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“Schools not yet ready for reopening”- Federal Government

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Nigeria's Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

The Nigerian government says it is not safe yet, for schools to resume thus, students in their final year will not write exams organised by the West African Examinations Council WAEC, as earlier announced.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu made the declaration on Wednesday, while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of this week’s virtual cabinet meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the examination body, WAEC cannot dictate for government what to do or when to resume schools.

“Schools under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education will not reopen on August 4th or any time soon. Our schools will only open when we believe it is safe for our children and that is when the situation is right, not when the number of COVID-19 infection is going up in the nation. So, I just want to make that clear,” Adamu said.

When asked if only students in Senior Secondary School 3 (SSS3) and Junior Secondary School 3 (JSS3) due for their final or promotion exams would be affected, the Minister stressed that government cannot risk the lives of such students.

“We will not reopen schools now for examinations or any other reason unless it is safe for our students; even WAEC because WAEC cannot determine for us what we do so schools will remain closed.

“Yesterday we called a meeting of stakeholders to tell us their situation and what needs to be done in order to reopen schools but while the meeting was going on, WAEC announced that they will start exams so let’s see who they are going to start with,” he said.

The Education Minister however used the opportunity to appeal to schools that have already re-opened to rescind their positions.

He also said State governments that have already announced the reopening of their schools to reconsider because it is not safe for schools to open.

He said: “I feel responsible for the whole children in Nigeria not just those in Federal government-controlled schools. Please let’s save our children from this.

“You can look at this scenario; just one infected child going into a class, can infect everyone in the class and after classes they go back to the hostel; because children cannot observe social distancing as expected. If one child in the hostel is infected, the next morning, everybody will be infected so this is not the right time to open schools.”

Adamu said if given the choice as Minister of Education, he will not mind Nigerian students losing a whole school year in order to save students from COVID-19.

“Their health is more important than any examination they are going to write and WAEC is a parastatal of the Ministry of Education and they should not determine for the government what it does. I think they should change their date or we can do without them,” the Minister warned.

The Minister stated clearly that what he said was not part of resolutions at the day’s cabinet meeting but he needed to clear the air on the matter, stressing that certain protocols have to be met and schools have to be decontaminated before they reopen.

Insecurity: ‘Your Best Not Good Enough’ -President Buhari

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The Nigerian President and Commander in Chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari has expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of all security agencies in handling security issues in the country.

The President expressed his uttermost dismay at a meeting with Service Chiefs and heads of other security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.

Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, National Security Adviser, NSA Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) said the Commander in Chief told them that their best was not good enough.

He said: “We just concluded a meeting between the President and the Minister of Defence, the Service Chiefs and the Heads of other security agencies including those of intelligence.

“Today’s meeting basically focused on recent developments. The President expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening and feels that even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and he wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and an immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all dimensions.

“The President also told us clearly, in no uncertain terms that he and indeed the administration came to power with three main areas of focus, fighting insecurity, fighting corruption and revamping the economy. He also noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two cannot be achieved; it will just be an exercise in futility.”

The NSA disclosed that the Nigerian leader warned that he will not accept any further decline in the performance of security agencies.

“Therefore, he wants the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual descent of the security of this country, that he is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.

“He also stated that no one was forced on him, he selected everyone based on their records. Therefore, it is up to each individual organisation to live up to expectation. He has also said that it is extremely important that we in the security agencies must ensure that we justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace”.

According to him, the President said ”the proliferation of drugs, small arms and light weapons must be stopped with immediate effect.”

He also said President Buhari directed all security agencies to work in harmony to maintain a strong synergy among them for better performance, leading to more successes in the fight against all forms of insecurity.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

NEMA Donates Food Items to Benue IDPs

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About 50 trucks worth of food items donated by the National Emergency Management Agency,  NEMA have been distributed to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in Benue State,  North Central Nigeria.

Flagging off the distribution, the Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior said the food items comprised Maize, Millet and Garri.

Mr. Shior insists that the food items were to be distributed equally to the remaining six official and 22 unofficial IDPs camps in Guma, Logo and Makurdi Local Government Areas of the State.

“We have six official camps and about 22 unofficial Camps. The unofficial camps comprise IDPs within our host communities.

“The food items comprise over 50 trucks of Maize, Millet and Garri that NEMA supplied to Benue SEMA since first week of December, 2018”.


Mr. Shior explained that SEMA took the steps to distribute the items after several attempts to draw the attention of NEMA headquarters and it’s zonal office in Jos failed.

