Mr David Ibidapo, an economic and financial analyst, says the newly-constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC) should guide President Muhammadu Buhari in taking right economic decisions that will yield the desired results for the country.
Ibidapo told the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Abuja that constituting the council was a good initiative and that the members were experts in economic matters.
He, however, said that what was needed was for the council members to use their expertise to spur the country’s economic growth.
“In the current precarious state of the economy, we need the right direction and maybe they (EAC) will be able to let the government know that increasing Value Added Tax (VAT) is not the solution to its revenue challenges.
“What the government is currently facing is not only revenue challenge, but also bad expenditure administration.
“The issue that should be tackled is how to improve tax collection and reduce debt burdens. We also need to break out of the stranglehold of using majority of our revenues to service debt and on recurrent expenditure,” he said.
The financial analyst charged the council to work harmoniously with all the fiscal and monetary agencies to achieve the desire result.
“It is an advisory board with big brains. Heads of fiscal and monetary agencies too should take recommendations from them”, he added.
reports that Buhari had, on Monday, constituted the EAC saddled with the responsibility of advising him on economic matters.
The eight-member council, chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, is to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Edited by Remi Koleoso and ‘Wale Sadeeq
S. African gov’t unveils guidelines for religious gatherings amid pandemic
After wide consultations with the religious sector, the government is now in a position to categorize religious counselling as an essential service, said Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
This will enable the millions who have been affected by the virus to receive this much-needed service since the majority cannot afford professional attention of this nature, the minister said.
Religious gatherings such as church services will be permitted and the phased re-opening will start from June 1, with a maximum of 50 congregants, and venues should be able to accommodate such requirements, Dlamini-Zuma said.
Religious organizations should, where possible, convene services through virtual platforms, she said.
“Health and safety measures at places of worship should be made a priority, as such all religious leaders or persons in charge must develop plans and protocols on how they will manage the re-opening, whilst ensuring that there are not more than 50 persons within the place of worship at a time,” the minister said.
The religious leaders or persons in charge should ensure health, hygiene, social distancing are observed and ensure that every person entering a place of worship wears a cloth face mask covering both mouth and nose, Dlamini-Zuma said.
Washing of hands or sanitization should be undertaken prior to worship and continually in between the service, she added.
Places of worship are required to keep a register which must be retained for a period of six months detailing names, contact details, residential address and contact persons, according to Dlamini-Zuma.
Under the regulations, anyone who presents symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing should not be allowed to enter a place of worship, and any persons over the age of 60 years and those with co-morbidities are encouraged to continue worshiping at home.
“All religious organizations are required to establish COVID-19 committees to establish their state of readiness and to verify the existence of the plans required in terms of these directions before opening for services,” the minister said.
South Africa will ease the lockdown from level four to level three on June 1, allowing 8 million people to return to work while reopening most of the economic sector.
Court convicts 24 motorists in Imo for violating COVID-19 guidelines
A mobile court sitting in Owerri, Imo, on Thursday, convicted 24 motorists for violating the guidelines laid down by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the motorists, arrested by state command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), were convicted for overloading and non-possession of driver’s licence, among others.
The Magistrate, Adaeze Maduako, however, gave each of the convicts options of fine, ranging from N3,000 to N10,000.
Maduako warned them to always be of good behaviour and observe the guidelines on COVID-19.
Speaking shortly after the court proceedings, Mr Owiamaha Udoma, the Sector Commander of FRSC in the state, said that in spite of the corps’ enlightenment programmes, some motorists had refused to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.
Udoma said that FRSC would continue to do its best to ensure that motorists complied with the guidelines in their own interest.
Edited By: Joe Idika and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Bangladesh to resume work under strict guidelines despite COVID-19 worries
The Bangladeshi government on Thursday decided to allow offices and businesses to resume under strict guidelines from Sunday (May 31).
Bangladeshi government issued a gazette notification in this regard on Thursday, saying the new order will remain in force until June 15.
All offices can be reopened on a limited scale from Sunday to June 15 but everyone will still need to follow the health guidelines, said the gazette notification.
Maintaining the guidelines, it said public transport services can also be operated with limited passengers from Sunday.
But the gazette notification said all the educational institutions will remain closed until June 15.
During the May 31 to June 15 period, the movement of people to and from one district to another of the country will be restricted and law enforcers will strictly monitor the entire public movement situation by installing check posts in strategically important location.
Also general people have been asked not to go outside unless absolute necessity from 8:00 p.m. local time to 6:00 a.m. local time, it said and added punitive measures will be taken against anyone violating the health guidelines.
The Bangladeshi government declared a general holiday from March 26 and later extended the shutdown in phases till Saturday (May 30) to quell the spread of the COVID-19 which still continued unabated with 2,029 new cases found on Thursday.
