The Federal Government has approved N6.45 billion for the setting up of gas plants in 38 locations nationwide in a bid to enhance the treatment of COVID-19 patients who need oxygen.
This disclosure emerged at the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.
While briefing the NEC on the release of the funds, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President approved the release of the funds for the production of oxygen, necessitated by the increased number of patients who need oxygen due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Similarly at the meeting, the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire informed the Council that sequel to President Buhari’s decision to activate the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund based on the National Health Act, N55.1billion was approved in 2018 and that 50% of the sum has since been released to the States and the FCT.
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Besides, the Federal Government has also allocated N35billion for 2021 for the Fund.
It would be recalled that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF or “The Fund”) was established under Section 11 of the National Health Act (NHA Act), as the principal funding vehicle for the Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS). The Fund serves to increase the fiscal space and overall financing to the health sector to assist Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Funding of the BHCPF would be derived from contributions including — an annual grant from the Federal Government of Nigeria of not less than one per cent (1%) of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) — grants by international donor partners; and funds from any other source.
Other updates at the NEC meeting include account balances as of 20th January 2020 given by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, as follows:
Excess Crude Account (ECA), balance as of 20th January 2021, $72,411,197.80; Stabilization Account, balance as of 19th January 2021, N28, 800, 711,295.37; Natural Resources Development Fund Account, balance as at 19th January 2021, N95, 830,729,470.82.
Meanwhile, the Council also received an update from the Vice President who is the Chairman of Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Public Engagements regarding the fallouts of the EndSars protests of last year.
In the update, the NEC engagements will focus mainly on:
• Wealth creation, social safety nets and employment
• Education, digital economy and sports development
• Creative industry and hospitality
TARGET GROUPS AND AUDIENCE
Participants of the NEC engagements will be drawn from the following groups
• Young intellectuals and emerging industry leaders from diverse sectors, students of tertiary and other educational institutions, youths in the Diaspora who are interested in social political developments, entertainers and social influencers, trained artisans etc.
• Youth leaders in (a) civil Society Organization (b) Politics (c) religious organization (d) traditional institutions.
• Young women and young people with disabilities.
MODALITIES AND STAGES OF THE NEC ENGAGEMENTS
The engagement will evolve in three stages:
- Stage One: State Government(and FCT) facilitated youth engagements, guided by a panel of seasoned professionals(for comprehensiveness, practicability and effectiveness). This will essentially be a youth-driven engagement organised by each State Government or the FCT Administration. As the initial engagement, it will allow for streamlining of the thought processes of the youths’ interaction with State Officials and the selection of representatives, who will participate in subsequent engagements at Zonal and National levels.
- Stage Two: This is the zonal-level engagement where the issues of concern and the consensus reform ideas developed from the State-level engagements are presented by the individual States’ representatives. This engagement is a collaboration between the youths and the State Governments in the respective zones.
- Stage Three: This the national engagement, where select representatives from States and the Federal Capital Territory participate in an interactive session with Federal and other Government officials. The youth representatives present the consensus issues of concern and reform ideas developed from the first two stages. The session will be people-centric, providing a platform for the Government to listen to the youth and focus less on presenting its own achievements or defending its perspectives.
Gunmen Abducts Over 300 Schoolgirls In Zamfara
Gunmen suspected to be bandits attacked the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata Mafara local government area of Zamfara State and abducted ‘300’ girls of the school.
According to gathered reports by Bubble Reports, the gunmen stormed the school premises in the early hours of today, Friday, February 26.
Zamfara Government confirms the abduction
The Zamfara state government confirmed the abduction through the state commissioner of Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Dauran, said the number of students abducted is yet to be ascertained.
“I can confirm to you now that we have sadly received the report on the abduction of the students of GGSS Jangebe and right now, I am on my way to the school.
“At this moment, l cannot say how many students were taken away by the gunmen until l get there, but we have already mobilized security men and members of the vigilantatè who are now in pursuit of the abductors,” the commissioner said.
State Police gives report
Zamfara Police Commissioner, Abutu Yaro disclosed that about 317 girls were abducted.
Yaro said a joint search and rescue operation is already underway with a view to rescuing the 317 students kidnapped by the gunmen.
The police commissioner also disclosed that the Force Commander of Operations Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army Gusau, and other state government officials led a heavily armed Re-enforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the locations where the students were believed to have been whisked to.
He appealed to everyone to be calm as joint efforts of the police and other security agencies will surely lead to a successful rescue of the students.
One of the teachers at the school claimed that close to 550 students were abducted by gunmen.
The teacher who spoke to Daily Trust said out of 600 students of the school, about 50 were left behind.
The teacher said;
“Initially, the school authorities prevented them from going with the remaining students but they grew angrier and began to pull down doors and windows of the buildings in the school and the school authority had to yield to their demands.
“When the gunmen laid siege, they attacked the soldiers stationed in the community before they gained entry into the school.
“Some people told us that they stationed vehicles at the outskirts of the school.
“Security operatives and the local vigilante groups are trailing the gunmen and dozens of other residents have volunteered to take part in the search.”
Another staff of the school who spoke on condition of anonymity said,
”The gunmen in their hundreds invaded the town around 2 am on Friday, shot sporadically in the air to scare the residents before coming into the school. After taking away most of the students, we rounded up those that escaped or hid from the bandits and conducted a census where we counted 54 students and we are still searching to see if we can get more.”
The abductors are yet to contact anyone with their demands.
This incident comes barely a week after bandits attacked the Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state and abducted 27 students and 15 others after they had shot a student dead.
Kagara Abduction: FG Has Abandoned Us- Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello
The governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has accused the Federal Government of abandoning them in negotiation to secure the release of the abducted students and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
Sani Bello made the accusation during the visit of the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu at the Government House in Minna on Thursday February 25.
The governor said the state has been left to handle the rescue on its own, said they were left to shoulder the financial responsibility which came off the abduction. He however admitted that the Federal Government sent a delegation to the state and also deployed 300 mobile policemen to the state.
The Niger state Governor however vowed to ensure that the kidnap victims are freed. Bello said;
“So where is the support? At the moment we have not seen any Federal support here since this incident occurred. Yes we had a delegation that came to commensurate with, but we are left to ourselves.
“We will use whatever means and resources available to make sure the children return home safely. We don’t have exact day and when these children will be released but I am sure that it will happen very soon.”
‘Third Mainland Bridge Full Opened This Weekend’, Fashola Promises
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has assured that the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos state would be totally reopened to public traffic this weekend. The bridge has been partially shut since July 2020 for repairs.
Fashola, who gave the assurance during a radio phone-in program, did not specify which day of the weekend to expect the reopening. He said
“I can tell you now that this weekend, it will be opened definitely. My directors are still in Lagos. The major works have now been finished, so let me say that again by way of information.
Definitely this weekend it will be reopened. I will announce the date toward Friday and the reason why I am holding back the exact date is that we are government.
Any time we say something, people must reliably be able to plan their lives around what we say’’ he said
Speaking further, the Minister said
“The major works have now been finished, the piles, all the joints, all the bearings, everything is done. The last miles now are the works which were not in the contract but we insisted must be done.
We are asphalting some of the places on the pavement that have been affected by erosion; some of the lane markings have worn away so we want to do that”
President Muhammadu Buhari Vows To Deal With Insecurities In The Country
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that his administration will continue to deal with the insecurities which are a threat to innocent citizens across the country.
The President said this when he spoke at the joint security meeting of Northern State Governors’ Forum and traditional rulers on Thursday February 25.
Represented by Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the president, Buhari said criminality should be handled without resorting to ethnic profiling.
“I must appreciate the efforts of the 19 Northern States Governors’ Forum for their contribution towards national growth and development, especially in this challenging period in our nation’s being where certain fundamental corporate existence need to be frankly deliberated upon and actionable resolutions reached.
This meeting is coming at a time when the nation is making steady progress in addressing the many challenges impeding developmental and progress. We are providing critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports among others which are critical to economic prosperity of our people as well as opening up economic opportunities for our citizens to pursue legitimate aspirations that grow the economy.
At the same time, we are confronting the various dimensions of security challenges that continue to slow down the emancipation of our people from poverty and economic deprivation. The Government shall continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country.
Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly, without resorting to ethnic profiling. I have already tasked the new Service Chiefs to devise new strategies that will end this ugly situation where the lives of our people continue to be threatened by hoodlums and criminals.
I expect that at this meeting, your Forum will also discuss and devise ways of building stronger collaboration with the security architecture and the people in defeating criminality across the region and the nation at large.”
‘Borrowing Is Needed For Nigeria’s Growth’- Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has defended the country’s level of borrowing saying that Nigeria cannot make progress if it doesn’t borrow to fund the building of its infrastructure.
She said this at a media briefing at the statehouse Abuja on Thursday, while reacting to criticism regarding high levels of borrowing by this administration.
According to her,
”The level of borrowing is not unreasonable. It is not high. If we say we will not borrow and therefore we will not build rails and major infrastructure until our revenue rises enough, we will regress as a country. We will be left behind. We wouldn’t be able to improve our business environment and our economy will not grow.
We just need to make sure that when we borrow, we apply the borrowing to specific major infrastructure that would enhance the business environment in this country”
The total borrowing of Nigeria as of December 31, 2020 is nearly 25% of the GDP.
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