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Nigeria Vs Burundi: Amaraizu says no more underdog nation in African football

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Ebere Amaraizu, Director of National Nationwide League One (NLO), says Nigeria-Burundi match shows that “no more underdog nation in African football’’.

Amaraizu said this to the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday while reacting to the tension socked match in Group B between Nigeria and Burundi at the ongoing 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

NAN reports that the Super Eagles defeated the hard fighting Burundian by a narrow 1 – 0.

He said that each national team in the present AFCON came to Egypt to make a statement, and the Burundians had made a huge statement that they came to make serious impact in the tournament.

“It is clear with the match Nigeria played against the debutants, Burundi, that there is no minus nation in African football anymore,’’ he said.

Amaraizu, who is also the General Manager of Crime Busters FC, Enugu, noted that a tough first match was however good for the Nigerian team.

According to him, it will ensure that the Super Eagles work harder in subsequent matches in the tournament.

He, however, congratulated Nigerians and the Super Eagles for the hard fought victory.

Entertainment

Ali Baba seeks commercialisation of Nigerian festivals

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Nigerian Comedian, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as “Ali Baba,” on Saturday called for the commercialisation of Nigerian festivals to boost nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and woo local and international tourists.

Akpobome made the call during an online zoom meeting of the five tourism sub-sectors with the theme: “Post COVID-19: A Fresh Start for Tourism in Nigeria”, organised by the Nigeria Travel Week.

He said that the Nigerian festivals were still at their rudimentary stage and the potential for commercialisation must be developed.

According to him, each time these festivals are celebrated, tourists should be made to pay a token, which would boost the states internally generated revenue and the nation’s GDP.

He said that the content of these festivals must also be developed.

“To revive our festivals in Nigeria, we need to look at the commercial angle, we need to identify the potential of each tourism asset and go all out to create commercial value around them.

“We need to build content from our tourism potential; Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states are known for mountainous regions but we have not created awareness and activities around these mountains.

“We should have T-Shirts on which Zuma rock is drawn on, to create awareness; Lagos State is called the aquatic state where deep sea diving can be done but what have we made of it.

“The biggest problem we have is that we do not know how to add value to what we have,” he said.

The comedian said that until every state of the federation was mandated to generate enough revenue for themselves, the nation would continue to abandoned its bountiful potential.

“Our problem is we believe that money made from oil should cater for everyone and every state but we forget that virtually all state have their potential to groom for revenue generation.

“Sokoto has desert which is the major tourism potential in Dubai, used to create beautiful structures we long to visit now but the state is not bothered to develop it.

The Nigerian tourism master plan was not properly defined right from time, we have not seen tourism as a serious business, we only allow it flow,” he said.

Earlier, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), assured of the association’s willingness to collaborate with other tourism stakeholders.

She said this was the way to go considering the effect of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.


Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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General news

ABUAlumni urges students to work hard for Nigeria’s development

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Dr  Ossai Edward, a university lecturer and Chairman Plateau Chapter of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria Alumni Association, has advised Nigerian students to work hard towards ensuring Nigeria’s development.

Edward gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria after the inauguration of the new executive council of the Plateau Chapter of the association on Saturday in Jos.

The new chairman, who is the Head of Department, Theatre Arts, Plateau State University (PLASU), Bokkos said the call became necessary as future leaders of the country.

“It’s unfortunate that many students are lazy nowadays when it comes to studying, which is very detrimental to the desired growth of the nation.

“My advice to them is that as soon as the Federal Government orders them back to school, they should be serious with their studies,’’ he said

Edward decried the long closure of schools due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that this called for seriousness on the part of the students, immediately they resume.

The lecturer also called for peaceful coexistence between the Christians and Muslims in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to enhance national socio-economic development.

Edward described ABU as one of the best institutions in the world, in terms of high academic standards.

He expressed the readiness of the Plateau chapter of the alumni association to give back to the university, to ensure that products of the institution continue to excel in the society.

“Our alumni is made up of members, who are governors, former military administrators, commissioners, permanent secretaries and captains of industries.

“They are contributing their quota to the development of the university.

Aside Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, we have nine serving permanent secretaries, three commissioners and several others, who are working to uplift alumni association of the institution.”

Edward pledged to introduce prudence in the management of the association’s financial resources.

