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Sustaining the fight against Covid-19 with relaxed lockdown in Nigeria

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The global war of COVID-19 is not looking good, with close to 300,000 deaths, more than 3,000,000 confirmed cases and still counting, winning the war desires more calculative steps than ever.

The mainstay for the prevention of spread remains social and physical distancing, maintaining all the precautionary measures of personal hygiene with regular washing of hands.

In order to ensure adherence to the above, various governments even China, where it all started, embraced the protocol of lock down to prevent human movement as a means to stem the spread of COVID-19.

While the outcomes of the lock downs have been encouraging in some climes with evidence of reduction in transmission of the virus, it also came with heavy burden on the socioeconomic life of the nations and individuals.

For nations whose economy was unhealthy prior to COVID-19, they are in for a big problem if lock down would be their major strenght in fighting the common enemy.

United States of America was very careful of the impact of COVID-19 on their economy and was unable to enforce total lockdown, although their economy was affected by the various restrictions that came their way fighting the scourge.

The effect of COVID-19 has been found to be more pronounced on economies than the actual health challenges it has brought. The need for palliatives and widespread security breaches are additional level of burden that are giving deadly blows to fragile economies around the world.

USA has recorded close to 800,000 confirmed cases, around 60,000 deaths and still counting. Their economy is not locked down because it may be impossible to remain afloat considering the insinuations that America might have been the target for COVID-19 in the first place.

In Nigeria, we have been faced with the challenges of meeting with the extent of COVID-19 virulence and spread, lack of adequate testing to ascertain true figures of the positive cases; a yoke that must be quickly dispensed with. With less than 20,000 tests done so far and with the target of 2,000,000 tests over the next three months, it is obvious that we have not done much to establish the true picture of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Having locked down Lagos State, Ogun State and FCT, Abuja for one month with the various states also doing same in the form of curfews and other methods restricting human movement, our figures today, still rising, remain a major concern to the healthcare professionals who have seen the dangers of full blown pandemic on Africa soil. Wishing away the WHO’s opinion that Africa is becoming the new COVID-19 epicentre would need more commitment of African leaders.

The fight against COVID-19 is an enormous task challenging our meagre resources, frail economy and also the poor state of the healthcare sector least prepared for this magnitude of public health concern.

The widespread security issues and huge number of businesses especially SMEs that have come under serious threat of collapse occasioned by full and partial lock downs would make reasonable and proactive leaders to change the tactics of the game.

The Nigerian President, Muhammad Buhari in his third series of the national broadcast on the on-going pandemic found it necessary to abate the mounting secondary issues of total lockdown in some states, introduced curfews and still maintains restriction of interstate movement save for the essentials is another strategy that must be given a thorough assessment for another couple of weeks.

With the daily confirmed cases in hundreds, relaxing the lockdown as announced by the President is pushing the major assignment for human safety to individuals and communities who are however exposed to the community transmission phase of this deadly disease at this time.

Strict adherence to the precautionary measures is perhaps the saving grace at the disposal of Nigerians now if we must be saved of another report of strange illness as being investigated in Kano with close to 700deaths over this past few weeks.

It is obvious that Nigeria can no longer cope with the continued lockdown and this was demonstrated by a few State Governors knowing full well that it may be a catastrophy waiting to be visited on the very weak economy of their states if allowed.

Balancing economy with health risks is the delicate assignment now in the hands of Nigeria managers who are toiling day and night to see the end of COVID-19 with minimal casualties in the land.

To therefore come out clean of our next line of actions as a Nation, there are responsibilities at the doorsteps of Nigerians.

  1. While the government should take adequate steps to increase the number of tests per day to separate the infected amongst us, involving private health facilities in this assignment to blow out the numbers is a MUST.

  2. Borrowing leaves from the experience in Senegal where test kits are produced at a rate of $1, shifting attention to source for the test kits from Senegal or a matching order for our own local production is an important dynamics we need to give a place now.

  3. Enforcement of restriction on intestate movement may no longer be left in the hands of Nigeria Police alone. This is one of the most delicate assignment that will preserve the integrity of the ongoing local approaches in fighting COVID-19. Mobilising all uniformed men to the states boundaries and where necessary involving NGOs to support the forces is the next urgent thing to be done.

The current observation of porous boundaries that have been responsible for the index case in Nasarawa State, the case of the first fatality in Oyo State and many others permeating the so called barriers is no longer acceptable in this mode.

  1. Enforcement of the use of face masks is siqua to none. I am particularly unhappy at how the citizens often jettison government’s directives in fighting COVID-19. Most people are just too difficult to obey simple instructions.

  2. Organisations, offices, business places have the duty to enforce the use of face masks in their premises and by their clients. We must not allow people without face masks in our environment.

While government is expected to enact appropriate laws that make the use of face masks compulsory in the on going fight against coronavirus, instituting mobile courts for trial of the offenders may be too late if delayed any further.

Sustaining the fight against COVID-19 is now a community affairs and every one must be seen doing something to mitigate the spread. We must take precautions and necessarily screen everyone coming into our environment.

The use of hand held non touch infra red thermometers may be an additional level of screening device for people who are already expressing symptoms suggestive of infection.

To be safe at this time, our safety must be guaranteed by what we are ready to do as individuals.

We cannot leave the fight to what government can do alone. We are the nation and the people that must be safe.

Let everyone play his part as we all engage our high level readiness to see the end of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

–Pharm Abiodun Ajibade FPSN
Oyo State, Nigeria

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APC: Oshiomhole bows, says he accepts dissolution of NWC in good faith

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Former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, says he has accepted the decision of National Executive Committee (NEC) to dissolve the National Working Committee (NWC).

