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FG to deliver 1m houses per year – Minister

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The Federal Government on Saturday promised to address housing deficit by delivering one million houses per year to close the 17 million shortfall by the year 2033.

The Minister of State, Works and Housing, Mr Abubakar Aliyu disclosed this in Abuja on Saturday during an inspection of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) mass housing project in Zuba, Federal Capital Territory.

Aliyu said the government has decided to improve on current construction of 100,000 houses per years in order to meet the basic needs of the people.

“The production now is low; we are constructing 100,000 houses per year and we hope to improve it by constructing one million houses per year in order to close the gap of 17 million to 20 million housing deficits by the year 2033.

“That is the target of government, we are committed to doing that and to ensure that the programmes, policies are accomplished

“We will provide enabling environment to attract investors into the sector to help solve the problem of housing deficit in the country and to achieve the government goal by 2033,’’ he said.

Aliyu also assured that the problems associated with acquisition of lands would be addressed.

Speaking on the Zuba project, the minister said it was designed specifically to address the huge housing deficit for the medium and low income earners.

He said the project which was to be completed by August was delayed because of the rainy season.

The minister assured that the government would deliver the project as soon as possible.

“We will ensure that the project is completed soon, because it is one of our primary focuses.

“That is why it is our first point of call after inauguration,’’ he said.

Mr Umar Gonto, Acting Managing Director, FHA reiterated government commitment to ensuring that the common Nigerians have access to affordable housing

He said that the project was among many others spread across the country by the federal government,.

Gonto said that the houses were designed for low-income earners both in the public and private sector and the self employed, once they meet up with the criteria.

Mr Ibrahim Shuaibu, the Project Manager who took the minister round the site said the 764 housing units is at 75 per cent completion stage.

The Nigeria News Agency reports the housing project is located near the Zuba model market, the Zuba spare parts market and the FCT College of Education.

FNO/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

Foreign

Equatorial Guinea’s hydrocarbons minister wants OPEC+ to proceed with easing cuts to 7.7mbd

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The group of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers should proceed with easing production cuts to 7.7 million barrels a day starting in July, Equatorial Guinea’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons, Gabriel M. Obiang, said.

Obiang told Sputnik in an interview that the volume of reduction would depend on the outcome of upcoming meetings.

On April 12, OPEC+ agreed to cut production by 9.7 million barrels per day from May-June.

Under the deal, the output will be reduced by 7.7 million barrels per day from July until the end of 2020, and by 5.8 million barrels daily from January 2021 to April 2022.

However, sources have told Sputnik that the current decrease could be extended.

Yes. But everything will depend on the meeting,” Obiang said when asked if the producers should stick to the April agreements on easing the cuts starting in July.

He added that there was “no need for more cuts.”

The minister noted that Equatorial Guinea, as a member of OPEC, would look into the recommendations of the cartel on the future cuts, as the OPEC Secretariat was responsible for monitoring supply and demand.

“I think it’s better to wait for the full monitoring. And we do recognise that in summer there could be more activity, there is more easing of the lockdown, there is much more movement.

“The airline industry is definitely going to be critical. If the airline business really takes off, that could be a game-changer.

“But if we still have that restriction that we are having, we’ll probably be forced to continue cuts in production, because it’s definitely the only alternative that we will have.

“We don’t have the place in storages, and we don’t have a place to sell it,” Obiang underlined.

The OPEC

+ countries are expected to meet next week to discuss the situation on the market and whether they should proceed with the 7.7 mbd cut starting in July or if the figure needs some adjustment.

However, it is still not clear whether the OPEC+ meeting will take place from June 9-10 or will be pushed to an earlier date.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

GNA’s Sarraj to visit Turkey on June 4 to discuss Libyan crisis – Minister

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The head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Zarraj, will pay an official visit to Turkey on Thursday to discuss a political solution to the crisis in war-torn Libya.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this on Wednesday in an interview with the country’s 24 TV broadcaster.

“Tomorrow, Sarraj

will visit Ankara to discuss a political solution in Libya,” Cavusoglu said.

The diplomat added that the GNA’s rival – the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar – “could not win” the ongoing conflict, noting that Haftar and countries supporting him did not want to resolve the Libyan issue via political talks.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey “had its interests” in Libya, and that Ankara would take necessary steps to defend it if there was a need.

