By Emmanuella Anokam
Abuja, July 9, 2020 (NAN) Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila says Nigeria must increase its industrialisation and manufacturing activities through the free trade zones to survive the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) regime.
Gbajabiamila gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja while receiving the newly appointed Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba.
The speaker, in a statement signed by Mr Martins Odey, Head, Corporate Communications, of NEPZA, said Nigeria was faced with enormous challenges ahead of the AfCFTA in the areas of manufacturing and industrialisation.
He said that there was the need for the country to act proactively in order not to become a dumping ground for other African nations.
”Our best option in this circumstance is to immediately set machinery in motion to ensure the effective functioning and flourishing of our export processing zones.
“We must remove all bottlenecks and perfect all stumbling blocks. We will then be fully prepared for AFCTA and also generate massive jobs for our unemployed youths and enhance our foreign earnings,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila also pledged total support of the legislature for the revitalisation of the free trade zones to make the zones function productively.
“How can we make Nigeria the number one investment destination? It is mainly by boosting our manufacturing and export capacity, the twin tasks, the export processing zones are set up to achieve.
“We in the legislature will provide legislative and budgetary support to NEPZA to achieve its mandate,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a seasoned investment professional as the Managing Director of NEPZA to drive the sector.
Adesugba, on his part, expressed appreciation on behalf of NEPZA for the pledges of support from the speaker, noting that such back up would spur him and his team to squarely face the challenging tasks.
”I want to assure Nigerians that we will take the bull by the horn. We will ensure effective functioning of the zones to generate jobs, wealth and industrialisation in line with the cardinal goals of the president.
“We are setting to work immediately and we hope to prepare Nigeria for AfCFTA by easing investment inflow into the zones,” Adesugba said. (NAN)
Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
COVID-19: Virologist urges scientific proof for discoveries
He said that the current spate of controversies and conspiracy theories about the Coronavirus were either manufactured or circulated by people who were not core medical scientists.
He decried the way some medical scientists neglected the proper culture of scientific communication and adopted other means of forcing their claims on the public.
“Scientist should endeavour to present clear scientific data to appropriate approving authorities to verify their claims and to pass an objective verdict.
“Appropriate scientific communication is done through scientific publications, which may either be full length research papers, case reports or even short communication.
“Evidences or claims should be presented in a documented manner through scientifically approved journals or editorials, and the scientific community must read and perform systematic reviews or meta-analysis of the data generated,” he said.
The scientist noted that unfortunately there was an upsurge in verbal, emotional, confrontational and near political crusades by some medical scientists who had either resorted to the use of social media platforms or some conventional media.
This act, he said, fell short of their expectations as scientists and weakened the scientific engagement on peer review platforms.
“I urge scientists to regroup and reconsider their approach to science communication in this era of the pandemic as it would eliminate unnecessary controversies.
“Efforts should also be geared toward generating information and inventions that the world so long for to tackle the pandemic.”
The virologist noted that controversies were part of the evolution of new knowledge or paradigm shift in science.
He, however, added that new knowledge must be communicated rightly with modesty, clear and verifiable evidence to back up claims.
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Monarch urges strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols
Oba Mufutau Oyekanmi, the traditional ruler of Asipa (the Alasipa of Asipa) Ilufemilloye Fashina V111,
near Ipetumodu in Osun State, has urged Nigerians to support the government on strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols
to curtail the spread of Coronavirus across the country.
He made the call on Monday at Asipa in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun when he met with some journalists in his palace.
The monarch commended the efforts of the local, state and Federal Government on measures put in place to ensure safety of lives of the citizenry in tackling
Oyekanmi said “recently, government took bold steps at the right time to curtail the spread of Coronavirus by not allowing congregational prayers.
“Some people were not happy with the ban of the Muslim Eid festival prayer by the Osun State Government but it is simply because of us so we
can celebrate many more of Eid el-Kabir.
“We thank God by sparing our lives to witness this because it’s the living that celebrates.”
Sikiru Ayedun, former Osun State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism, said
Ayedun said that the order of the state government on no Eid prayer for the 2020 Eid-el-Kabir was because of the COVID-19 “and a
test of faith.
“Whatever people are doing today is part of sacrifice, because at this point in time, our faith is being tested.”
The former commissioner assured that at the end of the tunnel, there would be a new dawn, but Nigerians should seek peace,
tranquility and live with one another in brotherliness.
Alhaji Eluyera Oyewole, former Education Secretary, Ife South Local Government, Ifetedo, Osun State, said that “everyone has
now realised that COVID-19 is real and that the pandemic is killing both the rich and the poor.
“Osun State Government did not make mistake in banning congregational prayer for the Eid el-Kabir festival, for this can increase human contact
during celebrations and that can cause more infections.
“Thank God for our government that is 100 per cent proactive, by doing the needful, else, it will have spread the virus.
“Government is doing its best; we urge for support from all by obeying the COVID-19 protocols.”
In the same vein, Alhaji Fatai Kolawole, former Permanent Secretary, Osun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), commended
the efforts of the state government for trying to save the lives of the citizenry against COVID-19.
Kolawole said that banning congregational prayer for this year’s festival was a welcome idea, saying this is just for a brief period as it would not last forever.
He asked everybody to co-operate with government on directives given, adding that“COVID-19 is a joint task that government alone cannot fight.
“Very soon, COVID-19 will be eradicated, whereby things will be normalised educationally, economically, socially.”
He urged all and sundry to co-operate with local, state and Federal Government in curbing the spread of the Coronavirus by strictly adhering
to the use of face mask, regular washing of hands with soap and sanitizer, as well as keeping social distance, among others.”
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
`NDDC yet to pay contractors that handled road projects I facilitated’-Orji Kalu
Senate Chief Whip, Dr Orji Kalu, said on Monday that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had not paid contractors that handled roads he facilitated in Abia.
Kalu stated this in a statement issued by Mr Emeka Nwala of Office of the Senate Chief Whip and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria
The former governor of Abia was reacting to claims by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio that 60 per cent contracts awarded by the commission were handled by members of the National Assembly.
Akpabio mentioned ex governors Emmanuel Uduaghan, James Ibori, Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, Sen. Orji Kalu and others as beneficiaries of several contracts awarded by the NDDC.
“The road projects mentioned by the minister are the interventions I facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before I became a senator,’’ he said.
Kalu argued that his name was mentioned because he used his letter headed paper to write a sympathetic letter to NDDC in 2016 pleading with the commission to rescue roads in Abia.
“I was Governor of Abia between 1999 and 2007 and never held any public office until June 11, 2019 when I was sworn in as a senator.
“Between 2016 and 2018 during my tour to several communities, leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads.
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to, awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself.
“Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention,” Kalu said.
The senate chief whip also noted that the contracts were awarded by fully constituted body of NDDC with its board and not any interim management of the commission.
He said “the roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu road, Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru ring road and Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze Ndi Oji Abam-Atan road.
“Others are Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende and Ozu-Amuru-Abam roads.
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads long time ago except Abam-Atani road, which I learnt from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime.
“I am much concerned about roads because I understand the economic importance of good roads.
“As a community leader, I do not intend to stop my interventions on roads in NDDC states because all the states need good roads.
“Good roads help to drive the economy,’’ Kalu said.
He, however, urged the commission to focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs.
Edited Obike Ukoh
Bayelsa Govt. promises safety of students as schools reopen Aug.5
Bayelsa Government says it is taking steps to ensure that schools are safe to allow final year students to resume and participate in external examinations as directed by the Federal Government.
Messrs Freston Akpor and Walter Liverpool, Permanent Secretaries of Ministries of Information and Education, respectively assured that the government was doing its best to protect students and teachers.
They said that government was already fumigating schools across the state as well as providing hand washing facilities and urged parents and communities to complement the efforts of the government.
Akpor, who is a member of the Bayelsa COVID-19 Task Force, said that Gov. Douye Diri of the state who chairs the Task Force had approved the deployment of health professionals to schools while temporary isolation facilities would be put in place in schools.
“The government of Bayelsa has been working to get our schools ready and safe for our children and that is why we have scheduled a train the trainers programme to acquaint schools with COVID-19 safety protocols.
“The essence is to build capacity of our people and update them with the guidelines from the Federal Government on the reopening of schools that is why we are taking our time and shifted the resumption for final year students to Aug. 5.
“Government is providing face masks, infrared thermometers and access to water for schools without water supply, alternative arrangements are in place and we are poised to check the spread of the coronavirus.
“In view of the questionable and low quality of hand sanitisers, we are emphasising frequent hand washing with soap and water and we appeal to members of the public as well as parents and guardians to complement the efforts government is making.
“Parents should for example provide additional face masks for their wards so that for instance when they wash the ones provided in schools, they can have a spare one,” Akpor said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state government has scheduled a COVID-19 prevention training programme for private and public schools to ensure safety protocols are complied with when schools resume on Aug 5.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Obike Ukoh (NAN)