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Minister lauds UNN programmes on human capital development



The Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, has commended the Department of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), University of Nigeria Nsukka for its programmes on human capital development.

Onu made the commendation in Nsukka on Friday at a ceremony tagged, “1st Technovation Celebration”, oragnised by the department to showcase their products.

He said that he was impressed that the department, established in 2015, had achieved great mileage in manufacturing.

He lauded the department for producing paints of different colours, known as Lion Paints, Lion car battery charger, Lion perfume, Lion detergent and Lion disinfectants, among others.

“I am happy that the department has keyed into the President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of producing university graduates that will be job creators instead of job seekers.

“For Nigeria to become one of the best economies in the world as well as reduce unemployment, we must produce majority of products Nigerians use everyday.

“I commend the Head of Department, staff and students of the department for this giant stride, since human capital development remains the panacea to nation building,” Onu said.

The minster, who was represented by Mr Yemi Gbadegesin, the Director-General, Nigeria Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT), Ibadan, said that UNN-SLT was among seven universities the ministry certified to run science and technology courses.

“The ministry is happy with the performance of UNN-SLT and will support the department to get full accreditation from Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC).

“If a department established in 2015 can produce these products, it means that with necessary support, in the next five years it can produce sophisticated science equipment.

“The ministry will also help to address some of the challenges facing the department to enable it to move to the next level,” he said.

In a remark, the Head of Department, Prof. Marie Dibua, a Catholic reverened sister, said that the department was designed to train young people in various facets of science and technology entrepreneurship.

Dibua said: “The students of the department are equipped with entrepreneurial skills that will make them job creators instead of job seekers upon graduation.

“There is urgent need to redirect our national and individual attitudes towards building the caliber of youths in various technological and scientific specialties that will make the country to compete with countries like China and U.S.

“Today’s event beckons on us to build resilient infrastructure and promote inclusive innovation in our policy toward youths development,” she said.

She disclosed that NUC on August 31 2018 approved a full-time degree programme in Science Laboratory Technology for the department.

“NUC will be coming to the department very soon for the full accreditation of the courses.

“We are appealing to our guests, friends and lovers of education to help us build this nascent department to international standard,” she said.

She said that the department was in need of its own building, classroom furniture and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, studio/drawing rooms, conference hall, lecture theatres and project vehicles.

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Igwe, applauded Dibua for her great achievements within a short period.

Igwe promised that his administration would continue to support and patronise products made by the department.

“The university will provide land to build a befitting departmental building.

“I commend the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology for certifying UNN-SLT department to run courses on science and technology,” he said.

(Editah Sam Oditah)







Head of Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb killed in Mali by French forces: minister




The Al-Qaida leader in the Islamic Maghreb had been killed by French forces in northern Mali, French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said on Friday.

On June 3, the French armed forces, with the support of their partners, neutralized the emir Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdal, and several of his close collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” said the minister on Twitter.

Abdelmalek Droukdal, a member of the Al-Qaida steering committee, commanded all Qaida groups in North Africa and the Sahel strip, including JNIM, one of the main terrorist groups active in the Sahel,” she added.


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Science & Technology

Buhari approves Danbatta’s reappointment as NCC’s boss, says Minister



The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved  reappointment of Prof. Umar Danbatta as Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

Pantami made the disclosure in a statement signed by Mrs Uwa Suleiman, spokesperson for the ministry, on Friday in Abuja.

The minister said it was an effort to consolidate the gains made in the telecommunications sector in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy of the country.

He also informed that Danbatta’s reappointment was based on his recommendation in line with the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.

Pantami congratulated the EVC and directed him to significantly improve on the overall performance of the commission to ensure adequate mechanisms were in place to facilitate implementation of all policies of Federal Government through the ministry.

He, however, enjoined him to ensure that the interests of telecommunication consumers, Nigerians and investors were adequately protected.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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Finnish finance minister announces resignation




Finnish Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni announced on Friday that she will resign from her position, but will continue as the chairperson of the Finnish Center Party.

Kulmuni, 32 year-old, made the decision following criticism for spending government funding on media appearance training for herself.

In a press conference on Friday, Kulmuni admitted that her government-financed training had also included a rehearsal of her party convention speech. “I should not have done that,” she said.

According to Kulmuni, the Center Party would choose a new minister to replace her.

