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NSF 2020: Contractor to complete works on Ogbemudia Stadium by September

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Peculiar Ultimate Consult, the contractor handling the reconstruction and upgrading of the main bowl and other sporting facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, has assured that the job will be delivered by September.

The Project Manager, Femi James, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria during a guided tour of the ongoing works at the stadium complex on Tuesday.

James said the facilities would be delivered for test-running well ahead of the National Sports Festival (NSF) to be hosted by the state in 2020.

He said aside the upgrading and reconstruction work at the main  bowl, the Lawn Tennis Court, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing, Squash and Swimming pool areas were also being worked on.

James noted that the work at the main bowl had attained 65 per cent completion, saying that others had reached between 30 to 50 percent completion levels.

He listed the level of reconstruction of work carried out at the main bowl to include changing of the whole seats, replacing the artificial grass with natural grass, expansion of the VIP area, changing the tartan tracks and complete roofing of the whole stadium.

“We are through with our grassing of the football pitch. What we are doing now is just maintenance and nurturing the grass.

“For the tartan tracks, we are through with the casting of the tartan tracks; and the concrete base, 100 per cent completed. We are awaiting the arrival of the tracks.

“That is going to come up around August. We have been advised that we don’t lay it during the rains. So, we will be doing that shortly after the rains.

“As you can see, the roof covering is about 65 per cent completed.

“On the VIP section, we are on finishing already. The cladding, we have two levels here; the upper and lower one.

He said that they were through with the frame work for the upper one and the cladding itself is about 50 per cent completed.

According to him, by next week, we should be through with the upper level cladding to remain the lower one.

“We are dressing the seating area now. As you can see, 40 per cent of the seats have been arranged.

On other parts of the stadium renovation activities, the project manager expressed satisfaction with the level of work attained, saying that they were well ahead of schedule.

He said the lawn tennis court would be increased from three courts to four, in addition to the expansion of the spectators’ stand and provision of other amenities for the players.

James said provisions had been made to build a bigger and a much higher standard squash court.

“On the swimming pool, a whole lot of work is going on there. While not increasing what we met, we are, however, upgrading the standard and we will also work on the spectators’ stand of the pool.

“We are also working on judo, boxing and wrestling practice rooms. What they had before was just judo and boxing but we are adding wrestling to it.

“We are doing some slight demolition and upgrading in this area too,’’ he said.

He attributed the delay in the commencement of work at the indoor sports hall to the need to provide a temporary office accommodation to the staff.

According to him, indoor sports hall will be worked on and why we have not started anything there is because all the staff have been moved there and we do not want to make them uncomfortable more than we have done already.

“Once we are through with work on some parts of the stadium, we can move them out and carry out whatever work we need to do at the indoor hall.

“In all, we are looking at August or September to deliver these projects, ’’ James said.

The project manager said this was achievable because there had not been any challenge of funding.

“So far so good, we have not had any challenge with the government on this. We have an arrangement with them and they have not defaulted on this arrangement,’’ he said.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi

 

Economy

AfDB reduces poverty, fosters inclusive growth in Africa after transformative action

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it has delivered on its goals of reducing poverty and fostering inclusive growth on the continent.

The bank made the assertion on Tuesday in a document released as part of 2020 Annual Meetings Series by its Communications and External Relations Department.

The AfDB Annual Meetings is scheduled to take place in August at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

The bank explained that it had scaled up development support for its 54 regional member countries and recorded remarkable successes in recent years in its renewed push to help deliver life-changing impact to livelihoods.

It stated that for the past five decades, the AfDB Group had been at the forefront of driving Africa’s economic transformation, leveraging its diverse resources and unique know-how as an indigenous development finance institution.

According to AfDB, in overall, the Bank’s investments have benefited millions of Africans through its 10-year strategy which it began implementing from 2013.

On landmark general capital increase, the bank noted that at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in October 2019 in Abidjan, Governors of the Bank, representing shareholders from 80 countries, approved a landmark 115 billion dollars increase in capital for the continent’s foremost financial institution.

It said the increase was the largest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964, more than doubled its capital from 93 billion dollars to 208 billion dollars.

The AfDB noted that this solidified the Bank’s leadership in development financing for the continent.

In December 2019, donors announced a remarkable 7.6 billion dollars to replenish the African Development Fund (ADF).

“The replenishment represented a 35 per cent increase in financing for low-income African countries at the end of the 15th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the concessional window of the Bank Group.

The ADF contributes to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the 38 least developed African countries by providing concessional funding for projects and programmes, as well as technical assistance for studies and capacity-building activities.

“In resource mobilization for Women-Owned Businesses at G7 summit, at the G7 summit of world leaders in Biarritz, France, in August 2019.