Earlier, Mrs Claribel Dana’an, the outgone chairman of the association, congratulated her successor and his team for their success at the poll.

She expressed optimism that the new executive would take the affairs of the association to higher heights in the state.

Other members of the new team are Mr Bitrus Ali as Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Wurang as Publicity Secretary, Mrs Usaina Obende as Treasurer and Mrs Claribel Danaan as Ex-Officio.


Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

AfDB approves 288.5 mln USD to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Saturday said it has approved 288.5 million United States dollar loan to help Nigeria tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact on people and businesses.

In a statement made available to Xinhua in Lagos, the bank said the loan will bolster the government’s plans to improve surveillance and response to COVID-19 emergencies, ease the impact on workers and businesses and strengthen the social protection system.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest oil producer, is facing twin crises — a health epidemic caused by COVID-19, and an economic crunch largely occasioned by a global oil price plunge.

As of Friday night, the west African country reported 11,844 cases, 3,696 recoveries and 333 deaths.

The loan is the bank’s initial response to help Nigeria mitigate the slump in oil prices and its impact on the national economy, according to the bank.

“The proposed program will ensure that the fiscal position and the economy are sufficiently supported to weather the COVID-19 shocks, thereby limiting its potential adverse impact on livelihoods and the economy more generally,” said Ebrima Faal, senior director of the AfDB for Nigeria.

Faal said beyond the country’s immediate economic recovery needs, the bank and other development partners, will dialogue with Nigerian government on proposals for medium-term structural reforms to diversify and boost domestic revenues away from the oil sector.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Firm launches ‘plastic responsibly’ initiative in Nigeria

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A strategic communications firm, CMC Connect (Perception Managers), on Saturday said it had launched an initiative called ‘Plastic Responsibly’ to educate Nigerians on the dangers of littering plastics in the environment.

Sunkanmi Ogunniyi, Associate Group Head, CMC Connect (Perception Managers), made this known in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos.

He said the initiative was aimed at educating Nigerians on the dangers of irresponsible plastic disposal in the community.

“The initiative focuses on driving attitudinal change by causing plastic lifestyle modifications.

“The key actions for the initiative are responsible production, use, disposal and recycling.

For us at CMC Connect, the inimical effects of plastic pollution are enough to cause significant worry for Nigerians and we must, therefore, collectively aim to reduce its hazards and threats to biodiversity.

“Such threats includes drainage blockage which causes perennial flooding, especially in major urban centres of the country,” Ogunniyi said

He said that CMC Connect through the initiative would engage in advocacy, community engagements, outreaches, research and volunteer activities by working with like-minded individuals and entities.

Ogunniyi urged corporate organisations and all tiers of governments to partner with them in the quest to keep the environment protected.

“We commend the efforts of the Lagos State Government led by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in its quest to ban the use of single-use plastic through its agency the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).

“We strongly recommend that other states and indeed the Federal Government emulate this laudable move by swiftly enacting laws that prevent plastic abuse in our environment,” he said

He said subsidiaries of CMC including BCW representing the third largest Public Relations (PR) network in the world, Re-ignite Public Affairs, iOctane Digital Experience Agency and Tangalo Africa, an Agric Media communications company.


Edited By: Angela Okisor/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

 

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Health

Foundation empowers 100 infertility women in Nigeria

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Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, has empowered 100 infertility women in Nigeria to establish small businesses to be independent and rebuild their lives.

Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck said in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, that the foundation had supported the women, in collaboration with the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Buhari.

According to her, the foundation has been partnering with Buhari, who is also the Ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’.

“We have been working to break the infertility stigma in the country and building equitable and quality healthcare capacity, through ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign.

Over 100 infertile women were supported to establish small business so that they can rebuild themselves and lead independent and happier lives.’’

Kelej said Merck foundation had provided training for embryologists in Nigeria to create a platform of local experts in the fertility care.

Merck Foundation has also provided two Nigerian doctors with one-year diabetes and hypertension post-graduate diploma training from University of South Wales, UK.

“We are fully committed to continuing providing specialised training in the fields of cancer, fertility and diabetes care to more doctors across Nigeria after the official launch,’’ she said.

According to her, First Ladies of 18 countries are part of the ambassadors of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’, leading and executing the initiatives in their respective countries.

“They are leading the initiative to empower infertile women and break the stigma around infertility.

“This speaks volume about the work we are doing.