The media appearance training was contracted from a high profile media company and cost the state around 50,000 euros. The training started when she was minister for economic affairs in late summer 2019 and continued into December 2019 when she took the position of the finance minister, according to media reports.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin issued a statement on Friday saying that she supports Kulmuni’s decision. Marin assured the Center Party of continued cooperation within the current five-party coalition government.

Helsinki Police told local media on Friday it had begun an initial probe into the spending on training for Kulmuni, as two complaints had been received.

Kulmuni has announced that she would pay back the money, but observers noted such a pay-back does not change the legal or moral situation.


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Science & Technology

Right of Way charges: Emulate Gov AbdulRazaq, Minister tells Govs




Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has advised Nigerian governors to emulate their Kwara State counterpart AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq over the recent reduction of the Right of Way (RoW) charges for telecommunication companies.

Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary (CPS), to Gov AbdulRazaq, in a statement on Friday in Ilorin said the Minister gave the advice in a letter of commendation to the governor.

“We hope all other Governors emulate your patriotic gesture,” Ajakaye quoted the minister as saying.

News Agency of Nigeria , reports that Gov AbdulRazaq had recently directed the reduction of the RoW fee for Telecom firms from N5, 500 per linear metre to N1 per kilometer of fibre, the second lowest in Nigeria after Kaduna.

The Commissioner for Communication, who announced the reduction on Sun, May 31, said the directive took immediate effect.

Until now, telecom firms were paying N5,500 per linear metre as the fee for laying fibre cables in the state.

The Governor said the decision was to strengthen digital penetration and improve ease of doing business ratings in Kwara.

The minister in the letter said he was highly delighted about the decision of Gov AbdulRazaq.

According to the minister, the reduction in the fee would go a long way in helping the implementation of the National Broadband Plan that was recently launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I wish to offer my sincere appreciation to you for adhering to the resolution of the State Governors under the auspices of the Governors’ Forum on the 22nd of January 2020.

Your resolution of the RoW is truly commendable. It will enhance the prospects of broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy for a digital Nigeria.

“We believe an executive order will further give the decision a stronger policy backing,” Pantami said in the commendation letter.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Zambia gov’t happy with increased Chinese investment: minister




The Zambian government on Friday commended the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) for its contribution towards increased trade and manufacturing sectors in the country.

Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma said the ZCCZ, which has established the Lusaka East Multi-Facility Economic Zone, has played a pivotal role in increased investment.

The establishment of the zone, he said, has seen an increased number of Chinese firms coming to invest in the zone.

In remarks delivered when he toured the zone, the Zambian minister said the investment of about 140 million United States dollars in infrastructure and production service facilities at the zone has resulted in increased trade and manifesting.

Zambia, he said, has made progressive strides towards attaining its industrialization agenda, adding that the setting up of industries by several investors was an indication that Zambia was heading in the right trajectory.

About 26 firms are currently operating in the zone and have invested about 26 million dollars.

The Zambian minister urged the proponents of the zone to continue expanding their operations, adding that the government has put in place good investment policies.

Hao Yafei, vice general manager at ZCCZ, thanked the government for creating an enabling environment for investment.


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Venezuelan foreign minister confirms Guaido hiding in French Embassy, extradition expected



Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza confirmed on Friday, reports that opposition leader Juan Guaido is hiding at the French embassy in Caracas, saying that the Latin American country is awaiting his extradition.

Arreaza’s remarks come after President Nicolas Maduro hinted that Guaido was “hiding from justice,” sparking talks that the latter might be sheltering at a diplomatic location.

“We hope that these governments (of Spain, France) will act properly, comply with the legislation of the hosting country — in this case, Venezuela — and transfer fugitives from justice into the hands of Venezuelan justice,” Arreaza said in an interview to Union Radio.

The foreign minister stressed that Leopoldo Lopez, another leading opposition figure, had been hiding at the Spanish embassy for more than a year.

Arreaza said that Lopez supervised Guaido and masterminded Operation Gideon, which was aimed at overthrowing Maduro. 

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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No bonus pay allowed for state-run firms under Thai transport ministry: minister




Thailand’s Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said any state firms under the ministry to give a bonus pay to their personnel for this year is not allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saksayam confirmed on Friday he has strongly advised executive officials of the Ministry of Transport’s 11 state firms against paying a yearly bonus to their respective personnel, otherwise, he would certainly call on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to consider dismissing them.

