Solid waste poses greatest environmental challenge in Nigeria- Minister
By Francisca Oluyole
Abuja, Nov. 4, 2019 Dr Mohammed Mamoud, the Minister of Environment says the menace of municipal solid waste is one of the gravest environmental challenges facing the country.
Mamoud made this known during official the commissioning and handover of the Community Based Waste Management Project in Karu Local Government Area, Nasarawa State.
The Community Based Waste Management Programme is an intervention scheme of the Federal Government in municipal solid waste management.
It is designed to assist states to manage their municipal solid wastes in an environmentally sound manner.
The minister said that the menace of municipal solid waste could be linked to urban migration, over population, emergence of urban slums, industrialisation, changes in consumption patterns.
Others, according to him, include inadequate planning, inadequate resources and facilities to sustainably manage waste being generated.
“The menace posed by municipal solid waste in Nigeria, particularly in our urban areas is one of the gravest environmental challenges facing the country.
“In recent years, states and local governments throughout the federation have intensified efforts to ensure that municipal solid wastes generated within their domains are properly managed,” he said.
He, however, said that the problem still persisted as all manners of wastes were being disposed off indiscriminately in open and unlined pits, drainage systems, water bodies and on any available space.
The minister said that more worrisome was both hazardous and non hazardous wastes including hospital wastes were disposed off in dump sites and burnt open|y as these practices pose great risk to health and the environment.
He said that against this background that the Federal Government designed the Community Based Waste Management Programme as an intervention waste to wealth initiative to assist states manage their waste in environmentally sound manner.
“This programme is also expected to among others train and generate employment particularly for youths and women, attract private sector participation and investment including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“The ministry is equally reviewing existing waste management instruments and putting in place new ones including policies, regulations, technical guidelines and standard.
“This will ensure that the wastes generated in the country are managed in environmentally sound and sustainable manner with the private sector as the main driver in waste management for viability and sustainability.”
Mamoud said that the project in Karu Local Government Area was one of several community based management projects being implemented by this administration with others at different stages spread across the other geopolitical zones.
The contract for the Karu project was awarded in November, 2017, and it has been successfully completed as designed.
The project components include segregation at household level, backlog evacuation of wastes, continuous collection of wastes, construction of Plastic Recycling P|ant (Pelletizer) and construction of public toilet.
Others include procurement of waste trucks, waste receptacles to be placed in public places such as motor parks, market or high population density areas, Procurement and distribution of colour coded waste bins to facilitate waste segregation/recycling.
Other are procurement and distribution of waste carriage bags for waste collection, 250KVA soundproof generator among others.
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state commended the effort of the ministry for choosing Karu and promised that the state would ensure maximum utilisation of the project.
Sule said that waste could devastate the environment, adding that the state had commenced the monthly environmental sanitation to keep it clean and healthy.
He said his administration would continue to sensitisation the people on indiscriminate dumping of waste in drainage and the need to convert of waste to wealth.
Mr Tanko Auta, the Sole Administrator of Nasarawa State Waste Management Bureau said that greater Karu was adjudged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be the fastest growing urban centre in the world.
He assured the ministry that the intervention projects would be judiciously utilised for the purpose they were meant for.
Edited by Grace Yussufhttps://nnn.ng/solid-waste-poses-greatest-environmental-challenge-in-nigeria-minister/
Buhari’s address at Ministerial Performance Review Retreat
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE FIRST YEAR MINISTERIAL PERFROMANCE REVIEW RETREAT
7TH SEPTEMBER, 2020,
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 .
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.
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. 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  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. 
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.
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. https://nnn.ng/buharis-address-at-ministerial-performance-review-retreat/
Minister unveils ‘Cash 4 Trash’ recycling hub in FCT
The FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, on Thursday unveiled ‘Cash 4 Trash’ recycling hub in Nyanya, Abuja, as part of measures to control indiscriminate waste disposal.
Aliyu, while unveiling the project, explained that the objective of the scheme was to promote healthy environment and erosion control.
She stressed that blocking the drainage system with litter had been one of the major factors contributing to flooding in some parts of the territory.
“This scheme will go a long way in controlling blockages on our streets and drainages by ensuring that waste are exchanged for cash.
“Trash to wealth will also empower our youths to earn legitimate income.
“The era of sitting down and do nothing has gone. The Federal Capital Territory Administration through the Satellite Towns Development Department is partnering with all these bodies and more.
“The partnership is to ensure that you can pick up some litter and get some money.”
The minister said that the scheme would empower the youths and at the same time clean the environment.
“This is an igneous way of getting money through trash.
