The Association of International Trade and Investment Promoters of Nigeria (AITIP of Nigeria), has called for a regular joint patrol and meetings between Nigeria and neighbouring countries to resolve issues that led to closure of Nigerian borders.
The Association made the call in a statement signed by its president, Prof. Kabiru Isa in Abuja on Wednesday.
Isa explained that there was the need for those countries that shared border with Nigeria to always discuss issues around border security, import and export of goods prohibited by each country.
He said with this was the best for all countries to strengthen brotherhood.
“The effort by the Federal Government to encourage consumption of locally produced items such as rice through the border closure is highly commendable.
“This step will protect and encourage local producers to continue to produce local brand of rice and the positive multiplier effect into the economy cannot be over emphasised,’’ he said.
He, however, said the decision to close filling stations around the border areas of 20kms distance had no doubt increased hardship to the existing hard times being experienced by those living around these communities.
According to him, the government can as well control the sale of these products in these areas by taking statistics of their daily or weekly requirements and allow only that quantity to be lifted from a particular designated marketer and delivered to those areas.
He added that this could be done with a very close supervision from an independent group and security agencies in order to safeguard against diverting the products.
“AITIP of Nigeria is ready to engage with relevant government agencies for further strategic discussions on the land borders closure matter and other international trade and investment issues in the best interest of the Nigerian economy and beyond.
“We believe that the present government would not want strategic issues to be exposed to the print or electronic media but prefer to discuss them at strategic meetings,’’ he said.
Isa further said the action by the Federal Government to close borders had no doubt had its consequences.
He noted that the worse hit by the border closure was the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which survival depended largely on importation or exportation of goods such as ginger, and sesame seed among others which passed their goods through these borders.
Edited by Ese E. Ekama (NAN)
Expert says COVID-19 provides Nigeria opportunity to invest, improve health sector financing
He said that for over a decade Nigeria had invested less than five per cent of its annual budget to the health sector.
The financial expert said that with improved health sector financing, strengthening accountability mechanisms and public-private partnerships, Nigeria would be better prepared for future emergencies.
“Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with an avenue to evaluate the way we have been doing things.
”It has also provided us with an opportunity to re-assess the government’s preparedness to address future pandemics,” he said.
Eziukwu said it was imperative that health policymakers took advantage of the pandemic to improve health financing mechanisms, correlation between health and economic growth and increased attention to disease prevention.
He said larger impact of the pandemic could be broadly grouped a national health emergency.
He said that this was because of its rate of spread and the diversion of human and financial resources from other critical health challenges such as Ebola, Malaria and .
Eziukwu said that coronavirus could overwhelm the health system in little time as was currently the case in Nigeria and other affected countries.
He further said that the neglect of other health challenges could lead to loss of already gained grounds in the fight against them.
He said that the economic challenge presented by the pandemic could be quite devastating particularly for emerging economies in Africa.
“However, the continent can be said to be worst hit considering other factors.
“One key factor is the mono-primary commodity export in most African countries, of which price falls will lead to a great loss of income in these countries.
“Another factor is the dominant informal sector in the economies.
“Contrary to what is obtainable in Western economies, African economies are still very nascent with the majority of its citizens operating in the informal sectors,” he said.
Eziukwu, said that the approach of locking down the economy had caused hardship to many citizens, adding that the limited fiscal policy had also contributed to the hardship the citizens were experiencing.
“Many African countries have high debt to revenue ratios, of which a reduction in commodity prices will be unable to meet the basic operating and administrative costs.
“Also, there is limited health insurance in emerging economies which leads to high out-of-pocket health expenditure and these have further increased poverty rates,” he said.
Eziukwu said that some of the most hit areas of the economy during this pandemic were foreign reserves and currency values.
“Many emerging countries’ 12 months forward price is trading at approximately 50 per cent reduction when compared with the United States dollars and other currencies.
“It is reported that the Naira is currently trading at over N500 to a dollar in the foreign exchange market.
“This is an over 42 per cent reduction when compared with the currency’s trading average of N360 before the pandemic,” he said.
Eziukwu said that the epidemic preparedness and health sector funding models had also been seriously tested at this time.
He said that African countries that religiously followed the 2001 Abuja Accord were better positioned to withstand the economic impact of the pandemic.
The financial expert said that the countries that failed to meet the Abuja Accord target were more vulnerable as a result of the pandemic which was already over stretching frail health systems.
“This pandemic has provided a critical juncture for policymakers to review all possible approaches to better health financing.
”There is no better time to understand and agree that health is indeed wealth and should take precedence in all budgetary and financing decisions of the government.
“It is expected that going forward, there must be a convergence between the private sector, donor agencies and the government.
”This convergence will be important in addressing the weaknesses the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified,” he said.
Eziukwu said that in April, Nigeria’s Finance Minister had rolled out several interventions to address the pandemic.
He said that the interventions among other things included N500 billion intervention fund to build and maintain various primary health care facilities across the country.
“While this is a welcome development, an enabling environment should be created and sustained.
