Curbing export rejects through improved standards
Curbing export rejects through improved standards
By Gregory Mmaduakolam, News Agency of Nigeria
International trade is vital to the growth of any economy.
Nigeria’s economy has been largely serviced by foreign exchange earned from crude oil sales.
The present administration, on various occasions, has vowed to continue to move the country away from monolithic economy to one in which foreign exchange is earned from diverse sources.
Speaking at the 27th Annual National Conference of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has said there is a need to sustain the diversification of the economy already achieved by this administration.
Represented at the event by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, said that a national development plan has been generated to respond to the challenges of a mono-economy.
He said the two broad objectives of the plan is leveraging on various growth sectors, strengthening linkages and enhancing value chain.
One of the sectors expected to drive this agenda is agriculture and the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Ernest Umakhihe says emphasis is being placed on adding value to agro products before exporting them.
He spoke at the 45th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) in Jos, Plateau State.
Experts say this target faces one major challenge—the rejection of produce from Nigeria by the international market.
Some of the reasons cited for the rejections are food safety, technical barriers, non-adherence to best practices and disregard for basic requirements.
Nigeria being faced with a lot of economic challenges as experienced globally by other nations cannot just relax and allow this other way of earning foreign exchange from its products at the global markets to slip it by, without ensuring that critical measures are taken to harness this advantage.
The Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak has acknowledged this shortcoming, saying that the Council was poised to address it holistically.
“Packaging and labelling is also a key factor that determines the sustainability of products in the foreign market.
“The problem of quality, standard, certification and appropriate packaging for Made-in-Nigeria products destined for export has been an issue due to lack of awareness.
“In fact the international market in its competitive nature will only welcome products of high quality with relevant certifications and quality packaging that is environmentally friendly”, the media recently quoted him as saying.
According to him, the international market is so competitive that any little detail that is not fixed can cause the exporting country several billions of dollars and discourage exporters from patronising products from that country in the future.
“ In most cases, packaging has often been approached from the view point of providing safety for the product thereby neglecting the other qualities such as the aesthetics and design nature of the packaging itself.
“The market world has changed systematically giving more preference to products with good packaging and edging out producers without certification,’’ he said.
Similarly Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said, over 76 per cent of Nigeria’s exported agricultural commodities are rejected in Europe for not meeting required standards.
Adeyeye, while speaking on measures taken to improve the country’s agricultural product exports, said the agency got the feedback through its rapid alert systems.
“We’ve got to work hard to show that we love this country to the extent that we will not bring disgrace to the country from outside.
“When somebody saves money, gets loans or whatever, exports an agricultural product and that product is rejected, it breaks my heart,” she said.
Mrs Adeyeye said it is important for exporters to respect regulatory procedures of NAFDAC and Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) when processing their export farm produce for export.
“So the people that are exporting are either taking shortcuts or they’re being deceived that their products are okay, just ship it, we will take care of it,” she said in a recent media report.
She, therefor, appealed to commodity exporters to work closely with relevant authorities such as NAFDAC and NEPC to ensure that the chance of their products being rejected abroad was drastically minismised.
“I am pleading with all exporters, and MSMEs who want to export to please come to NAFDAC to make sure their products meet international market standards,” she said.
In adding , the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government was doing everything possible to ensure that products being exported from Nigeria were not rejected abroad for not meeting health safety standards.
Ehanire, spoke in Lagos State during the opening of a six-day training for members of the National Codex Committee on Food Safety Risk Analysis and the revised NCC procedural manual organised in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
He said the Federal Government had taken steps “to ensure protection of food safe also to ensure fair practice in international food trade’’.
“We have been hearing of rejection of our products; it is because there’s no adherence to standards, and this is not giving the country a good image.
“It’s affecting us economically; tourism wise and in every other aspect’’, he said.
Malam Farouk Salim, Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), said the Organisation has raised the standards to check the rejection faced by Nigeria’s agricultural commodities in global markets.
The move according to the standards body is apt and timely to make Nigeria agro commodities competitive at the international markets, especially with the introduction of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) According Salim, Nigerian goods are rejected, because they fail standard procedure locally before being exported.
“Exporters do not check the standards of the country they are exporting to.
“So as long as our exporters ignore our standards they will have their products rejected.
If they follow due procedures; we are here to partner and assist them to make sure that their products are accepted globally.
” “If the exporters come through us and they follow the standards of our country and they follow the standards of the country they are exporting to, they will have no problem of rejection” he said.
Dr Vincent Isegbe, Director-General, NAQS, urged exporters to take advantage of experts in his agency to reduce the losses they incur due to the rejection of their products abroad.
“Commodities leaving Nigeria must be signed and certified by the Service to get the Phytosanitary Certificate.
“As custodians of rules and regulations concerning plants and products, we have power to exercise our obligations towards all those international protocols”, he said.
As exporters seek to leverage on the international market to project Nigeria’s products and maximise profit, it will benefit them to key into Federal Government’s policies to ensure their products is of top quality.
(NANFeafutures) **If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria.
Kaduna State is gradually emerging as a new business destination of choice in Nigeria, attracting major investments in the last seven years. So far, the state has generated investment portfolio of about $4.3 billion spanning areas of agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and retail services. Already, more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created. This feat was achieved by deliberate planning through the creation of a one-stop-shop and operationalizing of the ease of doing business charter to break barriers to investments and expansion of the fiscal space. The state, in 2018, was ranked first in the country by the World Bank in the ease of doing business. This is a quantum leap from the 24th position it occupied in 2014. According to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the government’s cardinal agenda is anchored on providing enabling environment for the private sector to drive the economy while government provides the enabling environment. “This is driven by numerous policy actions and reforms that are geared towards revamping our competitive edge by making Kaduna the state of choice for investments decisions. He said that the government vision was driven by the recognition that the private sector provides the fastest way to create jobs and global competitiveness for the bulging youthful population. “Kaduna State Government has attracted a total investment portfolio of $4,488,000,000, comprising actualized and announced investments, and has created 75,750 direct and indirect jobs, in the last seven years,” according to El-Rufai. The journey began in 2016 when the state held its first Economic and Investment Summit, tagged KadInvest 1.0, which attracted 25 local and foreign investments worth $500 million. Subsequently, the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency developed an investment regulation framework to drive Public Private Partnership to facilitate investment across multiple sectors. During the KadInvest 2.0 in 2017, Kaduna state government unveiled its 2016-2020 Development Plan and SIP as vehicles for achieving SDGs through the annual budgetary framework. Thus, the state’s annual budget had since then, largely funded infrastructure development Some of the key investments attracted to the state in 2017 include Olam Poultry and Feed Mill, Mass Housing at Millennium City, KADICT, etc. A 3-year MoU was also signed with USAID to help drive economic development in the state and also launch of the Eyes and Ears Citizen Engagement Platform. Also, the KadInvest 3.0 in 2018 was used to unveil the state Infrastructure Master Plan (2018-2050). A total of 14+ investments were solidified through foreign and domestic investments. The state attracted 79 per cent Foreign Direct Investment and 21 per cent Domestic Investment, including the new flagship Dangote Peugeot Automobile Plant while more focus was made to building human capital. KadInvest 4.0 in 2019 brought about the operationalisation of the Kaduna Industrial Master Plan and improved the investment portfolio by 300 per cent. It was during the event that the state launched into the Industry 4.0 phase focusing on developing knowledge-driven economy while revamping industries. KadInvest 5.0 in 2020 was on “Infrastructure, industrialisation and innovation” and had the first Sub-National Virtual Economic and Investment Summit in Nigeria. It launched the Oxford Business Group Kaduna Report and the Public Private Partnership Policy and Manual. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state grew its investment portfolio by over $500 million. In 2021, the government focus was on promotion of knowledge-based economy through its 5-year Development Plan (2021-2025), which carries the blueprint showcasing where the state wants to be by 2025. According to El-Rufai, the plan contains a “tourism catalogue to proactively showcase our tourist sites and investment opportunities to the international market. ”It also has the Skills for Prosperity plan, a demand driven Skills and Education Programme that will equip youths with high quality skills needed by industries,” he said. In the last investment summit held from Oct. 13- Oct. 17, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the state for emerging the investment destination of choice in Nigeria. He said it was a recognition of the state’s policy drive and consistency which made the business community to continue to bring more investments. During the 7th edition of Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, various projects were opened to full business. Some of the companies include Falgates Foods and Rice Mill, AFEX Aggregation and Processing Centre, the KASTLEA Vehicle Inspection Centre, Kaduna Galaxy Mall, and COP Fertilizer Company. Others include a film village, three housing estates: Muwaffaq Estate, Nuru Siraj Estate, and Rheyno Estate, and Amsco Neighbourhood Centre. The event was rounded up with the launch of the new Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Charter 2022. There was also the declaration of the state’s Green Economic Zone as a Special Economic Zone with Free Trade Zone Status and Operational License by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA). The state is angling to attract more investors by touting its population and infrastructure. “Kaduna state is the third biggest consumer market in Nigeria, the third most populous state in Nigeria and has 52 per cent of Nigeria’s consumer market. ‘’Besides, Kaduna state is rich in mineral resources as it has over 25 non-oil mineral deposits, including gold, iron ore and marble,’’ the governor said during the KadInvest 7.0. He also listed some of the major achievements of his administration, which include raking in N52 billion as Internally Generated Revenue in 2021 as against N11 billion in 2015. These also include completion of roads and recreational facilities, construction and expansion of schools, launch of aerial services for drugs supply and completion of an additional 300-bed hospital in Kaduna. According to El-Rufai, what the state has been doing is to become more innovative and resilient against global economic shocks by harnessing its comparative advantages to build the confidence of investors. As part of its future plans, the state is eyeing N20 trillion investments by 2050, raise investment in agriculture to contribute 40 per cent of overall state GDP by 2025. It also wants at least 10 percent share of electronics sector; 10 per cent in Motor Vehicle Assembly sector; 20 per cent penetration of renewables, and increase electricity grid by at least 400 MW. The government also plans to formalize artisanal mining to capture unaccounted mining activities in the state and their corresponding revenue generation. It also wants to revive brownfield textile industries and improve support services provided to cotton farmers. Other areas are innovation via ICT in the areas of Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Education. Expanding road network and provision of inter and intra transportation scheme, and exploring opportunities in rail freight transport between major industrial sites in the state. NewsSourceCredit: NAN
Between lure of int’l gas market and meeting domestic needs
Between lure of int’l gas market and meeting domestic needs
By Ebele Agozie, News Agency of Nigeria
The raging war between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted global demand and supply chain and in the process, triggered the scarcity of certain goods and services.
The consequence is increase in prices of such goods and services.
The war has therefore worsened the already bad economic situation in many countries, particularly in African.
One of the most sought after products, especially in Europe is gas which had hitherto been largely supplied to many European countries by Russia.
The conflict’s impact on gas supply from Russia has made it imperative for many European countries, and the EU as a block to look elsewhere to beat the shortage of the product.
This search has made them to turn their attention to African countries that have gas in commercial quantity in what oil and gas experts have dubbed the ‘gas rush’.
A recent visit by some U.
S. and European envoys to Nigeria in search of cooperation in the secor seems to support the argument that Nigeria’s gas deposit is being explored for Europe and U.
Mathew Baldwin, EU Deputy Director on Energy during his visit to Nigeria told the media recently that the EU can no longer count on Russia for its gas supply.
He said it is important to build new partnerships with countries like Nigeria, to source more gas at favourable commercial terms.
John Kerry, a former U.
S. Secretary of State said the US is interested in Nigeria’s methane abatement and decarbonisation programme, with a pledge of $200m by U.
S. to Nigeria and other countries for their clean energy initiatives.
In a response, Mr Timipre Sylva, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources sought support for gas exploration in Nigeria though he explained that Africa’s contribution to the global emissions remains meager.
“We would also like to say that on the energy transition, we have certain realities that the world must consider.
“We have this number of people without access to electricity, but we don’t have the funding and the technology to achieve this transition,” he said.
Mr Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental think tank and advocacy organisation called for caution in Nigeria’s quest to quench Western countries appetite for gas.
“This gas rush in Africa is could be interpreted simply as another manifestation of colonial exploitation by the West. “They ought to transit to cleaner energy but because of the war in Ukraine, they want to insist on using dirty energy and they are coming to Africa as the usual place for extraction and continuous pollution of our environment.
“And, because we are always asking for assistance and all kinds of support, we are unable to make strong demands from them.
“If we keep looking for huge funds coming from outside, exporting resources and importing the finished products, our independence will just remain flag independence.
“It is a big problem and we need to wake up to that because posterity will judge everyone and every government,” he said.
Dr Obiageli Anaghara-Uzoh an oil and gas management, petroleum taxation and finance lawyer called on the authorities to be pragmatic in signing any gas supply agreement with the West. “We have it in abundance but it is not benefiting from it.
Nigeria is largely a gas country, but the power sector, one of the major sectors of the economy has the problem of paying for gas.
“The best option is to strike a balance: while we take advantage of the exports, we should also try and nurture the domestic market,” she said.
She advised the government to be cautious while selling the gas and remember to give back to the poor.
“The government should be more focused and committed to developing Nigeria,” she advised.
Prof, Ibrahim Choji, Chairman Board of Trustees, Climate and Sustainable Development Network, advised that Nigeria’s leaders against being selfish in dealing with the gas demands from the West. The organisation is an International NGO affiliated with pan African climate Justice Alliance.
“ Nigeria may well fall prey because of the possible financial and short-term benefits of exporting gas to these countries.
Amb. Freeman Oluowo, Coordinator, African Centre for Climate Actions and Rural Development said that Nigeria must put her governance system in a position to address the issues in the oil and gas sector.
“How can you talk about industrialisation and youth empowerment if you sell a large quantity of the gas that will generate electricity?
It is important that while we sell, we should make adequate arrangement for the domestic consumption.
“Most developed countries use internal capacity building model; they first satisfy the needs of their citizens before selling to other countries,” he argued.
The Federal Government says is aware of the need to balance the demand for international trade and local consumption.
Speaking recently on cooperation between Nigeria and Portugal at the Presidential Palace in Lisbon, Buhari assured that Nigeria was already doing business in that field with Portugal without jeopardising local supply.
**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria
Boosting foreign currency remittance through U.
S. EB-5 Visa policy Participants at the information series on EB-5 investment project in AbujaBoosting foreign currency remittance through U.
