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More Access To Health In Rivers …As RSG Partners ICRC In Rural Coverage

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As part of measures to improve healthcare delivery, the Rivers State Government said it has put measures in place to ensure there is safe access to healthcare institutions, facilities and workers across the communities in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Theophilus Odagme, made this disclosure in Port Harcourt during a press interview on the resolution of the various stakeholders in the healthcare sector, following discussions of various committees constituted on April 12, 2016 to find workable solutions that could bridge the gaps that threaten healthcare in rural communities in the state.
Odagme said: “This meeting is put in place today, with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in a bid to talk policy issues identified by the various stakeholders. We have looked at the legal frame work to ensure that we make healthcare safe. When we talk about healthcare, we are talking about the health facilities, workers and everyone that needs to be attended to in the health sector, so that they are safe.”
He noted that various groups such as the security agencies, healthcare workers, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were involved, noting that there was the need for the formulation of strategies to reach all stakeholders.
According to him, “We try to formulate strategies to reach them at the community levels, in the creeks, wherever they are, so they have respect for healthcare system and facilities because when healthcare is affected, whether by kidnap of a healthcare worker or attack on healthcare institution or any healthcare facility, including ambulances, the community suffers.
“So, by this collaboration with ICRC, we want to stem the tide of attacks on the healthcare workers, facilities and system because it is not the business of healthcare institutions alone, it affects the communities too”.
Odagme emphasised that in order to stem the tide, all stakeholders, including the Rivers State Government, ICRC, private practitioners, CSOs, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), the security agencies, among others, must be involved.
Odagme emphasized further that one of the ways to minimize healthcare deficit in the state is by incorporating the trained ICRC volunteers from the various communities, among others, to play their part in ensuring sustainability of the quality healthcare delivery in the communities.
The Head of ICRC South-East in Port Harcourt, Mrs Dorsa Nazemi-Salman, recalled that on April 12, 2016, the ICRC and other stakeholders charted a way forward to reduce ‘Healthcare In Danger,’ including how to tame violence against healthcare workers and facilities, and added that support of all was needed to achieve desired results.
Dorsa said: “With all the stakeholders put in place to decide how these issues could be addressed, by proffering solutions on the way forward in collaboration with CSOs, other international organizations, MWAN, I am very optimistic that we are going to have some positive results that would enable unhindered access by rural dwellers to healthcare services.”
She emphasized that ICRC, as an independent humanitarian and a neutral organization, has always engaged with community members before entering communities, noting that Rivers was one of the few states in the country benefiting from its intervention programme to address the threats posed to healthcare in rural communities, especially ravaged by violence and conflicts.
Dorsa listed other states to include Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Nasarawa, and appealed to communities affected by cult-related violence, and other conflicts to encourage healthcare providers, protect facilities and institutions to save more lives and promote sustainability of quality healthcare delivery in the state.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Food Vendors May Ditch School Feeding Over Delay In Payment

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Food vendors under the National Home-grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), said the delay in payment by the Federal Government was drastically affecting the students’ attendance.
This was disclosed by one of the food vendors, who asked not to be named, in an interview with newsmen at the official handing over of 150,000 feeding utensils to the Jigawa State Government held at Sir Nuhu Sanusi Primary School, Dutse.
She said the Federal Government introduced the programme aimed at increasing enrolment rates of the pupils, improve the nutritional and health status of primary school children, boost the income of farmers and provide empowerment opportunities for women.
“Government introduced the program in order to increase students’ enrollment and empowered women but the delay in the payment of the money to food vendors by the Federal Government is causing a setback to the programme.
“Whenever Federal Government paid the money for the program the students’ attendance increased significantly when compared to the months Federal Government didn’t make any payment.
“For the first and second term, we were paid for only one month instead of three months or four months in a term,” she stated.
She advised the Federal Government that the payment should never be delayed for any reason if the Federal Government wants to achieve success in the programme.
Speaking after handing over the feeding utensils to the Jigawa State Government, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs. Sadiya Umar Farouk, said the Federal Government had recorded over nine million pupils on the program being fed by over 100,000 cooks across the nation.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Nura Alkali, she said that in Jigawa State alone, the feeding programme was taking place in 2,180 primary schools, involving 490,874 pupils, 5,267 cooks in 27 LGA across the state.
He said the ministry had set out strategies to strengthen the programme with a view to making it sustainable and institutionalized into the structure of the government’s social protection mechanism.
“We identified the strategic areas in the programme that needed to be reviewed to accommodate current realities. Some key areas identified include improving meal quality, capacity development of all actors in the value chain, building strategic partnerships to achieve sustainability, and many other areas,” the permanent secretary said.

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FG Vows To Prosecute Terrorism Sponsors

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The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has said that the Federal Government was not interested in naming and shaming sponsors of terrorism.
Adesina, who made the remark during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, stated that the government would rather prosecute financiers of insurgency in court.
“Naming and shaming will not be the motive, bringing malefactors to justice will be it,” he said.
“Nigeria is not interested in naming and shaming anybody. Rather, it wants to bring them to justice.
“You will see that the United Arab Emirates has given some names and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) has reacted to that matter, saying that in due course, all these people will have their dates in court. Rest assured that these people will be dragged before justice and justice will have its way.”
Asked if the government investigates suspects before they are made to face trial, the President’s spokesman replied in the affirmative.
He explained that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and other security agencies were working to get verifiable evidence against the suspects before their arraignment in court.
“Investigations are going on at different levels; it will be at the level of the EFCC, it will be at the level of the NIA. All the security agencies will be working on it so that when those people eventually appear in court; there will be a prima facie case against them.
“You don’t first call people before the court and start looking for evidence against them later. No! The cases will be tied up before they appear in court,” Adesina stated.
His remarks come four months after the Federal Government said it had begun profiling for prosecution, well-placed Nigerians suspected to be financiers of terrorism in the country.
It would be recalled that on May 7, the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed that investigations conducted established reasonable evidence of the involvement of some highly placed individuals, businessmen, and institutions across Nigeria in financing insurgency in the North-East.

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Lawan Gives Committee One Week To Consider Buhari’s Loan Requests

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President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, referred the request of President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking to borrow $4.054billion, €710million, $125million external loans to the Committee on Foreign and Local Debts.
Lawan asked the committee, led by Senator Clifford Ordia, to work on Buhari’s request and submit its report next Tuesday.
This followed a motion to that effect by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
The Senate had received a formal request from Buhari, last week, to consider and approve an external loan to fund projects captured under the 2018-2021 borrowing plan.
Buhari, in the letter, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00; €710,000,000.00 and grant component of $125,000,000.00.
He explained that the amount would be used to fund federal and states government projects across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food.
It also includes security, energy, education and human capital development and the Covid-19 response efforts.
Buhari said the projects which are spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country would bring about employment generation and poverty reduction, as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
Part of the letter read, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by the Federal Executive Council, as of June, 2021, are incorporated, I hereby forward and addendum to the proposed Borrowing Plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00; €710,000,000.00 and grant component of $125,000,000.00.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the Borrowing Plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and cover both the federal and states government projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and Covid-19 response efforts.
“A summary of some key projects in each of the six geo-political zones and a summary on the expected impacts on the socio-economic development of each of the six geopolitical zones are attached herewith as Annex II and III.
“Given the importance attached to the timely delivery of the projects listed in the proposed Borrowing Plan and the benefits both the federal and state governments stand to gain from the implementation of same, I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan to enable the projects become effective.”

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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