At summit, the President of the Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, successfully inaugurated a global campaign of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to mobilize three billion dollars for women entrepreneurs in Africa, with strong support and resources from G7 leaders and nations.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron announced France’s contribution of 135 million dollars to the AFAWA initiative to encourage women’s access to funding in Africa. The amount represents more than half the financial support of 251 million dollars promised by the G7 governments.

Also in 2019 Africa Investment Forum (AIF), following a highly successful inaugural event, the Bank secured more than 40 billion dollars worth of investment interest in less than 72 hours at the second edition of the Africa Investment Forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Forum, Africa’s largest marketplace for mobilizing capital, featured 56 boardroom deals valued at 67.6 billion dollars– a 44 per cent increase from the 2018 debut” it explained.

The bank disclosed that in transparent institution, the AfDB was ranked 4th globally in transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions by Publish What You Fund, an outfit that consisted 19 developed economies.


Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Defence/Security

I-G orders transfer of investigation into UNIBEN student’s death

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The Inspector General of Police (I-G) Mr Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate transfer of investigations into the death of Miss Vera Omosuwa, to the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja

Omosuwa, a 100-level female Microbiology student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was reportedly killed in a church in Benin by hoodlums, after raping her.

Mba said the directive followed preliminary report from the team of investigators and forensic experts earlier deployed to assist the  Police Command in Edo in investigations into the unfortunate incident.

He said the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Mr Anthony Michael, would henceforth provide direct supervision to ensure speedy and thorough investigation of the case.

Mba said the I-G had also ordered immediate deployment of specialised investigators and additional investigation assets to all the Gender Desks Offices and Juvenile Welfare Centres (JWC) across the country.

He said the idea was to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the Units to respond to increasing challenges of sexual assaults and domestic/gender based violence.

He said the I-G called on the public to provide the police with useful informatIon that would aid investigations into ongoing sexual assaults and domestic/gender based violence across the country.

The I-G also enjoined parents and guardians to pay closer attention to their children and wards in these trying times.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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General news

Additional 18,000 households to enjoy conditional cash transfer in Bauchi State – Official

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Mrs Amina Katagum, Special Adviser to the Bauchi State Governor on Social Investment Program(SIP), says additional 18,000 households will be enrolled under the Conditional Cash Transfer(CCT) programme in the state.

Katagum made the disclosure on Monday in Bauchi, while declaring open the training of 162 facilitators for the CCT enrollment.

Katagum said that 14 out of the 20 Local Government Areas((LGAs) in the state would benefit from the  exercise.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the benefitting LGAs are Alkaleri,Toro Tafawa Balewa,Gamawa, Zaki, Giade, Shira, Warji, Ganjuwa, Itas Gadau, Kirfi, Darazo, Dambam and Bogoro.

The CCT National office in collaboration with the Bauchi state government will train 162 facilitators to enroll the 18,000 additional households in 14 LGAs across the state.

“With the 18,000 additional beneficiaries, the state will now receive N412,990,000,” she said.

Katagum reminded the participants to adhere strictly to the safety guidelines of COVID 19 while carrying out the assignment for which they were being trained.

She urged the facilitators to demonstrate commitment during the exercise to avoid mistakes.

In his remarks, the National Enrollment Officer, CCT, Mr Shiqfu Shimang, said that the training  would enhance the capacity of the facilitators.

He said that each household would get a N5,000 monthly stipend under the programme.

Responding on behalf of trainees, Mr Ahmed Toro, called on the state government to provide them with motorcycles to enable them to carry out the exercise diligently and reach communities with difficult terrains.


Edited By: Benson Iziama/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Health

Senator donates 500kva transformer to Ibadan communities

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Sen. Kola Balogun(PDP-Oyo South) has donated a 500KVA transformer to improve power supply in 16 communities of Ali-Iwo area in Ibadan.

Giving account of his 12-month stewardship in a statement on Sunday in Ibadan, Balogun said he also donated cash, food palliatives and materials during the outbreak of COVID-19 virus.

Balogun, who was a former Commissioner for Commerce and Industries in Oyo State, said he facilitated Akufo Cattle Ranch farm worth $10m to the state.

“I also facilitated Federal Government dry food ration exercise for 250 households in Oyo South, and facilitated Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for 250 beneficiaries.

“I also secured N-Power job for 100 beneficiaries and renovated Oje-Igosun Primary School in Ibadan,” he said.

Balogun said he empowered artisans and traders with revolving micro credit loan of N50million powered by SMEDAN.

He added that he had trained youths and film stakeholders as well as facilitated ecological project for erosion control in his senatorial district.

The lawmaker said that effort was ongoing to help constituents who applied for COVID-19 CBN-assisted loans for businesses in securing the facility.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the lawmaker had in the last one year sponsored three bills, co-sponsored five bills, sponsored two motions and co-sponsored four motions at the Senate.

The bills included one for an Act to Amend the National Health Act 2014, to Regulate Medical Treatment Abroad and for other Matters Connected therewith 2020.