S. EB-5 Visa policy A News Analysis by Ikenna Uwadileke, News Agency of Nigeria On Oct. 20 the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in collaboration with Invest in USA (IIUSA) hosted an interactive session on EB-5 investment project for Nigerians wishing to migrate to the country for investment.
The event with the theme “Pathway to USA Permanent Residency for You and Your Family) provided a platform to enlighten Nigerians on the importance of investors getting the right information on EB-5 opportunities.
The EB-5 program is a U.
S government-authorised visa category created by the Congress in 1990. Its main focus is to inspire foreign investment in job-creating enterprises in exchange for a U.
S. Green Card. The event also provided the U.
S. delegates the opportunity to further woo Nigerians on the need to invest in the U.
S. economy and repatriate their money to Nigeria.
The interaction was huge and offered Nigerians the opportunity to reflect on the benefits of having the right information towards investing in USA using the EB-5 window.
Panelists at the event revealed that 80 per cent investors from Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.
K. have applied for the EB-5 programme.
They told the audience that a large number of applicants have also come from Vietnam, India, Brazil, Mexico.
Mr Fife Banks the Project Manager, , urged the Nigerian government to take a cue from other developed nations in creating an attractive framework to drive the country’s visa policy.
According to Banks, an investment in an EB-5 project is not just a financial investment but also an investment in a better future, safety, freedom and opportunities for families and loved ones.
He said that one of the main benefits of the EB5 program is the opportunity to access the U.
S. education system for one’s children and wards.
“Green Cards give EB-5 investors the option to enroll their children in U.
S. public schools from elementary school through high school at no cost.
“Children who have experience in U.
S. classrooms will already be familiar with U.
“Such children will not have to go through as intense adjustment period as international students often do upon entering U.
” Banks said.
Banks also said that adult children could benefit from the EB5 Green Card programme, and encouraged parents to fund such wards’ projects to make them eligible for the EB-5 Green Card. “This is a good option for parents who do not want to immigrate to the U.
S themselves but have children who are married or over 21 years old.
“There are health benefits also.
It grants access to the U.
S. healthcare system.
S is home to some of the world’s best hospitals, top medical schools, and top medical research centers”, Banks said.
On her part, the Director-General of ACCI, Ms Victoria Akai, said Nigeria’s economy could benefit immensely from the policy.
According to her, Nigeria’s business community can repatriate up to two billion dollars into the economy if they leverage the opportunity.
“The more investors Nigeria has in the U.
S. the more opportunities we have to contribute to shaping policies that affect Nigeria and Africans in the U.
S. “According to World Bank statistics, in 2019 Nigeria had a total export of 53.6 billion dollars and total imports of 47 billion dollars, leading to a positive trade balance of about two billion dollars.
“Nigerians are being asked to come and invest in the U.
S. like other countries come to invest in Nigeria, make money, employ their citizens.
“Whatever profits we make in the U.
S., we are also allowed to repatriate it back to Nigeria.
“Eventually, in a year we should be able to repatriate up to one billion or two billion dollars to Nigeria,’’ she said.
According to Akai, many Nigerians seeking legitimate investments in the U.
S., are not connecting with the right people, or getting the right information to enable them effectively manage risks and guarantee success in their investments.
“As experts in the field of international trade and investment, we recognise the advantage of being true global citizens in the sense of global mobility.
“Investment opportunities, which also provide opportunities for citizenship, can help extend peoples’ economic impact and help them build beyond borders and also trade and live without little limitations.
“The process of investing in the U.
S. has been the potential to significantly increase repatriation of funds to Nigeria.
“Nigerian investors can benefit from various continental and trade agreements existing in the U.
S. such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),’’ Akai said.
Mr Aaron Grau, Executive Director, IIUSA, said that Nigerians could achieve permanent U.
S. residency for their families at a minimum of 800, 000 dollars in EB-5 investment.
Grau expressed hope for a cordial and lasting relationship between Nigerians and Americans to ensure that investors had good return for their money.
“Opportunities for citizens to sponsor other family members for Green Cards are all embedded.
Mr McKenzie Penton, Director Event and Business Development, IIUSA, said that the EB-5 project required a strict and regular in-flow of funds.
“One of the most important aspects of the programme is to demonstrate where the money one is investing is coming from.
“Whether it is your earnings, assets or even from friends and family, you will need to prove and show documentation for all sources of money in the investment and fees,’’ he said.
(NANFeature) **If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria.
Averting flood disaster through early warning signs
Averting flood disaster through early warning signs
By Kayode Adebiyi, News Agency of Nigeria
Over the last two decades, advancement in science and technology has made meteorological forecast increasingly accurate.
All over the world, policy makers utilise the vast meteorological knowledge, as well as precise and other dependable weather tools, to warn about impending adverse weather days, weeks and months ahead.
Whether it is a heat wave, hurricane or flood, authorities avert the most catastrophic fallouts of natural and emergency disasters by promptly responding to early warning signs.
However, in Nigeria, such early warnings are sometimes ignored leading to unprecedented human and material costs.
A case in point is the recent flood disasters in several states, especially Anambra, Kogi, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Delta, Benue and Bayelsa.
So far, media reports indicate that the disaster has killed over 603 persons, displaced 1,302,589 and partially destroyed over 108,393 hectares of farmlands in the affected areas.
The disaster has also injured 2,407 persons, partially damaged 121,318 houses, totally damaged 82,053 houses and totally damaged 332,327 hectares of farmlands.
Unfortunately, this is a disaster that could have recorded less tragedy only if national and state governments yielded to early warning signs.
The present disaster was foretold by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) as far back as February, when it issued a warning and followed it up with monthly updates.
Early in September, NiMet also warned against a high amount of rainfall which might trigger flooding in some states, based on the rainfall distribution recorded in the country in July and Aug. 2022. “The saturated state of the soil moisture across the country in July and heavy rainfall recorded in August may make most places experience varying degrees of flooding in September.
“Places with major river channels may experience probable high risk of flood events due to accumulation of water already on the river channels which may not be able to contain any additional water,” NiMet warned.
The agency also advised emergency management agencies to intensify `adaptative, mitigative and response` mechanisms.
After what already seemed like a final apocalypse, NiMet continued to warn that the worst was not over.
The agency had expressed the likelihood of more states experiencing floods, especially in the North Central, South East and South Western states.
“In terms of the rainfall induced floods, we’ve seen the peak but remember we told you that this rainwater gets collected into the reservoirs and dams, and whenever they are filled, it gets spilled.
“On the 13th of September, the Lagbo Dam was released.
And also, Kainji and Shiroro dams were released.
What we’re witnessing now is riverine flooding,” NiMet explained.
Experts wonder why, rather than respond robustly and decisively to NiMet warnings, government at federal and state levels resorted to buck passing.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) claimed that it wrote to the 36 states of the federation, alerting them about the impending danger and advising on appropriate action.
On his part, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, implied that recent flood disasters had not reached national emergency threat levels.
He also said that each tier of government – local, state and federal – has “a sizable budget allocated monthly it monthly to deal with state-level national emergencies”.
Apparently, the presidential spokesperson was referring to the Ecological Fund, a 2.32 per cent of the derivation fund dedicated to ecology and disaster management.
Of the said amount, the Federal Government, through NEMA, accesses 20 per cent; the North East Development Commission and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority each gets 10 per cent.
The National Agency for the Great Green Wall accesses 0.5 per cent of the Ecological Fund, while the federal government also reserves another 0.55 per cent for ecological protection and disaster management.