The Executive Secretary says “given the major challenge the IDPs are facing, the State Governor, Samuel Ortom has directed the commencement of distribution to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs”.

He added that it also became expedient for government to flag off the distribution as the food items were at the mercy of rodents and damage due to bad weather.

The distribution of the food items was witnessed by the officials of the sustainable development goals, NEPAD as well as Civil Society Organizations and the media.


Stock market indices drop by 0.50%

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Equities trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange took a negative turn on Thursday after recording mid-week gain on Wednesday as market indicators depreciated by 0.50%.

The all share index shed 0.50% or 174.36 basis points to close at 34.643.65 points on Thursday as against 34,818.01 on Wednesday.

In the same vein, the market capitalisation shed 0.50% or N91 billion to close at N18.102 trillion compared with N18.193 on Wednesday.

The market sentiment was also negative as the market recorded 29 losers and 17 gainers just as a total of 364.92 million shares valued at N3.50 billion were traded in 6,342 deals.

Presco led the losers table with a loss of N7.95k to close at N71.80k while Stanbic bank lost N1.85k to close at N43.00 and Dangote Sugar lost N1.20k to close at N21.05k.

On the other hand, Nigerian Brewery appreciated by N2.50k to close at N60.50k followed by WAPCO with a gain of 90k to close N25.00. Then, BOCGas gained 61k to close at N6.77k.

Transcorp dominated activity chart for the second day running as it traded 48,412 million shares worth N51.45 million followed by First bank holdings which traded 35,559 million shares worth N269.62 million.

Nnenna.O

Customs seizes over N50m worth of smuggled goods

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The New Coordinator of Joint Border Operations Drill, Sector 3, Comptroller Olugboyega Peters has  revealed that the Joint Border Operations Drill (JBOD) Sector  3 has seized a total sum of N53,158,143 worth of goods from smugglers within five weeks.

Comptroller Olugboyega Peters who disclosed this at a news conference in Ilorin the Kwara state capital North Central Nigeria stated that various strategies were deployed in enforcing the said powers within his short stay in the sector.

He added that part of the strategies deployed against all forms of smuggling, human trafficking and proliferation of arms and ammunition led to 65 seizures of different items.

The  seized items are: 

• 4 Single Barrel Riffle with a (1) Suspect 

• 1,643 Bags of foreign par boiled rice (Above 3 Trailers) 

• 373 Jerri cans of PMS of 25liters 

• 12 Jerri cans of AGO 

• 32 Used Vehicles 

• 4 Bales of Secondhand Clothing 

• 1 Motorcycle

Comptroller Peters, who assumed office on October 12 this year in the sector, gave the assurance that he would continue to wage war against smugglers, and stated that every effort or tactic exhibited by the smugglers to beat security checks operatives would remain fruitless and build on the success recorded by his predecessors.

The customs boss appealed to the patriotic spirit of all Nigerians, especially members of the business communities to see the exercise as an opportunity to further create a conducive environment for local businesses to thrive in the overall interest of national security, well being of the citizens and economic development, including creation of job opportunities, reduction of crime rate and other social vices.

He reiterated that the current administration has zero tolerance for corruption and revenue leakages in all its ramifications adding that  the Joint Border Operations Sector 3 under his watch is committed to enforcing same stressing that the Sector will continue to re-invigorate strategies that will enhance their performance. 

According to him, it is no longer news that during Endsars protest, a criminal attempt was made by hoodlums with the intention to set their office ablaze and loot seized goods, but with their resilience, they repelled the attack and therefore commended officers and men of Nigeria Customs Service, command, JBOD and all sister security agencies especially Nigeria Army for exhibiting their professionalism in handling the incident. 

Comptroller Peters, however, said the priority of the sector remains to keep the borders safe from any inimical activity that would compromise the nation’s national interests, uniformity with the international trade agreement and by extension the country’s  national security.

 He appreciated Nigerians especially the local business community for their continuous support as well as media houses in Kwara State for their balance reportage 

Nnenna.O

Economic Council urges government to check rising food prices

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Nigeria’s National Economic Council, NEC, has urged the federal and state governments to adopt urgent measures to check rising food prices in the country. 

The Council also called on the federal government to pursue the implementation agricultural plan in the Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP.

This followed the report of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, to Thursday’s virtual meeting of the NEC presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Spokesman to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said Kwasari’s report showed that “food prices changed between September and November involving commodities in Lagos and a few randomly selected states.”