NCC suspends Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended the Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
A statement signed by Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, on Wednesday in Abuja, said the commission’s Board of Commissioners rose from a meeting with the position.
Nkemadu said that the board had begun to inform licensed telecommunications operators, prospective investors, industry stakeholders and the general public about the development.
He said that the board had earlier taken the decision for Spectrum Trading in response to telecommunications global dynamics as well as the efforts to optimally utilise and maximise the benefits of the Spectrum scarce resource.
The director explained that Spectrum was a scarce commodity, which when inefficiently utilised greatly limited broadband coverage and speeds.
“The current Spectrum Trading Guidelines were developed in 2018 after industry-wide consultations.
“This instrument allows that the Spectrum resource be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing upon satisfying stipulated regulatory conditions.
“The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 – 2025, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja in March 2020 requires that these Guidelines be reviewed.
“This was to ensure that unutilised Spectrum is fairly traded and to facilitate rollout by other operators amongst others.
“This is to address the need for ubiquitous broadband deployment to accelerate penetration and access in line with the economic Agenda of the Federal Government,” he said.
He further explained that in accordance with the NNBP, 2020 – 2025, for optimal use of spectrum, licensees had the obligation of the `Use it or Lose it Policy’.
He explained that idle high demand spectrum did a disservice to poorly served populations.
He said that spectrum should be released for effective use as might be required to promote efficient use of assigned spectrum.
He advised that the ‘Use it or Lose it’ rule should therefore apply in all instances where assigned spectrum was found to be non-utilised or underutilised.
He stated that it would ensure that unutilised spectrum was fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators.
According to Nkemadu, the suspension is in response to the need for the review of the Guidelines as highlighted.
He further said that it followed paragraph 12 of the Spectrum Trading Guidelines, 2018, which vested the Commission with the right to review/vary and modify the guidelines from time to time as it might deem fit.
“The Spectrum Trading Guidelines 2018 application in Nigeria is hereby suspended until further notice, as declared by the Board,’’ he added.
Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Roundup: Memorial Day celebrations muted in U.S. west as most Americans observe COVID-19 guidelines
A mild, sunny Memorial Day in Denver, capital of U.S. state of Colorado, brought many residents out jogging, visiting parks, or driving into the nearby Rockies to enjoy the spring-like weather.
However, crowds were small, social distancing was observed, and most people were wearing masks in the Mile-High City.
“We are not wearing masks when we are with our family people, but when we are in public, we always cover up for the safety of others,” said Miguel Mendoza, who told Xinhua he attended a small gathering at his brother’s house on the national holiday where Americans honor the fallen military dead.
Above in eastern Colorado’s clear skies, four Colorado Army National Guard helicopters buzzed communities across the Denver metro area for almost three hours, and many of the areas’ three million residents stood outside and cheered.
Other Coloradans ventured into the nearby Rocky Mountains to hike and drive around scenic areas, park rangers reported. But with no parades and many outdoor parks closed, Coloradans had its most reserved Memorial Day in decades.
Few were complaining.
“Not much has changed for me,” Mendoza said. “I still got together with family members for music, dancing and good food,” he said.
Colorado followed the example of most of America’s West – especially California, Oregon and Washington where Democratic governors enforced social distancing guidelines and reduced crowding by limiting parking at parks and recreation areas.
“California beaches are open, but for the most, people are staying away,” CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported from the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles.
In Arizona, COVID-19 weary stay-at-home residents filled many state parks and recreation areas, with more than 100 cars “already lined up before 6 a.m. ready to get in and start celebrating Memorial Day,” 12 news.com reported.
Arizona, run by a Republican governor, saw COVID-19 rules not strictly enforced, with TV news footage showing most people not seen wearing masks, and park rangers not enforcing social distancing guidelines.
The Lake Pleasant recreation area, located outside the state capital and largest city of Phoenix, was flooded by people over the weekend – a line of cars stretched back 25-kilometers on Friday for people getting into the park.
However, a Lake Pleasant park ranger told Phoenix Channel 10 news he was more concerned with people operating motor boats while under the influence of alcohol.
Across the Grand Canyon State, and at the national park itself, rangers were limiting parking in the hope of reducing the crowds.
EAST vs WEST
The scene was much different 5,000 kilometers away on America’s East Coast, especially in states controlled by Republican governors.
Thousands of young people crowded beaches in the southern states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – all run by Republican governors – a stark contrast to the beaches on the Pacific Coast.
Several state parks in Arkansas and Missouri were showcased on social media – where videos aired showing thousands of people packed into lakes, ponds and swimming pools – completely ignoring social distancing guidelines.