Others were bills for the development of a decentralised system of vigilantism peculiar to every local community and another seeking periodic conduct of National Population as well as Housing Census.

“The remarkable motions I sponsored were the need to upgrade the status of the Ibadan Airport to international airport and immortalization of Late Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) in recognition of his contributions to national development.

“I also co-sponsor and supported several motions, among which are a motion to revive moribund paper mill in Nigeria as well as support for Amotekun concept in the Southwest,” he said.

Balogun said that he had in the last one year participated in several oversight functions as a senate committee member and protem chairman.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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General news

COVID-19 : Enugu community begins cash transfers to indigent families

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The Okpebe Autonomous Community in Nkanu West Local Government Area, Enugu State, has supported no fewer than 200  indigent households in the area with cash palliatives.

Mr Charles Ngene, the President General of the community, made the disclosure on Sunday at the inauguration of the first phase of the cash transfers to  the beneficiaries.

Ngene said that the intervention was to cushion economic hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic among vulnerable households in the area.

The community’s president, who said that the first  beneficiaries were in Ezinato and Umuoha villages, added that well-meaning sons and daughters of the community contributed the money.

Ngene said that the community discovered that  the  beneficiaries were not able to fend for themselves during the lockdown, even when the Local Government Chairman donated food items to some people.

A member of the planning committee, Prof. Osita Ogbu, said that they were sharing N600,000 to 200 indigent households in the first phase, adding that each beneficiary in a household would receive N3,000.

Responding, one of the beneficiaries, Mrs Ngozi Ede, said that it had been difficult for her family to eat well since the lockdown began.

“I was busy thinking of what my family will eat tomorrow, not knowing that this opportunity will come,” she  said.

Other beneficiaries, including Mr Friday Nwobodo and Mrs Promise Ani, thanked the members of the autonomous community for the kind gesture.

Edited /Donald Ugwu

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General news

Kano farmers hail FG’s agricultural transformation programme

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Farmers in Kano state have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the introduction of Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP), aimed at transforming agriculture towards self sufficiency in food production in the country.
A cross section of the farmers interviewed by the News Agency of Nigeria , on Friday in Kano disclosed this, saying that the progarmme had assisted in enhancing agricultural value chain in the country.
Alhaji Aminu Isa, a rice farmer, said that the Federal Government under the stewardship of Buhari adopted proactive measures to enhance farmers access to agricultural financing and extension services to encourage productivity.
Isa said that the farmer support services initiated by the Buhari administration had mobilised participation in agriculture and galvanised drive to achieve self sufficiency in food production.
The Buhari administration has encouraged many people to go back to the farm through the ABP scheme.
“It addressed the problem of fertiliser scarcity, provides job opportunities to the teaming unemployed youths, reduced poverty and enhanced wealth creation in the society.
“The programme builds farmers’ capacity, enhance entrepreneurial skill for value addition and create market for the produce.
“We are indeed grateful to the president for his support to farmers,” Isa said.
NAN reports also that over 40, 000 rice farmers and 26, 000 cotton growers are participating in the ABP programme in Kano State.
An entrepreneur, Alhaji Mahdi Tahir, added that the Buhari administration had initiated viable programmes aimed at encouraging growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Tahir noted that the feat achieved by the administration in the development of cottage industries would accelerate sustainable social and economic development of rural communities.
Mr Muhammad Abdulsalam, a resident, who corroborated earlier opinion, added that the administration had executed viable programmes to transform the power sector; education, health and road network in the country.
“The president has shown greater commitment to reinvigorate the power, education and health sectors. He ensured the completion of ongoing road projects and initiated new ones to enhance transportation services.
“He has also performed creditable well in the fight against corruption as well as promoting transparency, accountability and good governance,” he said.
Also, Mrs Bilkisu Ahmed, a women activist, said the administration had been able to record significant successes in the counter insurgency campaign in spite of numerous security challenges facing the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari has tackled the insurgency, decimated Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast, and restored the morale of the military by re-organising and equipping them.
“Further more; the APC led government under his stewardship rescued thousands of people under the insurgents’ captivity as well as secured the released of some abducted Dapchi and Chibok school girls,’’ she added.
The ABP is a critical component of the federal government agriculture transformation agenda designed to encourage rice and crop productions as well as processing to achieve self sufficiency.
It is also aimed at enhancing farmers’ access to fertiliser, seeds, inputs, value addition and create market for the produce.
The programme is being implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and designated agricultural input dealers otherwise called “prime anchors”.

 

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Foreign

Israel says over 90 pct of moderate COVID-19 patients better after plasma transfusion

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Israeli health ministry’s data has showed success in using convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients, especially those in moderate condition.

Based on the data, 10 of 11 moderate patients showed improvement after the plasma treatment.