The 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory access 0.72 per cent, and the 774 local government areas collect 0.6 per cent.
Again, a balance of another 1 per cent is reserved for the federal government.
While reacting to the disaster, Gov. Charles Soludo of Anambra said the share states get from the Ecological Fund is grossly inadequate to tackle disasters of the current magnitude.
“How will this allocation deal with this kind of ravaging situation where flood sacks almost eight local government areas at once and hundreds of billions worth of assets and sources of livelihood destroyed?
“If you spend 50 per cent of the entire ecological fund in Anambra State in one year, it will be significant but will touch only 20 per cent of the problem.
“Anambra is a national emergency by itself.
Ecological challenge requires special funding and attention because one-third of the land of Anambra is under threat,” he said.
For a country which has experienced over 100 flood-related disasters between 2011 and 2022, experts believe that governments should be should be more pragmatic in finding a solution to the problem that trading blames.
They warn that the impact of incessant flood disasters goes beyond washed away farmlands, submerged houses and flooded roads.
In a report by the NexTier SPD, co-authored by Dr Chukwuma Okoli and Dr Ndu Nwokolo, impending food scarcity, outbreak of diseases and environmental crisis are potential collateral risks of flooding.
“The agricultural losses recorded from recent flooding incidents will further worsen food scarcity.
“For instance, Olam Farm, one of Nigeria’s largest contributors to the rice value chain, had its farmland of around 4,400 hectares in Nasarawa State completely submerged by excess water from the River Benue.
“This is a red flag for food scarcity.
The release of excess water from the Lagdo dam in the neighbouring Republic of Cameroon contributed significantly to the current flooding across Nigeria.
“There is also a governance failure on the part of Nigeria for failing to complete the building of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa state as agreed by the two countries years back”, it said.
It said Nigeria’s dam is supposed to act as a buffer for excess water from the Lagdo dam.
The dam in mention, twice the size of Lagdo, was commissioned for construction in 1982 to absorb the overflow from Cameroon.
It was also expected to generate 300 megawatts of electricity and irrigate thousands of hectares of land.
Curiously, the project has not seen the light of day.
Indeed, climate change has made environmental disasters more frequent, and severe.
Therefore, along with other proactive measures, government and citizens alike have to take early warning signs more seriously.
(NANFeatures) **If used please credit the author and News Agency of Nigeria.
Girl child: Beyond the commemoration rhetoric
Girl child: Beyond the commemoration rhetoric
By Uche Anunne, News Agency of Nigeria
On Oct. 11, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child.
The UN General Assembly, in Resolution 66170 of Dec. 19, 2011 declared that day as the International Day of the Girl Child.
The Day, among others, seeks to recognise girls’ rights and the peculiar challenges girls face globally.
The International Day of the Girl Child draws attention to the need to mitigate the challenges that confront girls as well as promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
The theme for the 2022 celebration is “Our Time Is Now – Our Rights, Our Future.
” “Let’s enable girls to thrive in school, in politics, in business, and in all aspects of their lives because investing in girls is investing in our common future.
“Equal representation of Girls in Decision making tables is a milestone in achieving gender equality,” said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in a circulated video to commemorate the day.
It will be an understatement to say that girls worldwide face enormous challenges.
In addition to other forms of inhuman treatment such trafficking for sex and forced labour, and marriage, girls have unique challenges in their education and hygiene as many of them are out of school because lack of toilet and water-related issues.
According to the UN, 10 million girls risk child marriage, and 72 per cent of detected sexual exploitation victims are girls.
In this internet age, girls also face challenges as global internet user gender gap has grown from 11 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2019, with the gap being wider in least- development countries as it stands at 43 per cent.
No group of women will be in a better position to appreciate the plight of the girl child than female professionals, who have ridden through the challenges to become successful in their careers.
One of such groups is the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ekiti state chapter which has added its voice to the call for a better environment for the girl child to reach her potential.
In a statement by the chairperson, Mrs Fatima Bello, and Secretary, Mrs Adewumi Ademiju, to commemorate the 2022 edition of the International Day of Girl Child, NAWOJ said more resources should be devoted to the education of the girl child.
“The multiple roles played by girl children in society before and after they reach adulthood are enormous; they go to school, help with domestic chores, and face life challenges.
“The purpose of this day is to spread awareness about the gender-based discriminations that girls face in our society and to bring change in the attitude towards girls,” said the female journalists.
In its reaction, the International Rescue Committee (ICR) paid tribute to girls “who are showing remarkable resilience in the face of discrimination, inequality, and violence”.
In Nigeria, statistics released by UNICEF paint a more troubling scenario for the girl child.
“Girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education.
“In the north-east of Nigeria, only 41 per cent of eligible girls receive primary education, 47 per cent in the north-west.
\ “Social attitudes can also impact negatively on education rates especially in northern Nigeria.
“In north-eastern and north-western states, 29 per cent and 35 per cent of Muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic education, which does not include basic education skills such as literacy and numeracy.
“These children are officially considered out-of-school by the Government“, said the UN agency.
In a message to commemorate this year’s event, UNICEF said although there has been increased awareness about the girl child, “yet, investments in girls’ rights remain limited and girls continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential.
“This is made worse by concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19, and humanitarian conflict.
“Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections needed for a life without violence”, it said.
However, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen was recently quoted by the media as assuring that the Federal Government would continue to prioritise girls in its policies and programmes.
According to her, the government is aware of the challenges faced by the girl child in accessing basic education that will prepare her to be a major contributor to national growth.
While it acknowledges the International Day of the Girl Child, evidence shows that the average girl child still suffers from multiple challenges that inhibit her from realising her full potentialities.
It is important that the stakeholders, irrespective of their political, ethnic, and religious leaning join forces with the federal government to guarantee a beautiful feature for the girl child.
Society has to transcend the annual ritual of encomiums, statistics, and pledges and take concrete steps to match their professions to the wellbeing of the girl child with actions.
**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria
News Analysis: Developing people, communities through shared values
News Analysis: Developing people, communities through shared values
By Vivian Ihechu, News Agency of Nigeria
Nigeria, a vast country with many states and ethnicities still has majority of its communities yearning for development.
Inadequate infrastructure, especially in the education and health sectors, as well as lack of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities among others challenges, limit communities from advancing optimally.
Community development aims to build stronger and more resilient local communities through collective actions and generating solutions to common problems.
It seeks to empower individuals and groups of people with the skills they need to create change within their communities.
Development improves the lives of citizens and creates communities that are economically and socially stable, with impressive outcomes.
Governments are not able to create these opportunities alone; therefore, communities, individuals and organisations are expected to contribute their quotas to the development of communities.
A company, while building its business, for instance, is expected to support empowerment of communities and vulnerable groups around it by developing, implementing and monitoring micro-social infrastructure projects.
It is expected that the company should create avenues to strengthen skills and capacities of local government authorities and sectoral public agencies to support communities and build partnerships.
Nestlé Nigeria Plc., a food and beverage company, has made remarkable efforts in this regard.
Through its Creative Shared Value concept, Nestlé Nigeria impacts its host communities through empowerment and institution of projects that are mutually beneficial.
Creating shared value is the practice of creating economic value in a way that also builds value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.
Nestlé has contributed significantly in the areas of education and WASH.