The report also identified the causes of the hike in food prices to include “delay in going out to farm, which translates to delay in harvesting courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Other causes of the increase, according to the report, were the EndSARS protest, which “stalled food transportation and delivery and in some instances destroyed food stores,” and “banditry in the northwest effectively preventing farmers harvesting fields cultivated.”

There were also herders/farmers conflicts that “destroyed farm produce in some states” as well as “increased cost of transportation.”

2020 Finance Bill 

The 2020 Finance Bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the Federal Executive Council, was presented meeting of the NEC. 

The bill seeks to reduce duties on tractors from 35% to 10%; reduce duties on motor vehicles for the transportation of goods from 35% to 10%; and exempt small companies with less than N25million turnover from payment of education tax under the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND.

The proposed Finance Bill provides for 5. 5% reduction in minimum tax, from 0.5% to 0.25% for gross turnover for financial years ending between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021.

Other provisions in the bill are the “granting of tax relief to companies that donated to the COVID-19 relief fund under the private sector coalition (CACOVID) and “clarification that only compensation for loss of office up to N10million would be tax exempt.”

There is also the introduction of software acquisition as qualifying capital expenditure to improve the ease of doing business.

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba made the presentation at the virtual NEC meeting for the month of November 2020.

Prior to the Finance Act 2019, compensation paid to an employee for loss of office over and above N10, 000 was subject to capital gains tax. There were two notable issues with the provision.

Public Engagement

The ad-hoc committee of the NEC, Chaired by the Vice President for engagement with youths and other critical stakeholders, presented its report to the meeting.

TheCouncil resolved that the planned Zonal Engagements should proceed with the focus on Youths and Civil Society Organisations dealing especially with issues or jobs, and employment.

Nnenna.O

Economic Council approves National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030

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The National Economic Council, NEC, on Thursday, approved the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 as a national policy and strategy document to reduce crashes on Nigerian roads.

The document is also designed for the development of road infrastructure across all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. 

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, stated this while briefing State House correspondents after the meeting of the NEC, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“The outline of the implementation approach as specified in the strategy document took account of planning, coordination, execution, design, regulations and standards, which are deemed necessary to support activities in the National Road Safety Strategy,” Agba said, adding that the document also states “how to create awareness amongst our people, research and training, the funding mechanism and also monitoring and evaluation mechanism.”

Agba also said that he presented to the council the balance in Nigeria’s accounts. 

According to him, the balance in the Excess Crude Account was $72. 41million, while the balances in the Stabilization Account and the Natural Resource Development Account stood at N48. 9 billion and N155.5 billion respectively.

Agba said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning also used the opportunity to present the proposed Finance Bill 2020, which the Federal Executive Council approved on Wednesday to the NEC.

He said the next stage would be the transmission of the bill to the National Assembly.

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Nigerian leader seeks global collaboration against Tuberculosis

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the international community to act in unison with rededicated efforts, using latest available technology and tools, to address the Tuberculosis (TB) epidemic, one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide.

In his goodwill message to the roundtable conference of the Board of the “Global Stop TB Partnership”, President Buhari expressed concern that efforts at ending a preventable and curable disease like TB were now complicated because of COVID-19.

‘‘As I mentioned during the UN High Level Meeting in 2018, it is now even more urgent that the global community, especially the African region, act in unison with rededicated efforts, using the latest available technology and tools to address the TB epidemic.

‘‘Nigeria still ranks amongst those countries bearing the brunt of an increasing burden of TB with a growing number of “missing” TB cases. 

‘‘The reversal of Nigeria’s difficult health indices, remains a top priority of this administration, including the gap in TB case detection, fuelled partly by the dearth of acceptable, accessible, affordable and patient centred basic health facilities,’’ the President told the roundtable session of Honourable Ministers of Health, during the 33rd Board Meeting of the Global Stop TB Partnership,” he said.

Appraisal
Apprising the meeting on efforts to reverse TB cases in the country, the Nigerian leader said his government had conceptualised and is currently implementing the Primary Health Care (PHC) revitalisation programme, to empower more PHC centres to provide quality basic healthcare in the treatment of TB, HIV, malaria and other health challenges, delivered in a patient-centred way.

President Buhari added that the Nigerian Government was also   implementing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, prescribed by the National Health Act, to bridge the gap in health care financing, with funds released to support provision of a basic minimum package of health services.