“The plasma should be given to people in a moderate situation, and maybe moderate turning severe,” said Eilat Shinar, director of Magen David Adom (MDA) national blood services in Israel.

Shinar said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday that out of all the patients, moderate and severe, who were treated with convalescent plasma in Israel, about 50 percent of them showed improvement.

She introduced that the plasma treatment should be given no later than two days after ventilatory assistance to a patient started.

The therapy is based on the presumption that those who healed from the disease have developed unique anti-virus proteins (antibodies) in their plasma, which can help patients fight the virus, according to Shinar.

She said the optimal effect of the antibodies in neutralizing the virus at the bloodstream occurs before irreversible damage is done.

Each recovered person could provide every two weeks a plasma with antibodies for three patients with the same blood type. The donated antibodies could stay for up to six weeks in the blood of the patients.

Although the current wave of COVID-19 is almost over in Israel, MDA said it is looking for more contributions of convalescent plasma as preparations for another possible wave in the winter.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Malawi to transfer more Malawians from South Africa

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The Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) has disclosed that more Malawians will arrive in the country from South Africa as a relief measure to Malawians who have been affected with South Africa‘s lockdown.

According to Blantyre DHO Director of Health and Social Services Gift Kawalazira, many Malawians are expected to come into the country this weekend using a cargo plane. Thereafter the people will be taken to Lilongwe for tests and other COVID-19 preventative measures.

Recently, Malawi government transferred almost 400 Malawians from South Africa through buses. However, almost the whole sum of newly arrived people escaped the isolation premises where they were being kept for examination.

Meanwhile, the Blantyre DHO has threatened that it will make public names of those who escaped the quarantined facility in Blantyre if they will not come forward.

As of now, Blantyre DHO has assured Blantyre residents and Malawians as a whole that the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to control the situation and that the trend is going to be reversed.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

COVID-19 accelerates digital transformation of African agriculture value chains

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When it became harder in Kenya for plant and animal health specialists to travel to farms to physically meet farmers due to COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides embraced digital agro-extension services.

And when farmers found it difficult to access inputs like seeds and fertilizer, they turned to online platforms to buy them.

Similarly, digital solutions have come in handy for farmers to sell their products, with producers delivering food directly to consumers, and earning more, rather than going through brokers.

Digital solutions that include websites, social media platforms and specific apps are now at the center of the east African nation’s rapidly changing agriculture sector that is steadily shedding off traditional operations.

At every stage of the agricultural value chain, software developers, farmers, transporters, agro-dealers and social entrepreneurs in Kenya and the rest of Africa have found digital solutions to perform various tasks and solve arising problems.

In Kenya, as in many other African nations, these digital solutions have been accelerated by the outbreak of COVID-19, with all actors in the agricultural value chains embracing them to foster social distancing and beat restrictions embraced by governments to curb the spread of the disease.

“Yes, the partial lockdowns and other restrictions by governments in response to COVID-19 have made people conscious of digital solutions,” said Joseph Macharia, a social entrepreneur behind Mkulima Young, a popular online marketplace. “People are now buying and selling online out of the need to do so.”

Macharia noted that the number of farmers, agro-dealers, trainers and buyers both in Kenya and across Africa using the platform has grown four-fold in the last two months.

“Online marketplaces have become a hit with all big and small actors in the agricultural value chain who want their products or services known since traditional markets currently remain stifled,” he said, adding that farmers and other agriculture players from South Africa, Malawi and Uganda are using the platform.

According to him, digital technologies have become an enabler of agribusiness as countries in Africa battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The disease has certainly contributed immensely to the digital transformation of agricultural value chain in Africa by enhancing access to market and information,” Macharia said.

Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy based in Kajiado, south of Kenya’s capital, said that driven by the tough circumstances brought about by COVID-19, farmers in the east African nation and other parts of Africa are embracing digital solutions.

“Initially, most farmers did not fully adopt digital practices because they could still travel to places and get physical interactions if need be. But right now, with the curfews, lockdowns and need to maintain social distancing, they are using videos, photos and various apps to find solutions to problems,” she said. “The digital future that many were talking about is here and has come faster.”

For the last two months, she has barely met farmers physically but has handled hundreds of queries and received consultancy fees via mobile money, Macharia said.

John Karithi, a tomato farmer in Kenya, observed that for the first time, he has bought inputs, fertilizer and received agro-consultancy through social media platform WhatsApp.

“What is affecting my tomatoes? They are turning brown and full of water inside,” he posted on a farmers’ group, accompanied by a photo. Karithi received information on what the problem was and drug to use, which he bought via mobile money payment and was delivered to him via courier services.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agricultural transformation in Africa is being boosted by the widespread use of mobile phones and low internet costs.

Internet penetration in Africa stands at 39 percent of the population, which translates to 527 million people in the continent, according to the World Bank.

(XINHUA)

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