A session at the a Sustainability training by Nestlé Nigeria at Methodist Primary School 2, Ago-Oko, Abeokuta, Ogun State On education, the parent company through its flagship initiative, Nestlé For Healthier Kids (N4HK), aims to help 50 million children globally lead healthier lives by 2030. In Nigeria, N4HK incorporates a school-based nutrition education programme, which helps children to imbibe healthy habits, including good nutrition, active lifestyles through adequate physical activities, good hygiene practices and hydration.
Nestlé Nigeria is helping no fewer than 1,000 children, beneficiaries of Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) programme in six primary schools in Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to imbibe a sustainability mindset at an early age.
This is in collaboration with the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI).
Nestle and ICCDI train primary five learners on a more sustainable approach to managing and recycling waste in a bid to enable them to become better stewards of the planet.
This is one of the initiatives to support the company’s ambition of ensuring that none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfills as litter, or in waterways, rivers or oceans.
The Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager of Nestlé Nigeria Plc., Victoria Uwadoka says: “Nestlé Nigeria is committed to driving more sustainability awareness to help protect the planet for future generations as embedded within our purpose at Nestlé.
“As multiple researches have proven, habits imbibed early in life are more likely to remain with us into the future.
“Therefore, training children on the importance of protecting our environment is a strong contribution toward ensuring more responsible management of post-consumption waste as they grow, taking us closer to achieving a waste-free future.
” Elaborating on the objectives of the training, Mr Olumide Idowu, Founder of the ICCDI says: “The sustainability training is designed to equip the children with the requisite knowledge and support, enabling them take responsibility in school and at home.
“Everyone, including children, needs to be involved in this huge task of protecting the environment.
” At the kick-off of one of the trainings at Methodist Primary School 2, Ago-Oko, Abeokuta, Ogun, the Chairman of Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Femi Majordomos, was represented by the Board Secretary, Mr Olalekan Kuye. He commends Nestlé Nigeria for the initiative aimed at enhancing sustainable environment-friendly practices within public primary schools in the state.
He believes that training on waste management and recycling will contribute positively to a safe and hygienic environment.
Also, the Special Adviser to Ogun State Governor on Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo, who was at the event, lauds Nestlé’s consistent contributions and investments in education in the state.
She lists expected outcomes of the training to include positive behavioural change that will enhance environmental sustainability.
She notes that the training was an opportunity for learners to be upskilled on conversion of waste to useful items.
In 2021, no fewer than 150 children in two primary schools in Ogun benefitted from the Sustainability Training.
In 2022, the programme scaled up to six N4HK beneficiary schools, four in Ogun and two in the FCT.
The schools include – Methodist Primary School 2, Ago-Oko, Abeokuta; Oke Ona United Primary School, Abeokuta; NUD Primary School, Owode; and All Saints Primary School, Owode.
The schools in the FCT are UBE Primary School, Kuje, and Science Primary School, Kuje. The Nestlé Community Scholarship Scheme is another platform the company uses to impact its hosts communities in the area of education.
It is a scheme positioned to enable deserving students of its host communities to attain educational and personal aspirations through financial sponsorship.
It aims to contribute toward creating a future for the youth by preparing them to participate in the industry.
Its focus on science and technology is deliberate to build much-needed local capacity.
The Alagbara of Agbara – HRM Oba (Barr.) Lukman Jayeola Agunbiade, Olute III with recipients of the Nestlé Scholarship Scheme and other dignitaries at the event.
Several factors including inadequate infrastructure and lack of opportunities, accessibility and affordability, are major issues limiting access to quality education in Sub Saharan Africa.
The scheme, which was launched in 2020 for host communities of the company’s factories located at Sagamu Interchange, Ogun; Abaji, FCT; and Agbara (host community of its third factory in Agbara, Ogun, has no fewer than 109 students currently benefitting.
It is in two categories – senior secondary and tertiary.
Grant funds cover tuition, accommodation, uniform, books and other expenses for the duration of beneficiaries’ education in the respective categories.
This programme is aligned to Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 4 – ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. Education is key to prosperity as it opens a world of opportunities.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in Ogun, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, was represented by the Zonal Education Officer, Ado-Odo Ota, Mr Olugbenga Kikisuhu, at one of the events.
“One of the most important scholarship benefits to our society is that it gives us engineers, doctors, academics, lawyers and scientists from backgrounds that ordinarily could not have met up with the financial burdens of education,’’ he remarks.
On his part, the Alagbara of Agbara Kingdom, Oba Lukman Jayeola Agunbiade, Olute III, says: “This scholarship scheme is a laudable initiative by Nestlé Nigeria Plc. “ I am delighted to be part of this event promoting the education and empowerment of youths in Agbara.
“The company has positively impacted the community over the years, and we have enjoyed a good relationship.
” One of the beneficiaries of the scholarship in the tertiary category, Miss Rereloluwa Obafemi-Moses, a medical student of the University of Lagos, expresses delight at being selected as a beneficiary of the scheme.
She says the award means a lot to her and will further spur her commitment to academics.
Nestlé Nigeria continues to make a meaningful difference in her host communities by creating initiatives to help youths to unlock their potential.
Through the scholarship scheme, Nestlé continues to help to build the next generation of science and technology professionals as it creates shared value to help to build communities.
Another way Nestlé promotes education is by organising Nestlé Nutrition Quiz Competition for children in Ogun and the FCT.
The competition, which aims to test the children’s knowledge and practice of healthy nutrition, is designed to enhance recall and retention of in-class lessons.
Cross section of winners of theNestlé NUTRITION QUIZ COMPETITION for children It is also part of the company’s flagship initiative, Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK).
Re-launched in Nigeria in 2018, Nestlé for Healthier Kids is supported by the Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board, FCT Universal Basic Education Board, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Health.
Twenty schools from the three senatorial districts of Ogun and 10 schools from the six area councils in the FCT have participated in the Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) Nutrition Quiz Competition.
This process is led by the Nutrition Society of Nigeria which also executed the competition from school stage to the finals.
Gadosnasko Science Primary School, Gwagwalada, Abuja and St Paul’s Primary School, Orile Imo in Ogun emerged winners of the nutrition quiz competition organised in 2022. In his comments, the Chairman of Ogun state chapter of Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Oluseye Onabanjo, says, “Improving the quality of children’s foods and continuous education on feeding practices in the early years of life are cornerstones in addressing the challenge of malnutrition.
“The partnership between Nestlé Nigeria and the Ogun State Chapter of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in promoting healthy eating and lifestyle habits through the school-based nutrition education programme is highly commendable and value adding for children in the state.
” WASH: Water: Access to clean water and improved sanitation facilities is a daily challenge for many Nigerians as 60 million Nigerians, or 33 per cent of the population, do not have access to clean water.
Leaners at All Saints Primary School Owode in Ogun State, using anewly commissioned facility by Nestlé Nigeria .
This contributes to high prevalence of waterborne diseases and impacts education, health and economy negatively.
There is, therefore, the need for consistent multi-stakeholder action to increase access to safe water.
On World Water Day 2022 on March 22, Nestlé Nigeria and Ogun State Ministry of Environment jointly hosted a stakeholders forum to address water sustainability challenges in the state.
World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness for the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.
The Permanent Secretary, Ogun State Ministry of Environment, Mr Razak Ojetola, lauds Nestlé Nigeria for its strides around water sustainability.
