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Muslims Pray For Yar’Adua … Commend Gov Amaechi

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The Northern leader (Turaki) in Port Harcourt, Alhaji Salihu Kampala says muslims in the state are fervently praying for the quick recovery of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Alhaji Kampala in an interview with The Weekend Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said “the president should recover so that he will come back to continue his good works for Nigeria”.

The Turuki who commended the seven-point agenda  of the present administration said the fight against corruption by President Yar’Adua is beneficial not only to Nigeria’s economy but also her image.

He also expressed satisfaction with the policies and programmes of Governor Chibuike Amaechi in Rivers State especially the return of peace in the state and urban renewal, even as he assured him the tacit support of Northerners in the state.

“Governor Amaechi has restored peace in the state and he is a detribalised leader, that is why we always pray for him and will continue to support him”, Alhaji Kampala stated.

The Northern leader commended the cordial relationship between muslims and christians in the state and also pledged to sustain it, stressing that “development cannot take place in an unpeaceful environment”.

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NLNG, RSUTH Sign MoU For New Infectious Diseases Unit

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Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), last Friday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) for the provision of a multi-million naira Infectious Diseases Unit to support robust healthcare delivery in Rivers State.
At a signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the hospital’s management, NLNG’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Philip Mshelbila, represented by General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mr. Andy Odeh, said NLNG was committed to supporting healthcare delivery in Rivers State as part of the pursuit of its vision of “helping to build a better Nigeria.”
He stated that the company was seeking to support the development of the tertiary health institution to provide excellent medical care for Rivers State residents while also catering to the training needs of medical students and resident doctors.
Odeh stated further that NLNG was committed to working with partners to transform healthcare delivery in the state, adding that the intervention at RSUTH was a manifestation of the company’s resolve to stand with the people of Rivers State and to reciprocate the goodwill and support to the company over the years.
The RSUTH project is an addition to several projects being executed by the company in the healthcare sector in Rivers State.
NLNG continues to support the Bonny Community Health Insurance Programme (BCHIP) to help improve access to quality healthcare services for residents of Bonny Island.
Some progress is being achieved in the Bonny Malaria Eradication Programme, which targets cutting down malaria-related mortality among women and children under five and making Bonny Island Nigeria’s first malaria-free zone.
The Malaria Eradication programme is implemented in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
NLNG and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), are also involved in the HIV/AIDS Surge Project, which focuses on the control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) on Bonny Island.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (49%), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%), TotalEnergies Gaz & Electricite Holdings (15%), and Eni International N.A. N. V. S.àr. l (10.4%).

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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Jonathan Speaks At Bayelsa Education Summit, Feb 7

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan would deliver the keynote address at Bayelsa Education Summit billed to hold between Monday, February 7 and Thursday, February 10.
The state Commissioner for Education, Hon Gentle Emelah, who disclosed this in a press conference, over the weekend, to announce the education summit, stated that Jonathan being an educationist was expected to share useful strategies that would lead to the development of the education sector in the state.
According to him, the summit conceptualised as the “Cradle of the New Bayelsa Education Sector” is to produce forward looking ideas and vision for the next 15 years in a relatable education policy.
Emelah, who disclosed that 25 years after creation of the state, there are 547 primary schools, 195 secondary schools and nine tertiary institutions in the state funded and supervised by the Ministry of Education, said two inspection tours undertaken by the ministry highlighted teething problems besetting the education sector in Bayelsa.
While noting that the state government was able to achieve accreditation for all programmes in the various tertiary institutions, he listed infrastructural needs, availability of quality teachers, general enrolment numbers in schools and transition rates from primary to secondary schools as factors that can shape policy enactment for the education sector.
Emelah explained that the state government had built new secondary schools and made commitment to build one technical school in each local government area.
In spite of the laudable achievements recorded by the administration of Governor Douye Diri in the education sector, the commissioner noted that strategies of government requires overhauling, especially in the face of shift to Technical and Vocational Education and Training( TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math(STEM).
“It, however, now clear that the substructure of the educational sector which lies in the plans, policies for pedagogical engagement and strategies of government would require proper evaluation and overhauling to meet with the needs of society as we gradually approach the half of the 21st Century.
“As society places more emphasis on both soft and hard skills and science and technology to drive both work and existence, it is imperative also for educational focus to shift to more of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and other modern approaches at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels to ensure the provision and sustenance of the quality of education that meets global standards,” he said.
Emelah pointed out that the paradigm shift in focus would greatly require the expertise of individuals, educationists, and civil society organizations, and called for collaboration and partnership towards achieving the desired goal.

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SERAP Drags FG To ECOWAS Court Over Crippling Debts

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government before ECOWAS Court over “secrecy in the spending of loans so far obtained and the unsustainable level of borrowing by the government and the 36 states, the crippling debt burden”.
In the suit filed before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, last week by SERAP lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, the organisation is seeking: “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to issue an immediate moratorium on borrowing by itself, and the 36 states, in conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
SERAP is also seeking, “an order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of the loans obtained by governments since 1999, including the list of projects and locations of any such projects on which these loans have been spent.”
In the suit filed by SERAP and onbehalf of concerned Nigerians, the organisation maintained that, “Persistent and unsustainable borrowing by the federal and state governments and the crippling debt burden undermine the rights of Nigerians to economic and social development, and are antithetical to the public interest.”
According to SERAP, “There is lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained, and opacity around the terms and conditions in loan agreements, including repayment details for these loans. The details of the projects on which the loans are spent are shrouded in secrecy.
“Long-term unsustainable debt can be a barrier to the government’s ability to mobilise resources for human rights, and may lead to taxes and user fees that impact negatively on vulnerable and marginalised Nigerians.
“If not addressed, the escalating borrowing and looming debt crisis would cripple the ability of both the Federal Government and the 36 states to deliver ensure basic socio-economic rights, such as quality healthcare, education, and clean water of the most vulnerable and marginalised sectors of the population.
“Without a moratorium on borrowing, the Federal Government and many of the 36 states may be caught in a process driven mostly by creditors’ needs.
“This will result in an exorbitant social cost for the marginalised and vulnerable sectors of the population.
“The Federal Government and many of the 36 states would seem to be in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress.”
SERAP, quoting reports, stated, “The Senate and House of Representatives recently approved the loans of $5,803,364,553.50 and a grant component of $10million under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of the Federal Government.
“This followed previous approvals by the National Assembly of $16.2billion (N16,230,077,718) loan; €1million (N1,020,000,000) and a grant component of $125million loan; $36.8billion, €910million loans, and a grant component of $10million; $8.3billion and €490million loans; $6.1billion, $1.5billion and $995million loans; and $4million (N4,054,476,863), €710million and grant component of $125million.”
“Several of the 36 states are also facing a debt crisis, and vicious debt cycles. According to the Debt Management Office, the foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory presently stands at $37.9billion.
“The loans from China alone amount to $3.59billion. According to the UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights, Nigeria faces debt service relative to tax revenues that exceed 20per cent, with escalating social tensions linked to poverty and inequality.”
“According to the World Bank’s IDA FY21 Report, with debt exposure of $11.7billion, Nigeria ranked fifth among the top 10 countries with highest debt risk exposure. The top four countries are India with $22billion, Bangladesh ($18.1billion), Pakistan ($16.4billion), and Vietnam ($14.1billion).”
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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