Earlier in the day, GNA army spokesman Mohammed Qanunu announced that the government’s forces had launched an offensive to liberate the Tripoli airport, south of the country’s capital, from LNA troops.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya said that the warring parties to the conflict had agreed to resume the military committee’s 5 + 5 talks on a ceasefire in accordance with the draft agreement submitted by the UN to the parties of the military committee talks that took place on Feb. 23.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Health

FG to engage community volunteers for house-to-house sensitisation on COVID-19 – Minister

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The Federal Government is engage community volunteers on house-to-house sensitisation on the dangers and spread of COVID-19.

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF), briefing on COVID-19.

The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that Nigeria currently has 10,578 confirmed CCOVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated and discharged.

NAN reports that Nigeria recorded 299 deaths.

Ehanire said that the ministry was working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHCDA) to finalise plans on the engagement of existing community volunteers and agents to conduct house to house sensitisation on COVID-19 at the community level.

He said that this would be done in “high burden” Local Government areas of Nigeria, since about 20 LGAs contribute nearly 60 per cent of the COVID-19 positive cases.

The COVID-19 burden is, as we know not evenly distributed within the country, with Kano and Lagos bearing the highest burden.

“A team from the FMoH, led by the ED of NPHCDA and comprising doctors from Departments of Family Health, Hospital Services and Public Health and NCDC, is in Lagos on an appraisal visit, during which a situation analysis will be conducted.

“The team will also visit the contiguous Ogun State on the same mission. The visits are in continuation of similar useful initiatives in the past to Kano, Katsina Sokoto, Jigawa, Gombe, and Borno, to share experience and ideas, align strategy and support each other,” he said.

The minister said that the ministry would continue to advocate for states to strengthen their response activities and have begun a program to strengthen the capacity of all Federal Health Institutions in Nigeria to deal with COVID-19 challenges in their States by additional training, supplies and equipment.

He said that the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja and University of Calabar Teaching Hospital would be prioritized for the deployment of Gene Xpert machines as soon as the test kits were validated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council.

He said this so that residents in Kogi and Cross River, among others, would no longer have a shortage of opportunity to be tested.

“Our observation is that states are at varying levels of readiness and it is important to re-strategise to meet all citizens at their points of need.

COVID-19 is long since a global phenomenon affecting nearly all parts of the world.

“All nations are working together and I urge all State authorities in Nigeria to accept the reality and also work with each other and Federal Government, and play their part in the strategy to keep the people safe.

“This includes the decentralization that requires making a minimum of 300 Isolation beds ready, so that the national health system does not run out of COVID-19 bed spaces,” he said.

He, however said that as  the President advised that it was best to be fully prepared even if Nigerians do not have to use it.

“ In this regard, the FMOH stands ready to support all States in their efforts to build resilient and responsive systems for citizens in their States.

“The FCT, for example, is no longer under bed space pressure, having been well supported with assets to meet all levels of care, security and needs,” he said.

Ehanire said that there would therefore be no reason for a COVID-19 positive person to be outside a designated Isolation and Treatment centre, especially with the ThisDay Dome Isolation centre ready to take cases.

He noted that it would  be headed, in the introductory phase, by the Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, one of the most experienced virus disease hospitals in Nigeria.

He also said the FCT managed Idu COVID-19 treatment centre wih 500 beds ready.

He, however, said that the FMOH have conducted an analysis of Health Care Worker Infections and identified critical areas for targeted intervention, to include continuous updates and retraining.

More than 13,000 health workers have been trained, which will result in reduced rate of infection, especially in the line of duty. We are collaborating with States to cascade the training to lower cadre workers.

“A few weeks ago, I announced that Nigeria will participate in COVID-19 drug trial, which the WHO was leading but partly suspended.

“After consultation with top Nigerian scientists of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee, I am advised that Nigeria has something to add to the body of knowledge around these trials.

“I have therefore approved the continuation of the trial, as recommended, under strong precautionary conditions to be built into it,” he said.

According to him, the leadership of the Ministry also had the first briefing with the Ministerial Advisory Panel of Experts on Monday and received a series of very useful advisories that will be discussed and shared with Heads of Agencies and Departments of the Ministry.

“Finally, as we move into the next phase of easing of the lockdown, I urgently call on all, to take responsibility for ensuring that we actively play our role in ensuring that COVID-19 does not spike or bounce up, as has been observed in many countries where lockdown was relaxed.

“It is important to bear in mind that this phase, more than the lockdown itself, is in the hands of the people, more than in the hand of government.

“We must fight the spread of the disease by adhering more strictly than ever, to the various social guidelines which have been announced, published and publicized,” he advised.