Mr Wassim Elhusseini, Managing Executive Officer of Nestlé Nigeria Plc., represented by Category and Marketing Manager Nestlé Waters, Gloria Nwabuike, says Nestlé is committed to responsible water resource management.
He notes that the company relies on water throughout its supply chains and operations.
“We therefore, recognise our role in helping to ensure access to safe water and sanitation in communities near our operations, and will continue to invest in responsible water stewardship in our factories.
’’ Sanitation – An estimated 100 million Nigerians are said to still lack basic sanitation facilities.
Nestlé Nigeria recognises the fact that water and sanitation are essential to life and wellbeing and are at the core of improving livelihood in every community.
Hence, the company is at the forefront of actions to increase access to water and sanitation facilities in communities closest to its operations, especially in the N4HK beneficiary schools.
It is another step toward attaining its objective of making access to water a reality in every school within the N4HK programme in support of Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The WASH projects are further evidence of the company’s commitment to enhancing quality of life and building thriving communities.
WASH facilities donated by Nestlé to its host communities include 14 in Ogun and about 11 in Abaji in the FCT.
In 2021 alone, the company inaugurated four water and sanitation facilities in schools around its areas of operation, reaching over 1,600 learners and educators.
(L to R) Mr. Oluwatosin Sofoluwe, Deputy Zonal Education Officer for Obafemi Owode, representing the Ogun State Honorable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu; Mr Sola Ogunbo, Program Manager, Ogun State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency; Dr Femi Majekodunmi, Executive Chairman, Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB); Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC;Shakiru Lawal, Country HR Manager, Nestlé Nigeria PLC and Gbenga Oladunjoye, Factory Manager, Nestlé Flowergate Factory at the commissioning of WASH project at All Saints Primary School Owode, in Ogun State.
The WASH project at the All Saints Primary School Owode, Ogun, serves over 500 individuals including educators, learners and families within the community.
The Programme Manager, Ogun State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Mr Sola Ogumbo, lauds Nestlé’s support and investments in building thriving communities, particularly as regards WASH.
As the organisation strives to make its business a great place to work, with the health and well-being of its employees being a priority, Nestlé expresses continued commitment to the health, well-being and economic progress of communities in its supply chain.
(NANFeatures) ****If used please credit the author and News Agency of Nigeria.
Addressing child trafficking in Plateau conflict areas
Addressing child rafficking in Plateau conflict areas
By Martha Agas, News Agency of Nigeria
Across the world millions of people are trafficked annually in what is reflects slave trade of old.
Experts say children are the most vulnerable group trafficked globally, According to a United Nation report one in every three victims of human trafficking is a child.
Low income countries have a higher proportion of suppliers of child labour.
Among the low income countries it is more endemic among West African countries.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the African continent records the largest prevalence of children aged between 5 and 17 years.
Similarly, UNICEF says some countries in West Africa are estimated to have more than 40 per cent of the total population aged between 5 and 17 engaged in child labour.
One of the West African countries where child labour and trafficking are causing serious social problems is Nigeria.
The matter is worse in the northern part of the country where insecurity, farmers and herders clashes have aggravated the situation.
The burden is largely borne by those in the rural areas where poverty has escalated the challenge by making it more likely children to be trafficked for domestic servitude and commercial sex exploitation.
Experts say women and girls are trafficked primarily for these reasons while boys are used as labour in construction sites, street vending, agriculture and mining among others.
The security challenges arising from sectarian crisis in 2001, Plateau, a state in north central region of the country has triggered this challenge in the state.
The destruction of lives, properties sources of livelihood as a result of the crisis has escalated poverty in the areas and exposed women, mainly widows and children to trafficking and child labour.
According to Plateau State Emergency Management Board in Plateau, in recent times no fewer than 3,000 children are reportedly displaced in three communities in Miango District, Bassa Local Government Area in clashes between cattle breeders and farmers.
According to National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) human trafficking is a humongous challenge in Plateau.
The agency said all of the state’s 17 local government areas are either points of source, transit or a destination, with Riyom, Bassa and Langtang North local governments as the most endemic.
The agency said it recorded 85 cases of trafficking with 146 victims in the state from March 2021 to date.
According to stakeholders traffickers disguise as missionaries on intervention projects in conflict communities on a mission to rescue children from the aftermath of the crisis, with a promise for quality education, vocational training and other opportunities for them.
They eventually trick parents to release their children.
In Jebbu Miango one of the communities worse hit by crisis in Bassa Local Government Area, the community leader, Chief Gado Dama, said that an NGO from Kaduna came with a representative impersonating as a cleric.
He said the agent promised to assist in the enrollment of children to school in the areas.
According to him, it was discovered the agent eventually engaged them in hard labour on construction sites in Kaduna.
The State Commander of NAPTIP in Plateau, Adole Alexander said that 68 children were rescued in 2021 from a fake orphanage called Our Lordship Orphanage in Jos. Alexander said the operators were recruiting children from Adamawa, Taraba and some LGAs such as Langtang, Qua’anpang and Riyom in Plateau.
In Riyom Local Government Area, Ta-hoss community ranks high in trafficking of minors.
NAPTIP observes that in spite of its sensitisation outreaches in the area, communities seem unbothered on ending the act.
Experts say to address the menace concerted efforts would be required from all stakeholders.
A peace advocate, Rev. Samuel Gorro, said governments and other stakeholders should demystify the Child’s Rights Act, by breaking it down to the people at the grassroots.
Gorro, is also the Executive Director of Centre for Peace Advancement in Nigeria (CEPAN) He said it should be used as the basis for advocacy in communities where child trafficking is most endemic “We have the Child’s Rights Law in place and I advise parents to read and understand the policy.
I want the state government and NGOs to demystify the Act by making it simple to understand and concise.
“It can be produced and circulated to schools because some teachers do not know about the policy, and the children need to understand it also, “ he said.
He said the action would enlighten parents on the risk of giving their children out to strangers for respite.
According to him, the government should support initiatives targeted women and orphans in communities worst hit by conflicts.
“We want to empower them socially and economically so that nobody comes to them and trick them to take their children, including politically, “ he said.
Similarly, the Child Protection Network in Plateau, an NGO, said its members work in synergy with relevant organisations to address child trafficking in the state.
The acting State Coordinator of the network, Mrs Comfort Zawaya, said through the platform, members coordinate and refer cases of child trafficking for appropriate action.
Having realized the enormity of the challenge posed by child women trafficking and forced labour, Plateau government said it is not relenting in combating it.
The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social development in the state says is providing counseling services, shelter to trafficked children, and empowering them to prevent them from being re-trafficked.
She said that the ministry conducts needs assessment before facilitating skills acquisition and school enrolment to the returnees.
“ We try to link trafficked children to places where they can acquire skills.
At the end of their training we try to give them starter packs and a little stipend.
“This is because if they are not empowered, they may go back to their traffickers, this year we have empowered 15 of them,“ said Ag Director, Child Welfare, Mrs Celina Setlet.
The emphasis on documentation has been identified by stakeholders as critical in addressing child trafficking.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Plateau have called for government and key stakeholders to ensure IDPs were properly documented.
The chairman of CSOs in the state, Mr Gad Shamaki said that the action would help in mitigating the impact of conflicts, even as he called for on concerted efforts on conflict resolution and prevention.
