of the world.

“However, the continent can be said to be worst hit considering other factors.

“One key factor is the mono-primary commodity export in most African countries, of which price falls will lead to a great loss of income in these countries.

“Another factor is the dominant informal sector in the economies.

“Contrary to what is obtainable in Western economies, African economies are still very nascent with the majority of its citizens operating in the informal sectors,” he said.

Eziukwu, said that the approach of locking down the economy had  caused hardship to many citizens, adding that the limited fiscal policy had also contributed to the hardship the citizens were experiencing.

“Many African countries have high debt to revenue ratios, of which a reduction in commodity prices will be unable to meet the basic operating and administrative costs.

“Also, there is limited health insurance in emerging economies which leads to high out-of-pocket health expenditure and these have further increased poverty rates,” he said.

Eziukwu said that some of the most hit areas of the economy during this pandemic were foreign reserves and currency values.

“Many emerging countries’ 12 months forward price is trading at approximately 50 per cent reduction when compared with the United States dollars and other currencies.

“It is reported that the Naira is currently trading at over N500 to a dollar in the foreign  exchange market.

“This is an over 42 per cent reduction when compared with the currency’s trading average of N360 before the pandemic,” he said.

Eziukwu said that the epidemic preparedness and health sector funding models had also been seriously tested at this time.

He said that African countries that religiously followed the 2001 Abuja Accord  were better positioned to withstand the economic impact of the pandemic.

The financial expert said that the  countries that failed to meet the Abuja Accord target were more vulnerable as a result of the pandemic which was already over stretching frail health systems.

“This pandemic has provided a critical juncture for policymakers to review all possible approaches to better health financing.

”There is no better time to understand and agree that health is indeed wealth and should take precedence in all budgetary and financing decisions of the government.

“It is expected that going forward, there must be a convergence between the private sector, donor agencies and the government.

”This convergence will be important in addressing the weaknesses the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified,” he said.

Eziukwu said that in April, Nigeria’s Finance Minister had rolled out several interventions to address the pandemic.

He said that the interventions among other things included N500 billion intervention fund to build and maintain various primary health care facilities across the country.

“While this is a welcome development, an enabling environment should be created and sustained.

”This enabling environment is necessary to assist the private sector to further invest in the revamp and management of primary healthcare facilities across the country.

“Doing such will bring Nigeria closer to achieving universal health coverage (UHC),” he said.

Eziukwu said that investing in infrastructure only would not be sufficient to address the weaknesses in Nigeria’s health sector.

He said that there was a need to reduce the burden of care for basic ailments on secondary and tertiary health facilities by improving and sustaining PHCs.

The expert said that during a pandemic, improving micro and medium scale enterprise investments would have to be another approach for all Central Bank’s development finance investments.

He said that on March 27, CBN rolled out several interventions aimed at assisting businesses facing challenges as a result of the lockdown, which was welcome. 

Eziukwu, however, othebserved that review of the requirements from the CBN revealed certain requirements that small-scale businesses would not be able to meet to access the funds.

To address this, he said, the CBN  should lower the requirements for accessing the funds and target high-impact job-generating sectors during the lockdown and after.

Eziukwu,  however, said that while this might have short term positive impact as a considerable amount of the funds would go into food purchases, in the long run, it might lead to inflation.

He said that targeted interventions should be critically encouraged at this point.

 

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

https://nnn.ng/expert-says-covid-19-provides-nigeria-opportunity-to-invest-improve-health-sector-financing/
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Late Sen. Osinowo displayed unwavering commitment to better Nigeria- Folarin

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Sen. Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central) has described the death of Sen. Adebayo Osinowo (APC-Lagos East) as a loss of a patriot, who displayed unwavering commitment to a better Nigeria.


This is contained in a tribute he signed and made available to newsmen in Ibadan on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the late Sen. Osinowo died on Monday.

“Distinguished Sen. Osinowo was unwavering in his commitment to a better Nigeria. He made a huge difference in the lives of millions of people in Lagos East Senatorial district and Nigeria at large,” he said.

Folarin, a former Senate leader, recalled late Osinowo’s great impressions on him as regards religious tolerance, efficacy of prayers and service to humanity during the 2019 Hajj they performed together.

He said that Osinowo’s demise was a bitter pill for members of the 9th National Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The sudden demise of my colleague and brother, Sen. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo is, undoubtedly, a bitter pill for members of the 9th Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and APC,” he said.

Folarin expressed his condolences to Osinowo’s family, the Nigerian Senate, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the good people of Lagos and Ogun States.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and associates worldwide as we grieve over the loss of such an extraordinary individual.

“I pray that in this difficult time, God give us the strength and courage to bear the irreplaceable loss.

“The wonderful memories of Sen. Osinowo’s unique personality will be celebrated by all for a very long time. May Allah grant him Al-Jannah Fridauz,” he said.

Edited Edith Bolokor/Adeleye Ajayi

 

 

https://nnn.ng/late-sen-osinowo-displayed-unwavering-commitment-to-better-nigeria-folarin/
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