After large crowds gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks park, in defiance of Missouri’s social distancing guidelines, the St. Louis County Department of Health issued an advisory Monday evening urging anyone who recently ignored social distancing guidelines to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative for coronavirus.
Heed NCDC guidelines on Edo, Ondo governorship polls, Group urges INEC
An interest group, Governors Mandate Network (GMN), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to closely monitor political parties, ahead of Edo and Ondo elections, to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
The Chairman of GMN, Mr Osaro Onaiwu, made the call in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja.
He stressed the need for political parties to ensure strict compliance with the protocols established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent further spread of coronavirus before and during the governorship elections in the two states.
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very active in the country, adding that political parties and politicians must not be careless in their activities so as not to endanger the lives of Nigerians under the guise of electioneering.
Onaiwu said that the world was watching INEC on the way and manner it wanted to go about the governorship elections scheduled for September and October in Edo and Ondo states respectively.
“Anything short of a modest election process that will ensure minimum mass gathering will not be acceptable to health-conscious people,” he said.
Edited By: Francis Onyeukwu and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
FIBA releases guidelines for basketball’s return
A basketball-specific “Risk Assessment Tool’’ has also been produced in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The body, which is based in Mies in Switzerland, is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
FIBA’s guidelines are primarily for national federations seeking direction and advice on the restart of basketball activities and competitions.
“The guidelines and risk assessment tool will serve as a checklist to ensure any decisions on basketball events are based on an assessment of risks and the best chance of a successful restart,’’ FIBA said.
It however reminded the federations that the publication is not intended to replace the guidance and restrictions of governments and public health authorities.
“The risk assessment tool is a live document and will be updated regularly,’’ the federation added.
The guidelines have been developed by FIBA Medical Commission Chairman, Peter Harcourt.
Harcourt, who is from Australia, holds numerous positions within other sports organisations, as well as with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Medical Commission.
“I can assure that our Medical Commission will keep working and collaborating closely with WHO and will endeavor to assist FIBA to safeguard the basketball community from the current pandemic crisis based on the scientific knowledge,’’ he said.
Commenting on the guidelines, Andreas Zagklis, FIBA Secretary General, said they were going to be very beneficial.
“I wish to sincerely thank the FIBA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, the FIBA Commissions involved and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for their invaluable work, expertise and continued contribution towards protecting our national federations, players, officials and basketball event organisers.
“This set of guidelines will be very beneficial for the basketball community in their return to our game.
“We all miss our sport being played and as the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, FIBA remains committed to providing guidance for a safe environment for the `Return to Basketball’.’’
It was also mandated to advise on the return of international basketball competitions.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
COVID-19: NRC working out guidelines of operations to contain spread
“We are working out modalities on how to operate because train is the largest means of transportation in commuting people from one state to another.
Alli, however, said that train operations nationwide would not restart until lifting of the ban on interstate travel.
“Although the corporation has lost much finances, the safety of our customers remain paramount,” he said.
“We cannot commence Mass Transit Train Service until interstate travel ban is lifted.
“We have been receiving calls and messages from our esteemed customers to commence operations but we cannot flout the order banning on interstate travels.
Alli appealed to commuters to be patient until the lifting of the ban on interstate travel.
Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Eid-el-Fitr: Etsu Nupe felicitates with Muslims, urges adherence to COVID-19 guidelines
The Etsu Nupe, who is the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in Niger, gave the advice in a Sallah message in Bida on Sunday.
Abubakar appealed for intensified prayers by the Muslim Ummah and adherents of other religions in the country for God’s intervention on the dreaded disease.
He emphasised that COVID-19 is real, urging Muslims to pray and adhere strictly to the preventive measures as they celebrate Eid-el-Fitr.
The monarch, while congratulating Muslims on the successful completion of the Ramadan fast, emphasised the need for love for one another and support for the less privileged in the society.
He enjoined Muslims to reflect on the lessons of Ramadan and pray fervently for the nation to overcome COVID-19 and other emerging challenges
“I enjoin Nigerians to adhere strictly to all the safety measures against COVID-19 as advised by the government and health experts such as frequent washing of hands, social distancing and environmental hygiene at all times.
“If this is done by all of us, it will go a long way in curtailing the spread of the virus in our communities and the country at large,’’ Abubakar said.
He advised that the occasion should be used to rebuild the fabric of national unity and to reaffirm Nigeria’s common destiny as an indivisible entity.
The monarch urged Muslim faithful to continue to pray to God to assist President Muhammadu Buhari and other elected and appointed leaders to overcome current challenges in the nation.
He charged the people of his emirate to send their children to schools to acquire both Western and Islamic knowledge, saying that through education they would be emancipated from illiteracy and ignorance.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
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