As a part of Merck More Than a Mother, we have been providing clinical training to candidates from Africa and Asia to establish a platform of fertility specialists and embryologists.

“So far, the number of Merck Foundation Alumni in this field is more than 185 candidates from 35 countries across Africa and Asia.

“Also, we have supported the establishment of the first-ever Public IVF centres in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda by training their staff to be able to support the infertile couples.’’

The official said she was proud of the success stories, saying “I always feel that they are my children and I am super proud of their success.

“It is very important to empower infertile women by providing treatment so they can bear children as part of their human rights.

“But, for those who cannot be treated anymore, Merck More Than a Mother’s initiative ‘Empowering Berna’ helps to train them to establish their own small business so that they can be independent and re-build their own lives’’.

Kelej also said that the foundation also worked with local singers, film-makers, media partners and fashion designers to raise awareness to break the stigma of infertility.

“These initiatives are very important for Nigeria since it is the hub of art and fashion, I cannot wait to explore these beautiful talents and work closely with them.

“The aim is to sensitise our communities that women are more than just mothers and men are more than just fathers.

“It takes both a man and a woman to have a child,’’ she said.


Edited By: Angela Okisor/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Environment

World Environment Day: Society urges Nigerians to protect planet earth

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The President, Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Dr Dorothy Bassey, on Saturday called on Nigerians to take ownership of the environment and protect planet earth.

Bassey made the call in Lagos, in the course of a  virtual celebration of the 2020 World Environment Day (WED) with the theme: “Celebrating Biodivesity’’.

According to her, every June 5, people worldwide are reminded of their individual rights to rise and become agents of transformation.

“This year’s theme is Biodiversity. Biodiversity and habitat loss have reached cataclysmic levels that today is the day, not tomorrow to focus on its effects and dangers if not stemmed.

“Human activities such as deforestation, intensified agriculture for food security, and industrialisation have pushed nature and the planet beyond its carrying capacity.

“The continued loss of millions of species going into extinction will lead to consequences humans are not yet focusing on.

“May the consequences of extinction not catch mankind unawares as COVID-19 did.

“We are ob the precipice of environmental collapse and crisis,’’ Bassey said.

The NES president said that the future generation expected “us to Think, Act and Sustain the environment”, adding, “we should not fail them”.

According to Bassey,  the world environment day is the largest global celebration for pragmatic environmental actions, where countries are brought together to commit to their responsibilities toward the earth.


Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

 

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Environment

World Environment Day: Nigerians must recognise interdependence of all lives on earth – CSOs

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Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs), has called on Nigerians to collectively recognise the interdependence of all lives on earth.

Dr Ibrahim Choji, Chairman, Board of Trustees of CSDevNet, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday.

Choji spoke in commemoration of the 2020 World Environment Day (WED).

NAN reports that the WED is celebrated annually on June 5 and the theme for 2020 is “Celebrate Biodiversity”.

Choji said that biodiversity was the foundation that supports all lives on land and below the water.

“It affects every aspect of human health, providing clean air and water, nutritious foods, scientific understanding and medicine sources, natural disease resistance and climate change mitigation.

“Changing, or removing one element of this web, affects the entire life system and can produce negative consequences.

“Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture and acceleration of climate change have pushed nature beyond its limit,’’ he said.

According to him,  the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life.

CSDevNet believes this year’s WED represents a call upon our collective conscience as Nigerians to be guided by the shared misery caused by the recent global pandemic.

“It also recognises the fragile linkages that human health and existence have with nature.

“The naked realities of the economic and social insecurity we are faced with has never been more obvious.

“If we still fail to see the connection between human health, human rights, human progress with nature now, then we open ourselves to an even more ominous future.’’

He added that Nigeria was blessed with natural elements, but that in its drive to industrialise and develop, a pathway was adopted which had led the country to where it is today.

“That is the rapidly changing climate laced with extreme indicators of poverty.”

According to him, to find our way back to the days of our flourishing flora, fauna and wide vegetation types, we must all continue to find ways to co-exist with nature.

He said that federal, state and local governments must ensure all remaining wild spaces are protected; implement efficient systems of waste management and adopt a circular economy.

Choji added that Nigerian government must ensure the observance of strong environmental impact assessments, implementation of all environmental guidelines and norms across sectors, especially extractive activities in coal, oil and gas.