The NWC was dissolved on Thursday following the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was thereafter appointed the Chairman of the party’s caretaker committee.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Saturday, Oshiomhole said he had also directed his lawyers to withdraw his appeal pending at the supreme court. He was challenging his suspension as the party’s National Chairman.

According to the former governor of Edo State, he had no regrets for the role he played in the party. He also highlighted his achievements as party chairman.

“The APC under my chairmanship has done its best and the results are there. Of course we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good faith,” Oshiomhole said.

“I’m not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom-line is that the president who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman also presided over the meeting where the NWC has now been dissolved.

“Mr President graciously invited me to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018 precisely about two years ago. The president told me then that if we do not reform the APC, we can as well forget about the party.

“You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this and I believe I did my best.

“I’m happy that at the end of the day, 2019 elections have come and gone thanks to Nigerian people, our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. We have more members in the senate and house of representatives.”

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BreakingNews: Senator Abiola Ajimobi Burial Set for Sunday

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Burial arrangements for His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi

Details of the funeral ceremony of His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi have been released by the family.

In close consultation with the governments of Lagos and Oyo States, the date for the burial ceremony has been announced. Barring any changes, his body will be interred at the Senator Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi Central Mosque at Oke Ado, Ibadan at 12noon on Sunday the 28th of June 2020 after the traditional Muslim prayers.

To ensure that strict COVID-19 protocols are adhered to and in light of the current circumstances of our national health challenges, the family appeals to the public to observe strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in their participation. Furthermore, details of the live media coverage of the funeral ceremony will be made public by tomorrow.

In the near future, details of a larger funeral gathering will be announced where a lot more of his well wishers will have the opportunity to pay him their respect.

Signed

Bolaji Tunji
SA Media
26 June 2020

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$2.8 BILLION AKK PIPELINE PROJECT: BUHARI STRIKES AGAIN!

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By Femi Adesina

Something good is already happening. Something marvelous is in store, as Federal Government kickstarts the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) National Gas Pipeline Project next Tuesday. It’s another humongous signature milestone by President Muhammadu Buhari, which will leave his footprints inexorably on the sands of time.

Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. Social Investment. And many others. Buhari is doing great things, which will pedestal him in the pantheon of great Nigerian leaders. And now, he has struck again. He is kicking off the AKK pipeline project, which will carry gas between the southern and northern parts of the country. The project will eventually extend to North Africa.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) initially announced tenders for the project in July 2013. A project proposal was submitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission in June 2017, and the Federal Executive Council granted approval in December 2017. I tell you, this President Buhari has the heart of a lion.

If the intention was to continue to run the NNPC as an automated teller machine (ATM), as we have seen before in this country, will such staggering project ever be approved, not to talk of taking off? And some people are still asking for Change, when it is right before their very eyes.

The 614 kilometers-long national gas pipeline is Phase One of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project, to be done on build and transfer public-private-partnership. It will transport 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet per day of dehydrated gas from several gas gathering projects located in southern Nigeria.

The project will be in three phases. Phase One is 200 kilometers-long, between Ajaokuta and Abuja, at a projected cost of $855 million.

Phase Two is 193 kilometers-long, between Abuja and Kaduna, to cost an estimated $835 million, while Phase Three is 221 kilometers-long, between Kaduna and Kano, at an approximate cost of $1.2 billion.
The project will eventually reach North Africa in subsequent phases.

What will AKK pipeline project do for Nigeria? Great and wonderful things. It will create steady and guaranteed gas supply network between the North and South, and will enhance power generation capacity. The industrial sector will be strengthened, local usage of gas will be promoted and increased, and the country’s revenue generation boosted through export of natural gas.

Nigeria is ranked the 7th most endowed natural gas country in the world. She sits on about 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits, which can be utilized as gas to power, gas to petrochemicals, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), among others.

Over the years, Nigeria has exploited its oil resources more, to the detriment of gas, which incidentally fetches more revenue, but is also more expensive to prospect.
One big advantage the average Nigerian can look forward to is the evolvement of compressed natural gas (CNG), which is still at pilot stage in the country.

While presenting his performance report to the Federal Executive Council recently, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, spoke extensively about CNG, and what it can do for Nigeria as an alternative to petrol.
He listed the challenges of the oil and gas sector to include; under-recovery, crude theft, insecurity, high cost of production, very low LPG penetration, refineries shutdown, long contracting cycle, among others.

Sylva stressed that the oil and gas sector remains critical to the Nigerian economy, even as we strive to diversify. He identified CNG and LPG penetration as priority.
Said the Minister: “The switch to CNG will help reduce the burden of petrol subsidy on the finances of the country, and government should encourage Nigerians to use CNG as fuel for transportation.”

CNG began as a pilot project in the country in 2006, but target for conversion workshops was not met till 2015. About 4,000 vehicles run on CNG in Benin, Edo State, and it’s about 50% cheaper than petrol.
Vehicles running on CNG, statistics show, save about N1,143 daily, compared with petrol. This amounts to over N30, 000 monthly. The cost of converting the car can thus be recovered within six months.

Gas is cleaner energy, cheaper than petrol, and more friendly to the environment. Global warming will, therefore, be slowed down.

More than 175,000 vehicles run on CNG in America today, and 23 million worldwide. Nigeria will join the number, and boost productivity.

The Buhari signature projects will remain landmarks in Nigeria. Help me count them: Roads, rail, bridges, airports, agriculture, AKK… and may more.

Surely, we will always remember this President for good.

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