According to him, “We are also improving funding of health services through voluntary contributory schemes that reduce out of pocket spending and the risk of catastrophic costs to patients and their families including those with TB.”

Warning on the consequences of the increasing epidemic, the President said:‘‘If we fail in the fight to reverse the current trend in TB prevalence, TB will continue to fight us and lead to avoidable loss of lives, especially among the economically productive age group, and amongst our most vulnerable groups, especially women.

‘‘It is imperative that we not only commit to ending the TB epidemic as one of the milestones enshrined in the SDGs, but also to institute an accountability element to ensure that our commitment translates to achievement of desired results’’.

President Buhari, who acknowledged that the work of the Stop TB Partnership all over the world has been so remarkable, despite numerous challenges, pledged his commitment to providing needed political leadership and support to end TB in Nigeria and globally.

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President Buhari inaugurates capital projects at University of Maiduguri

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday anchored a virtual inauguration of five landmark capital projects at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

The President added that his government is committed to the provision of adequate healthcare to citizens.

President Buhari said the completion of the projects aptly reflects the Federal government’s commitment to sustaining development in the North East, and indeed in all parts of the country to engender economic growth, peace and progress.

He said: “I assure you of my commitment to improve healthcare delivery services all over Nigeria.

“Emerging diseases have made it necessary for all nations to increase and improve resource application for coping with the challenges or adapting to the ‘new normal’.

”This goes on in Borno State side by side with efforts to tackle insurgency and criminal activities.”  

Among landmark projects inaugurated by the President were a newly constructed and fully equipped 150-bed Trauma Centre, a new General Outpatient Department, a complex for National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), a multipurpose Auditorium and Conference Centre constructed and furnished by Borno State government.

Also inaugurated was a new female hostel for the UMTH School of Nursing, constructed by the Federal government and Physical Rehabilitation Centre, by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Responding to a request made earlier by Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, the President directed the Head of Service of the Federation and the Budget Office to consider an increase in the personnel and overhead allocation of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).

President Buhari noted that the increase in personnel and allocation at UMTH would optimise services provided by the activation of the new projects.

The President added that the value of the projects at the UMTH, which is a Centre of Excellence in Infectious diseases and Immunology in Nigeria, to the nation’s health care system cannot be underestimated, especially in the era of global health system challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the 150-bed Trauma centre which comes with a helipad, the President expressed delight that it will provide modern multidisciplinary care facilities to injured persons from within and outside Maiduguri, in addition to reducing the need for referral to other centres.

President Buhari said that the intention of the government to render affordable and quality health care with broad coverage will be boosted with the completion of the General Outpatient Department and the National Health Insurance Scheme complex.

“I urge citizens to take advantage of the improved facility, as I appeal to operators of these excellent facilities to imbibe the maintenance culture and ensure optimum utilization,” he said.

President Buhari also commended the collaborative programmes of the teaching hospital with indigenous, international, non-governmental bilateral and multilateral donors and partners, like the Physical Rehabilitation Centre, which is a product of the engagement with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC.

”This Centre is now fully operational in this era of reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement in Borno State.

”At this centre, complete physical rehabilitation that includes physiotherapy and fitting of limb prosthesis can be undertaken locally, to end the need for outside referral.

”I express Nigeria’s deep appreciation to ICRC and other partners engaged in collaboration assistance,” he said.    

Commending the Management and Board of the UMTH and the Ministry of Health on their performance, President Buhari said:

”Nigeria is proud of your achievements. I urge all staff to continue to work together harmoniously, to ensure successful delivery of other ongoing capital projects in the hospital, for the benefit of citizens who seek care here.”

In his remark, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, thanked the federal government for supporting the State in overcoming its health challenges, by constructing some of the projects.

“These landmark projects are timely, considering the health challenges the State is facing as a result of lingering security challenges. Therefore, the State government will continue to partner with the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in the area of specialized training and retraining of medical practitioners, for the provision of basic healthcare needs to the people of Borno State.

“We must commend the federal government under the leadership of President Buhari for this giant stride in the health sector. This institution has never witnessed such developmental projects since its inception,” he said.

The Governor announced that the State will soon embark on the construction of a teaching hospital for its State University.

There were goodwill messages from the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, as well as the World Health Organisation and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Governor Zulum commended the Federal for the laudable projects executed under the Buhari administration in Borno. 

He said, “this institution (UMTH) has never witnessed such laudable developmental projects at once, from its inception to date. Mr President, we appreciate all the good projects”.