His comments followed reported plans of several profit-making state owned firms under the ministry to provide bonus pays to their employees this year.

The transport minister commented the government is seeking 1 trillion baht (about 31.47 billion United States dollars) in loans to finance varied social and economic relief and restoration measures in relation to the pandemic, and save costs, particularly involving unnecessary expenditure such as bonuses.

The Prayut government would be heavily lambasted if bonus pays were still provided to employees of the state owned firms under the pandemic-related circumstances, he added.

Among the 11 state firms of the Ministry of Transport, several have reportedly earned profits, including the Airports Of Thailand, which has earned some 25 billion baht (about 794 million United States dollars) in profit and a seven-month bonus has been provided to its employees last year.


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Fijian Prime Minister declares country COVID-19 free



Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe ‘Frank’ Bainimarama said on Friday that the Pacific Island country had no more active cases of COVID-19.

Bainimarama made this known on Twitter.

“And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100 per cent.

“Answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science!,” Bainimarama tweeted.

Fiji had 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since it was first reported on March 19.

The country, which has a population of more than 900,000 last recorded a coronavirus case on April 21.

Earlier, Fiji’s health minister, Ifereimi Waqainabete, said that the last three COVID-19 patients, including a 12-year-old girl, were cleared to be free of the disease on Friday morning.

They were all residents of capital Suva.

Waqainabete said the government has continued testing any and all suspected cases referred to them on a regular basis.

“We cannot drop our guard,” he said.

More than 2,000 COVID-19 tests have been done in Fiji.

About 100 people are still in quarantine facilities, but none of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

Fiji is one of the very few countries in the Pacific Ocean region that had confirmed cases of COVID-19, unlike its neighbours Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, and several others.

Fiji has closed its borders to all travellers from abroad but organised rare chartered flights for its citizens.

The country still has restrictions on social gatherings to 20 people and a nationwide overnight curfew.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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COVID-19: FG partners with WAHO to transport supplies – Minister



The Federal government is set to partner with the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) on a cost-sharing plan for a common air transportation of COVID-19 supplies of WAHO and Nigeria from Beijing to Abuja.

Dr Ehanire Osagie, Minister of Health, disclosed this on Thursday at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19.

Ehanire said that the ECOWAS COVID-19 Ministerial Coordination Committee on Health, which included Finance and Transport, among others, was set up to facilitate the work of the ECOWAS COVID-19 response.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the virtual meeting was hosted by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and attended by 15 ECOWAS Ministers of Health or their representatives.

Ehanire, who chaired the committee, said the body shall continue to engage the community, religious and traditional leaders for sustained messaging to citizens, on the importance of adhering to health advisories, to combat community spread.

The minister noted that the daily epidemic curve of confirmed cases has shown a consistently rising trajectory with a corresponding increase in fatalities.

He, however, explained that the increase in cases was due to improving testing capacity and of activities of other response pillars, including surveillance and community mobilisation.

Others are coordination, contact tracing, improved awareness, the demographics and other factors.

“Nigeria currently has a total of 11,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,329 have been treated successfully and discharged, while we have sadly recorded 315 deaths.

“Support to states will be tailored to the challenges and strengths of State health systems.

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency is discussing options and guidelines of supervised out-of-hospital isolation and care with some States.

“This is either home-based care or based in communal space, like school dormitories, since schools are presently closed down.

“As we continue to engage states on scaling up sample collection and testing capacity all over Nigeria, we also continue to urge healthcare workers to ensure they are properly protected with the appropriate PPE and have a high index of suspicion when treating patients,” he said.

The minister, while speaking on the test lists, especially antibody-based test kits, said to be in use in Nigeria, only four of the kits have been evaluated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria and all four failed the validation tests.

“No antigen test kits has yet been evaluated. This means that results obtained from these tests are not tenable for diagnostics, being deficient in sensitivity and specificity and are likely to give false results and mislead people.

The NCDC certified laboratories in Nigeria use WHO recognized PCR testing methods which give reliable result. Though expensive, this option is right and we have 30 laboratories deployed, with the aim of establishing at least one laboratory in every state,” he said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Felix Ajide (NAN)


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