”This enabling environment is necessary to assist the private sector to further invest in the revamp and management of primary healthcare facilities across the country.
“Doing such will bring Nigeria closer to achieving universal health coverage (UHC),” he said.
Eziukwu said that investing in infrastructure only would not be sufficient to address the weaknesses in Nigeria’s health sector.
He said that there was a need to reduce the burden of care for basic ailments on secondary and tertiary health facilities by improving and sustaining PHCs.
The expert said that during a pandemic, improving micro and medium scale enterprise investments would have to be another approach for all Central Bank’s development finance investments.
He said that on March 27, CBN rolled out several interventions aimed at assisting businesses facing challenges as a result of the lockdown, which was welcome.
Eziukwu, however, othebserved that review of the requirements from the CBN revealed certain requirements that small-scale businesses would not be able to meet to access the funds.
To address this, he said, the CBN should lower the requirements for accessing the funds and target high-impact job-generating sectors during the lockdown and after.
Eziukwu, however, said that while this might have short term positive impact as a considerable amount of the funds would go into food purchases, in the long run, it might lead to inflation.
He said that targeted interventions should be critically encouraged at this point.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Late Sen. Osinowo displayed unwavering commitment to better Nigeria- Folarin
Sen. Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central) has described the death of Sen. Adebayo Osinowo (APC-Lagos East) as a loss of a patriot, who displayed unwavering commitment to a better Nigeria.
This is contained in a tribute he signed and made available to newsmen in Ibadan on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the late Sen. Osinowo died on Monday.
“Distinguished Sen. Osinowo was unwavering in his commitment to a better Nigeria. He made a huge difference in the lives of millions of people in Lagos East Senatorial district and Nigeria at large,” he said.
Folarin, a former Senate leader, recalled late Osinowo’s great impressions on him as regards religious tolerance, efficacy of prayers and service to humanity during the 2019 Hajj they performed together.
He said that Osinowo’s demise was a bitter pill for members of the 9th National Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The sudden demise of my colleague and brother, Sen. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo is, undoubtedly, a bitter pill for members of the 9th Assembly, the people of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and APC,” he said.
Folarin expressed his condolences to Osinowo’s family, the Nigerian Senate, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the good people of Lagos and Ogun States.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and associates worldwide as we grieve over the loss of such an extraordinary individual.
“I pray that in this difficult time, God give us the strength and courage to bear the irreplaceable loss.
“The wonderful memories of Sen. Osinowo’s unique personality will be celebrated by all for a very long time. May Allah grant him Al-Jannah Fridauz,” he said.
Edited Edith Bolokor/Adeleye Ajayi
Nigeria records 573 new COVID-19 cases, infections hits 16,658
Nigeria recorded 573 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of Infections to 16,658.
The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) announced this official Twitter handle.
It said that as at June 15, Nigeria recorded four deaths while no new state reported any case in the last 24 hours.
The NCDC said that Lagos reported the highest number of cases with 216 new cases and Rivers was second with 103 new infections.
“The 573 new cases are reported from 20 states, Lagos (216), Rivers (103), Oyo (68), Edo (40), Kano (21), Gombe (20),FCT (17), Delta (13), Plateau (12), Bauchi (12), Niger (10), Kebbi ((9) Ogun (8), Ondo (8), Abia (7), Nasarawa (5), Borno (1), Kwara (1), Benue (1), Anambra (1)
The NCDC said that till date, Nigeria has 10,885 active cases while 5,349, patients have been treated and discharged.
It added that Nigeria recorded 424 deaths in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The agency said that the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across states, calls for Nigerians to TakeResponsibility, especially with the use of masks, avoiving mass gatherings and hand Washing.
“The health of each of us depends on our collective action,“ it said.
The health agency disclosed that it got samples with fictitious names and fictitious addresses.
“We can only vouch for the results of the samples.
“There’s no reason whatsoever to doubt the reality of COVID-19 in Nigeria. In fact we believe there are more cases out there than we’ve found.
“Behind each of those numbers we announce daily are people. Four Governors have themselves announced they’ve been infected.
“We have to make it socially unacceptable to be seen outside the home without face masks.
“We must also discourage unnecessary mass gatherings,”NDDC said.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/ Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
UN chief condemns terrorist attacks in Nigeria’s Borno State
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday strongly condemned Saturday’s terrorist attacks in Monguno and Nganzai local government areas in Nigeria’s Borno State, which killed dozens of civilians, injured several others, and damaged a major humanitarian facility.
The secretary-general conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims, the people and government of Nigeria and wished a speedy recovery to those injured. He reiterated the need to protect civilians and humanitarian personnel, assets and facilities at all times in accordance with international humanitarian law, said Farhan Haq, Guterres’ deputy spokesman, in a statement.
The secretary-general reaffirmed the United Nations’ continued solidarity with the government and people of Nigeria in their efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism, said the statement.
Saturday’s attacks were carried out by suspected Boko Haram militants. The terrorist group has been trying to establish an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria, and has extended its attacks to countries in the Lake Chad Basin.