On efforts by Borno government in the area of healthcare, the Governor explained in this year 2020 alone, his administration has started from scratch, 50 new health centres across various local governments in the state. He added that many other health centres were rehabilitated and furnished with modern equipments. 

Zulum also noted that Borno has approved the recruitment of more than 500 qualified doctors, nurses, other health workers and re-engage retired personnel, for deployment to healthcare centres where medical services are most needed by citizens.

The CMD University of Maiduguri teaching Hospital professor Ahmed Ahidjo who spoke at the newly constructed Auditorium said ” the UMTH was established in 1983 and is it the largest teaching hospital in the north eastern part of Nigeria. 

“With the commissioning of today’s projects we raised the total bed capacity of the hospital from 630 to 800 beds,  and when the ongoing projects are completed the beds capacity will be raised to more than 1200 capacity. 

In another development, Governor Zulum, has started the construction of a teaching hospital and a college of medical sciences to enable Borno State University to eventually start the award of degree in medicine and surgery as well as other medical programmes. 

Governor Zulum said: “In fulfilment of the criteria for the establishment of medical colleges, we are here to witness a foundation laying ceremony for the two important projects. We want to start medical courses especially medicine etc in the state university so that we can produce healthcare providers and undertake research as well. But aside academic purposes, we know that there is increasing population in Maiduguri and we have only one teaching hospital, and Maiduguri has population of over 3 million inhabitants. A new teaching hospital will serve the increasing population, and this is also in line with our development plan. Just five days ago we have launched our 25 year Development Plan, the state university teaching hospital and college of medical sciences are part of that plan we are implementing”.

The chairman of the committee for the establishment of Borno State University Teaching Hospital/Medical College, Prof. Othman Kyari said the project flagged off was the first phase. 

Nnenna.O

Nigerian Government develops National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy

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The Nigerian government has said that it’s developing a National Digital Innovation Entrepreneurship Policy(NDIEP) that would eradicate all forms of barriers that are militating against indigenous innovations and promote entrepreneurship.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Pantami, stated this in Abuja, at the Stakeholders Review and Validation Workshop of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy (NDIEP) organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

The Minister said that building the enabling environment for indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive is the key to driving digital economy which will in turn increase Nigeria’s GDP.

“If we give our local innovations the necessary support; they will lift Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation. The policy is to remove all barriers working against indigenous innovations,” he added.

NDIEP focuses on providing an enabling environment for indigenous innovation to thrive.


“In Nigeria we have many potential to produce and deploy what we need and the government is working on providing the enabling environment by introducing the NDIEP. When we support our innovators and entrepreneurs, they will increase our products and position Nigerian goods for more exports,” Pantami said.

He encouraged young Nigerians to be consistent and focused noting  that the path to being an innovator is demanding adding that “the FG will  engage ICT hubs, start-ups, among other innovators, to evaluate their innovation for support”.

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said that “We are in a period of crisis and that this policy is coming at the right time. We are passing through a time of unprecedented crisis. A quadruple crisis started with health crisis, which led to the economic crisis that led to the humanitarian crisis and the mental health crisis.”

According to him, the Federal ministry of Communications and Digital Economy views entrepreneur from two perspectives: Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDE) Entrepreneurship. And the IDE is the way forward, “the IDE is the game changer in terms of job and wealth creation.”

The policy is designed to create an enabling environment to start and grow IDEs in Nigeria. By implementing the policy, we will create IDE mindset and skill sets and learn how to do business in our communities.

He said, unicorn companies (Unicorn is a term used in the venture capital industry to describe a start-up company with a value of over $1 billion), are expected to create over three million jobs by 2025 and that with this policy Nigeria will not miss out. “By 2025, unicorn will create 3m jobs and this policy will enable us to benefit from that and help the government lift Nigerians out of poverty”, the NITDA Boss reiterated.

Inuwa stated that government is committed to mentoring start-ups to develop the innovation ecosystem and translate their ideas into products for commercialisation.

The Technical Assistant to the Minister, Dr Femi Adeluyi, while reviewing the policy draft, said it targets to leverage digital innovation and entrepreneurship for job creation, as well as empower youths in the country.


“The policy will promote research, indigenous content development and adoption while protecting the intellectual property of indigenous innovators,” Adeluyi noted.

In their Goodwill messages the  Director General Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Abimbola Alale,
Post Master General Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST),Bisi Adegbuyi, Director General Galaxy Backbone, Mohammad Abubarka, DG,
Director General, National Identity Management (NIMC),Aliyu Aziz,
while commending the Minister and DG NITDA, said this policy will help to provide, promote guarantee the growth of digital economy and will drive African Free Trade Agreement.