Similarly, the founder Displaced Women and Children Foundation, Mr Salis Abdulsalam, wants Plateau government to create a special desk responsible for displaced persons in the state.
According to him, this will facilitate collating their data for necessary assistance.
He suggested that the desk should be established in the State Emergency Management Agency.
He also urged NAPTIP to partner relevant CSOs in the state, especially those working at the grassroots, for effective intervention and arrest of traffickers.
As NAPTIP continues its crusade against child trafficking stakeholders say public enlightenment, advocacy and economic empowerment are critical to achieving desired results.
**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria.
Engaging politicians on health financing to achieve UHC
Engaging politicians on health financing to achieve UHC
Some members of the PanelAn analysis by Abiemwense Moru, News Agency of Nigeria
As election year draws closer, it is important that the health sector should be one of the main talking points of political conversations.
This is because, it is only when one is well and healthy that will begin to think of any economic, political or social activity.
However, this has not been the case as ethnicity, religion and other issues have remained on the front burner, forgetting the popular saying that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.
This maxim makes it imperative for political office aspirants to articulate a comprehensive health financing mechanism to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), where all individuals and communities receive health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
And to achieve UHC and more, Nigeria Health Watch organised a conference on the Future of Health in Nigeria to remind politicians vying for offices in the 2023 general elections to take note, key in and make provisions toward ensuring good health for all Nigerians.
At one of the events which took place in Abuja, the Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, said “in a few months, Nigerians will be going to the polls to decide on the new leadership that will drive all sectors of the economy for the next four years.
“In spite of the health sector being a critical driver of the economy across the globe, it has not received optimum attention across different leaderships.
“Achieving UHC requires strong political will at different levels of governance, including the national and sub-national level.
” Ihekweazu said at the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) roundtable organised by Nigeria Health Watch in collaboration with Centre for Universal Health that “as political parties begin their campaigns, it is important that CSOs and the media engage their candidates as well as citizens.
“For the candidates, this engagement will put into perspective, the challenges in the health sector and the required policy interventions that will change the narrative.
” According to her, the media as agenda setters should work toward making politicians commit to public health financing a key part of their manifestoes.
Ihekweazu’s position was buttressed by Robert Yates, Executive Director, Centre for Universal Health when he said “as media, how can you change the political discourse, you can do it, and it does happen, if the politicians and individuals emerge, they will get it.
“This will involve sensational reporting of people dying in the hospitals as they need to be catered for, put your heads together and identify the leaders who are willing.
” Dr Grafar Alawode, the Programme Director, DGI Consult, shared and reviewed the work done by the UHC2023 Forum on Citizen-led Health Agenda.
He said that Nigeria had made some progress in terms of fighting child and infant mortality, adding that maternal health care required more health system strengthening of having health care workers and facilities in place.
Alawode, therefore, called for the incorporation of the role of other sectors in health design and implementation.
He also called for leveraging Human Capital Development as springboard for multi-sectoral and coordinated actions that include health, education, nutrition, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and livelihood sectors.
Also, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, the Managing Director, Society for Family Health, said it is critical to take UHC to the states level “because I see situations where a lot of fundamentals at the federal level are soon coming together, some of the laws are in place and how this work will be determined at the state level.
” Ifeyinwa Yusuf, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Nigeria Health Watch, said there is need to do more in exploring other internal local resources to increase and pool public financing for health.
She said a human capital development approach should be employed in communication to the government for increased funds allocation and release for health.
“We have to do things differently, by contextualising our interventions and communication to identify influential who can bring a change in the health space, engage with each other more, the media and CSOs.” Meanwhile, Prof. Ben Akabueze, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, says health investment service is a catalyst for economic growth.
Akabueze said this at the 8th Future of Health Conference with the theme “The Political Economy of Health: Investing on the Future of Nigeria,” organised by Nigeria Health Watch was germane because it would provide the opportunity to discuss the determinants of health outcomes in various options available for sustainable healthcare financing in Nigeria.
Akabueze, who was represented by Prof. Olumide Ayodele, the Technical Assistant to the director-general, Budget Office of the Federation, said the event also created an avenue to discuss measures for effective healthcare delivery across the country.
Akabueze, who gave keynote address on financing healthcare sustainably in Nigeria, said the importance of improved healthcare services for economic growth and development could not be overemphasised.
According to him, health investment service is a catalyst for economic growth through higher labour force, higher labour productivity, innovations and improved well-being of the population.
He added that “it is generally said that health is wealth; a healthy population engenders economic prosperity.
“It is, therefore, imperative to ensure significant investment in health, effective delivery of healthcare services and equitable access to healthcare services.
“Health is high on Nigeria’s development agenda; in view of social economic returns of healthcare investment, a key objective of the National Development Plan 2021- 2025 is to enable a healthy population.
” Akabueze, who said there was need for primary healthcare to be funded at the local government level, urged stakeholders to be involved to reduce mortality rate and enhance workforce.
He urged government, CSOs and business associates to shape and monitor health interventions to ensure the desired impact.
He also commended the consistency of the Nigeria Health Watch for organising health conferences focusing on topical issues.
Also, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), said it was discovered that the first law establishing Health Insurance scheme was not able to take Nigerians closer to UHC.
He explained that health insurance everywhere in the world is to ensure that everyone is covered, adding that “in Nigeria, successive administrations have tried to amend the NHIS law for 23 years but not able to get that done.
“However, on May 19 this year, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act was repealed and the National Health Insurance Authority Law was enacted.
“The implication of the new law is that health insurance will now be for every Nigerian and every resident in Nigeria.
“The law has also made provision for the coverage of vulnerable population.
Health Insurance is normally not a free healthcare as somebody has to pay.
“As someone who is not employed has no means of payment because of his economic status, someone has to pay for him or her.
“That is why in this new law, there is Vulnerable Group Fund provision with various innovative financing mechanism employed to ensure that vulnerable people receive health services.
He, therefore, said that funding should come from innovative financing mechanism to bring money into the healthcare delivery system as no country had been able to achieve UHC without public financing.
On her part, Dr Sarah Alade, the pecial Adviser to the President on Finance and Economy, said discussions on healthcare are ongoing because of its importance, noting, however, that when people are poor, health spending is least because they have to feed first.
“At the same time, however, we cannot have sustainable development without health.
” Also, Dr Obi Ikechukwu, the Commissioner for Health, Enugu State, who spoke on political leadership in health, said that health system governance must be strengthened for accountability.
“Health system governance means strategic frameworks that existed and combined with effective oversight, coalition building, regulation, attention to system design and accountability.
” He explained that strong governance in health systems must be guided by competent leaders with clear vision and the ability to motivate and mobilise other health system stakeholders.
He called for political leaders who would ensure a complete state of physical, social and mental wellbeing and not just the absence of disease.
Ikechukwu also said there should be a continuous state of adjustment of physical, social, mental and environmental stimulus.
He added that there should be a commitment to determination of the cost of healthcare which would drive efficient health benefits package at all levels.
Dr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the Chairman, Metis Capital Partners in his opening presentation, said there is need to look into how the government economy is being run as a whole and what the money is spent on.
He said “ensure those contesting for 2023 elections have interest in our economy.
Health is a priority and it should be health and health.
“Public healthcare is crucial, sanitation is crucial as good sanitation goes far in health.
” During panel discussion on the Economy of Health, Dr Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, Health Population and Nutrition, World Bank, said without public health financing, achieving UHC would be difficult.