He urged Nigerians to wear their face mask in the public, once they leave their house, or even inside their house, if they were  not sure of the COVID-19 status of people they  live with.

“Wear your mask on your face, not under your chin; it has no value under your chin.

“Be very sensitive about respiratory hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitizers and observe physical distancing. Open your windows to let in fresh air whenever it is safe to do so,” he said.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo /Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

BiH’s security minister resigns

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Fahrudin Radoncic, minister of security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), announced his resignation at a live-streamed video conference on Tuesday.

Addressing the reasons for his resignation, Radoncic said his position on issues such as migrant has no support from other members of the government, and his proposed plan to handle the migrant issue was actively opposed by his partners at the Council of Ministers.

Radoncic has been calling for the urgent deportation of all migrants. But Radoncic‘s plan was criticized by Sefik Dzaferovic, chairman of the BiH Presidency, and Bisera Turkovic, BiH‘s minister of foreign affairs.

After the closure of the so-called Balkan route thanks to the European Union (EU)-Turkey agreement in March 2016 to stem the migrant influx, migrants poured into BiH. According to the official statistics of BiH, some 8,000 migrants are currently stranded in the country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

South Sudan’s minister of East African Affairs dies

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South Sudan’s minister of East African Affairs in the current unity government, John Luk Jok has died, a government spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information and broadcasting, described the deceased as a liberator and scholar who helped write the country’s Constitution in 2011.

“It was this Tuesday morning when I received a telephone call and informed that brother John Luk Jok has passed on. So it is true that it has happened,” Makuei told Xinhua in Juba.

He said there was no official confirmation of the cause of the death.

“We have lost a great man who contributed a lot in a liberation struggle and after liberation. He had ever been a servant of people, and with his death, we have lost a great man,” said Makuei.

(XINHUA)

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General news

UK Prime Minister hosts global vaccine summit June 4

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The British High Commission in Nigeria says the UK Prime Minister will host a Global Vaccine Summit on June 4.

The commission,  in a statement on Tuesday, said that the summit would  bring together, leaders from around the world to a virtual event to pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

It said the aim was to further  protect  300 million children against infectious diseases like measles, typhoid and polio.

According to the commission, the global vaccine summit aims to raise at least 7.4 billion US Dollars to help Gavi save up to 8 million lives.

It said that the UK would continue its global leadership on tackling preventable deaths and stopping the spread of the Coronavirus.

According to the statement, the UK is proud to be Gavi’s leading donor, and on April 29,  the International Development Secretary pledged the equivalent of 330 million Pounds a year over the next five years from the aid budget to protect 75 million children from preventable diseases.

It said that Gavi was a crucial partner in the fight against infectious diseases globally, including Coronavirus.

The commission said that with the support of UK Aid, Gavi had immunised over 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries, saving more than 13 million lives.

According to the commission, between 2000 and 2023 Gavi has committed over 3 billion US dollars alone to Nigeria to combat diseases like Measles, Meningitis and Yellow Fever.

Speaking on the upcoming Summit, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: “Producing a vaccine for COVID-19 is a priority for the UK government as this will help save lives in Nigeria and globally from the deadly virus.

“Gavi is already working hard with partners to ensure any future vaccine that is safe and effective is delivered at scale around the world.

We welcome Gavi’s partnership with Nigeria over the years, which has helped to fight diseases such as yellow fever, meningitis and measles by improving immunisation rates and strengthening the health systems across the country.

“I welcome the international recognition Nigerians have received for their role in supporting the global effort to find a cure and stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

” Gavi’s has also given recognition to the Nigerian Public Health and Health Promotion Specialist, Dr Obinna Ebirim, for his tireless and passionate advocacy for equitable access to vaccines and sustainable immunisation financing in Nigeria,” Laing said.

Commenting on the upcoming summit, Health Promotion Specialist, Dr Obinna Ebirim said:

“Gavi is known to supporting health systems by ensuring  that vaccines get to the last mile where they are used to vaccinate children and prevent diseases.

“As we move toward the Global Vaccine Summit to be hosted by the United Kingdom, I call on countries and donors to support the work Gavi is doing, ” Ebirim said.

He said that supporting Gavi meant assisting vaccination programmes in poor and remote communities around the world including Nigeria.

“ One of the things we have learnt from COVID-19 pandemic is that what affects the health of one country affects the health of everyone, ” Ebirim said.