With this policy things are expected to change for the better as local innovations will get priority attention from the federal government and the necessary support needed by start-ups to grow fully and support the economy in the areas of job and wealth creation. 

Nnenna.O

President Buhari hails Governor Umahi for joining APC

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President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

President Buhari described Governor Umahi’s defection as a bold move driven purely by principle rather than opportunistic motives.

Reacting to the defection, President Buhari said, “I am proud of Governor David Umahi for taking this bold decision in accordance with his conscience and principles rather than any external influence or coercion.”

According to the President, “Good governance is very important to us in the APC, and I’m glad that the Governor has cited this as a major factor in his decision to join us. 

“I urge our citizens to pay less emphasis on identity politics if we want our democracy to make a positive impact on our country.”

He said with men like Umahi, he  foresee a brighter future for democracy because the voters would be more motivated by performance records of parties and their candidates.

“Let me once again; commend the boldness of Governor Umahi for taking this courageous decision in a country where principles are in short supply among many. 

“I know people might call him names, but that is the price men of principles have to pay for acting according to their conscience and convictions,” President Buhari added.

Confidence Okwuchi

Federal Executive Council approves 2020 finance bill for transmission to Legislature

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The Federal Executive Council has approved a draft of the 2020 finance bill for onward transmission to the National Assembly for passage.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced this to State House Correspondents, at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting, presided over by President Muhamamdu Buhari.

She said the bill, which was presented in a memo presented by her ministry with support from the National Fiscal Policy Reform Committee, seeks to support the 2021 budget as well as make incremental changes to tax and other fiscal laws leading to a successful implementation of next year’s budget.

“You recall that we did a fiancé bill in 2019, through these finance bills, what we are seeking to do is to make incremental changes to tax laws relating to customs excise as well as other fiscal laws, to support the implementation of annual budgets.

“When the President presented the 2021 budget to the parliament, he did direct that the 2020 finance bill will also follow to support the budget proposals,” she said.

The Finance Minister highlighted that incremental changes referred to in the bill does not mean increasing taxes but an improvement in the tax law, stressing that the country’s value added tax remains at 7.5 percent.

Ahmed noted that government is already working on the implementation of current fiscal reforms in line with the multi-year Medium Term Framework, with the hope that the current fiscal bills will help achieve the dream.

She added that the 2020 finance bill was developed as a result of multi stakeholder effort, including the private sector.

“During the process we received a lot of suggestions from different stakeholders including several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, experienced tax practitioners and academics, we received a lot of suggestions from different stakeholders and we had to limit what we are able to take, because we were guided by three principles; we needed to adopt appropriate counter sinical measures to manage the economic slow-down; the principle of incrementally reforming the fiscal incentive policies of government and the third one is ensuring closer coordination between the monetary trade and the fiscal authorities,” she explained.

Ahmed listed some of the provisions of the 2020 finance bill to include how to have adequate macro-economic strategies, to attract investments that will grow the economy on a sustainable basis as well as create jobs and acceleration of domestic revenue among others.

Borno state government set to reform Sangaya Educational System

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The Borno State government says it is set to reform the Sangaya educational system also known as the Almajiri education in the state. 

In line with this reform, the governor of the state, Proffesor Babagana Umara Zulum has inaugurated a committee on Wednesday November 18 to look into the Sangaya educational system with a view to improve and transform the system. 

Speaking during the inauguration of the committee, governor Zulum said: “Sangaya Education better known as the Almajiri Education system has long generated series of concern and debate under several administration. 

”This has informed the decision of the government to provide socio -economic condition and to alleviate begging.” 

Members of the committee inaugurated to reform the Sangaya system of education

The governor also explained that “the Sangaya can be traced to the saying of the holy prophet (S. A. W) that it is compulsory upon every Muslim to seek for knowledge. It’s in line with this teaching that Muslims pursue knowledge in all ramifications. 

“Today the spread of Sangaya education has grown tremendously and has been characterized by many accompanied problems that requires urgent attention.

“Some of the problems identified are inadequate support by the government and communities, the socio economic condition and welfare of the teachers as well as healthcare facilities is not visible.”

The Chairman of the committee, Calipha Aliyu Ahmed Abdul- Fatai said the committee is willingness and dedication in discharging its responsibilities.