He explained that for livelihood to improve, the economy must get better as faster growth is needed to create greater opportunities.
He said “if you can reduce petroleum subsidy, you can finance health, education, among others.
’’ Okunola expressed concern on how local government spending would be accounted for, now that they have autonomy, saying “will local councils spend on health?
How do you ensure more than 95 million Nigerians are able to survive?
,” he asked.
He, therefore, said there is need to establish strong foundation for a diversified economy and investing in physical, financial, digital and innovation infrastructure.
“There is need to build solid framework and enhance capacities to strengthen security and ensure good governance and enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace.
“Prominence should be accorded to human capital development especially health, education and social protection in resource allocation.
” Another panelist, Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe, Lancet Nigeria Commissioner, said public health is known for at least two decades that good health can be achieved at low cost if the right policies are in place.
“We know this from comparative studies of countries at the same level of economic development that revealed striking differences in health outcomes.
“According to the studies, factors that contribute to good health at low cost include a commitment to equity, effective governance systems, and context-specific programmes that address the wider social and environmental determinants of health.
“An ability to innovate is also important.
Above all, government needs to be committed.
” Another panelist, Dr Onoriode Ezire, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, who noted that Nigeria’s health sector is still largely underfunded, said investment in health is directly related to the growth of the economy.
Ezire said the indexes are still poor, adding that productivity of the country is a function of the state and status of the health of the people in the country.
According to him, investment in health contributes to achieving other developmental goals like reduction in equity and promoting shared prosperity.
“Government at all levels must prioritise health as lessons from COVID-19 are still fresh in our minds.
Government may use a mix of method to prioritise health funding.
“Civil society and health promoters have a role to play.
Advocate as may be necessary, provide the relevant evidences and data, improve the quality and timeliness of our data,” Onoriode advised.
Appraising the evolution of Nigeria’s aviation industry
Appraising the evolution of Nigeria’s aviation industry
By Gabriel Agbeja
The desire by man to meet his needs necessitated his movement from one place to another.
Aircraft provide one of the fastest means to achieve that objective.
In addition to the movement of people, the aviation industry also plays a major role in the movement of goods.
It promotes commerce and industry, two of the major determinants of the Gross Domestic Product.
Aviation experts describe the industry as a catalyst for socio-economic development.
The aviation industry in Nigeria has witnessed various trajectories in its growth.
Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), recently told the News Agency of Nigeria that from one terminal before independence in 1960 Nigeria now has no fewer than 30 airports.
Yadudu said the passenger traffic has also witnessed an exponential growth, increasing from around 1,000 passengers in 1960 to no fewer than 18 million passengers in 2022. According to the managing director, the industry now has millions of stakeholders from employers to employees.
“After 62 years of independence, we have about 18 million passengers, over 30 airports, multiple airfields across Nigeria, and stakeholders raging from cleaners, handlers, caterers, among others employed in the industry.
“I think Nigerian aviation is doing great.
Recently, it was announced to us by the Airports Council International (ACI) at ICAO conference that Nigeria is the second country that has recovered above pre- COVID-19 numbers in the whole world, “ he said.
According to him, Colombia came first.
They have recovered over 120 per cent, which means that they are now 20 per cent above of their business pre-COVID-19 Nigeria is now 11 per cent above pre-COVID-19 number.
“If you are doing 10 Million before pre-COVID-19 came.
You know everything dragged down to 2 to 3 per cent.
“ But for now, we have already recovered our business to where it was before the pre-COVID-19. We have even grown beyond that by 11 per cent.
“So, in the whole world, Colombia is first and Nigeria is second in terms of recovery, I think that is a very remarkable achievement.
It sums up all our efforts.
We are very resilient,” he said.
Similarly, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said there were lots of developments in aviation sector since independence.
According to him, the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to create responsive conditions for Public-Private Partnership to advance nation`s airports.
“Since the coming of President Muhammed Buhari, we have quadrupled the passenger numbers, doubled the number of airports, doubled the number of airlines and increased catering and other business.
“ This made aviation before COVID-19 to become the fastest growing sector of Nigerian economy.
“Our determination is to make Nigeria the most competitive hub of the African region, and make air travel the preferred mode of transportation.
“Also taking advantage of our population of over 215 million, 923,768 square kilo meter land mass, at the center of the continent with rising middle class and modest formal GDP of $450billion,” he said.
The minister said the Nigerian government was making efforts to maintain a robust industry that is safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally friendly, with modern and adequate infrastructure.
Sirika also such move had been the focus of the Nigerian government and had been succeeding thus far.
According to him, Nigeria has continued to make significant investments in aviation infrastructure for a safe, secure, environmentally friendly, and sustainable economic development of international civil aviation.
Nevertheless, retired Group Capt. John Ojikutu, a former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos, recently explained that there had been significant progress in aviation sector.
He said it is unfortunate that the developments had not been well sustained from the independence.
“Outside the safety regulations, they were more or less self-regulatory.
There was no much emphasis on commercial regulations on these airlines as the then newly established FCAA (Federal Civil Aviation Authority) was mainly concerned with Safety and to limited extent, security.
“In those days, airlines were forced to have their operational base outside Lagos which somehow reduced the congestion in Lagos.
For instance, Kabo had its base in Kano, Okada in Benin, ADC, in Calabar, among others.
“They would fly into Lagos in the morning from their operational bases about the time those in Lagos were taking off to various destinations.
As more airlines came on board the enforcement of the regulations needed more skilled inspectors for the oversight and enforcement of regulations on the operators and the allied services, “ he said.
He reiterated that there had been significant progress but the developments had not been well sustaining in aviation sector.
“We have built many Federal Airports but less than 30 per cent of them can sustain themselves from their earnings.
“ Over 30 airlines have come into operations but hardly had many of them lasted 10 years in operations; the average lifespan of most have been about five years.
“ The oversight on the commercial activities of these airlines by the regulatory authority has been very inconsistent and ineffective.
“Can you imagine an airline coming into operations with about 20 fairly new aircraft and within five years had gone down with accumulated debts of over N200 billion.
“How could this have happened if the regulatory authority had complied with the standards required for oversight before and during operations, “ he asked.
According to him, most of the airlines recycle the business plans of previous operators ignoring some facts of differences in equipment costs, periodic maintenance costs and available passengers on routes, among others.
Ojikutu observed that there were more foreign airlines operating into the country now but for the present holdups on the repatriation on their earnings.
He however said with improved supervision, more strategic planning and given its large market, the future looks bright for Nigeria’s aviation industry.
“The future is bright for us only if we can review the multiple destinations given to the foreign airlines.
“We can restrict the multiple frequencies to just two airports, Lagos or Abuja and one other airport in the alternative geographical area, “ he said.
According to him, the nation needs to go the way of concessions for all our airports as it is the way now worldwide.
He said Nigeria should concession only the non-aeronautical services include the terminal buildings, car parks, tollgates, land areas, but not the aeronautical services among others.
“ However, if we must include the runways, aprons, taxiways, it must be at airports where the terminal is only one or where the multiple terminals are going into concession to only one company.
“ Otherwise, these air traffic facilities, runways and taxiways, except the aprons should go to Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), with FAAN becoming the Holding Company of all the airports planned for concessions“ he said.
(NANFeatures) If used kindly credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria