FCT Health Insurance Scheme (FHIS) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the FCT Microfinance Bank to allow rural dwellers have access to loan to take care of their health.
The Director of FHIS, Dr Ahmed Danfulani, said that the purpose of the MoU was to allow the people to have access to money for health care services.
He added that the essence of health insurance scheme was to ensure that citizens access basic quality healthcare without necessarily suffering any financial hardship.
Danfulani said “we are targeting mainly market people, the artisan and those that have small businesses and they don’t have capital, such can be paid for by the microfinance bank and they will sort it out with them over a long period of time.”
Mr Musa Hassan, the Managing Director, FCT Microfinance Bank, said that the signing of the MoU was to allow rural dwellers to have access to quality health services.
It would also bring quality healthcare to people at the grassroots, as they would be required to form cooperatives and open accounts with the microfinance institution.
Alhaji Musa Abdulraheem, the acting Secretary, Health and Human Service Secretariat (HHSS) reiterated the purpose of signing the MoU, adding that it was geared toward achieving Universal Health Coverage in the FCT.
He said that the people could only access the service through collaboration with the bank, and urged FCT residents to approach any health institution to be able to access services.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Arabi Tukur, the Managing Director, Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA) pledged continuous engagement and strengthening of enterprises in the FCT to facilitate business growth.
He said that part of the mandate of the agency was to accelerate business development, design and implement projects, programmes and activities that would create employment and reduce poverty in the FCT.
Tukur said that in over 13 years of supporting businesses in the FCT and beyond, the agency assisted over 73,450 individuals and businesses to thrive.
He added that “90 per cent of such businesses belong to youths and were supported with business clinics, access to finance, counseling, sensitisation, access to workspace, market linkage and many more.
“The agency has many initiatives designed to create an enabling environment for businesses in the FCT and alleviate poverty.”
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
FEC ratifies Nigeria, USA Air Transport Agreement, Siemens Power Project
The Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and that of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this when they briefed State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Council meeting in Abuja.
According to the minister of information, the air transport bilateral agreement is to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between Nigeria and the USA.
Mohammed, who stood in for the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said:
“The Aviation Minister presented a memo today on the approval for ratification of the air transport agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United States of America.
“The minister sought council’s approval for ratification of the air transport agreement between USA and Nigeria.
“You will recall that both United States and Nigeria are parties to the Chicago Convention on the Dec. 7, 1994. Article 6 of the convention actually urges parties to sign air services agreement with member states to improve social, political and economic ties.
“The US has ratified its own and Mr President and council graciously accepted today to also ratify this agreement.
“So, today, Mr President signed valid agreement of air transport service between Nigeria and the US with the attendant benefits for both countries, especially as Nigeria is working towards having its own full national airline.
“So, we will now take advantage of this air transport bilateral agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries.”
On her part, Zainab Ahmed revealed that the Council ratified President Buhari’s anticipatory approval of 15.2million euros offshore and N1.708billion onshore as counterpart funding for the execution of Siemens Power project in the country.
She said the affected power project under the stage one of the Presidential Power Initiative, was designed to include 23 transmission initiatives as well as 175 separate transformative projects in the electricity distribution franchises in the country.
“Today in Council, the ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and Power, Saleh Mamman, jointly presented a memo, requesting the council to ratify President Muhammadu Buhari’s anticipatory approval for the release of 15.21 million euros offshore and N1.708 billion onshore.
“This is towards the counterpart funding for the bilateral from German Consortium guaranteed by the German government through Euler Hermes to finance the implementation of the end to end grid modernization and expansion programme.
“So, today at council, we discussed the stage one of phase one of this project under presidential power initiative.
“This project is designed to include 23 transmission initiatives as well as 175 separate transformative projects in the electricity distribution franchises that we have in the country,’’ she said.
The minister stated that the project would also support the regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to transition towards a programme of improving metering in the electricity industry in the country.
“Let me remind us as citizens that Mr President and his German counterpart met in Abuja in Aug. 31, 2018 and committed to jointly increase the capacity of the Nigerian electricity grid from current capacity of 5,000 megawatts to 25,000 megawatts over a three phased programme.
“After this meeting, an MOU was executed on the July 23, 2019 between the Nigerian Government and the Siemens AG with the German Government support.
“The MOU is designed to deliver this end to end modernization programme which we are calling the presidential power initiative,’’ she further maintained.
The minister explained that the presidential power initiative was meant to address the intractable problems that have bedeviled the Nigerian power industry over a period of years.
According to her, the project will be implemented in three phases as the phase one has been approved by FEC today.
“The facility for this programme is to be sourced from the German consortium and it would be guaranteed by the German government through Euler Hermes covering 85 percent of the project cost, the highly concessional facility with two to three years moratorium, 12 years loan repayment period with an interest rate of liabor plus one per cent to liabor plus 1.2 per cent.
“And also the federal government is to provide 15 per cent counterpart funding as its contribution towards the project.
According to Ahmed, there is a provision in the 2020 revised budget for the government’s counterpart funding.
“The federal government is taking the loan from the German government with the plan to on-lend this particular loan to the distributing network.
“So, it’s a convertible loan facility to the DISCOs and we will be working with the DISCOs to restructure an appropriate loan agreement as soon as we are able to close out on this initial phase of the process.
“And council approved and ratified Mr President’s approval,’’ she said.
The Minister of Environment, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmoud, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said the Council approved a revised New National Forest Policy.
“The old one (forest policy) was formulated in 2006. We realize that the old one is not catering for the current situation at hand. Forestry is a big sector of the economy.
“It provides a lot of employment opportunities, reduces poverty, and provides means of livelihood and foreign exchange from export of wood. Without a sustainable forest management, you cannot have all of these benefits.
“We also know that right now particularly with the issue of climate change, forest is a big part of climate change mitigation. The more forest we have, the more cover we seek.
“It means taking out the emission out of our planet and stabilizing the temperature of the planet and the catastrophic effects of climate change.
“So, we have revised it and produced a new one. And we believe this will go a long way in regenerating employment which is an issue at hand,’’ he said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, said the Council ratified the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed between Nigeria and Singapore in 2016 as well as Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco
He said: “We presented a memo to Council today, seeking Council’s approval for Mr President to ratify the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which we signed in 2016 between Nigeria and Singapore on the one hand, and Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco on the other hand.
“In 2016, the Attorney-General of the Federation came up with a new model of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and that year Nigeria signed based on that new model between Nigeria and Morocco, and Nigeria and Singapore.
“The whole idea was to grant more protection to Nigerian investors, when they invest abroad and to give Nigeria more protection when other investors come into Nigeria.
“Basically, the Council graciously approved that Mr President should ratify and the Attorney-General will present to Mr President for his ratification and the agreement will come into effect thereafter.’’
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
FG, NEXIM Bank, Sealink sign MOU to facilitate water transportation
The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NEXIM Bank and Sealink Company to facilitate water transportation in the country.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, who signed the MOU on behalf of the federal government, said the agreement would promote trade and commerce in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Sealink is expected to use the jetty in Ajaokuta as a landing base for most of the goods from the Ajaokuta Steel Complex when it becomes operational.
“I want to salute the doggedness of this team knowing that it is always difficult from the start when you are doing something that is different from the normal.
“I am happy that we are signing this MoU today, and Ajaokuta Steel Company is coming into it because they will be using the jetty in Ajaokuta as a landing base for most of the goods they will be moving.
“We appreciate this team for bringing it this far,” the minister said.
Alhaji Abba Bello, NEXIM Bank Managing Director described the signing of the MoU as a milestone in the development of the country’s economy in the federal government’s effort to diversify its source of revenue.
“For us, this is a milestone development in providing effective logistics, diversification of resources and most importantly, creating jobs for Nigerians,” he said.
He thanked the ministry and Ajaokuta Steel Complex for the cooperation and assured that NEXIM bank would continue to support mining from exploration to logistics and to the global market.
“The whole idea of sealink is to facilitate evacuation of goods and trade within the region.
“We have gone very far in it and it is being concretised today by the MOU that will enable sealink use the jetty at Ajaokuta for that purpose,” he said.
He added that the efforts of NEXIM Bank towards the development of the country’s solid minerals was beyond transportation.
He said minerals needed to be mined first, adding that the bank’s focus was to ensure enough funding was available to attract investors into the sector.
He added that it was the strategic vision of the bank that it moved its funding of the current five per cent that was dedicated to the solid minerals to a minimum of 25 per cent.
“In addition to that, we will be partnering with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that mining becomes a priority sector to complement the efforts of the ministry,” Bello said.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Dabney Shall-Holma, Sealink Chairperson said her company believed more in action than rhetorics.
She added that her company wanted a migration from just talking about possibilities and solutions into doing that required to create a paradigm shift in the development and growth of the country
“We identified at the beginning, the effectiveness in terms of cost in the inland water ways.
“So when we are talking of the down turn in the oil industry and we are looking inward, the ace for the Federal Government in none oil sector is solid minerals.
“Even before this down turn, we had known in sealink that a time was going to come when we can no longer be able to sustain the economy as it were, unless we did something to bring about transformation,” she said.
She added that though most minerals mined in the country were not properly recorded because of activities of illegal miners, the challenge could be addressed with digitalised logistics and transportation.
She said that her company was structured in such a way that whatever that was mined and lifted in the country, would be accurately recorded in terms of volume and value which could be known almost immediately.
She explained that the strategy was structured along the line of world market and the cost.
“We know that Ajaokuta is coming on stream, and it will be a game changer.
“But even before Ajaokuta comes, sealink is going to lend its service to you in terms of evacuation of solid minerals, and you will start recording successes,”she said.
Shall-Holma added that her company was bringing in rates that would be affordable to all stakeholders in the sector.
Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
News analysis: Experts say Egypt’s COVID-19 coexistence plan to benefit economy, while urging caution
“These measures would completely stimulate the economy, ease the sufferings of the daily workers, and increase the levels of factories operation,” said Waleed Gaballah, professor of financial and economic jurisdictions at Cairo University.
Lifting the night curfew is very important to facilitate the movement of workers, many of whom are working in places far away from home, Gaballah, also a member of the Egyptian Association for Political Economy, told Xinhua.
Restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and sporting clubs will be allowed to reopen on July 27, with a capacity initially capped at 25 percent, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised press briefing on Tuesday.
Mosques and churches will be allowed to reopen, but weekly mass prayers on Friday and Sunday will remain suspended. Beaches and parks will continue to be closed.
Public transport will be allowed to run from 4 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) until midnight, while shops and malls will be closed by 9 p.m. and restaurants by 10 p.m.
The economic expert said the “Egyptian economy has lost 125 billion Egyptian pounds (7.74 billion United States dollars) of the GNP (Gross National Product) since the virus appeared in February,” adding that the growth rate, expected to reach 5.8 percent in the current fiscal year ending in June, has declined to less than 4 percent.
The state budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021, which is difficult to be changed based on the constitution, puts the government before challenges because it allocated high expenditures for education, health, and increase of salaries, according to the expert.
The government will be forced to raise the rate of borrowing or take strict austerity measures if the revenues from tourism and taxes could not cover the gape of expenditures, he added.
Whether the Egyptian economy could restore its level before the spread of coronavirus, it also depends on the international partners, he said, adding that the Egyptian decision to resume air traffic and international tourism wouldn’t be effective without other countries’ approval.
He further added that the return of international trade will positively impact the Suez Canal revenues, and the opening of activities in the Gulf countries would attract the Egyptian workers and increase Egyptians’ transactions abroad.
Magdy al-Dahshan, former deputy manager of Al-Azhar Medicine University, agreed that the recent government decisions are “good for gradually restoring the ordinary life.”
“Reopening of cafes, restaurants and entertainment centers at 25 percent could contain further increase of the infections,” al-Dahshan told Xinhua.
The number of infections is high now, but the virus seems to be going to stay for the time being and no country could afford to endure more economic losses, he said.
Gamal Esmat, consular to the World Health Organization, warns that the lifting of restrictions would possibly further increase the COVID-19 cases.
He said he would prefer the government to open activities in provinces with fewer cases, adding that though the death rate in Egypt is “moderate,” the spread of the virus has lasted for five months which is a long time.
Egypt reported 61,130 cases of COVID-19 and 2,533 deaths in the lastest update of the health ministry on Thursday.
2 A/Ibom communities sign pact to end 55-year boundary feud
Two warring communities in Akwa Ibom, Nung Oku Ekanem and Afaha Ubium have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to end the 55-year-old boundary dispute between them.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the two communities are in the Onna Local Government Area of the state.
The Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom, Mr Moses Ekpo, witnessed the signing of the MoU at the palace of the Paramount Ruler of Onna, His Majesty Edidem Raymond Inyang, on Tuesday.
Ekpo, who is also the Chairman of the state’s Boundary Committee, said that the peace brokered between the two communities would promote healthy living and attract development to the area.
He condemned the unwarranted loss of lives and property occasioned by incessant communal clashes across the state, saying that “such evil wind never blows anyone any good’’.
The deputy governor commended the communities for seeing the need to sheath their swords and embrace peace.
He called on other communities in the state involved in one crisis or the other to emulate Nung Oku Ekanem and Afaha Ubium communities and toe the line of peace.
“I have always said that only warring communities can end their boundary crises and win peace for their areas.
“What you have done is a great honour to your son, the governor of the state and your children will grow up to call you peace-makers.”
Ekpo assured the communities that the State Government would look into the report and recommendations of the peace committee and do whatever was necessary to ensure permanent peace in the area.
He also commended the peace committee, led by the paramount ruler of Onna for their prompt action in settling the age-long feud.
The deputy governor noted that the peace that the Supreme Court could not secure for the area over the years had been accomplished in record time by the peace committee.
The Chairman of the Peace Committee and Paramount Ruler of Onna Community, Edidem Inyang, expressed appreciation to God and the State Government for wading into the matter and supporting the committee to succeed in its assignment.
Inyang thanked the village heads of both communities for their cooperation, calling the communities to respect the boundaries set by the state.
The monarch warned against further trespass on the disputed land.
Mr Imo Atat, the Chairman of Onna Local Government Council was excited that the signing of the MOU would end years of fighting and bloodshed in the area.
He thanked the government for its intervention.
In their separate responses, the village head of Nung Oku Ekanem, Eteidung Ntiense Nda, and that of Afaha Ubium, Eteidung Samuel Adiakpan, expressed their delights for being part of the history-making event.
They said they were happy to sign the signature of peace and leave a lasting legacy behind, while praying God to sustain the peace.
Also speaking, Mr Nkopuruk Ekaiko, the Secretary of the Peace Committee and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, appealed to the State Government to consider immediate construction of roads in the area and payment of compensation to victims of the age-long crises.
Members of the committee, including the state’s Surveyor-General, Mrs Emem Isang, the state’s Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mrs Uduak Eyo-Nsa; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Mr Christopher Udoh, also appended their signatures to the MoU.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Silas Nwoha (NAN)