He noted that the UK had committed an additional 20 million Pounds through the African Union’s new ‘Africa anti-COVID -19 fund’ to recruit and deploy health experts where they were needed most, to tackle the pandemic.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

 

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Foreign

Police arrest suspect over threats against Israeli prime minister

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Israeli police on Tuesday said it arrested a suspect over alleged threats against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on social media.

The Police’s national cyber unit identified the suspect as a 21-year-old man from northern Israeli.

According to Israeli news outlet ynet, the suspect is an Israeli soldier, and was set to appear before a court in central Israel on Tuesday.

“A few days ago I filed a complaint with the police about a series of threats to kill me and my family,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“Today, to my regret, I was forced to file another complaint against a despicable person who detailed how he plans to kill me and my family,” he added, attaching a screenshot of a threat against him.

The screenshot included a suggestion to behead the Netanyahu family and hang their bodies from the balcony of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

In May, police said Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, had filed complaints over threats and incitement against him.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu has been the subject of protests both for and against him, as his corruption trial began last week, making him the first sitting prime minister in the country’s history to stand trial.

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister was officially indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of trust in January.

Following three general elections in less than a year, Netanyahu was sworn in last month as the head of an emergency unity government including his Likud party and the centrist Blue and White Alliance of his former main rival Benny Gantz.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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Foreign

Bosnian interior minister quits amid fights on migration, corruption

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Bosnian Interior Minister Fahrudin Radoncic has resigned because he is unhappy with the country’s migration policy and because there is opposition to investigating the purchase of faulty respirators for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Radoncic told Klix.ba on Tuesday that top officials, including chief diplomat Bisera Turkovic, “do not understand and identify the security threat’’ that the migrants, massing in Bosnia for an attempt to cross into EU-country Croatia, pose.

According to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, there are at least 7,200 migrants stranded in Bosnia, the vast majority of them along the border with Croatia in the north-west.

“The crowd remains persistently large, with the central government doing virtually nothing to resolve the problem, leaving everything, from overcrowded shelters to security to be arranged by municipal authorities,” he said.

Radoncic has been vocal with warnings that extremists may be hiding within the crowd.

He also told Klix that elements of the government also blocked his drive to fully investigate a 10.5 million Bosnian mark (6-million-dollar) acquisition of respirators, which turned out to be unusable.

The respirators were bought by the Bosniak-Muslim Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Radoncic accuses the Bosniak side of blocking the investigation to protect themselves.

Radoncic also said that the feuding between Bosniak, Serb and Croat parties  forced to work together under the complex administrative system set up in 1995 to end a war will continue blocking Bosnian institutions “for a long time.’’

The country was effectively split along Muslim Bosniak, Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat ethnic lines to end bloodshed, with the hope that a system of checks and balances would build trust and develop shared Bosnian institutions.

However, ethnic leaders continued to push nationalist agendas and have, since the start, been blocking virtually any proposal made by their rivals, which leaves the central government with few options.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

 

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Foreign

French economy likely to contract 11 pct in 2020 due to coronavirus: minister

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The French economy, the second-largest in Europe, is expected to contract by 11 percent this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as the nearly two-month lockdown had paralyzed businesses and hit demand, Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

The minister had previously estimated the French economy to shrink by 8 percent for 2020.

Growth in France in 2020, let’s say rather the recession — the term is more appropriate, will be at minus 11 percent,” Le Maire told French commercial radio network RTL.

The minister said “the toughest is ahead” because “the shock of the crisis has been extremely violent in France” and economic activities were at a halt for nearly three months.

On March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron announced nationwide confinement for 15 days, starting at noon on March 17. This was extended twice and ended on May 11, when France cautiously started a gradual process to return to normalcy, easing some restrictions while maintaining others to avoid a new epidemic wave.

“The shock is very brutal. We must take all the measures to relaunch growth in 2021. I have the absolute conviction that the strategy we have adopted will allow us to rebound strongly in 2021,” he added.

Le Maire ruled out an increase in taxes to compensate for a surge in public spending to mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic. He reiterated that the government’s plan to kickstart the economy was based on massive support to the hardest-hit sectors to avoid bankruptcies and modernize ways of production to bolster competitiveness and spur growth.

Since May 11, France has step by step returned to normality, allowing most businesses to go back to work after a nationwide lockdown.

On Tuesday, which marks the start of the second phase of de-confinement, 300,000 restaurants and cafes are allowed to receive customers, allowing 500,000 workers in the sector to resume their work.

The French government had also greenlighted museums, parks, beaches and religious sites to reopen, while theatres and swimming pools remained shut down in “orange” areas where the virus circulates faster than in low-risk regions.

(XINHUA)

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