“We must begin to build green infrastructure and support green enterprises as a pathway to a cleaner, healthier future,’’ he said.

The activist told NAN that the private sector needed to account for the environment in supply chains and financing, and adopt green measures.

“As civil societies and individuals, we need to rethink what we buy and use, and manage our consumption of all resources responsibly.

“Our youths must become committed gatekeepers of a green future.

“The quality of our lives and the survival of our population is dependent on these actions.

“As we work to build back our economy, let us not forget the cost of losing our fragile ecosystems that provide us good health, clean air, water and food,’’ he said.

He told NAN that economic growth could no longer be achieved at the cost of ecological imbalance.

“Well-balanced ecosystems, rich in biodiversity is fundamental to human existence, health, peace and progress.

“It is time to for us to wake up; this world environment day is time for nature,’’ he added.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Defence/Security

Nigeria, India deepen bilateral defence cooperation

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The Nigerian Government and India have moved to deepen the existing mutually beneficial bilateral Defence Co-operation at ministerial levels between the two countries.

The Special Assistant to the Minister of Defence on Media and Publicity, Mr Mohammed Abdulkadri, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

Abdulkadri said that the indications to this move emerged during the India’s High Commissioner, Abhay Thankur, courtesy call on the Minister of Defence,  Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd), in his office.

He said that while hosting the Indian High Commissioner to NIgeria, Magashi raised the issue of bilateral interest to the two countries.

He said the discussion between the representatives of the two countries was done behind closed doors.

”The highly classified and restricted matters that are strategic to common interest of the two countries were witnessed by Senior Military Officers and some Principal Personnel of the Ministry and the Indian Defence Adviser, Colonel Cachin Dubey.

“It is on record that the two countries Armed Forces enjoy Defence co-operation in the areas of training and exchange of Military programmes as captured in the Memorandum of Understanding,” he said.


Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Economy

Nigerian electricity supply industry recorded ₦119.46bn deficit in Q4 2019, says NERC

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC), on Saturday said the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) recorded N119.46 billion deficit in the fourth quarter of 2019.

NERC said the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) only remitted a total of ₦74.20 billion out of the ₦193.66 billion invoice issued to them for energy received and administrative charges during the period.

The Fourth Quarter Report was obtained by News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos from the website of NERC, which is the regulator of the industry.

NERC said liquidity challenge was still a major issue in NESI in spite of the recent improvement in Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses by the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

“This is evidenced in the DisCos’ international and special customers’ remittances to Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and Market Operators (MO) during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“During the fourth quarter, DisCos were issued a total invoice of ₦193.66 billion for energy received from NBET and for administrative services by MO.

“However, only a total of ₦74.20 billion (38.32 per cent) of the invoice was settled as and  when due, creating a total deficit of ₦119.46 billion including tariff shortfall, ” the regulatory agency said.

NERC said Eko DisCo recorded the highest remittance rate (51.50 per cent) in the fourth quarter of 2019 followed by Abuja with 51.27 per cent remittance rate.

It added that although Jos DisCo’ settlement rate improved during the fourth quarter, its remittance rate of 19.57 per cent was the lowest in the fourth quarter of 2019.

NERC also disclosed that total market invoices were issued to the special customer (Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd) and the international customers (Societe Nigerienne d’electricite (NIGELEC)and Communaute Electrique du Benin (CEB) during the same period.

According to NERC, N29.50 million was issued to Ajaokuta Steel Company while N2.07 billion was issued to NIGELEC and CEB respectively.

The commission, however, said neither NBET nor MO received payments from these customers during this period.

“Although there has been a significant improvement, the challenge of low remittance to the market is still a concern to the commission as it is one of the main causes of the

liquidity crisis facing NESI.

” Low remittance adversely affects the ability of NBET to honour its financial obligations to Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos).

 “Also, service providers struggle with the paucity of funds impacting their capacity to perform their statutory obligations,” NERC said.

It therefore urged the DisCos to rapidly improve on their revenue collection from customers in order to fulfill their remittance obligations and mitigate financial distress in NESI.

NERC said to enforce payment discipline and compliance with minimum remittance, it had during the fourth quarter, began enforcement action against  DisCos that defaulted in the third quarter billing cycle.

Following the commencement of the enforcement by the Commission, all DisCos except Enugu DisCo have met their expected Minimum Remittance Threshold for the third quarter.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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