“So, I want to congratulate Nyanya women and youths and also call on them to ensure that they use this scheme judiciously by picking up some litter that can be exchanged for wealth”.
Earlier in her remarks, the Convener of WASTE Africa, Ms Funto Boroffice, noted that Abuja lacked recycling plant, hence the need to introduce it in the nation’s capital like most cities in the country.
Boroffice revealed that with the support of Coca Cola Foundation, WASTE Africa was able to establish seven recycling hubs in the territory, just as it commended the FCT Administration for the partnership.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)https://nnn.ng/minister-unveils-cash-4-trash-recycling-hub-in-fct/
France holds delayed municipal elections, Macron’s party faces challenge
As COVID-19 epidemic indicators keep improving in France, some 16.5 million voters are called to cast ballots on Sunday in the second round of municipal elections under strict health protocol.
Of France’s 35,000 cities, towns and villages, about 30,000 had already elected their mayors in the first round held on March 15.
The second round of mayoral elections was originally planned for March 22, but the worsening coronavirus outbreaks and the anti-virus lockdown had forced the French government to postpone it.
TURNOUT IS MAIN UNKNOWN
TURNOUT IS MAIN UNKNOWN
TURNOUT IS MAIN UNKNOWN
Sunday’s voting is taking place in 4,827 municipalities, as well as in the districts of Paris, Lyon and Marseille, where the councils were not elected in the first round.
For the voting, the French Interior Ministry recommended voters should keep a safe distance from each other, wear a mask at polling stations and bring their own pens to sign off their vote.
At a polling station in Paris’ northern suburb of Parmain, staff workers are wearing face masks. Stickers on the ground mark out where people should stand while waiting for their turn, and hand gel is provided upon entry.
“I am going to carry out my civic duty. This time, the context is different owing to the epidemic but it does not prevent me from doing what must be done. Certainly, we should adapt to this situation but we keep on living,” Mathilde, a 67-year-old pensioner, told Xinhua.
Another voter, who gave her name as Nathalie, abstained in the first round due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the second round, things are improving, and the situation is better even if the virus still circulates. But I’m not afraid. With my gloves, mask and pen, I think I can vote in security,” she said.
Since early March, 29,778 people in France had succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As of Friday, 8,886 COVID-19 patients were still hospitalized, of whom 634 were in intensive care units.
Since May 11, France has eased restriction measures step by step after a months-long nationwide lockdown.
“The turnout is the main unknown of this election. It is difficult to know what will happen. The campaign, the longest in the 5th Republic (of France), had low intensity and struggled to gain momentum due to economic concerns and renewed health concerns,” said Frederic Dabi, director of the IFOP opinion institute.
“What is certain is that we will not be at the same level of 2014,” he added, estimating Sunday’s turnout to be at 42 percent.
In the first round elections, only 44.3 percent of voters came to polling stations due to the risk of contamination, as against 63.5 percent in 2014.
CHALLENGE FOR MACRON’S PARTY
CHALLENGE FOR MACRON’S PARTY
CHALLENGE FOR MACRON’S PARTY
Facing his first domestic mid-term vote challenge, President Emmanuel Macron had bet on his La Republique en Marche (LREM) party — which he created in 2016 — to win control of major cities to anchor power at local levels, and offset losses in the rural zone where his party faces criticism of “doing little” for the working class, local media reported.
“Efforts by LREM to build grassroots support have fallen short, with most of its candidates failing to make it past the first round of voting on March 15,” said state-owned international news television network France 24.
The good news was that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe finished first in the port city of Le Havre, winning 43.6 percent of the vote and consolidating his chance to win the runoff.
“Philippe, whose popularity has soared over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, also faces a close fight to regain his mayor’s seat in the port of Le Havre. A loss by Philippe would almost certainly force Macron into a broad reshuffle of his cabinet,” France 24 said.
Opinion polls projected that the ruling party’s candidates would fail to re-conquer any big city, which would be a blow to Macron’s plan to build a local power base he needs to extend his stay at the Elysee Palace for another five-year term.
With 44 percent of vote intentions, the incumbent Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, had been viewed to be comfortably ahead of conservative rival Rachida Dati’s 35 percent. Macron’s official candidate and former health minister Agnes Buzyn was deemed to be in third place with 18 percent, a recent Elabe survey showed.
Candidates from the European Ecologists and the Greens (EELV) are expected to gain control of key cities, such as Lyon and Bordeaux, after a surge in the support they reported in the first round.
Expert says COVID-19 provides Nigeria opportunity to invest, improve health sector financing
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/